Friday Deadline For Emergency Forestry Conservation Program

January 29, 2009

The Emergency Forestry Conservation Reserve Program (EFCRP) signup is scheduled to end at the close of business on Friday, January 30 according to Escambia County Executive Director Suzette D. Cooper, of the USDA Farm Service Agency.

USDA Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) Emergency Forestry Conservation Reserve Program (EFCRP) helps eligible landowners and operators restore and enhance forestland. Trees planted through EFCRP will help reduce flood effects, protect water sources, decrease soil erosion and improve wildlife habitat.

The EFCRP was authorized by Section 107 of the 2006 Appropriations Act to enroll certain land that:
• is private nonindustrial forest land
• experienced a loss of 35 percent or more of merchantable timber
• suffered forestry damage related to 2005 hurricanes.

The EFCRP is eligible in 228 Presidential or Secretarial-designated counties in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Texas, including Escambia County, Florida. Almost 4,800 offers have been received to enroll over 546,000 acres.

Any offer made by COB January 30, 2009 will be processed under existing rules (e.g., offer acceptability, plan development, and contract approval).

International Paper Local Charitable Giving Up

January 29, 2009

Despite the falling economy, International Paper’s Pensacola Mill in Cantonment showed an increase it its contributions to the local community last year, including donations in North Escambia.

Following a review of its 2008 charitable giving, the IP Pensacola Mill announced that it contributed nearly $163,000 to the local community last year, indicating a $10,000 increase over 2007.

The mill and its employees gave nearly $113,000 in cash and in-kind donations to local charities, and $50,000 in grants were awarded by the IP Foundation based in Memphis, Tenn. The IP Foundation also matches 60 percent of employee pledges to United Way.

Mill contributions are focused primarily on literacy and environmental education, and employees administer annual fund drives for Relay for Life, American Heart Walk and the United Way.

“Due to our employees’ hard work on their fund drives for Relay for Life, American Heart Walk and the United Way, we saw a significant increase on the dollars they raised last year,” said Jessica Morris, mill communications manager. “They simply saw a need in the community and were able to give a little more, so they did.”

For more information on IP Giving, visit or contact the Pensacola Mill at 968-4203.

Pictured above: Jessica Morris (L) from IP’s Pensacola Mill presents a $1,462 grant check to Carolyn Findley, reading coach at Ernest Ward Middle School last October. The money was used to purchase Interactive Readers for mid-level and advanced reading students. file photo, click to enlarge.

Homeless Count To Be Held Thursday, Friday; Volunteers Needed

January 29, 2009

Help is needed to find and help count the homeless population in North Escambia by 3 p.m. Friday.

The homeless count includes not only those that live on the streets, but those that are living in someone else’s home.

The EscaRosa Coalition For the Homeless is organizing the annual Point-in Time Homeless Count, a survey required in communities across America to obtain federal funding for programs that assist the homeless.

Items such as blankets, hats, gloves, flashights and more will be available for the homeless at the Carver Community Center on Thursday from 3 until 2 p.m. and Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and at the New Life Baptist Church Thursday from 4 to 8 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

January is also “Help the Homeless Month” in Florida as proclaimed by Governor Charlie Crist.

The count of the homeless is scheduled over a 24 hour period – from 3 p.m. today through 3 p.m. tomorrow. If you know the names and locations of any homeless individuals in North Escambia, or if you would like to volunteer to conduct the surveys, please call the office of Ann Brooks at 256-2999 or email

Click here to download more information.

Purchase Historic Chicago Obama Newspapers, Benefit Relay For Life

January 28, 2009

chi2.jpgYou can own a piece of American history and support Relay for Life at the same time. is giving you a chance to purchase Obama Inauguration coverage newspapers from Chicago.

The January 21 newspapers — Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, and USA Today special edition — are being sold at the Country Bumpkin in Century. All proceeds will benefit the American Cancer Society Relay for Life team. The newspapers were purchased in Chicago and flown back to Pensacola in pristine condition.

We are also auctioning off a complete set of Chicago newspapers from January 21 –  Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, and USA Today special edition, and The Herald News  — in an online auction.
chi1.jpgThe Chicago Sun-Times features a full front page color photo of Obama raising his right hand with the headline “So Help Me God”. The Chicago Tribune has full page color Inauguration photo and the headline “Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and being the work of remaking America”. The USA Today special edition was a limited run paper that is sold out nationwide. It is not the regular daily edition that was available locally. The Herald News has a full page color photo of Obama with the headline “President Barack Obama Face of Change”.

Each paper, except for the rare The Heralds News, is $15 for the first newspaper and $10 for each additional paper. There are limited number of the papers available, so if you want to own this piece of American history, you must be among the first to visit the Country Bumpkin in Century. Chicago is important in Obama’s history because while in Chicago he worked as a civil rights lawyer, activist and was eventually elected to the U.S. Senate prior to launching his campaign from Chicago.

