Tragic Accident Claims Three On Highway 97, Including Father And 2-Year-Old Son

January 29, 2008


A father and his 2-year old son were killed in a wreck on Highway 97 south of Walnut Hill at 2:56 Monday afternoon, and the driver of a second vehicle died a few hours later from her injuries.

Richard Danny Marlow, 40, and Drew Marlow, 2, both of Molino, were killed when their 2003 Toyota Tacoma pickup was hit by a pickup driven by Joyce McGahan, 70, of Cantonment, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

The FHP says McGahan ran off the road in her 2007 Chevrolet Z-71 and traveled down the grassy shoulder southbound on Highway 97. She then over-corrected, and her pickup began to rotate. Marlow, northbound on Highway 97, took evasive action and entered the ditch on the northbound side of the roadway. McGahan’s vehicle then entered the northbound ditch and landed partially on top of Marlow’s vehicle and then rotated around to its side, still in the northbound ditch. Both vehicles were traveling at 55 mph at the time of the crash, troopers said.

Marlow and his son were pronounced dead at the scene, according to the FHP. McGahan was taken by LifeFlight to Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola where she later died at 6:56 p.m.

Richard Marlow was not wearing seatbelt, and his son Drew was not properly restrained in car seat, according to the investigating trooper. McGahan was wearing a seatbelt.

The accident happened on Highway 97, about one mile south of Tungoil Road. Traffic on Highway 97 was slowed until about 7:30 Monday night while the investigation continued. was among the first on the scene Monday afternoon, arriving before emergency personnel. For more exclusive photos from the accident, click here.

Have a comment or message for the families? is accepting comments about the accident and messages/memorials to the families. You may leave your comments by clicking here for our comment form. Approved comments will be posted here later Tuesday. Your first name only will be posted along with your submission. Click here for the Memorial Message Board.

Pictured above: The front of the two pickups involved in Monday’s tragic wreck on Highway 97. Richard Marlow and his 2-year-old son Drew Marlow were killed in the gray pickup on the left. The driver of the second pickup, Joyce McGahan died later at Sacred Heart Hospital. Below: Another view of the scene. Click either photo to enlarge.


McCain, Clinton Win Florida Vote

January 29, 2008

Sen John McCain came out the big winner in Florida’s Republican Primary Tuesday, and Sen. Hillary Clinton was on top in the Democratic contest.

McCain becomes the national front-runner after sweeping 36 percent of the vote in Florida. Mitt Romney finished strong in second place with 30 percent of the Republican vote. Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee nearly tied for third place. Giuliani picked up 14.5 percent of the vote, while Huckabee received 13.5%.

McCain was the top vote getter in Escambia County. See the chart below for a look at how Escambia County voted.

On the Democratic side, Sen. Hillary Clinton picked up a huge win with about 50 percent of the vote. Barack Obama garnered almost 33 percent of the vote. John Edwards finished a distant third with 14.4 percent of the vote.

In Escambia county, Obama picked up 42 percent of the Democratic vote. See the chart below for a look at how Escambia County voted.


Florida Property Tax Admendment Passes

January 29, 2008

Amendment 1 was approved by Florida voters on Tuesday, surpassing the 60 percent vote needed.

“The citizens of Florida have spoken today and received the tax cut they deserved,” Florida Governor Charlie Crist said. “Amendment 1 keeps the American Dream of home ownership alive.” Crist had repeatedly spoken out in favor of the amendment, even appearing in television commercials in favor of the proposal.

With most of Florida’s vote counted late Tuesday night, the amendment had received 64 percent of the vote statewide.

In Escambia County, Amendment 1 received 65 percent of the vote, or 49,739 votes in favor. There were 26,506 votes against the plan, or about 35 percent.

The amendment will double the homestead exemption to $50,000 for homes valued over $75,000, allow transfer of Save Our Homes benefits and provide a $25,000 tangible personal property exemption for businesses.

Winds Cause Power Outages Around McDavid, Century

January 29, 2008

Scattered power outages were reported around McDavid Tuesday night as a line of rain with high winds moved through the area. Winds were reported to be in the 30-35 mph range across the area.

The McDavid Volunteer Fire Department was dispatched the report of a brush fire possibly started by power lines down just south of Watson’s Store on Highway 29 during the nine o’clock hour. They were unable to locate a fire, but rained had moved into the area possibly putting out any fire.

