Canes Beat Miller In County Tourney

February 27, 2009


The Flomaton Hurricane beat T.R. Miller in the County Tournament last night in Flomaton.

The ‘Canes beat the Tigers 9-7.

The games resume at 1:00 today with Flomaton playing Escambia County High School. The tournament was scheduled to end Saturday, but it was moved up to Friday due to the chance of rain on Saturday.

Click here for more photos from Mike Newton Photography.

Pictured above: Action as Flomaton beat T.R. Miller Thursday night. Submitted photo by Mike Newton Photography for, click to enlarge.

Century Won’t Get Electric Car Plan Or 1,100 Jobs; County Leaders Not Happy

February 27, 2009

Plans for the LHS EV electric vehicle manufacturing plant to be located in Century appear to be dead, and some county leaders are not happy.

The State of Florida has rejected a $2.5 million grant application from their Renewable Energy and Energy-Efficiency Technologies program. As a result, LHS EV no longer has plans to locate the plant in Century.

“Once again Northwest Florida gets slammed when it came to state grant money,” Larry Newsom, who filed the grant application on behalf of the county, said. “All of the projects we submit are viable, but they are not looked at fair and equitable. Tallahassee does not look west.”

Nash Patel, one of the co-owners of LHS EV says without the state grant, Century and Escambia County are no longer in the company’s future.

“There are no other plans to locate in this area,” Patel said. “The project is still viable, and we will look at other areas that have expressed an interest in Florida and Alabama.”

“This will probably hurt Century worse than anybody right now, especially in these economic times,” Kevin White, District 5 Escambia County commissioner, said. “It’s sad that once again an opportunity for jobs has vanished again in Escambia County.”

LHS EV had promised about 200 jobs would have come with the plant to Century, and they said total employment could reach as high as 1,100.

“We will continue with this project and those jobs,” Patel said. “But it will not be in Escambia County.”

Escambia County helped LHS EV apply for the $2.5 million grant, and the county passed a resolution offering $39,000 in tax incentives to the company.

“We are going to continue to look at other options,” Newsom said. “But I can’t speak for what the Patels will do.”

Escambia County has requested $20 million in federal stimulus money for a green infrastructure project. If awarded, the grant might could help the Patels, Newsom said, or it could go toward other renewable energy program or a project like making buildings more energy efficient. The grant is not tied to LHS.

Patel said that LHS EV needed the $2.5 million to get $34 million in financing for Project Green Leaf. Nash and his brother Jay Patel said they had the $34 million secured in a line of credit, but they refused many media requests to name the bank that would provide the financing.

“The Patels’ concern was how money they would have to put up on the front end,” Newsom said. “The $2.5 million would have got the plant built, put people to work and got the ball rolling. They would have generated revenue before they had to put up their own money. I thought it was a very smart strategy; they would have been looking at only about a year to get a return on their investment.”

After the grant application, reported that the Patel’s motel companies owed thousands of dollars in state taxes, as well as Escambia County touristdevelopment taxes. Liens were also filed against their companies for unpaid ECUA utility bills.

Newsom said he did not believe the tax liens had any impact on the state’s decision.

“If they took it into consideration, I don’t know anything about. There was nothing on the application that would have implied anything about it,” he said.

Century Mayor and Chamber of Commerce Director Freddie McCall was not available for comment Thursday afternoon. He was out of the office for medical reasons.

Two Pedestrians Killed, Third Injured

February 27, 2009

Two pedestrians were killed and a third was injured Thursday night in Cantonment.

The three people were hit by a vehicle about 10:05 Thursday night at the intersection of Highway 95A and Tate School Road.

The FHP says a male and female were killed. The third pedestrian was transported to a Pensacola hospital by helicopter with non-life threatening injuries.

The accident is under investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol. More details will be posted when released by the FHP.

Amazing Photo Catches Northview Softball Player’s Leg Being Broken

February 27, 2009


An amazing photograph shows the moment Northview softball player Amber McMillan’s leg was broken in tournament game against Enterprise High School in Dothan, Alabama.

“She loved it,” mom Donna McMillan said of Amber’s reaction to the photo. “She’s got the ball, signed by all of the players, the pants that had to be cut off of her and the photo that she plans to frame and put in her room.”

Amber, 16, is improving, Donna said. She’s not in a cast…she has a metal rod in her leg, and she’s on crutches. She’s expected to be healed in about six to eight weeks.

Amber will visit the Andrew’s Institute in Gulf Breeze Monday afternoon to find out more about her treatment and when she will be able to head back to school.

“She plans to play in the district tournament,” Donna said. But Amber’s mom and her dad Mac don’t agree with that optimistic outlook.

Amber has always been active in sports, playing softball since she was four-years old. She’s participated in softball, volleyball, cheerleading, track, basketball and golf. And the broken leg was her first ever injury.