We are auctioning off a complete set including one each of  the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, and USA Today special edition, and The Herald News. To bid on the complete set of these historic collectible newspapers, send your name, phone number and the amount of your bid to Bids will be accepted until midnight February 3. We will update the high bid amount daily here on Shipping is available for an additional charge, otherwise the papers will be claimed in Century at the Country Bumpkin.

The Country Bumpkin is located at 7850 North Century Boulevard in Century.

100 percent of the proceeds from the newspaper sale and auction will go to the American Cancer Society Relay for Life.


Ford Motor Company Awards Escambia, Santa Rosa Schools

January 28, 2009

The Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company, has designated Escambia County and Santa Rosa County school districts as a Ford Partnership for Advanced Studies Next Generation Learning Community (Ford PAS NGLC) at the Leadership Level, one of five in the country, at a Tuesday press conference.In selecting Escambia and Santa Rosa, Ford Motor Company Fund cited its success in increasing the number of students with access to career academies, which teaches academics through the lens of a career. Ford also applauded both districts’ strong partnerships with area businesses.

The Ford PAS NGLC Leadership Level is the highest education accolade given to communities by Ford Motor Company Fund. The Escambia and Santa Rosa communities have reached program requirements for developing a successful and sustainable career academy network through the development of a two-county multi-year master plan. Since being designated as a Ford PAS Next Generation Learning Community in 2007,

Ford Motor Company Fund worked with both communities to provide technical assistance from a team of experts to help maximize their career academies by using the Ford PAS NGLC 12-Point Master Plan, which helps align career academies with future workforce and economic development trends.

As a part of this recognition, Escambia and Santa Rosa will have access to professional development for teachers and networking opportunities through Ford Motor Company Fund’s education initiative, Ford Partnership for Advanced Studies (Ford PAS). Created in partnership with the Education Development Center, Inc., Ford PAS provides high school students with high-quality, interdisciplinary learning experiences that challenge them academically and develop their problem-solving, critical thinking and communication skills. It enhances this curriculum by providing professional development for teachers and networking opportunities between communities using Ford PAS.

Sixty teachers from Escambia School District and Santa Rosa School District received Ford PAS professional development training in November. In addition, twenty Chamber businesses participated in a “Coordinated Learning Experience” session where they shared the training, education and skills needed by students for future success in their companies with these teachers.

The Pensacola Bay Area Chamber of Commerce is working with Escambia and Santa Rosa school districts to strengthen the career academy network for student and workforce readiness. This program ensures that the area has trained students to enter the workforce after high school in entry level positions with the option to continue their education at UWF or PJC.

County, School Board Talk Service Consolidation; Old Molino School Property

January 28, 2009

The Escambia County Commission and Escambia County School District held a joint meeting Tuesday, discussing ways the two could consolidate services. The continued attempt by the county to obtain the old Molino Elementary School for a library and community center.

The two governmental bodies discussed combining services like transportation, health insurance, purchasing, human resources, vehicle maintenance and information technology. They even discussed holding joint town hall meetings in across the county.

The two boards looked options for improving traffic flow at Pine Forest High School, including the possible construction of a road by the county on the PHS property that would run parallel to the exisiting Long Leaf Drive. The county said they would be willing to accept the old Molino Elementary and Wedgewood Middle school properties as payment for the road.

The county has attempted to acqure the old Molino School property from the school board for several months.

In July, the county commission offered the school board $2 million for both unused school campuses, but that offer was shot down by the school district. Then-superintendent Jim Paul made a $3.3 million counter offer that the county commission did not accept. The $3.3 million was broken down as $2.9 million for the Wedgewood property and $400,000 for the old Molino School property.

The county has made standing offer to allow the school board to use the county owned civic center rent-free for graduation ceremonies for  a number of years in exchange for the two school properties, but that offer has also not been accepted by the school board.

Plans call for the old Molino school to become a community hub, possibly including a 5,000 square foot library, a museum highlighting Molino history, a small health clinic, a business incubator, renovation of the gym and one additional building for community events and private party rental along with other uses.

The commission has already applied for a half million dollar grant for the library portion of the project, but they have yet to be able to obtain the building from the school district.

The half million grant, if awarded, would be matched by another half million from the county. The county’s portion would be from the Local Option Sales Tax. The county has already approved their portion of the funds to renovate part of the old Molino Elementary into a library. The grant, if awarded, would require the county to use the facility as a library in Molino for a minimum of 20 years.

The Molino school closed in 2003 when the new Molino Park Elementary School consolidated Molino Elementary and Barrineau Park Elementary.

The school, which sits on nine acres along County Road 95A, first opened in 1939.

Pictured above: An aerial view of the old Molino Elementary School property on Highway 95A.

Rain Today, Turning Colder Tonight

January 28, 2009

There a hefty 90 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms today.

The forecast calls for showers and storms to increase by afternoon, with a high of 62. . southwest winds 10 to 20 mph will become northwest 5 to 15 mph late in the afternoon. The changing winds will bring cooler temperatures.

There is a 50 percent chance of rain, ending after midnight and a forecast low of 35 for night. Thursday will be sunny and cooler, with a high of 57 and a north wind.