They were dispatched just after 10:30 to the area of Highway 29 and Cox Road for another report of lines down, but, once again, they were unable to locate anything. But there was a power outage in the area.

Early Wednesday morning, the Century Volunteer Fire Department responded to a report of power lines down in the 6900 block of Century Boulevard, and downed power lines were found.

The Walnut Hill Volunteer Fire Department responded to a call reporting a tree down on Bratt Road just after nine o’clock Tuesday night. A small, dead pine tree was found down in the roadway.

Century Relay For Life Holds “Toon Out Cancer” Kickoff

January 29, 2008


“Toon Out Cancer” will be the theme for this year’s Century Relay For Life, relay coordinator Paula Jernigan announced at the annual fund raiser’s kickoff meeting Tuesday night.

Last year’s Century Relay for Life raised about $30,000 for the American Cancer Society. This year, Jernigan said she wants to see that number increase to at least $45,000.

“Cancer never sleeps, and neither do we,” said Jessica James from the American Cancer Society’s Pensacola office. The 18-hour relay represents that, she said, by beginning in the dark.

The stadium lights will be cut, with the old Century High School stadium lit only the glow of Luminaria bags, representing cancer survivors and victims alike. “All there is, is that light,” James said, “to lead the way to walk.”

“The the sun comes up the next morning, a symbol of a new day,” she continued. “All through the night they had their friends and family to support them.”

At Tuesday night’s meeting at Carver/Century School, the lights in the cafeteria were cut and about a dozen Luminaria bags were lit as some in attendance reflected on why they walk in Relay for Life.

“I walk for my son who died from cancer,” one person said.

“I relay with the hope that no mother will every have to hear that her child has cancer,” said another.

“I relay because my father died from brain cancer,” one woman tearfully said.

“I relay because by husband died from cancer three years ago. I walk because my mother died from cancer a month ago,” another woman said.

There were two rewards presented at Tuesday night’s meeting. The first, the Kickoff Spirit Award for the most team members present, went to the Century Correctional Institute (pictured below). The second award, for the best toon costume, went to Cindy Wa

Century’s 2008 Relay For Life will take place from 6:00 pm April 25 until noon April 26 at the old Century High stadium. Teams are currently being formed, call 475-0850 for more information.


LIVE Blog: Presidential Primary

January 29, 2008

In this LIVE blog, we posted some random thoughts and observations from across the North Escambia area on this election day. We invite you to submit your comments too…let us know if it was busy at your polling place, if you had any problems or just give us your general thoughts about the election. Story ideas are welcome too. Click here to use our contact form to send us your message, or email We won’t use your full name on the site unless we contact you first and ask permission.

Here are our postings so far, with the newest at the top:

10:20 p.m.

It’s been a long day, and this is the last post in our live online election day blog. I want to thank everyone that contacted us today to let us know about voting at their polling place. There will be stories posted in the morning that will detail the results both on a statewide and on a local level.

Some of you asked, so I’ll take a moment to explain the whole “LIVE” thing about this blog. If you are not interested in technical stuff, skip down to where it says “8:30″ in bold print below and then continue reading.

We decided it would an interesting experience to visit each one of the polling places in the North Escambia area. So packed up and headed out a couple of times.

We took  photos will our usual digital camera at each polling place. Then we got back into the car and downloaded the photos to a laptop computer. The photos were edited on site using Adobe Photoshop. The laptop was then “tethered” (“connected”) to a cellular phone using a Bluetooth connection. Then the cellular connection was used to establish a connection to the internet from the polling location, and then the photos and blog postings were uploaded live from each location around the North Escambia area.

Overall, the system worked well. The cellular signal at the Oak Grove Baptist Church was less than stellar, but we found a sport with a workable signal just across the road at the Oak Grove Park.

8:30 p.m.

The major networks are now predicting that McCain will carry Florida with Romney in second. Third is a dead heat between Huckabee and Giulian. For Giuliani it will be a devastating loss; he was pretty much betting everything he had on Florida.

8:15 p.m.

The major networks are now predicting that Clinton will carry Florida with over 50 percent of the vote, with Obama picking up about 30 percent of the vote.

5:20 p.m.

Finally. I made my way back to the Walnut Hill Community Center where I started at 7:45 this morning. My vote is now cast. After the few people behind me voted, the count on the machine was at 350. That’s about 27 percent of the 1,284 voters that turned out in Precinct 11.

