Rainy New Year

December 31, 2010

Happy New Year! Here is your official North Escambia area forecast:

  • Tonight: Showers and possibly a thunderstorm. Some of the storms could be severe. Low around 61. Southeast wind around 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%.
  • New Year’s Day: Showers and possibly a thunderstorm. Some of the storms could produce heavy rainfall. High near 69. Southeast wind 5 to 15 mph becoming southwest. Chance of precipitation is 100%.
  • Saturday Night: A 50 percent chance of showers. Cloudy, with a low around 48. North wind around 5 mph.
  • Sunday: A 20 percent chance of showers before noon. Mostly sunny, with a high near 62. North wind around 10 mph.
  • Sunday Night: Clear, with a low around 29. North wind around 5 mph.
  • Monday: Sunny, with a high near 58. North wind around 5 mph.
  • Monday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 29. East wind between 5 and 10 mph.
  • Tuesday: A 30 percent chance of showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 61. North wind around 5 mph.
  • Tuesday Night: A 20 percent chance of rain. Partly cloudy, with a low around 38. North wind between 5 and 10 mph.
  • Wednesday: A 30 percent chance of rain. Mostly sunny, with a high near 61.
  • Wednesday Night: A 20 percent chance of rain. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 41.
  • Thursday: A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 63.
  • Thursday Night: A 30 percent chance of rain. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 45.
  • Friday: A 30 percent chance of rain. Cloudy, with a high near 61.

Two Life Sentences For Century Man For Robbery

December 31, 2010


simmonsbust10.jpgShawn Demarcus Simmons of Century has been sentenced to two life prison terms for the March 4, 2010, holdup of Moyes State Line Food Mart in Century.

Simmons was convicted earlier this month of two counts of armed robbery with a firearm. Circuit Judge Frank Bell imposed the two life sentences and ordered that they be served consecutively with a 10 year minimum mandatory.

Shawn Demarcus Simmons is facing a 10 year mandatory minimum and a maximum of life in state prison on each count, according to State Attorney Bill Eddins. Simmons, who was once named one of Escambia County’s most wanted criminals, will be sentenced December 29.

Simmons forced the store clerk at gunpoint to empty the cash register, and took several hundred of dollars in Florida Lottery funds and several lottery tickets. After robbing the clerk, Simmons then robbed a customer at gunpoint.

moyes12.jpgK-9 units from the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office and Century Correctional Institution joined Escambia County deputies and Flomaton Police Department officers in a lengthy manhunt for the suspect. The manhunt was centered in an area bounded by Highway 29, Old Flomaton Road, Highway 4 and the Alabama state line.

Less than two hours after the Moyes robbery, a resident just south of the convenience store called 911 to report that a black male wearing a dark colored hoodie jacket was standing at her door, covered in mud. The resident also described the man as having lips that were light in color and appeared to be burned.

‘Don’t you know me? Don’t you remember me? The police are after me’,” the suspect told the woman, according to the sheriff’s office report.

moyes111.jpgThe man reportedly asked the female if he could enter the house, but she refused and called for help. A black jacket was recovered by an Escambia County Sheriff’s Office crime scene technician from behind the woman’s residence. Deputies called off the search about three hours after the robbery, unable to locate Simmons.

The woman at the house later identified Simmons from a photo line up as the man that was at her door. Another witness that was outside the store prior to the robbery also picked Simmons out of a photo line up.

Gulf Coast Crime Stoppers later named Simmons as one of Escambia County’s most wanted fugitives after he was accused of robbing and pistol-whipping a Century man. Simmons was also the subject of additional manhunts in Century and Brewton, Alabama.

He was later arrested on March 24, 2010, after a domestic disturbance and manhunt in Pensacola. During that incident, deputies were dispatched to West Lee Street where two victims advised that Simmons had ran from the residence toward Baptist Hospital.

While deputies were searching for him, Simmons reportedly called the victim from Baptist Hospital and “told her that he knows what’s going down and he’s not going back to jail,” according to the arrest report.  Again, deputies were unable to locate Simmons.

The following morning, Sheriff’s Office dispatchers were advised that Simmons was at Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola trying to get a ride back to Century and had been observed by hospital security personnel.

