Gov. Extends Small Business Bridge Loan Program For Local Counties

September 30, 2010

Small Panhandle businesses have more time to apply for emergency loans after Gov. Charlie Crist this week extended the deadline to tap into a $5 million bridge loan program as they continue to feel the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and a subsequent claims process that has been slower and harder than expected.

Business owners from Escambia to Franklin Counties have until October. 27 to apply for no-interest loans of up to $25,000 to help them meet payroll, pay bills and cover other expenses. Businesses in other parts of the state, however, aren’t so lucky. The deadline for all other counties is Thursday, October 1.

To date, the state has received 146 applications and loaned out nearly $3 million in loans to 125 businesses that employ fewer than 100 workers. Of those, 113 successful applicants hail from the panhandle region, said Dwight Sumners, spokesman for the Florida First Capital Finance Corp, which administers the program. “It is clear that small businesses in Northwest Florida continue to suffer from this disaster,” Crist said in a statement.

To receive an application or more information about the program, please visit or contact the Florida First Capital Finance Corporation at (850) 681-3601.

Public Meeting: Portion Of Nine Mile Road To Be Widened

September 30, 2010

There are plans to widen Nine Mile Road between Pine Forest Road and Highway 29, and the public will have an opportunity to offer input tonight.

There will be a public meeting to discuss those plans at 5:30 p.m. today at the Plainview Baptist Church 101 West Nine Mile Road. This is a joint project of Escambia County and the Florida Department of Transportation.

Deputy Shot; Shooter Killed; Meth Lab Found

September 29, 2010

An Escambia County Sheriff’s Office deputy was shot this morning at a Pensacola motel, and the shooter, a Pensacola man, is dead. Deputies located an active meth lab in the room following the shooting.

The shooter was identified Wednesday afternoon by the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office as Michael Scott Lee, 21, of Pensacola

Deputy Jason Ates was shot in the upper thigh at the Motel 6 on Pensacola Boulevard shortly after 10:30 this morning.  His injuries were not considered life threatening. Ates was transported to Sacred Heart Hospital by Escambia County EMS.

At 10:24 a.m., Escambia County deputies were called to Room 121 of the Motel 6 to assist the Pensacola Police Department with a missing persons case. At 10:33 a.m., Ates and Deputy Jennifer Lovley-Gandy made contact with the man that had been reported missing. He was in the room with female and Lee. Authorities were led to the motel by a debit card transaction.

At 10:37 a.m., Lee opened fire on deputies, striking Ates in the upper thigh region. At least one deputy returned fire, killing Lee. The man that was reported missing and the female have been detained for questioning.

The shootings are under investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Ates has been with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office since November, 2009, and Gandy has been employed since 2004.

More details will be posted as they become available throughout today.

Pictured above: The scene after a deputy was shot and a suspect was shot and killed Wednesday morning at the Motel 6 on Pensacola Boulevard. Photo by Liz Nagy WEAR TV for, click to enlarge.

Jantz Pleads Guilty To Child Pornography Possession, Distribution Charges

September 29, 2010

An Atmore man has pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography on his home computer.

Jonathan Mark Jantz, 38, of Highway 31, entered the plea in Mobile federal court immediately after a judge denied his request to throw out the evidence against him.

A Florida Department of Law Enforcement Cybercrimes Unit investigator located known child pornography on Jantz’s computer that was made available on a file sharing network using the program Limewire in 2005.

McMullen, according to court documents, located a child pornography video over three minutes in length on Jantz’s home computer by searching the file sharing network for the term “kiddy”. He also located six computer files that were cataloged as known child porn and 120 files that “were named with file names that would suggest the file contained images of child pornography,” according to federal court documents.

The case was turned over to the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, and a search warrant was executed at Jantz’s residence on February 1, 2006. “A forensic analysis of the digital evidence confirmed the presence of multiple images and videos of child pornography,” according to a court document.

The indictment against Jantz was returned by a federal grand jury on June 24, 2010, charging him with possession of child pornography and distribution of child pornography.

In a brief filed August 6, 2010, Jantz asserted that he believed the file sharing software was set to not allow access to the “shared” folder on his computer. His attorney argued that without a search warrant, law enforcement violated the Fourth Amendment that protects individuals against unreasonable search and seizure. Jantz also asserted that authorities were unable to prove that he had actually viewed the child pornography because his anti-virus software had accessed all files on his computer the morning of the search warrant and seizure.

Jantz also claimed that he had unknowingly downloaded any child porn on his computer.

“Mr. Jantz initially downloaded a large quantity of pornography with no intent to download child pornography. His interest was in adult pornography,” according to court documents filed by defense attorney Christopher Knight. “His possession of the alleged child pornography was incidental to his primary interest in collecting adult pornography.”

Jantz’s motion to dismiss the evidence against him was denied by Judge Callie Granade last week. He immediately entered a guilty plea on both counts against him. He is due to be sentenced on January 6, 2011.

He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years to a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Prior to sentencing, Jantz was ordered to avoid contact with minors without the direct supervision of a responsible adult and he is not allowed to possess any Internet capable devices. He was generally restricted to his residence from the hours of 7 p.m. until 7 a.m., except for his work.

On Wednesday, the court grant Jantz’s request to move to Walnut Hill.

Thieves Hit The Century Library, Even Digging Up Rose Bushes

September 29, 2010

Thieves have hit the Century Branch Library taking outdoor items — even digging up rose bushes.