This will be the last entry in the blog until later tonight, probably around 8:00 or so. The polls are still open until 7:00, and they will remain open until every voter in line has cast their vote. Join us back here later tonight for preliminary results from Thanks for joining me today on my tour around North Escambia. It was great to meet many of you. If you have not already, take the time to read the older posts below.

4:55 p.m.


We’ve made our way to the McDavid Volunteer Fire Department, home of precinct 18. The flow of voters is very slow here, and there’s just one political sign for Mitt Romney. We’ll be posting another update in a little bit. Make sure you join us later tonight for complete election results as they become available, and again in the morning for a complete look back at today’s vote.

4:30 p.m.


We are live this afternoon from the back parking lot of the Molino Volunteer Fire Department. This is the largest precinct in North Escambia, with 3,284 registered voters. This precinct is a little more Republican than Democrat. The parking lot has been busy, with constant flow of voters going in and out of the polling place. Our informal survey of exiting voters showed a slight edge to McCain, with Romney and Huckabee not far behind. This was, keep in mind, a small informal sampling. Keep checking back…we’ll be posting more in our primary blog soon!

3:45 p.m.

Turnout is still reported to be high across North Escambia. Polls close at 7:00. Get out and vote! More to be posted soon.

2:10 p.m.

W are back from our whirlwind tour of voting precincts across the north half of North Escambia. We hope to visit the other two precincts in the North Escambia area this afternoon. Adding to the Century entry below, we noticed as we visited at the library that a man was setup outside the library from the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) offering free “voter info/help”. He did not want to speak to us on the record. All the comments and emails we have received still indicate no problems. All of the voters we talked to as the exited the polls across the area also reported no problems.

1:20 p.m.

century.jpgWe are now posting live from outside the Century City Hall, Precinct 22. This precinct is very heavily Democratic with 856 registered Democratic voters and just 246 registered Republicans. The only campaign signs out front are for Mitt Romney again. But a quick informal survey of voters exiting the polling place found Clinton and Obama running neck and neck here in Century. This was, of course, a small, unscientific poll.

Some of you have asked…why are we just posting photos from OUTSIDE the polling places, why not INSIDE? Well, that is because Florida law makes it illegal for the media to enter a polling place except to vote. Firemen and police officers too. We’ll have more live updates later this afternoon. Keep you comments coming…scores of you have emailed today and no one has reported any problems except a little confusion on identification. Don’t forget to have your voter registration card and a photo/signature id like a driver’s license. More to come…

12:48 p.m.

byrneville.jpgWe are now live at the Byrneville Community Center, home of Precinct 23. There are 760 registered voters in this precinct. They are just a little more Democratic than Republican here. There have been about a half dozen voters come and go here since we arrived a few minutes ago. The campaign signs are back, unlike at Bratt. If the campaign signs were going to win the vote, Mitt Romney would be far ahead at the polling places we have visited across NorthEscambia. One thing we noticed here: there are some friendly poll workers. Each time the door opens, we hear a voice inside with a happy “hello!” all the way across the parking lot. More live updates to come soon.

12:25 p.m.

bratt.jpg We are live now at Precinct 33…the First Baptist Church of Bratt. Things seem a bit slower here. It’s a medium size precinct, with 552 voters. There are been very few people going in or out since we arrived about 10 minutes ago. Another thing of note…unlike the other precincts we have visited today, there are no campaign signs in front of the precinct. There’s one just east of the church on Highway 4. Otherwise, it’s empty in front of the church right now other than the “Vote Here” signs. More live updates to come.

11:59 a.m.


We are posting this update live from outside Precinct 45 at the Oak Grove Baptist Church along Highway 99. There has been a steady stream of voters in and out of the church since we arrived here. There is construction going on at the church, but it is not interfering with voting in any way. Just park in the “lower” parking lot which is located by the church sign. This is a small precinct, with 373 registered voters split almost evenly along party lines. More live updates coming soon.

11:14 a.m.

The thermometer outside my office just hit 70. The sun is trying to come out. There’s no excuse not to head out and vote. The weather could not be much better for January! More updates coming soon…

10:28 a.m.

Thanks for letting us know about the turnout at your voting precinct. We are getting reports that some precincts are not very busy at the moment—no line, no waiting! Turnout should increase around the lunch hour as people take a break from work. Use that comment form and keep us updated!

9:23 a.m.

Lots more comments rolling in this morning. People are still saying that turnout is good at polling places across the North Escambia area. Some have said it was busier than they remember in many years for a presidential primary. Keep those comments coming!

