Santa Rosa Man Dies From Swine Flu

September 29, 2009

A 52-year old man is Santa Rosa County’s first confirmed death associated with H1N1 Swine Flu, according to the county’s health department.

The man died September 11, according to information released Tuesday from the Santa Rosa County Health Department. Health officials were notified of his death September 28, when the results of additional lab tests were received. The man had hypertension and GERD (gastroesophogeal reflux disease). In keeping with Florida Department of Health policy, no additional information was released.

“The death of a loved one under any circumstances is always a tragedy,” said Sandra Park, A.R.N.P., interim administrator for the health department. “Our hearts and prayers go out to his family and friends at this difficult time.”

The man was admitted to the hospital on September 4. At that time, a rapid flu test for H1N1 was performed and the result of that test was negative. Additional testing, however, confirmed that the man was ill with H1N1.

The health department is continuing its surveillance of the H1N1 virus and encourages the public to practice good hygiene precautions as the most effective method of preventing the spread of not only H1N1 but seasonal flu as well. These methods consist of washing hands frequently with soap and warm water, or using hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available, covering sneezes and coughs and, most importantly, staying at home if they are sick. If they have questions about how to care for someone who may have the flu, they should call their health care provider.

Although the health department has not yet received the H1N1 vaccine, seasonal flu vaccine is available and health officials are encouraging residents to get their annual flu shot.

For more information on H1N1 flu, log onto the Department of Health’s H1N1 website at or call the Florida Flu Information Line at 1-877-352-3581 between the hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Central Time.

Rabies Alert Extended For North Escambia; More Rabid Animals Found

September 29, 2009

A rabies alert for NorthEscambia has been extended after three more animals have been found with rabies.

rabiesalert.jpgThe original alert, issued at the end of August was issued after one person was bit by a rabid fox and two raccoons that bit dogs tested positive for rabies. But now that three more rabid animals have been found in North Escambia, the rabies alert has been extended until November 29.

The Escambia County Health Department received laboratory-confirmation of rabies in a skunk and two raccoons. The skunk and raccoons were sent for testing after interacting with pets and, in one case, a pet owner. These positive tests are in addition to the rabid animals that prompted the August alert.

The rabies alert is for all of North Escambia, from Muscogee Road north to the Alabama state line, including all areas between the Escambia and Perdido rivers north of Musocogee Road.

“Rabies will kill humans and their pets if it is not treated,” said Dr. John Lanza, director of the Escambia County Health Department. “I urge residents to keep their pets vaccinated, to stay away from wild animals, and to take basic precautions to keep wild animals from coming to your home.”

Escambia residents should be aware that rabies is present in the wild animal population and domestic animals are at risk if not vaccinated. The public is asked to maintain a heightened awareness that rabies is active in North Escambia, according to the health department. Alerts are designed to increase awareness to the public, but they should not give a false sense of security to areas that have not been named as under an alert.

An animal with rabies could infect other wild animals or domestic animals that have not been vaccinated against rabies. All domestic animals should be vaccinated against rabies and humans should avoid all wildlife contact, especially with raccoons, bats, and foxes.

Rabies is a disease of the nervous system and is usually fatal to warm-blooded animals and to humans. The only treatment for human exposure to rabies is rabies-specific immune globulin and rabies immunization. Appropriate treatment started soon after the exposure will protect an exposed person from the disease.

The following advice is issued:

  • All pets should have current rabies immunizations.
  • Avoid contact with all wildlife, especially raccoons, bats, and foxes.
  • All persons with any unusual exposure incident, or bites, with a wild animal should be evaluated by a physician to determine their need for treatment.
  • For general questions pertaining to rabies in animals, contact the Escambia County Health Department’s Environmental Health Division at (850) 595-6700.
  • Secure outside garbage in covered containers to avoid attracting wild animals.
  • Do not leave pet food outside as this practice also attracts other animals.
  • For questions regarding the health of an animal, contact a veterinarian.
  • Veterinarian staff and animal control staff should be alert for animals encountered with signs suspicious for rabies and contact the Escambia County Health Department’s Environmental Health Division at (850) 595-6700.

For further information on rabies, go to the Florida Department of Health website: or contact the Escambia County Health Department, Environmental Health office at (850) 595-6700.

Insurance Benefits Reduced For Escambia Teachers, School Employees

September 29, 2009

The Escambia County School Board voted Monday to cut back on health care benefits for about 4,300 teachers, staff members and retirees.

schooldist.jpgThe biggest change comes to doctor’s visit co-pays. This year, it costs a teacher or educational staff member $30 to see a doctor. Starting January 1, that co-pay will change to $20 plus 20 percent of the doctor’s total bill. The co-pays do not apply to preventative doctor’s visits and screenings.

