Downtown Flomaton Evacuated Following Major Gas Leak; One Injured

July 31, 2008


A gas leak Thursday forced the evacuation of much of downtown Flomaton, and it sent one gas company employee to the hospital.

Flomaton Fire Chief Steve Stanton says the Town of Flomaton was doing a routine movement of a water line when a gas line was damaged. An evacuation followed, emptying a large area of downtown Flomaton. It took authorities about an hour to cap off the leak on Palafox Street.

The timeline goes like this: A temporary repair to the pipe was made about 10:35 a.m. A repair crew capable of making a more permanent repair to the pipe arrived about 11:50 a.m. from South Alabama Gas. That repair was declared complete at 12:37 p.m..

After the “all clear” was given , people in the area were allowed to return to their homes and businesses.

Most downtown businesses were closed during the two plus hour event.. Many reopened, but the Escambia County Bank and the Post Office remained closed the rest of the day.

One person, identified as a South Alabama Gas employee, was transported to D.W. McMillan Hospital in Brewton with minor injuries.

A temporary shelter was setup by the American Red Cross at the First Baptist Church for the evacuees. Several household pets were also evacuated from the area by the Escambia County Humane Society.

The Flomaton Fire Department, the Flomaton Police Department, the Friendship Volunteer Fire Department, the Century Volunteer Fire Department, the Escambia County (AL) Sheriff’s Department and Escambia County (FL) EMS all responded to the scene. Flomaton Mayor Dewey Bondurant and Escambia County (AL) Emergency Management Agency Director David Adams were also on scene.

More photos will be posted shortly.

Alisa Hart photos for Click here for more photos from the scene.

Pictured above: A member of the Flomaton Fire Department surveys the scene. Pictured below: A temporary repair was made to the gas line. Alisa Hart photos for


Community Supports Horse Rescue Group; Three Kids Help Raise Funds

July 31, 2008


A local horse rescue group’s financial situation has improved, partially thanks to three children that took it upon themselves to raise money for the group.

After an article on and a report on a Mobile television station, donations began to arrive for Panhandle Equine Rescue, a non-profit horse rescue group located in the Molino area.

PER has received several donations from the community totaling about $3,000, including $231.31 from three Pace kids.

Hannah Richards, 11, Emily Richards, 8, and Michael Abendan, 10, of Pace learned of PER’s plight and hit a neighborhood street with a bucket and a sign that read “Help Save the Abused Horse Shelter”. Over six days for up to two and a half hours per day, the three took a stand for PER. Emily, Hannah and Michael (L-R) are pictured above with rescued horse Jasmine.

“It made me feel really, really bad about the horses,” Hannah told “I asked my friend, and we help up our sign to help.”

While Hannah and her sister Emily do not have a horse at their home in the Woodbine Springs area, their grandfather does have horses that they ride.

“I love horses, and  I just wanted to do something to help the abused horses,” she said.

After spending three years helping horses in Escambia County, Panhandle Equine rescue turned to the community for help about two weeks ago. PER has investigated cases involving 466 horses and rescued 54 horses since 2005.

Along with their ordinary operation expenses, PER is facing huge medical bills for a horse named Raven. In less than 10 days, her medical bills have hit $1,200, and she will spending 30 days on an expensive medication.

(article continues below photos)


Raven and her colt Racer were rescued April 11 from Highway 168 near Century. The horses were reported to be running freely around the area on at least two occasions, and they were not being properly fed, according to PER. Their owner  voluntarily surrendered them to PER. The photos above left shows their living conditions in January, and the photo on the right shows Raven in early December. Click the photos to enlarge (some readers may find the enlarged photos disturbing).

The following was submitted by Diane Lowery, president of PER:

Panhandle Equine Rescue is in desperate need of donations to help pay the vet bills on a rescued Arabian mare.

Raven, along with her colt, Racer, were rescued in April. Both were adopted out, but Raven was returned to us because of her health issues.

Since July 8th, her expenses have added up to almost $1,200.00. She had to be admitted into the vet clinic again for the second time Thursday night due to regular bouts of colic. She has been diagnosed with “Grade 2 Ulcers” and experiences pain on a daily basis.