8:40 a.m.

I’m getting a lot of emails and messages from our contact form…turnout appears to be good at precincts across North Escambia. Nobody has reported having any major problems voting. Don’t forget you need to take your voter id card and a picture and signature id to the polls. Your driver’s license is probably the best id you can take with you.

7:45 a.m.

I met Kerra and Hannah Mascaro waving and smiling with their Ron Paul signs out by Highway 97. That’s what today is all about…getting out and supporting the candidate of your choice. It’s your freedom, and it was nice to see that big American political process working in Walnut Hill. There was a steady stream of voters in and out of the community center. A few people were stopping outside to talk with their friends and neighbors. People were honking and waving at the Mascaro family out by the road with their signs. You can read their story and see the pictures by click here.

As a parent, I liked seeing a mom involve her kids in the political process. Moms and dads…you can take your kids with you when you vote. They can be with you when you mark the ballot. Don’t miss the opportunity. Take your kids when you vote and take the opportunity to explain the whole process to them.

7:30 a.m.

I get a call that someone is outside the Walnut Hill precinct waving a political sign. I don’t want you to think I do or do not support any particular candidate, because I’m not offering any endorsements. But I thought that sounded really cool that someone was actually campaigning and sign waving in tiny Walnut Hill. Grabbed the camera and headed that way.

6:10 a.m.

The polls are open. The folks in Walnut Hill need to remember that their polling place has moved from the gym at Ernest Ward Middle School to the Walnut Hill Community Center, which most people around here just call the Walnut Hill Ruritan Club. The Ruritan building gives more room than the lobby at the gym, and it won’t conflict with activities at the school.

5:55 a.m.

The polls will be opening in just a few minutes. There’s been enough interest in the candidates this year, that I feel like the turnout will be pretty good. Unlike some past years, everywhere I go I here someone talking about the presidential race. Some years folks just don’t turn out on Presidential Primary day since there are no local issues or candidates on the ballot. But don’t forget that the property tax amendment is on the ballot this year.

Campaigning In Walnut Hill

January 29, 2008


Seven year old Hannah Mascaro received a lesson in American politics Tuesday on Florida’s Primary Day. Hannah and her mom, Kerra Mascaro of Walnut Hill, were out early near the Walnut Hill polling place supporting their candidate, Republican Ron Paul.

Ron Paul is “about the constitution,” Hannah said when asked why she wanted to be out with her mom. The home-schooled student was holding a hand-lettered sign that read “Less Freedom? More safety? Lose both. Vote Ron Paul”.

Passers-by honked in support as Kerra said she was proud to stand by Highway 97 in front of the Walnut Hill Community Center (also known as the Walnut Hill Ruritan Building) in support of Paul.

“He has a message of freedom, a return to the constitution and a message of freedom,” she said. “Ron Paul has a sound monetary policy, and I support his ideas of defending our borders, not policing the world.”

Most of the latest polls show Paul with just three to four percent support among likely Florida voters today. When asked Kerra how she felt about sign waving for a candidate so far down in the polls, she said “a lot of people like what he says. But they think voting for him would be wasting their vote since he is down (in the polls). But the only way they can waste their vote is to not vote.”

“He’s not getting equal coverage in the big media,” Kerra said. “They make his supporters look bad.” will have complete election coverage from across the North Escambia area today, and we’ll have complete results tonight.

Pictured above: Hannah (left) and Kerra Mascaro wave signs in support of Republican candidate Ron Paul outside the Walnut Hill polling place at the Walnut Hill Community Center Monday morning.

Today’s Vote Explained: Who? What? When? Where?

January 29, 2008

The Florida Presidential Preference Primary is today. Polls will be open in Escambia County today from 7:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. You will need to be a registered voter will proper identification to vote. will have complete coverage during the day today, and complete results tonight.

If you live in the Walnut Hill precinct and have voted at Ernest Ward Middle School in the past, you will vote this year at the Walnut Hill Community Center. See a separate story about the change here.

In the Presidential Primary, you will vote along party lines. Registered Republicans will receive a Republican Party ballot. Registered Democrats will receive a Democratic Party ballot, and those without a stated party affiliation will receive a nonpartisan ballot.

None of the local races for sheriff, county commission, school board or ECUA will be on the January ballot.

All three ballots will include a property tax amendment. If passed, it will double the homestead exemption to $50,000 for homes valued over $75,000, allow transfer of Save Our Homes benefits and provide a $25,000 tangible personal property exemption for businesses.