The new plan will keep hospitalization co-pays at the current 20 percent.

The school district was facing a $6.4 million budget deficit in its self-insured insurance trust fund. The change to doctor’s co-pays is projected to save the district about $3.5 million next year.

Under the next year’s health benefits plan, school district employees will see no change to their health insurance premiums or prescription cost. And the district will pay a $100 bonus to full-time permanent employees that take part in a health risk assessment program.

The Escambia School District Health Plan changes were approved Monday on a 5-0 vote by the school board at a special meeting.  The changes will be on the district’s Choice Plan.

Century Man Arrested Monday On Battery Charges

September 29, 2009

matthewsgregoryjoseph.jpgA Century man was arrested Monday on battery charges at an apartment complex where he lives.

Gregory Joseph Matthews, 24, of 20 West Highway 4, Century, was arrested by Escambia County Sheriff’s Office deputies after a domestic incident at the Century Woods Apartments.

Matthews was booked into the Escambia County Jail where he remained Tuesday morning without bond.

Century Relay Teams Meet; Video Now Available From Previous Two Events

September 29, 2009


Century Relay for Life held an Early Bird Party Monday night for teams to register for the 2010 event.

For Paula Jernigan, last year’s event chair, the day also marked a significant day in her life — September 28 was the date she was told she only had one or two years to live from her cancer. That was nine years ago Monday.

“I’m still here,” she said, “because of research.”

“All the money in the world will not protect you from cancer,” Event Chair Susan Diamond said. “Research is our hope….every dime we raise, every step we take goes toward that goal of research.”

A video produced by with pictures from the past two years of Century Relay was debuted at the meeting. Watch the video at the bottom of this page. Copies of the video are available for purchase on DVD for $20, with all proceeds going toward Relay for Life.  Email to order.

Persons interested in forming a team for the Century Relay can do so at the next team event at 7 p.m. on October 26 at the Century Ag Building on West Highway 4.  Teams can also register online at

Pictured above: Century Relay Chair Susan Diamond (standing) explains this year’s Relay to team members Monday night. photo, click to enlarge.

Bond Set For Nokomis Murder Suspects; Victim Buried Tuesday

September 29, 2009

The two suspects charged in the Thursday murder Nokomis man remain in the Escambia County (Ala.) Detention Center. The father-to-be that died after being shot was buried this afternoon. Finds Nokomis Murder Suspects; Both Behind Bars (EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS)Clarence Luker, 37, and Lorraine Gray, 50, are being held on open counts of murder with bond now set at $100,000 each.

Both admitted to being the person that shot and killed  Kenneth Porter, 32, at a trailer park on Nathan Road in Nokomis, Ala., about 7:10 p.m. last Thursday. Porter was pronounced dead from his injuries about two hours later at a Mobile hospital.

For more details on the murder, including exclusive photos from the capture of Luker and Gray, click here.

Porter was buried at Bankster Cemetery in Spanish Fort, Ala., Tuesday afternoon.

Click here for more about Porter.

Pictured above: Photos of Luker and Gray in the back of Escambia County (Ala.) Sheriff’s Department cruisers after their arrest. exclusive photos, click to enlarge.

Flomaton Canes Down Northview In Varsity and JV Volleyball

September 29, 2009


The Flomaton Hurricanes downed the Northview Chiefs in both varsity and junior varsity volleyball Monday in Bratt.

For more photos from the game, click here for a gallery.

Here are the Northview stats from the non-district games:

nhs-flomaton-10.jpgNorthview Vs. Flomaton – Varsity
15-25 24-26 25-23 27-17 25-11
Flomaton Winning

Shawna Montgomery 11 M Kills-8, Digs – 1, Blocks-1
Caitlin Hall 12 Setter Assists– 18, Blocks-1, Digs-2
Angela Rodriguez 12 LS/Middle Kills-2, Aces-1, Digs-4
Shaniqua Jones 11 Middle Kills – 6, Digs – 3

Record – Overall – 4 -10; District 2 -2

Northview Vs. Flomaton — JV
11-25 21-25 12-25
Flomaton Winning

Cheyanne Garnett 10 Setter/Left Aces – 4, Assists – 3
Morgan Payne 09 Middle/Setter Kills–, Aces – 2, Digs -2
Josie Doucette 10 Middle Kills – 5, Blocks – 1

Pictured: Action from the Northview Lady Chiefs and the Flomaton Lady Canes Monday afternoon. Photos by Bethany Reynolds for, click to enlarge.

