Months Of Traffic Delays Come To An End On Highway 29 In Century

April 30, 2010


Work is nearly complete a $480,159 drainage project on Highway 29 in Century, and all four lanes of traffic are once again flowing without interruption for the first time in seven months.

Improvements consisted of installing box culverts, replacing existing sidewalks in the area, and resurfacing a stretch of the highway. Motorists have experienced intermittent lane shifts and restrictions since the start of the project in September, 2009.

Contractor Coastal Materials is continuing to work on minor portions of the project, located on Highway 29 between Jackson and Cottage streets, just south of the Alabama state line.

Pictured: All four lanes are now open at the site of  Highway 29 drainage project in Century. photo, click to enlarge.

Photo Gallery: Ernest Ward Middle School Track

April 30, 2010


ewms-track-025.jpgThe Ernest Ward Middle School track team competed in their third track meet of the year Thursday afternoon at Warrington Middle School in Pensacola.

For a photo gallery from Thrusday’s track  meet at Warrington Middle School, plus photos from last week’s meet at Washington High School, click here.

Pictured: Members of the Ernest Ward Middle School track team compete Thursday afternoon at Warrington Middle School. photos, click to enlarge.

Federal Government Becoming More Involved With Oil Leak; Escambia Officials Meet, Prepare

April 29, 2010


(Updated 11:40 a.m.) The Gulf of Mexico oil leak is much worse that originally thought, and now the federal government — including perhaps the nation’s military — will become involved.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano called the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico a matter of “national significance” Thursday morning, freeing up additional federal aid. Officials announced during a morning news conference that the oil could reach the Mississippi coast by Friday; it is currently less than 20 miles offshore.

The Coast Guard said  that the oil spill is growing at the rate of 5,000 barrels a day — five times the original estimate. Some of the thicker oil was set on fire by the Coast Guard Wednesday in an attempt to slow the oil flow.

The Escambia County Commission held a special emergency meeting Wednesday afternoon to make plans just in case a Gulf of Mexico oil slick reaches the county’s shores. Meanwhile, the Coast Guard announced Wednesday night that the site is leaking five times more oil per day than first estimated.

“Devastating to this community” is how Escambia Commissioner Grover Robinson described oil reaching the county’s shores.

Any offshore response will be federal, not local, if oil approaches the county’s shores, with BP expected to take financial responsibility. BP leased the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig that exploded 41 miles from the Louisiana shore on April 20.

The commission stopped short of declaring a state of emergency, but commissioners said the county will be proactive and monitor the situation. In the event the oil does reach Escambia County, officials said that beach clean up would actually be fairly easy — just remove the top layer of sand.

However, the oil would create major financial hardships for businesses that rely on the Gulf, such as tourist related businesses and the seafood industry.

Pictured above: Oil flow in the Gulf of Mexico. NOAA photo, click to enlarge. Pictured below: The current oil flow forecast for Friday.


Cold Temps Lead To Record High Power Company Profits

April 29, 2010

Record low temperatures during the first quarter of the year made for a record high profit for Southern Company — the parent company of Gulf Power and Alabama Power.

southernco.jpgOn Wednesday, Southern Company reported a record profit of $494.5 million, or 60 cents a share. The company said weather was the primary factor driving earnings, as the Southeast experienced one of the coldest winters in more than a century. Southern Company set its highest ever winter peak, producing 37,224 megawatts of electricity and surpassing last summer’s peak demand.

During the first quarter, residential electricity sales increased 20.6 percent. Electricity sales to commercial customers increased 3.4 percent, and industrial sales increased 6.7 percent.

“While the past 18 months have been unique, we are optimistic about the improving industrial activity in our region,” CEO David M. Ratcliffe said. “We do believe that the long-term viability of the Southeast remains strong and we continue to prepare for the future growth of our region.”

Bald Eagle Released Near Walnut Hill (With Photo Gallery)

April 29, 2010

eagle-012.jpgA one-year old rehabilitated bald eagle was released back into the wild Wednesday morning near Walnut Hill.