She has been started on an oral paste that must be given daily. One tube costs $33.00. She must receive this medicine for 28 days.

Panhandle Equine Rescue has a total of 17 horses in foster care and very little in donations has been coming in. We’re planning some fund raisers to try to compensate for our losses, but it may be too late.

We are really frustrated at this point, because we know that our services are needed in this county. We rely solely on donations. We do not receive county or state funding, nor have we received any federal grants. In 2005, three of us were approved by a judge to do equine investigations in Escambia County and since then, we have worked 111 cases involving 466 horses. We have rescued 54 horses.

In addition, we are in great need of foster homes. We are at full capacity and cannot take in any more rescues until we have more space and can raise the funds to support them.

If anyone would like to sponsor Raven to help get her through this horrible ordeal in her life, we would appreciate it.

A monthly sponsor receives a picture and a quarterly update or you can be a one time sponsor. To read about her rescue, go to

Donations can be sent to PER, P.O. Box 777, Cantonment, FL 32533

Pesky Critter? County Animal Control Will No Longer Help

July 31, 2008

If you have a wildlife problem, you can’t call Escambia County Animal Control anymore.

Escambia County Animal Control has announced that they will no longer handle wildlife calls. Any orphaned animals should be referred to the Wildlife Sanctuary or a private pest control agencies.

The Wildlife Sanctuary is located at 105 North “S” Street in Pensacola and is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. There phone number is (850) 433-9453.

The sanctuary is a non-profit organization that accepts orphaned and injured indigenous wildlife…animals that natural call our our area home. While their primary objective is rehabilitation and release, they also provide a sanctuary for non-releasable animals.

Wildlife nuisance issues, including raiding raccoons, crafty coyotes and aggressive alligators, should be handled by local private pest control companies.

For more information on how you can better handle wildlife/human conflict, visit the Escambia County UF/IFAS Extension Office web site by clicking here.

Some tips offered by the extension service include:

  • Keep garbage in a garbage can with a raccoon-proof lid.
  • Do not leave pet food outdoors.
  • Consider fencing garden areas if repeated digging occurs.
  • Install screens over window, doors, and chimney flues to prevent entry.
  • Caulk any openings or crevices that animals may crawl through.

State Farm, Farm Bureau Want To Raise Insurance Rates

July 31, 2008

Two of the major property insurers in North Escambia have asked the state to raise insurance rates as much as nearly 50 percent.

Florida Farm Bureau became the latest insurer to ask for a rate increase when they went before the state’s Office of Insurance Regulation in Tallahassee on Wednesday. Farm Bureau is seeking to raise property insurance rates by 28 percent.

Farm Bureau, which has over 100,000 property policy holders in the state, says it needs the rate increase to be able to pay claims in the event of a major hurricane hitting their insured in the state.

The state’s second largest property insurer, State Farm, has asked for a 47 percent rate increase. A public hearing on that request will be held on August 12.  State farm insures about one million Florida homes.

Trial Of Molino Man Accused In Young Daughter’s Death Delayed Until September

July 31, 2008


Another continuance has been granted in the trial of a Molino man accused of killing his infant daughter in 2006.

The continuance was granted Monday; he will now be back in court for a jury trial September 2.

Christopher Paterson, 28, was scheduled to stand trail July 14 for the death of his one year old daughter Ali Jean Paterson. But Assistant Public Defender Fred Carmody requested that the trial be postponed so an expert witness could prepare for the trial. The continuance request was granted by Circuit Judge Michael Allen until July 28.

Paterson’s trial had previously been set to begin on May 12, but was postponed after the defense announced a new witness in the case.

The girl died on November 26, 2006, from burns she received two weeks earlier when she was left unattended in a hot bath, according to authorities. Paterson told deputies he placed the child in shower that just felt warm and went to another room to get a towel. He said that when he returned, Ali was screaming, and there was steam rising from the shower. He then called 911 after noticing red sores on the child.

Ali survived at Children’s Hospital in Birmingham for two weeks before she died.