Deputies were unable to locate Simmons when they arrived at Sacred Heart Hospital. A Pensacola Police Department K-9 was called to the hospital, and they were able to locate and arrest him.

Once arrested, “Simmons was bragging about how he eluded police when he fled from the residence,” according to the arrest report.

During the Lee Street incident, Simmons had reportedly told the female victim that he was going to kill her, her child and then kill himself. The victim, a Century resident, was staying with her aunt in Pensacola to avoid Simmons, according to deputies. When Simmons managed to find her at the Lee Street address in Pensacola, he violently attacked her, kicking her in the face and stomping on her stomach and chest. She was transported by ambulance to Baptist Hospital for treatment.

A friend of the victim had tried to set her up on a date with Simmons, but she declined because she already had a boyfriend, the sheriff’s report says. Since that time, Simmons had stalked the victim, the report states, even trying to kick in the door of her apartment in Century. She had fled Century and had been living with her aunt in Pensacola.

Pictured top: Deputies investigate the March 4, 2010, armed robbery of Moyes State Line Food Mart in Century. Pictured middle inset: Tracking dogs are used to search for Simmons following a Century armed robbery. Pictured  bottom inset: A crime scene technician dusts the door of Moyes State Line Food Mart in Century after a March 4 armed robbery.  NorthEscambia.com file photos, click to enlarge.

Jason Daniel Kirk Gets 25 Years In Prison For Half Pound Of Pills

December 31, 2010

A Flomaton man has been sentenced to 25 years in prison after he was arrested in Florida with just under a half pound of illegal pills allegedly stolen from an Alabama pharmacy.

kirkjason.jpgJason Daniel Kirk, 30, pleaded guilty to three counts of trafficking in illegal drugs and three counts of possession of controlled substances. His sentence includes a 25 year minimum for on two of the trafficking counts.

The case stemmed from a burglary that Kirk was alleged to have committed in March, 2010 at Fred’s in East Brewton where numerous bottles of pills were taken.

The Escambia County (Fla.) Narcotics Unit received information that the defendant was selling these pills out of his room at the Value Place Hotel on Scenic Highway. A search warrant was executed, and deputies found a lock box that contained quantities of Xanax, oxycodone, methadone, morphine and hydrocodone, according to the arrest report. One bag of hydrocodone weighed in excess of 200 grams (0.44 pounds), the arrest report stated.

The key to the safe was located on Kirk’s person. Deputies also located over $600 in cash and notebooks containing sales and inventory figures for the pills . Kirk admitted to ownership of the narcotics, and that they were taken from the Fred’s, according to the State Attorney’s Office.

Jason Kirk’s brother, Matthew Kirk of Brewton, was indicted by an Escambia County (Ala.) Grand Jury on two counts of third degree burglary, one court of second degree theft of property in connection with the  the pharmacy burglary.  Matthew Kirk was the only police officer on duty in the small Alabama town at the time the burglary occurred. Matthew Kirk  has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trail.

Flu Bug Widespread

December 31, 2010

Alabama is among three states with high flu activity , while the flu was at a moderate level in Florida, according  to a report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The flu was reported to be widespread in Alabama, while it was more regional in nature in Florida. Mississippi, Georgia, Virginia and New York also had widespread flu activity last week.

According to the report, there might be a little good news for those that have had their flu shot — the current flu strains seem to be well-matched to this season’s flue vaccine.

15-Year Old Gets 20 Years For Fight With Deputies

December 31, 2010

Tracy Edward Squaire Jr. has been sentenced 20 years in state prison for an incident where he fought with deputies and grabbed a service revolver. He was just 14 years old at the time of the incident.

squairetraceye.jpgThe conviction stemmed from an April 20, 2010, incident in which Squaire, now 15, snuck out of his house at night and loaded a car with his belongings. He then stole the car and  wrecked it less than a mile from his home. He then walked back home and stole a second vehicle from his parent’s home.

While Squaire was transferring his belongings from the first car to the second he was approached by Deputy Brandon Minor. As Deputy Minor attempted to investigate the stolen vehicles, Squaire resisted and a struggle ensued between Squaire and the deputy. The struggle ended with Squaire wrestling away Minor’s firearm and turning it on him. Squaire held Minor at bay with his own firearm while he fled in one the of the stolen vehicles.