Once injured and missing her primary flight feathers, the eagle took flight — perhaps a little low and a little unstable at first — and then majestically headed into a wooded area to join a group of eagles that live around a Highway 97A residence near Enon.

The homeowner said she frequently sees nine or ten eagles around her home, often feeding at her pond. That is why the location was chosen to release the female eagle; for eagles, apparently it’s all about social networking.

“Our eagle has had the opportunity to socialize with other eagles,” Dorothy Kaufmann, director of the Wildlife Sanctuary of Northwest Florida, said of the eagle that caregivers called “Eagle #3″. “But here, with the other eagles, she will get to go in and learn with the social networking for learning things like how to hunt and preparing for migration in the fall.” (Not all North Escambia eagles migrate, Kaufmann added.)

For more photos from the Walnut Hill eagle release, click here.

eagle-031.jpgThe juvenile eagle was rescued in Tallahassee last year with an infection and trauma to her left wing, unable to fly or fend for herself. After initial care from the St. Francis Wildlife Association in Tallahassee, she was transferred to Pensacola on July 17, 2009, for long term rehabilitation, maximum care and conditioning. Dr. Tommy Knight, a veterinarian with the Westside Animal Hospital cared for the eagle’s medical needs during numerous house calls to the facility, which included a 100 foot enclosed flight conditioning area.

Kaufmann told the property owners that they will be able to spot the rescued eagle because she will fly “a little less than perfect”, perhaps favoring her old injury.

“The ones that have been in the wild are just perfect, but ours will be different,” she said.

Eagle #3 was hooded and hand-carried for transportation by car to North Escambia. A hooded eagle is a calm eagle, Kaufmann said. The hood remained on the eagle until shortly before flight time, Kaufmann holding her with thick gloves.

eaglerelease.jpg“This may not be graceful,” Kaufmann said as she prepared to release the bird. “I don’t know if she’s ready, but I’m ready.”

“She’s going up in the trees. There’s another one. An adult. Go baby,” she said as the eagle dipped a little toward the ground — the ungraceful part as predicted.

“Somebody else (another eagle) just met her. Isn’t that great?”

Kaufmann said the rehabilitated eagle should be able to breed and have a normal lifespan of 30 to 45 years. She added that juvenile eagles are chocolate brown in color. They are about five-years old when the feathers on their head and tail become white and they take on that classic bald eagle look.

For more photos from the Walnut Hill eagle release, click here.

Pictured top: A juvenile eagle is released by Dorothy Kaufmann, director of the Wildlife Sanctuary of Northwest Florida, Wednesday morning in Enon near Walnut Hill.  Pictured middle: Eagle #3. photos, click to enlarge. Pictured below: This submitted file photo shows other eagles on the property. 


NHS Band Awarded At Universal Studios

April 29, 2010


The Northview High School Band was honored at the Music City USA Festival at Universal Studios in Orlando this past weekend.

The band received a Superior rating in the High School Class A Jazz Band Category and also won the High School Grand Champion Award for Instrumental Music.

The rhythm section — Beni Deron, drums and Jackson Smith, bass — received an award for the best section, while Melissa Moretz received the Best Soloist Award for alto saxophone.

The NHS Band also had the opportunity to participate in a “Stars Parade” at Universal Studios.

For more photos submitted by Norma Halteman, click here.

Pictured: The Northview High School Band at Universal Studios in Orlando. Submitted photos for, click to enlarge.


10 People, Including Sheriff’s Employee, Charged In Jail Contraband Ring

April 29, 2010

Ten people, including a former detention deputy and a sheriff’s office custodial worker, are facing a variety of charges in an investigation announced Wednesday by Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan. One is accused of allowing inmate sexual relations and an inmate party to take place in the Sheriff’s Office administration building.

Tracy S. Belton, 44, a custodial worker in the detention division, is charged with aiding an escape and unlawful compensation and introduction of contraband into a county detention facility.

Deputies say Belton allowed an inmate, Lakesha Pollie to have sex in the Sheriff’s Office administrative office building near the jail while she worked on a cleaning crew. Walter Grandison, 41, was accused of paying Belton for sex with Pollie. Deputies said he is the father of her unborn child. Pollie’s boyfriend, Terrance Tillman, 35, reportedly paid Belton with a pack of cigerattes each time he visited Pollie.