Friday to Sunday will be sunny and cool, with daytime highs of 58 and over night lows of 28.

The National Weather Service says today’s storms are not expected to become severe.

State Farm Wants To Cancel Florida Property Insurance After Rate Increase Denied

January 28, 2009

State Farm Insurance has announced they plan to discontinue offering property insurance in Florida, potentially leaving thousands of Florida residents hunting for property insurance.

statefarm2.jpgThe company said the move was “directly related to its inability to obtain regulatory approval of what it believes to be adequate property insurance rates”. The policies to be discontinued  include insurance coverage for homeowners, renters, condominium unit owners, personal liability, boats, personal articles, churches, and business property and liability policies.

In July, the company filed for an average 47.1 percent homeowners policy rate increase, but that increase was denied by the state.

In Escambia County, State Farm has over 13,000 homeowners policies, 87 mobile home policies, 328 condo policies, 1,257 renters policies, 58 apartment policies totaling almost $28 million in premiums.

“We will carefully review State Farm’s intended plans to ensure that they are in compliance with Florida law; and we will explore all legal options as well,” said Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty. “I will do everything within my power to protect Florida consumers from unnecessary destabilization of the insurance market that this might cause and to ensure that Florida consumers are protected and have access to insurance at rates that are not excessive or unfairly discriminatory.”

The state insurance commission has up to 90 days to approve State Farm’s property pullout, and then state Farm must then provide 180 days notice to customers before policies can be non-renewed.

“To help ease the transition of policies, Florida already has new companies who are eagerly looking to grow their businesses and will welcome the opportunity to add more customers. I encourage everyone to work closely with their agent to choose a new company that will offer needed coverage at a price you can afford,” McCarty said.

“They probably charge about the highest rates in the state anyway,” Florida Gov. Charlie Crist said. “I think that Floridians will be much better off without them.”

“This is not an action we wanted to take, but one we must take given the realities of the Florida property insurance market,” State Farm Florida President Jim Thompson said in a statement. “We regret the impact this will have on our customers, employees and agents in Florida.”

State Farm has no plans to abandon its auto, health and life policies in Florida.

Century Votes To Bring Escambia County Code Enforcement Back To Town

January 27, 2009

The Town of Century has voted to enter into an agreement with Escambia County that will bring code enforcement back to the town for the first time in several years.

The council approved an agreement with Escambia County Code Enforcement at a Monday night meeting by a 3-0 vote. Council members Henry Hawkins and Gary Riley did not attend the meeting.

The agreement calls for Escambia County to provide code enforcement for both county and town ordinances within the city limits. The enforcement will be “proactive”, according to Sandra Slay, Escambia County’s code enforcement manager. The code officers will not respond to citizen complaints within the Town of Century; rather, the officers will seek out violators.

“There’s no more calling in on your neighbor,” Century Mayor Freddie McCall said, referring to Century’s previous attempts at code enforcement that had neighbors literally turning each other in.

“The first thing, we are going to do is go up Highway 29,” Slay told the council. She said her officers would spend one day, most likely Wednesday, each week in Century. “We are going to address every violation as we target an area.”

“I think you are going to have your hands full for a long time,” Council President Ann Brooks told Slay.

Slay told the council that her officers are able to work efficiently from their vehicles. They will be able to issue citations, record information and search property records with wirelessly connected laptops in the county trucks.

The average citation provides seven day for violator to rectify a problem like overgrown or debris-covered property. On a major violation, like a dilapidated building, the most time code enforcement can provide by law is 30 days.

“We can come back later and work with them,” Slay said. “We do have that flexibility.” She said the county will try to find an agency to assist those that cannot afford to resolve their code issue, or they will refer the violator to the mayor who will assist in finding them help.

The county’s code enforcement in Century will be funded out of a $50,000 Community Development Block Grant, and all fines collected will go to the county. There will be no direct cost to the town.

The agreement must now be approved by the Escambia County Commission before it is finalized.

Previously, Century ended an agreement with Escambia County to provide code enforcement in the town. Under that agreement, the county’s code enforcement officers worked Century and wrote citations that were turned over to the town for abatement. The services were provided by the county at no charge to Century.

The arrangement came under fire, with allegations that the county’s officers provided selective enforcement, citing some people but no others. That prompted the council to sever the relationship with Escambia Code Enforcement. Currently, there is no code enforcement at all in the town.

Pictured above: Dilapidated buildings such as this one along Highway 29 might become the target of code enforcement in Century. file photo, click to enlarge. 

Rain On The Way For Wed.

January 27, 2009

Allow a little extra time when you head out this morning; this is a dense fog advisory in effect until 9 a.m. for the North Escambia area.

Later today will be partly sunny and warm with a high of 76. A few rain showers will creep into the forecast by Tuesday night, with a low of 58.

Expect a rainy Wednesday. There’s a 70 percent chance of  rain with isolated thunderstorms. The rain will end after midnight Wednesday, and it will turn cooler with a low of 42.

Thursday will be sunny and cooler, a high of 52.

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