As Squaire was pursued by law enforcement he proceeded to wreck the second stolen vehicle. When Deputy Kelly Hall approached the wrecked vehicle Squaire leaned out the window and pointed the firearm at Deputy Hall. Deputy Hall fired a round into the vehicle. At that time Squaire exited the vehicle under the guise of surrendering. After exiting the vehicle Squaire lunged for Deputy Hall’s weapon. After a brief struggle Deputy Hall was able to get Squaire in custody.

Church Deals With Aftermath Of Fire (With Interior, Exterior Photos)

December 31, 2010

A Cantonment church is making plans to move forward with their mission today following a fire early Thursday morning that destroyed one of their buildings.

The J.E. Kyser Hall at the Pine Forest Assembly of God Church was consumed by fire, destroying classrooms and offices. The main church sanctuary was not damaged, while a third building housing children’s and youth areas received some smoke damage.

Sunday School classes for this Sunday have been canceled, and the morning worship service has been rescheduled to 10 a.m. There will be no Sunday evening services. Next Wednesday, evening services will be held at 6:30 p.m.

For our Thursday morning story about the fire, click here.

Pictured above and below: Photos show the aftermath of a Thursday morning fire at the Pine Forest Assembly of God Church in Cantonment. Submitted photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

(scroll down for several photos)

Today’s The Last Day To Save On Your Property Taxes

December 31, 2010

If you want a three percent discount when paying your Escambia County real estate and tangible personal property taxes, you must make your payment by today.

All four tax collector offices will be open normal business hours today, according to Escambia County Tax Collector Janet Holley.

In order to receive the three percent discount and have your tax payment posted with a December date, payment must be:

  • received in the tax collector’s office by close of business December 31;
  • made on the tax collector’s web site by midnight December 31; or
  • made on the after-hours automated telephone (800) 601-1055 by midnight December 31.

In addition, payments mailed with a December 31 postmark or left in the tax collector’s 24‑hour drop boxes after hours on December 31 will receive the three discount but will be dated in January.

You may check the status of your taxes and pay online at www.escambiataxcollector.com. If you have any questions, call the tax collector’s office at 438-6500, ext. 252. (TTY users for the hearing impaired call 850-472-0031.)

Before The Ball Drops: A Countdown Of Challenges For Rick Scott

December 31, 2010

With 2010 almost ready to be counted out, one of the year’s top Florida stories – Republican Rick Scott’s election – will turn a new page, morphing into one of the New Year’s first major political events.

As the governor-elect readies for his Jan. 4 inauguration, the our Tallahassee bureau asked a dozen lobbyists, elected officials and academics to look ahead and take stock of the early hurdles facing Scott.

As 2010 fades, let’s count down from 10 the top challenges facing the incoming governor in ’11.

10: A High Bar: Scott takes office promising to add 700,000 jobs to Florida’s feeble economy. Sure, he’s giving himself seven years to do this. But the new executive also says he’ll reach this goal on top of the roughly million jobs economists say Florida will add during that time, through normal growth and business expansion. Scott’s job creation promise will sit like a thermometer on the windowsill of the new administration. And it better keep going up. Still, a University of Central Florida forecast this month warns the state’s unemployment rate won’t drop below 10 percent until early 2013.

9: An Impatient Public: Winning the closest governor’s race in modern Florida history means Scott doesn’t have a deep well of popular support. A survey this week by Public Policy Polling shows Scott’s unfavorability rating dropped from 54 percent when he was elected to 43 percent now. But Floridians, mired in a three-year economic downturn, likely won’t give the new guy a lot of time to make good on his campaign promises. If Scott wants proof, he just has to check how President Obama’s political fortunes turned in two years. “Scott has plans that go out seven years, but I think he’s only going to get seven months to make things happen,” said House Democratic Leader Ron Saunders of Key West.

