Rain, Rain Won’t Go Away

August 30, 2010


Our wet weather pattern will continue for another day. Here is your official North Escambia area forecast:

  • Today: Scattered showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 86. East wind around 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 50%.
  • Tonight: A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 70. East wind around 5 mph.
  • Tuesday: A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly cloudy, with a high near 91. East wind between 5 and 10 mph.
  • Tuesday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 70. East wind around 5 mph.
  • Wednesday: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly cloudy, with a high near 92. East wind between 5 and 10 mph.
  • Wednesday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 68. South wind around 5 mph becoming calm.
  • Thursday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 95. Calm wind becoming east around 5 mph.
  • Thursday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 68. Southwest wind around 5 mph becoming calm.
  • Friday: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly cloudy, with a high near 95. Calm wind becoming north around 5 mph.
  • Friday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 70.
  • Saturday: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly cloudy, with a high near 94.
  • Saturday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 68.
  • Sunday: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly cloudy, with a high near 93.

Mosquito-Borne EEE Virus Claims Horse In North Escambia

August 30, 2010

Eastern equine encephalitis has claimed a victim in North Escambia — a horse in the Molino area.

The horse was euthanized last week after showing symptoms of EEE, a diagnosis confirmed by laboratory tests, according to Katie Miller, spokesperson for the Escambia County Health Department. The horse was pastured  on River Bend Road, near the Escambia River, not far from Fairgrounds Park.

EEE is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system.  Signs of the virus include fever, listlessness, stumbling, circling, coma and usually death.  The disease is fatal in horses in 90 percent of  cases and fatal in about one third of human victims. It leaves many survivors with permanent brain damage.

“There have been no recent human cases in Escambia County,” Miller said.

The virus can only be spread by mosquito bites, and is sometimes spread among horses and birds in species that does not typically bite humans. Miller said that Escambia County stepped up its mosquito prevention spraying program in the Molino area last week in response to the disease confirmation.

Typically one or two human cases are reported each year in Florida, according to the Florida Department of Health.  The state averages over 70 reported cases of equine EEE each year. In years when conditions favor the spread of the EEE, the number of reported equine cases can exceed 200. EEE is not believed to have the potential to cause a human epidemic in Florida.

Miller said it is still a good idea to follow the “5-D’s ” of mosquito protection:

  • Don’t go outdoors at DUSK and DAWN when mosquitoes are most active.
  • DRESS so your skin is covered with clothing
  • Apply mosquito repellent containing DEET to bare skin and clothing. Other effective repellents include picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, and IR3535.
  • Empty containers and DRAIN standing water around your home where mosquitoes can lay eggs.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said  the majority of cases of EEE and other mosquito-borne diseases in horses can be prevented through proper vaccinations.  Horse owners are urged to check with their veterinarian to make sure their animals have received current vaccinations and booster shots against EEE and West Nile Virus, and that these shots are kept up to date.

Pictured: Jessica Mullins with Spirit, the Molino horse that contracted Eastern equine encephalitis. Submitted photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Convicted Felon Sentenced For Possession Of Gun, Brass Knuckles

August 30, 2010

A convicted felon from Walnut Hill has been sentenced to three years probation after a deputy found her in Cantonment with a gun and set of brass knuckles.

pricetammylou.jpgTammy Lou Price,  47, of Pine Forest Road, Walnut Hill, was charged with two counts of possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon, carrying a concealed weapon, possession of a concealed firearm and possession of narcotics paraphernalia. Prosecutors later dropped the carrying a concealed weapon charges against Price.

In addition to probation, she was ordered to perform 50 hours of community service, but she will be allowed to buyout the sentence at minimum wage due to a disability. She was also ordered to pay $518 in court costs and fees.

During the early morning hours of April 18,  Escambia County Deputy John Rose spotted a small Mazda pickup truck in the parking lot of the Champion Golf Course, which was closed at the time.

When Deputy Rose asked for Price’s identification, she admitted that she had a firearm in her purse and that she was a convicted felon. A records check revealed that she was convicted on a felony burglary charged in 2003. A search revealed that her purse also contained brass knuckles.

When her property underwent a thorough search at the jail, detention deputies located two wooden pipes that smelled of marijuana inside of a coin purse, according to the arrest report.

Escambia Details New Animal Tethering, Shelter Ordinance

August 30, 2010

The Escambia County Commission recently adopted an ordinance amending the definitions and restrictions related to sheltering and tethering animals.

The county released the following information outlining the new regulations:

Shelters should provide unlimited access for the animal. Structures should have a roof, walls and a floor. Shelters must also be dry, sanitary, clean, weatherproof and made of durable materials. At a minimum shelters must meet these requirements:

  • The size of the structure must allow the animal to stand up, turn around, lie down and stretch comfortably.
  • Protect the animal from the elements, provide shade and reduce exposure to inclement weather.
  • Free of standing water, accumulated waste and debris.
  • Provide adequate ventilation.
  • Provide a comfortable surface for the animal to lie.