The Republican ballot includes names both familiar and perhaps a few you do not know. Republicans will vote for one from a list that includes Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, Duncan Hunter, Alan Keyes, John McCain, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Tom Tancredo and Fred Thompson. Thompson has withdrawn from the race, will still appear on the ballot. To view a sample Escambia County Republican ballot, click here.

Those voting on the Democratic ballot will also choose just one from a list that includes Joseph Biden, Hillary Clinton, Christoper Dodd, John Edwards, Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich, Barrack Obama, and William “Bill” Richardson. To view a sample Escambia County Democratic ballot, click here.

There are no presidential candidates on Florida’s nonpartisan ballot, but nonpartisan voters will have the chance to vote on the property tax amendment. To view a sample Escambia County nonpartisan ballot, click here.

If you are not already registered to vote in the primary, it is too late. The registration books and the chance to change your party affiliation ended on December 31. Early voting ended Saturday, with 8,888 people voting early in Escambia County.

The January 29 Florida Presidential Primary proceeds the “Super Tuesday” primary in many states, including nearby Alabama, by one week.

Fatal Accident Monday Afternoon On Highway 97

January 28, 2008


At least one person was killed in a two vehicle accident on Highway 97 south of Tungoil Road Monday afternoon. The accident was reported at 2:58 according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

Another person was transported from the scene by LifeFlight helicopter (pictured above). was among the first on the scene Monday afternoon. We are withholding our photos of the accident scene at the request of authorities until the next of kin have been notified. The accident is still under investigation by the FHP.

Traffic on Highway 97 was slowed until just after 7:30 Monday night while the accident was investigated by the FHP.

An update to the this story and more photos will be posted when more information is released by the Florida Highway Patrol.

Century Native Elected President Of Historical Society

January 28, 2008

Jerry Simmons of Century has been elected the new president of the Escambia County (Alabama) Historical Society.

Simmons, a Century native, has been a member of the society for several years and is active in researching and writing about local history. He has been the museum voordinator at the Thomas E. McMillan Museum on the campus of Jefferson Davis Community College in Brewton for nearly three years.

Simmons, also a member of the Alger-Sullivan Historical Society in Century, writes a bi-weekly column in the Tri-City Ledger. Presently he is compiling a Centennial Scrapbook for the Flomaton Centennial Committee that will be published in conjunction with Flomaton’s centennial celebration this spring. He is married to the former Dianne Gladwell of Monroeville. They each have two children and five grandchildren.

Local history has been a passion for Simmons since his retirement from Solutia in 2001. He played a crucial part in the successful effort by the Alger-Sullivan Historical Society to get “Old 100″, an antique steam locomotive once belonging to the Alger-Sullivan Lumber Company, back “home” to Century.

“The Escambia County Historical Society is about keeping history alive. That’ss why we exist. We’ve taken on a unique responsibility, that ofkeeping up with the history of Escambia County, Alabama. Our archives are a source of state-wide and local written and photographic history of Escambia County and much
of its surrounding area,” Simmons said.

“The Society is the county’s oldest historical organization…it was first organized in 1973 and has been going strong for the last 35 years. In Atmore there is the Atmore Historical Society, the only other historical organization in Escambia County, Alabama,” according to Simmons, “and word has it that Flomaton is working to create one as well. We are happy to cooperate with and help these folks if there’ss ever anything we can do.”

Simmons said that the Alabama Room, inside the Thomas E. McMillan Museum, is where the Society’s archives are located. That means the society offers a special opportunity for learning, for there are additional avenues for seeing the history of this county unfold before your eyes.

“At the museum, a visitor can see displays of fossils and artifacts ranging from whale vertebra and shark’s teeth found inside the county; to Native American tools from thousands of years back; to old-timey doctor and dentist instruments; and relics from the Confederate encampment at Pollard; the museum is a veritable treasure of which many in the county are not aware,” he said.

Free tours are available at the museum Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9a.m. until 3 p.m. Other days and hours are available by calling Simmons at 251-809-1528.

Other elected officers of the Escambia County Historical Society are Jacqueline Stone, Secretary and Librarian; Susan Crawford, Treasurer; Lydia Grimes, Publicity; and Ranella Merritt, Newsletter Editor. The Vice-President position was not filled, pending the return of Alan Robinson, who is ill and now recovering at West Florida Rehabilitation Institute in Pensacola. Interim vice-president is Darryl Searcy.

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