Deputies also said Belton allowed her cleaning crew inmates to use the administrative building for a party, and inmates were even allowed to leave the facility for a few hours at a time for cash.

A former detention deputy, Kristopher Wade, 26, was arrested in March for smuggling a cell phone into the detention facility for $25. He now faces an additional charge of unlawful compensation.

The charges announced Wednesday by the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office included:

  • Tracy S. Belton, 44, Sheriff’s Office custodial worker in Detention Division,  aiding an escape and unlawful compensation, introduction of contraband into a county detention facility
  • Walter N. Grandison, 41, aiding an escape
  • Lakesha Sheryl Pollie, 33, two counts violation of probation, escape,  introduction of contraband into a county detention facility
  • Kristopher D. Wade, 26, introduction of contraband into a county detention facility, unlawful compensation
  • Kenneth Jerome Eriby, 19, (currently incarcerated for aggravated assault) six counts introduction of contraband into a county detention facility
  • Terrance Jeffery Tillman, 35, (currently incarcerated for narcotic violations) introduction of contraband into a county detention facility
  • Peter Foster Wahkelek, Jr., 19, (currently incarcerated for narcotic violations and violation of probation), introduction of contraband into a county detention facility
  • Tevin Errington Jenkins, 17, (currently incarcerated as an adult for aggravated assault and weapons violations) introduction of contraband into a county detention facility
  • Dondeaio Hosea, Jr., 21,  (currently incarcerated for burglary and theft) introduction of contraband into a county detention facility
  • Aqllanelia Keyiona Salter, 18, introduction of contraband into a county detention facility

Escambia Deputy Charged With Sexual Assault

April 29, 2010

An Escambia County deputy has been arrested, charged with sexually assaulting a woman.

Deputy Mike Priest, an Escambia County Sheriff’s Office employee since August, 2006, was charged with two counts of sexual assault – sexual battery on a victim over twelve. His bond was set at $40,000.

On March 14, the Pensacola Police Department was contacted by a woman that claimed she was sexually assaulted by Priest at Pensacola Beach.

“According to the victim, she had been at Captain Funs, a nightclub on Pensacola Beach and had been separated from her friend. Deputy Priest, who was working in an off-duty capacity and whom she had known for several years, offered her a ride home after he could not locate her friend. According to the victim, Deputy Priest drove her from Pensacola Beach to her father’s residence where he demanded sexual favors. The victim stated that Deputy Priest threatened to take her to jail for public intoxication if she did not do so. According the victim, she felt as if she had no choice but to participate,” according to a release Wednesday from the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office.

The Leaning Post Run For The Roses Fundraiser Is Saturday

April 29, 2010


The Leaning Post Ranch of Molino will  hold their second annual Run For the Roses Kentucky Derby Fundraiser Saturday.

The Leaning Post is a state-licensed facility and prevention program for developmentally disabled and at-risk young people operated by directors Fran and Newman Gersin and a host of volunteers.

The facility was established in 1992 by the Gersins. They started with one horse, and a dream to use that horse to encourage kids and keep them off drugs. Now The Leaning Post Ranch has 40 acres, a barn, a new open-air arena, a multipurpose facility, a house, 16 horses and a pony…thanks to generosity of several local organizations.

Saturday’s fundraiser will be held from 3-7 p.m. Saturday at De Luna’s Landing in downtown Pensacola. The event will include derby attire with hats for the ladies, live music, food, and both a live and a silent auction.

For more information, visit file photo, click to enlarge.

Jay To Celebrate Old Fashion Day

April 29, 2010

Jay will turn back the clock on Saturday for Old Fashion Day.

The event at the Jay Historical Society Museum will feature quilting, candle making, butter churning, corn grinding, story telling, pottery making and a petting zoo. There will also be music and entertainment all day, and plenty of old fashioned games.

Members and participants will be dressed for “Early Pioneer Days” during the event.

The event takes place at 3946 Highway4 in Jay from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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