Tether means to restrain an animal by tying to any stationary object or structure, including but not limited to a house, tree, fence, post, garage or shed, by any means, including but not limited to, a chain, rope, cord, leash or pulley/running line, but shall NOT include the use of a leash when walking an animal.

No animals under six months of age shall be tethered.

Those animals over six months in age can only be tethered when:

  • The animal is in visible range of the responsible party.
  • The tether is a minimum of six feet or is at least 5 times the length of the animal, has a swivel at both ends and does not weigh more than 1/16 of the animal’s weight.
  • Overhead run/pulley line shall be at least 15 feet in length and no less than seven feet above the ground at all times.
  • Tethers must be fastened to a properly fitted body harness or buckle collar made of nylon or leather.
  • Tether must be free from entanglement and other obstructions at all times.
  • Tethered animal shall have access to potable water, food, shelter and dry ground at all times.
  • Animals shall not be tethered while sick, injured or in distress.
  • Animals shall not be tethered outside during a period of extreme weather, including but not limited to, extreme heat, extreme cold, thunderstorms, tornadoes, tropical storms, or hurricanes.
  • Multiple animals must be tethered separately.

Dobson Places In USA 10km Trail Championships

August 30, 2010

Matt Dobson of Jay placed in the 2010 USA 10K Trail Championships this past weekend in Laurel Springs, North Carolina, and he’s already looking forward to a host of upcoming races, including the Boston Marathon.

Saturday, Dobson, 40, finished 9th in the Masters runners division and 25th in the Open Men division with a time of 55:15.

“This race happened to be exceptionally difficult and the slower times proved it out,” said Dobson, who won a 10K in Pensacola with a time of 34 minutes. “This course could have been titled an adventures course or survival course! Huge rocks on the trail made it imposable to run across because they were at angles and they were slick. You had to grab the tops of rocks and use arm strength to pull you up, over, and/or across.”

He described the course as having up to a 25 percent grade — “mountainous hills”, he said.

“All in all, I enjoyed it as much as it hurt. It’s like I tell first time marathoners — do your first one to get experience, then go from there. This was my first true “trail” championship race. I learned much from the experience and will think twice about doing that course again. Not for the faint of heart,” the experienced runner said.

Dobson’s upcoming races include the Marine Corp Charity 5K in Pensacolaon September 18, the Cross Country Stampede 8K at the Equestrian Center in Pensacola September 25, the Disney World Wine and Dine Half Marathon on October 2, the Pensacola Marathon on November 14, the Disney Marathon in January and the 115th Boston Marathon in April, 2011.

Dobson finished the 2004 Boston Marathon 49th overall out of 20,000 runners and was the 16th fastest American.

Pictured top: Matt Dobson of Jay. Pictured bottom: A runner on the course at the  USA 10K Trail Championships  in Laurel Springs, North Carolina. Courtesy photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Job Fair Planned

August 30, 2010

The Expand Your Opportunities Job Fair 2010 will be held in September at Victory Assembly of God in Molino.

The community job fair will provide participants the opportunity to meet with area employers who are actively looking for talented individuals to fill their current openings.  There will also be free critique classes to find out how your resume and job applications skills compare.

The job fair will take place Thursday, September 23 from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. at Victory Assembly of God on Highway 29. Admission is free, and the event is open to the public. Click here for more information for job seekers.

Employers interesting in attending the event should click here for a registration form.

ECUA’s New Green Machine Hits The Streets

August 30, 2010

The Emerald Coast Utilities Authorities is introducing green technology with a new big green machine hitting the streets. It is a Peterbilt Model 320 HLA (Hydraulic Launch Assist) Hybrid garbage truck.

The Model 320 HLA is considerably quieter in its daily stop, pick-up, and go operations. ECUA sanitation and recycling vehicles stop and go an average of 1,200 times during a normal daily refuse route. The new vehicle delivers a significant 30 percent reduction in emissions and a 30 percent improvement in fuel consumption.

The HLA hybrid reduces brake-related maintenance costs by 50 percent, doubling the brake life expectancy while using biodegradable hydraulic oil — which is friendlier to the environment.

“The HLA technology works by recovering up to 75% of energy lost by the vehicle’s brakes in the form of pressurized hydraulic fluid. The fuel is stored until the driver next accelerates the vehicle, which reduces fuel consumption and wear on the engine. This is an ideal environmental option for refuse pick-up applications,” ECUA Director of Sanitation Randy Rudd said.

During the first year, ECUA will operate a single vehicle while gathering performance and maintenance data. The Authority will then use this data to compare the hydraulic hybrid system against other hybrid alternatives, and compressed natural gas powered vehicles. This will then allow the Authority to evaluate the costs and operational issues before additional units are procured.

The vehicle will be on the highways in North Escambia on regular Tuesday routes and will be rotated on all other routes across the county.