Photos: Flomaton, Ernest Ward And McCall Meet In Middle School Volleyball

September 29, 2009


ewms-blue-15.jpgThe Ernest Ward Middle School Eagles, the Flomaton Hurricanes and the Pollard-McCall Wolves squared off in a volleyball tri-match Monday afternoon in Walnut Hill.

The Ernest Ward Blue Team beat McCall 25-10, 23-25, 15-6. The Ernest Ward White Team beat Flomaton 25-11, 25-11.

For a photo gallery with Ernest Ward Blue, click here.

For a photo gallery with Ernest Ward White, click here.

For a photo gallery with the Flomaton Hurricanes, click here.

Pictured: Action from Ernest Ward Middle School White team (top), EWMS Blue Team (inset) and Flomaton Middle (bottom) volleyball Monday afternoon in Bratt. photos, click to enlarge.

Ernest Ward White Team photos by Bethany Reynolds.


Every Game Is A Tie; Everyone Wins: Welcome To The Miracle League

September 29, 2009


Every game ends in a tie. Every player hits; every player scores. There are no strikeouts, no errors. Everybody wins.

Welcome to the Miracle League.

It’s a baseball league for disabled and special needs persons. With players from ages 3 to 63, there are 14 teams that play on the two fields at the Mitchell Homes Miracle League Park on Nine Mile Road. The fall season started Saturday, and will run ever Saturday until November 7.

“Abigail rounds second! She looks good this year, all decked out and playing some ball,” announcer Crystal Martinez says during an afternoon game at the Miracle League. “Loooook at her go! She’s headed home! She scores! Yeah Abi!”

miracleleague20.jpgThat’s just the way a Miracle League game goes — always.

The players are in wheelchairs and walkers. Some handicaps are mental, some are physical.

Joshua heads toward the batter’s box  in his walker to take a swing at the ball with his “buddy”. Each player has a “buddy” assigned to them to help them hitch, catch, throw or run the field.

“Go Joshua!” Martinez announces. “Good job!”

In the end, the game between the Orioles and the Twins was tied, just as every game has ended in a tie for the past nine seasons.  The stats for each of the 150 players will be the same at the end of the season — perfect.

“It’s a wonderful thing for these kids,” Martinez told after the game. “It’s about them getting to play a sport that otherwise they could not play…it’s about the smiles. I love to say that they are all stars when I am announcing.”

“I think it is a great thing,” said Stephen Gruenwald of Pensacola. His son James, 5, plays Miracle League ball from his wheelchair. “He enjoys it very, very much. And he loves the people; the volunteers are one of the best things.”

miracleleague44.jpgPlayers and volunteers come from not just Pensacola, but Mobile, Crestview, Brewton and points in between. Everybody is a volunteer that participates with the Miracle League. The are paid only in smiles.

“It’s a beautiful thing. Everybody here does it for one reason” volunteer Larry Powell said, placing his hand over his heart. “It’s here, in your heart, for these kids.”

“We have a guy that was a Marine for 32 years,” Powell said. “He will sit on that field with the smallest child and help them. It really gets to you.”

Each of the two Pensacola Miracle League fields is made up of 180,000 pounds of recycled tires formed into tiles painted to match a regular field. It provides a softer landing spot for a hard fall, while still providing a good bounce for the hollow core ball that is also designed to lesson injury potential. There are two seasons at the park, spring and fall. The rubber surface gets too hot to play in the summer.

The Miracle League needs more volunteers to serve as buddies, work the concession booth, pickup trash and many more tasks around their area of the Nine Mile Road ballpark.

The public is always welcome and encouraged to cheer on the players.

“It’s a special place here,” Powell said. “Everyone should watch one of these games. It will touch you.”

For a photo gallery from a Twin versus Orioles tie at the Miracle League, click here.

For more information on Miracle League, or to volunteer, visit

Pictured top: Abigail gets a high five after a base hit during a Miracle League game in Pensacola. Pictured top inset: James takes a swing: Pictured bottom inset: Headed for home.  photos, click to enlarge.

Better Late Than Never: Ernest Ward Students To Receive Progress Reports Today

September 29, 2009

Students at Ernest Ward Middle School will receive their progress reports today — almost a week late.

The first nine-weeks progress reports were scheduled to be sent home with students last Wednesday afternoon, but many students  in the county, including those at Ernest Ward, did not receive their report due to a software problem with the school district’s grading system.

If you have any questions, contact your child’s school.

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