After the accident, no one was sure exactly how Amber’s leg was broken — until they saw the photo.

As for the play itself…the photo shows Amber catching the ball as her leg was broken. She held on to the ball and got the out.

Pictured above: Northview softball player Amber McMillan’s left leg is broken in tournament game in Dothan. Submitted photo by Scott Harris, for, click to enlarge.

Ernest Ward Mailing Letter To Parents

February 27, 2009

Ernest Ward Middle School is mailing a letter to every parent or guardian with a few tips to help students do their best of the FCAT.

The school placed Connect-Ed call to parents Thursday night letting them know that the letter is on the way. The letters will be mailed on Friday and should arrive in mailboxes Saturday or Monday.

The Florida Comprehensive Assessment  Test will be take place March 10 and 11.

To read a copy of the letter than parents will receive in the mail, click here (pdf).

More Jobs Possibly Headed To Atmore Plant

February 27, 2009

Dixie Group, the parent company of Masland Carpets in Atmore, says that it may close a West Coast facility and move that work to Atmore.

It would be the second consolidation in just six months at the Atmore plant.

Dixie Group said it is considering moving the Fabrica division of the company from California to Atmore sometime in the last half of 2009. That would cost the company $3 to $5 million, a number that company says could easily be saved in just year.

The Fabrica move to Atmore would mean more jobs, some available very soon after the move is official. But the total jobs added to the 360 already in Atmore might be small.

“In this environment, we would try not to add any more than we absolutely had to,” Dixie Group Chief Financial Officer Gary Harmon said.

But the division might not be headed for Atmore. They company says it is considering selling off the division to help reduce $93.8 million in debt.

About six months ago, Dixie Group moved a carpet tufting division from Eton, Ga., to Atmore.

“The consolidation of our Eton, Georgia, carpet tufting operation into our tufting, dyeing and finishing facility in Atmore, Alabama, is substantially complete. Most of the costs to complete this action are now behind us, and the benefits of this consolidation should begin to have a positive impact on our results in March of this year. We are assessing our alternatives for the Fabrica business and are considering the possible sale of the business or, more likely, consolidation into our East Coast facilities,”

Daniel K. Frierson, Dixie Group chairman and CEO said.

Northview Celebrates Black History Month

February 27, 2009


The Minority Culture Club at Northview High School celebrated change at the school’s annual Black History Month program Thursday.

From Rosa Park’s famous bus ride, to school integration, to Martin Luther King, Jr., to the election of Barack Obama, the students depicting historic moments in black history on stage.

blackhistory11.jpgGuest speaker Capt. Anthony “Tony” McFarlane, USN-Retired told the students to strive to do their best.

“Maintaining that can-do spirit is the attitude of a winner,” McFarlane said. “Don’t sit on the sidelines. Be a part of those making history.”

Click here for a complete photo gallery from the event.

Members of the Northview Minority Culture Club are: Shaquaina Lewis, Brittney Thompson, Brittany Pete, Kassandra Lett, Jay Jackson, Kanisha Knight, Gabe Wesley, Jocqus Lett, Derrick Portis, Wayne Marshall, LaDarion White, Aquarius Johnson, Jody Levins, Alesha Copeland, Darwin Robinson, Nicole Peacock, Latiffia Carter, Kashun Williams, Tikieya Amos, Ashia Brown, Naomi Cooler, Brian Long, Timeka Marshall, Angela Rodriguez, Marquita Allen, Atidze Johnson, Stanley Chestnut, Latorria McGee, Aneicia McGee, Shaniqua Jones, Sam Cooler, Jeremy Jackson, Kevin Cottrell, Amber Richardson and Ashley Muse.  Faculty sponsors are Rachel Pleasant and Senior Chief Lee Coleman.

Pictured above: Students re-enact the swearing in of Barrack Obama during the Black History Month program Thursday at Northview High School. Pictured inset: Capt. Anthony “Tony” McFarlane, USN-Ret. photos, click to enlarge.

Blog: Sheriff’s Helicopter Grounded Today; We Need It In North Escambia

February 27, 2009

The Escambia County Sheriff’s Department helicopter will take to the skies for the last time this evening. By 3 a.m. Saturday, it will be back in the hanger for the last time.

Escambia Sheriff David Morgan has grounded the department’s air unit. We understand his reason, and it is a big one. The air unit is costing the department about $800,000 a year, and times are tough. Like most everyone, Morgan must cut his budget, and the helicopter was on his radar.

We want to be very clear, we understand Morgan’s decision. does not fault the decision at all.

“We looked for ways to keep the helicopter,” Morgan told “We even went to other law enforcement agencies that have used it and asked for help. No one wrote a check.”