The hybrid truck, which was a demo model with 4,600 miles, cost  $174,500. The cost of a new model is $228,000, plus an additional $30,000 for the hydraulic hybrid conversion kit.

The plain green side of the vehicle won’t be solid green very long — ECUA is currently planning a contest to allow the residents of Escambia County a chance to create a design for the side of the truck.

Submitted photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Lawsuit Challenges Adequacy Of Education In Florida

August 30, 2010

A circuit court judge has ruled that a parents group can continue with a court challenge of the state’s education system, rejecting a request by the Legislature to throw the suit out.

The lawsuit, filed by a coalition of groups called “Fund Education Now” that includes parents of school children, argues that the government is violating the state constitution by failing to adequately pay for “high quality” public schools.

The Legislature asked Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford to dismiss the challenge to the law, saying that lawmakers have the absolute discretion to implement the details of the education system within constitutional parameters and the courts don’t have any role in interpreting how it is doing that. A big issue in whether the education system is adequate is how much money goes into it, and legislators argued they have sole budgeting authority.

The Legislature cited a 1996 case in which the court found that “blanket assertions” against the education system can’t be ruled on by the courts – essentially saying that it was impossible to argue in court whether something is “adequate,” which would be in the eye of the beholder. They also argued that the matter basically involves a political question.

But Fulford denied the motion to dismiss, and a challenge to the plaintiffs’ standing, saying that the groups weren’t merely making blanket assertions, but providing a series of specific allegations about the weakness of the state’s education system and how it is funded.

She also said that since 1996 – when a court rejected a similar lawsuit alleging schools were inadequate, saying the wording was vague – voters have added Article 9 to the state constitution, which was put into the constitution exactly to provide standards to measure the education system.

The plaintiffs argued that the system has all kinds of deficiencies that directly violate the new article.

“Defendants argue that these deficiencies cannot be reviewed by any court,” Fulford wrote. “Ultimately, their position is that the judiciary has no role in interpreting Article 9 and that the Legislature has absolute discretion to implement any system, checked only by the ballot box. This conclusion renders the citizens’ vote to create a new education article as meaningless and this provision as a nullity.”

On the issue of whether the parents and others in the group have standing to challenge the law, Fulford said they do.

“The directors and members of the two (groups) are Florida citizens and taxpayers and are parents of children attending Florida public schools,” Fulford wrote. “They would have standing as individuals; thus, they have standing as an association.”

A spokeswoman for the House said leaders there wouldn’t have any comment because the lawsuit is still in the courts.

Fulford hasn’t set a trial date in the case and gave the Legislature 20 days to file a response to the plaintiffs’ complaint.

Alabama Paving Route Across Perdido River; Florida Side To Stay Dirt

August 29, 2010

The Alabama side of one of the few Perdido River crossings is being paved, but the Escambia County side will remain dirt — because  it is not a public road.

Baldwin County Alabama is currently working to pave the 2.8 miles of the dirt Duck Place Road from the Perdido River to Highway 112. The Florida side stretches from the river to the intersection of South Highway 99 and Highway 196 in the Barrineau Park community.

It is the only east-west route across the Perdido River between Muscogee Road in Cantonment and Highway 31 in Escambia County, Ala.  The road is often used by farmers and ranchers as they transport goods to market from North Escambia to Robertsdale, Ala.  The dirt road on the Alabama side is often too muddy and rutted for passenger cars, but it is also a shortcut route for many families to activities and shopping in Baldwin County.

Escambia County owns the bridge across the Perdido River, according to District 5 Commissioner Kevin White. But the county-maintained dirt road on the Florida side is privately owned by the Barrineau Estate. It is only about four-tenths of a mile long.

“We don’t have the right of way to pave it,” White said. “I wish we could.”

As one of the few river crossings, White said the road could also serve as an emergency evacuation route if it were paved.

Baldwin County plans to complete their paving in three or four months, according to Paula Tillman, the county’s public information coordinator. She said Baldwin County voted to pave the road to eliminate erosion problems and improve transportation within the county.

Last summer, the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Department threatened to close their side of the bridge due to drugs, alcohol and fights as large groups would gather at the river.

Pictured top: Baldwin County works to pave Duck Place Road, just across the Perdido River from Escambia County. Pictured inset: The dirt road leading to Escambia County’s bridge across the river is privately owned. Pictured below: This map shows the location of Duck Place Road.

VW Beetle Being Towed Overturns; Occupants Not Injured

August 29, 2010

Two occupants in a 1967 Volkswagen Beetle that was being towed were not injured when a wheel broke off the vehicle and it overturned Sunday afternoon.

The accident happened on West Highway 4 near Sandy Hollow Road about 2:30 p.m. Both occupants refused medical treatment. Neither person was wearing a seat belt — there are no seat belts in a 1967 Beetle.

The Walnut Hill Station of Escambia Fire Rescue, Atmore Ambulance and the Florida Highway Patrol responded to the crash.

NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.

« Previous PageNext Page »