8: Finding the Money: Scott’s got billions of dollars he wants to give away. A property-tax break would save Floridians $1.4 billion; eliminating the corporate income tax would slice more than $1.8 billion, and the incoming governor also wants to reduce unemployment taxes and cut more than $3 billion in electric utility costs for businesses. The state’s pension and employee health care system are vast repositories of money that could yield savings even with relatively modest changes. But while Scott wants to give money back – especially to businesses and homeowners – the state’s $3.5 billion budget shortfall shows the leaky ship of state is going to demand plugs.

7: Staffing his Administration: As a candidate, Scott fueled visions of America’s best and brightest flocking to Tallahassee eager to reinvent government. But with inauguration around the corner, the ‘help wanted’ sign is still the most prominent feature on the new administration’s door. Scott’s transition teams have released hundreds of pages of proposals to revamp agencies, instill efficiencies, and eliminate wasteful spending. But the uncertainty about coming to work for an outsider CEO who doesn’t particularly like government seems to be slowing down the hiring process. After all, today’s agency job may look nothing like what it will if Scott gets his way with the Legislature. Scott also is discovering what lawmakers, corporate recruiters and local government officials have long known: Tallahassee can be a tough sell.

6: Fighting Red Tape Fanatics: Scott gets plenty of mileage deriding regulations he says are hampering the state’s economy. Growth management and environmental standards seem to commonly land in his crosshairs, along with duplicative regulations between competing state agencies. But the Capitol’s fourth-floor rotunda is frequently a swirling sea of lobbyists representing industries or individual companies seeking to get a leg up on a rival by imposing a department rule or landing a request for proposal. When Scott takes on regulations, he may also be taking on some influential lobbyists and their legislative patrons. The governor could soon be schooled in why some special interests are more special than others.

5: A Workforce Insurgency: Scott’s talked of slicing at least 5 percent of the state workforce. He’s also expected to push for more privatization of prisons, ending teacher tenure, and consolidating a handful of state agencies. All told, Scott’s efforts appear poised to create a vocal cadre of self-avowed policy victims – some of them well financed by the Florida Police Benevolent Association, Florida Education Association and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). If Scott instills reforms deftly, he may avoid creating a loud and unified opposition. But wholesale changes involving large numbers of public employees could yield fierce pushback that overwhelms the new administration.

4: The Media Funnel: Scott’s a kind of do-it yourself guy when it comes to the media. He spent $73 million of his own money to win election – with the bulk of the cash going to saturation television advertising in which he starred. Meanwhile, Scott the candidate declined to meet with the state’s newspaper editorial boards, apparently seeing no benefit in having his policies or positions distilled through the media funnel. In turn, none of the state’s major papers endorsed his candidacy.

However, once he’s sworn-in as governor Tuesday, Scott will likely have to deal with the press. His proposals will draw media scrutiny, critics’ views will be aired. And there’s a good chance Scott won’t often like what he reads or hears on television and radio. Will he occasionally try to sidestep the press and run his office like the campaign, maybe with help from the Florida Republican Party? “We know that raising money here is going to be a fulltime job for the next party chairman,” said outgoing state GOP Chairman John Thrasher, a St. Augustine senator.

3: Ambitious Legislators: Florida’s legislative leaders supported Scott’s Republican primary rival, Bill McCollum, and spent four months running a scorched earth campaign against the governor-elect last summer. They’ve now spent an equal amount of time as his ally. But Scott is aware of the thin ice on which he stands. Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, has U.S. Senate ambitions of his own for 2012 against Democrat Bill Nelson. And with redistricting hitting at the midpoint of Scott’s term, there will be plenty of legislators angling for higher office. That can work both ways for Scott, with some seeking the governor’s support and others looking to cross swords with him to assert their independence and gain political leverage. Scott clearly has more to fear from hungry Republican allies than he does from outnumbered Democrats at this point.

2: Runaway Rhetoric: Scott’s already promised plenty. But in one of his first acts, he may want to keep his inaugural address vague and lofty, since whatever he says on Jan. 4 is likely to linger for the next four years. Late Democratic Gov. Lawton Chiles’ “covenant with the people,” and Republican Jeb Bush’s wish to “make these buildings around us empty of workers and silent monuments,” rattled long after their inaugurals. So far, Scott has spoken mostly of “jobs, jobs, jobs.” But Gary Mormino, a University of South Florida historian, said, “I’d like to hear him Tuesday talk about the new Florida dream. What we had in this state now seems like it’s in the ash can of history, with this economy. But how does he connect our past with the future?”