This was not Paterson’s first involvement with authorities over Ali. The Department of Children and Families investigated a broken leg she suffered in May 2006. Paterson and Brittany Knapp, Ali’s mother, took Ali to the hospital with a broken leg. They said her leg was broken when it became trapped in a slot in her crib. DCF did not find that the incident was abuse at that time.

Paterson was indicted by a grand jury on second degree manslaughter charges in February of 2007. He was arrested on May 1, 2007, near Gainesville. He has remained in jail since his arrest.

Solutia, Monsanto Retirees Reunion Planned

July 31, 2008

Retirees from Chemstrand, Monsanto and Solutia will meet for a reunion of all departments on August 23 at the Community Life Center at the Gonzalez United Methodist Church.

As many as 400 retirees and their spouses are expected to attend.

Solutia has contributed to the cost of the food. Retirees will pay $7.50 each ($4 for children under 12) for a meal of smoked chicken, beef brisket, Boston Butt pork and all the trimmings. Drinks and desserts are included.

Door prizes will be awarded at 11 a.m. The lunch will be served at noon. The meeting time is 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. A grand prize, donated by Gulf Winds Credit Union, will be awarded.

The deadline to register to attend is August 2.

To RSVP, send a check to Sherry Smith, 2656 Broome Circle, Cantonment, Fl 32533 or call her at (850) 478-7330.

Century Convenience Store Robbed Tuesday Night

July 30, 2008


The Southern Pit Stop on North Century Boulevard was held up Tuesday night.

Deputies say a black male robbed the convenience store at 9321 North Century Boulevard about 9:50 Tuesday night.  The lone male entered the store, pushed down a clerk and grabbed an undetermined amount of cash from the register. He did not display a weapon, according to deputies. The store clerks were not injured.

He was described as a black male, about 5 feet 6 inches tall. He was wearing blue pants, a blue bandana with eye holes cut into it, and possibly a blue shirt. One of the store clerks told deputies he had a clean appearance.

Escambia County deputies from Century, Molino and Cantonment  setup a perimeter for several blocks around the store.  The Flomaton Police Department also assisted in the ground search, while the Escambia Sheriff’s Department helicopter searched from the air.

The K-9 team from Century Correctional Institute tracked the suspect’s trail out of the store, around behind it, across North Century Boulevard (Highway 29) and down Jackson Street. The dogs lost the suspect’s scent to the northeast of the store a short time later.

The search for the suspect was called off about 11:00 Tuesday night.

Pictured above: The Southern Pit Stop on Century Boulevard was robbed about 9:50 Tuesday night. Pictured below: An Escambia County Sheriff’s Deputy enters the store. Pictured bottom: An Escambia Deputy and Century Correctional Institute K-9 officer follow a search dog behind the store. exclusive photos, click to enlarge.



Gulf Power Bills Are Headed Up; Average Usage In 2007 Cost $70, Will Jump To $113 By September

July 30, 2008

If you are a Gulf Power customer, your electricity will cost you more beginning with your September bill.

Tuesday, the Florida Public Service Commission approved an 11.3 percent increase for Gulf Power, the electric utility in the area of North Escambia from Century south through Molino and continuing south into Pensacola. Areas such as Bratt, Oak Grove, Walnut Hill and Davisville west to Baldwin County, Alabama, are served by Escambia River Electric Cooperative.

Residential Gulf Power customers will see an increase of 11.3 percent, raising the cost of 1,000 kilowatt hours from $102.22 to $113.76. In September 2007, that same amount of electricity would cost just $70.29.

Citing double-digit increases in the price of natural gas and coal, Gulf Power asked the Florida Public Service Commission to approve an increase in electricity prices to cover a $76 million shortfall in 2008 revenues.

Gulf Power makes no profit on the cost of fuel. Customers are billed only what Gulf Power pays for the fuels used to make electricity.

To lessen the impact on customers, Gulf Power asked the FPSC to spread the increase out until the end of 2009, rather than collecting all of the shortfall in 2008 – the normal annual recovery period.