“It came down to pulling patrols off the streets or grounding the helicopter. I could not take $800,000 worth of deputies off the streets,” the sheriff said.

Makes perfect sense to us, and we agree…$800,000 worth of deputies is better than an $800,000 helicopter program.

However, we believe it is time for someone to find the cash to get the copter back in the air as soon as possible. It is an item of special importance to us in North Escambia.


To understand the why, let’s look at the what.

In the just over a year that we’ve been publishing, the helicopter has been used numerous times to search for criminals. Time after time, we have seen its effectiveness. Very few times has the helicopter missed finding the bad guy. The search is usually over very quickly, with the helicopter crew finding their man — or woman — within just minutes.

It’s been called to North Escambia to look for a lost hunter. It’s even been called to Century to look for a horse. A horse? It was a dark night when a black horse was running around Century, darting in an out of Highway 29. Deputies called for the helicopter to follow the horse so it could be “apprehended” before it was hit by a vehicle, possibly causing a serious injury or death.

In the basic call the helicopter to look for a criminal in North Escambia scenario, a guy runs from deputies. They setup a perimeter they begin a search with tracking dogs from Century Correctional Institute. The helicopter is called, the criminal is busted and we all sleep safer that night. It’s a very effective recipe.

The scenario works the same elsewhere in Escambia County, like say 9 Mile Road.  The perimeter is setup, and the sheriff’s department’s own tracking dogs are called.

But here’s the real difference. The perimeter in the rest of the county may be city blocks. Pretty easy to put a deputy on each corner and watch for the bad guy. But in North Escambia, that perimeter may be roads that are miles and miles apart. The bad guy may be in hundreds of acres of woods. The dogs are good, but they may not find the perp. The dogs and deputies will eventually give up if they can’t find him, and the bad guy will simply walk away.

Let’s look at another real possibility for us here in North Escambia. Little Johnny and his friends are playing. They wander into the woods. Darkness is falling, and they are lost. Mom calls 911. Deputies and tracking dogs can’t find Johnny. The helicopter would likely be able to find him in minutes. But it has been grounded. The scenario could end in unspeakable tragedy.

Little Johnny might be my child. Your child. Your grandchild. Or your elderly grandmother.

“But we saved $800,000.”

Is that going to make you feel better when you have lost your child? There is no price tag that can be put on a child.

If the helicopter saved the life of your child, $800,000 would be the most unimportant thing on earth.

Again, we do not fault Sheriff Morgan for his decision. He only has so many dollars to work with in his budget.

But it’s time for a solution to get the copter back in the air. Morgan’s budget comes from the county commission. Do they have an extra $800,000 lying around? Not without robbing Peter to pay Paul as the old saying goes. The commission is facing the same budget woes as everyone else.

Where will the money come from? We don’t have that answer. But with billions in economic stimulus money, millions and millions in Homeland Security grants and all that other federal money floating around, we need cash to keep the birdie in the air.

Oh, and to our dear friends in Baldwin County, Escambia County (Ala.) and Santa Rosa County…we are sure you have Sheriff Morgan’s address. You have called for Escambia County’s helicopter to assist you many times. Now we are calling for you to write a check and help pay for the services you have been receiving. The sheriff has asked, and now it is time for him to find a check in the mail.

After all, dear Santa Rosa County Commission, if you can give $125,000 to keep a failing zoo open, you can spend $125,000 to find a lost child.

The next time the helicopter is needed, it might be your child.

Frontier Experiences Phone Outage

February 26, 2009

Frontier Communications briefly lost telephone service in North Escambia and South Alabama Thursday afternoon.

Frontier Local Manager Cereal Daniel said Frontier customers in Walnut Hill, Bratt, Molino, Atmore and surrounding areas lost the ability to make some calls due a problem outside Frontier’s control.

A telephone network processor located outside of Frontier’s telephone network and operated by another company malfunction, causing the problem.

Daniel said all local phone service has been restored.

Highway 168 Brush Fire

February 26, 2009


Firefighters fought a fast moving brush fire on Highway 168 near Wiggins Road just before noon Thursday.

168brush20.jpgThe fire burned a few acres of woods along Highway 168, with high winds pushing it toward homes on Wiggins Road. One fire engine was briefly stationed on Wiggins Road to protect the homes, but the fire did not spread all the way to that road.

No structures were damaged, and there were no injuries in the blaze.

The cause of the fire, which was reported to have started as a grass fire along Highway 168, was not known. Century Fire Chief Regi Burkett said that it was possibly started by someone who tossed a cigarette  out of a vehicle.

The Century, McDavid, Walnut Hill and Molino stations of Escambia Fire Rescue were dispatched to the scene, along with the Florida Division of Forestry.

Pictured above and below: Firefighters work to contain a brush fire on Highway 168 Thursday afternoon. photos, click to enlarge.


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