1: Obama, Again: Scott ventured into politics leading Citizens For Patients Rights, the campaign opposing President Obama’s health care overhaul. CPR failed to derail the initiative. But as a gubernatorial candidate, Scott managed to seize on the president’s rising unpopularity in Florida in defeating Democrat Alex Sink. He also ridiculed the federal stimulus money used to balance Florida’s budget the past three years. Scott remains devoted to keeping federal health care requirements out of Florida, and there’s no more stimulus to spread around – or criticize. But Scott may have to play a central role courting the Obama administration’s support for a Medicaid waiver needed to enact the Legislature’s sweeping, cost-saving attempt to put more low-income Floridians into managed care.

By John Kennedy
The News Service Florida

2010’s Best Photos: October

December 31, 2010

All this week, we are looking back at some of our favorite and most interesting photos of 2010. Today, we are featuring photos from October.

(For January and February, click here.)
(For March and April, click here.)
(For May and June, click here.)
(For July and August, click here.)
(For September, click here.)

This was our favorite photo from the football season as this Baker Gator  (#80) has a hard time figuring out which way was up as the Gators were defeated by the Chiefs.

Republican candidate Rick Scott campaigns in Molino just days before being elected Florida governor.

Escambia County Deputy Bobby Cook helps maintain a perimeter in the search for a suspect on York Road after shots were reportedly fired at a deputy.

The Tate High School Showband of the South marches past an “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” home in Pensacola.

Escambia County School Board member Gerald Boone uses his cell phone to photograph sparks from a Telsa coil on display during the grand opening of the Ernest Ward Middle School Electrical Academy.

The Century Town Council takes part in the “Purple Glove Dance” to support the American Cancer Society.

A Northview defender plows down a Jay Royal during Friday night football action.

First responders worked for about half an hour to free a man trapped in this Highway 97 crash in October.

Northview High School Dean Gary Mattes kisses a goat during a homecoming pep rally.

A Baker Gator goes down in a JV game against Northview.


Doris and Lawrence Cooper announced in October that they were closing their Cooper’s Grocery in Bratt.

Newly elected Century Town Council member Sandra McMurray Jackson gets a congratulatory hug from Mayor Freddie McCall.

Authorities believe this fire in an abandoned Molino home was arson.

Broccoli and cabbage — fifth grade students at Molino Park Elementary teamed up with the Pensacola Little Theatre to learn about healthy veggies.

Edwin Armon Hall

December 31, 2010

Edwin Armon Hall, 78 of Atmore died Monday December 28, 2010 in Mobile.

He was an equipment operator for Escambia county, born in Atmore, on June 20, 1932, to the late Ezra M. and Lona Mae Isler Hall. He loved family and farming and was a member of Lottie Baptist Church.

He was preceded in death by a son Michael Armon Hall.

Survivors are his wife, Lois J. Hall; one son, Daniel Wayne Hall and wife, Pam, of Atmore; one daughter, Delores Livingston and husband, Bob of Jacksonville; one daughter-in-law, Felicia Hall of Bay Minette; two brothers, Ervin Jr. Hall and Eugene Hall both of Atmore; five grandchildren, Matt Livingston, Kevin Michael Hall, Anna Katherine Livingston, Caitlin Allie Hall and Kyndall Lauren Hall; one great-grandson, Michael Armon Hall; and many other relatives and friends.

Services will be Sunday January 02, 2011. at 2 p.m.from Atmore Memorial Chapel, with Bro. Chris Pruitt and Bro. Don Davis officiating. Interment will follow in Oak Hill Cemetery.

Active Pallbearers are Matt Livingston, Kevin Hall, James Stacey, Thomas Wayne Hall, Eric Hall, and Kelly Drew. Honorary Pallbearers will be James Turk, Hilbert Hall Benny Dockins, Billy Hardy and Don Bradley.

Family will receive friends, Saturday evening January 01, 2011, at Atmore Memorial Chapel from 6 until 8 p.m..

Johnson-Quimby Funeral Home, Inc in charge of all arrangements. Atmore.

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