“The increase in the cost of fuel that we are experiencing is unprecedented,” said Gulf Power’s General Manager of Public Affairs John Hutchinson. “We don’t like increasing our prices especially at this difficult time. But just like the rising cost of gasoline, the cost of the fuels we use continues to climb. By spreading the shortfall out over a longer period of time we hope to lessen the impact as much as possible.”

The average price of coal, which fuels more than 80 percent of Gulf Power’s electricity generation, has risen 30 percent in the last year while average natural gas prices have jumped 47 percent since 2007.

Gulf Power was the third major utility in Florida to seek a mid-year fuel adjustment, with Florida Power and Light and Progress Energy seeking increases earlier this month. Normally, the FPSC adjusts electricity prices each January for fuel price fluctuations. But coal and natural gas prices have risen so rapidly in 2008, utilities are being forced to ask for mid-year adjustments.

Electric utility customers pay only the actual fuel costs that the company incurs. When fuel prices go up, the additional costs are passed through to customers. And when fuel prices go down, the savings are passed through to customers. Fuel costs have a major impact on electricity bills, accounting for almost 50 percent of the total bill.

To help customers, Gulf Power offers free energy checkups to identify energy efficiency measures to save homeowners and businesses money on their electricity bills. The company also offers rebates on Geothermal heating and cooling systems which save up to 40 percent on heating and cooling costs, as well as innovative rates and residential energy management systems to help customers lower their bills. And, the company offers a number of payment options and programs to help customers smooth out payments during high-bill months. Plan details and energy-saving tips are available at

Molino Company’s Truck Stolen, Flipped Over In Pensacola

July 30, 2008

A truck belonging to a Molino company was totaled in Pensacola Wednesday after it was stolen by a group of teenagers.

The Chevrolet Avalanche was stolen from a store at New Warrington Road and Jackson Street in Pensacola.

Gary Criswell, 47, was driving the truck about 1:00 Tuesday afternoon when he stepped inside the store for a few minutes. That’s when the truck was stolen. The truck belongs to Criswell’s employer, D&B Builders of Molino.

The Escambia Sheriff’ Department received a tip that the truck had been spotted in the Montclair area. A deputy passed the truck on Massachusetts Avenue about 3:30. By the time the deputy had turned around, the truck had been wrecked on nearby Warehouse Lane. The Chevy Avalanche was on its side just off the roadway.

Deputies located two teens that were believed to have been in the truck. One was located at a nearby business, and the other was located at an apartment complex. One was seriously injured; the other was suffering from severe injuries. Both were transported Sacred Heart Hospital. Deputies believe there may have been two more teenagers in the truck at the time of the accident.

The accident is under investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol.

Apply For Southern Pine Beetle Program

July 30, 2008

The Division of Forestry is re-offering the Southern Pine Beetle Prevention Cost Share Program to eligible non-industrial private forest landowners.

The goal of the program is to minimize southern pine beetle damage in Florida by helping forest landowners reduce the susceptibility of their pine stands to this destructive insect pest.

Periodic southern pine beetle outbreaks in Florida have resulted in millions of cubic feet of pine timber killed on thousands of acres. Forest management practices, such as thinning, prescribed burning, other competition control, and use of less-susceptible pine species can improve the health of pine stands and decrease their likelihood of developing southern pine beetle infestations.

The program offers up to 50 percent cost reimbursement for pre-commercial thinning, prescribed burning and mechanical underbrush treatments in existing pine stands, and a $50 per acre incentive payment for landowners who conduct a first pulpwood thinning.

In addition, landowners may apply to receive up to 50 percent reimbursement for the cost of longleaf seedlings and $25 per acre in planting cost assistance to establish a longleaf pine plantation. The program is limited to 44 northern Florida counties located within the range of the southern pine beetle. Qualified landowners may apply for up to two approved practices per year. The minimum tract size requirement is 10 acres and funding requests may not exceed $10,000.

For an application and more information on program requirements and procedures, forest landowners can contact the Florida Division of Forestry in Molino at (850) 587-5123. Applications were available beginning July 30 and will be evaluated on a first-received, first-served basis. The program is supported through temporary grants from the USDA Forest Service and will be offered only as long as funding is available.

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