When library workers arrived Tuesday, they found several items missing from outside the library on North Century Boulevard. An outdoor rug, a four-foot concrete bench with ceramic tile inlay, two flower pots and a boy and girl figurine were reported missing.  The thieves also dug up and removed two rose bushes that were planted next to the library. The items were valued at several hundred dollars.

The missing items had all been donated to the library by volunteers and employees, according to the library.

The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office is investigating.  Once arrested, the person or persons responsible for the crime will be facing grand theft charges.

Anyone with information on the crime is asked to contact the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office at (850) 436-9620. file photo, click to enlarge.

Northview, Flomaton Meet In Dig Pink Breast Cancer Event; Honor Survivors Including Coach

September 29, 2010

Breast cancer awareness was the real winner Tuesday in Bratt as the Northview Chiefs hosted the Flomaton Hurricanes in Dig Pink high school volleyball.

And for one coach, the night was more than meaningful.

Northview Assistant Coach Barbara Luker is a breast cancer survivor. Diagnosed in 2001, Luker has beaten he disease. In 2010, she was among the organizers of Tuesday’s Dig Pink event.

“It means a lot to see them out here playing for the cause,” Luker said the dozens of girls that took part in Dig Pink. “But it means so much more to know they have learned a lot this week about breast cancer and how to get checked.”

In fact, Luker said, some of the girls learned this week that breast cancer has already stricken some of their classmates.

“It’s a much more common thing than most people realize,” she said. “I’m so glad they have had the opportunity to learn about it.”

For a photo gallery from Dig Pink, click here.

For complete scores and stats, click here.

In the Dig Pink event at the varsity level, Flomaton defeated Northview in three consecutive games, 26-24, 27-25, 25-19.

The Lady Hurricanes were led by Jasmine Stackhouse with seven kills; Tara Gafford with eight blocks and Christina Gohagan with four aces and 22 assists.

Shawna Montgomery paced the Lady Chiefs with seven kills, four aces, three digs and half dozen blocks. Ashley Digmon had four assists and two digs for Northview, while Sarah Killam added one dig and a block.

Northview’s Dig Pink was sponsored by Atmore Florist, Winn Dixie, Hendrix Tractor Company, Jim Johnson Ford, Squeegee Graphix, Pizza Hut and

For a photo gallery from Dig Pink, click here.

Pictured top: Northview High School Assistant volleyball coach Barbara Luker, a breast cancer survivor, was was on the organizers for Tuesday’s Dig Pink breast cancer awareness matches at Northview. Pictured below: The Northview Lady Chiefs. Pictured inset: Volleyball action from Tuesday. photos, click to enlarge.

FHSAA Moves Forward With Rural School Division To Include Northview, Jay

September 29, 2010

The Florida High School Athletic Association’s new Rural School Division moved a step closer to reality this week, with the group’s board of directors voting to continue the classification process.

Locally, both Northview and Jay high schools have expressed interest in taking part in the new classification.

Across the state, 44 schools have indicated interest in participating in the new division in girls and boys basketball, baseball and softball, with 34 also interested in football and 38 in girls volleyball.  The classification policy for the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years will be brought to the Board for a vote in November.

“The Board unanimously approved moving forward with the concept, which benefits a number of our member schools without detriment to any others,” said Executive Director Roger Dearing.  “This is a win-win situation for everyone.”

The invitation deadline  for the new classification was September 15 for schools with students populations under 600 and located in areas designate rural by the Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development.

Schools in the rural division would compete within their own division and have their own playoff series for boys and girls basketball, baseball, football, softball and girls volleyball, and boys and girls soccer.

Pictured top: Northview’s Brandon Sheets tries to avoid Jay defender Chris Carrigan during last year’s meeting of two rural schools. file photo, click to enlarge.

Middle School Football: Ernest Ward Beats Escambia Academy 14-8

September 29, 2010

The Ernest Ward Middle School Eagles beat the Cougars of Escambia Academy 14-8 Tuesday evening in Canoe, Alabama.

The Eagles — the only middle school football team in Escambia County, Florida — will host Uriah on October 5 at 6 p.m. in Walnut Hill. Ernest Ward will be off October 12. EWMS will return to action at home on October 18 with another game against Escambia Academy.

For a photo gallery from Tuesday’s game between Ernest Ward Middle School and Escambia Academy, click here.

Pictured: Action between Ernest Ward Middle School and Escambia Academy Tuesday in Canoe, Alabama. photos, click to enlarge.

Jay’s JV Royals Hand Flomaton Their First Loss Of The Season 36-30

September 29, 2010

The Jay Royals beat the Flomaton Hurricanes Tuesday night in hard fought junior varsity game. Jay scored the final tie-breaking touchdown with 46.5 seconds to go in the game and held off a final Hurricane drive for the win. It was the first loss of the season for the JV Hurricanes, while the JV Royals improved their record to 2-3. Submitted photos by Michele Gibbs for, click to enlarge.

Local $244,468 Winning Lottery Ticket Worth $0 In One Week

September 29, 2010

In one week, a $244,468.47 winning Fantasy 5 ticket purchased in North Escambia will be worth nothing.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Florida Lottery said no one had claimed the $244,468.47 winning Fantasy 5 ticket that was purchased April 9, 2010, at the State Line O’Yes Lotto at 11331 Highway 97 in Davisville.

The Florida Lottery allows winners 180 days to claim their prize; the April 9 winning ticket will expire October 6 at which time the $244.468.47 will be split with 80 percent going to the Education Trust Fund and the remaining 20 percent returned to the prize pool.

Lottery officials said the ticket was a “Quick Pick” with numbers randomly chosen by the lottery machine. Only one ticket matched the winning numbers: 13-21-25-28-36.

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