Robots Bring Out The BEST In Local Students

October 30, 2011

A cheering crowd, referees, mascots and cheerleaders – no, it’s not another football game.

On Saturday morning the University of West Florida Field House buzzed with activity and the Emerald Coast BEST Robotics competition whirred to a start.

The competition plays out in an arena setting as 20 area high schools and middle schools compete against each other with their robots. Gulf Power Company is the major sponsor for the Emerald Coast BEST Robotics competition, which is held annually.

This year’s theme for the competition, BUGS, refers to a conceived disaster of genetically engineered bugs escaping from a BEST lab. The goal for the robots is to recover and contain the bugs before they create a potential health and environmental crisis.

Students had six weeks to build their robots and teams were judged on robot performance, oral presentation, table display, project notebook, spirit and sportsmanship.

It’s all a part of an initiative to inspire students to pursue careers in engineering, science and technology through participation in a sports-like, science and engineering-based robotics competition each fall. Student teams are judged on robot performance, marketing presentation, team exhibit/interview, project engineering notebook, and spirit and sportsmanship.

Introduced by two MIT students, BEST — Boosting, Engineering, Science, and Technology — has grown into a nationally recognized competition challenging more than 50,000 participants since its start in 1993. Area schools have been competing since 2004, when Gulf Power sponsored eight local teams in the regional competition in Mobile.

Dallas Rich, a math and science teach from Workman Middle School, said the competition encompasses everything they want to teach the students.

“This is the best program I’ve ever seen. It involves problem-solving, sportsmanship and gives the kids a real-world aspect of life,” said Rich.

Austin Scharer, eighth grader from Workman Middle School, said he will definitely compete again next year. “The competition is nerve-racking, but as long as the team sticks together, we’ll be alright.”

“There is a lot of camaraderie between the competing schools as well,” said Rich. “It’s a great positive atmosphere.”

Four schools in Northwest Florida were among the winners that will advance to the finals at Auburn University December 2-3 –  Milton High School, Pensacola High School, Seaside Neighborhood and Woodham Middle School.


BEST Award

1.     Seaside Neighborhood School

2.     Woodham Middle School

3.     Woodlawn Beach Middle School

Game Award

1.     Milton High School

2.     Pensacola High School

3.     Seaside Neighborhood School

4.     Hobbs Middle School

Best T-shirt Design Award

1.     Deane Bozeman K-12 School

Web Page Design Award

1.     Seaside Neighborhood School

Founders Award for Creative Design

1.     Workman Middle School

2.     Seaside Neighborhood School

3.     Hobbs Middle School

Most Robust Robot

1.     Milton High School

2.     Woodlawn Beach Middle School

3.     Seaside Neighborhood School

Most Photogenic Robot

1.     Bethlehem K-12

2.     Hobbs Middle School

3.     West Florida High School

Best Team Exhibit and Interview

1.     Seaside Neighborhood School

Best Marketing Presentation

1.     Seaside Neighborhood School

Best Project Engineering Notebook

1.     Holley Navarre Middle School

Best Spirit and Sportsmanship

1.     Seaside Neighborhood School

Hub Director’s Pit Friend Award

1.     Pensacola High School

HEXBUG Busy Bee Award

1.     Woodlawn Beach Middle School

Gulf Power- Blood, Sweat and Duct Tape Award

1.     Brown Barge Middle School

This year’s teams:

Bay County: Deane Bozeman K-12 School

Escambia County: Bellview Middle School, Brown-Barge Middle School, Escambia High School, Newpoint Pensacola High School, Pensacola High School, Ransom Middle School, Tate High School, West Florida High School, Woodham Middle School, Workman Middle School

Holmes County: Bethlehem K-12 School

Jackson County: Cottondale High School

Santa Rosa County: Avalon Middle School, Hobbs Middle School, Holley-Navarre Middle School, Milton High School, Pace High School, Woodlawn Beach Middle School

Walton County: Seaside Neighborhood Middle School

Courtesy photos for, click to enlarge.

Eubanks, Herrington To Wed

October 30, 2011

Philip Eubanks and Tiffany Herrington of Oak Grove are pleased to announce their engagement.

Tiffany is the daughter of Angela Williams of Pensacola and the late Bryan Herrington of Pensacola. She is the granddaughter of Rod and Shirley Newman of Pensacola and the late Cidrick Herrington and the late Shirley Bonds of Pensacola.

Philip is the son of George W. and Marilyn Eubanks Jr., both of Oak Grove, and the grandson of Jeannine Eubanks & the late George W. Eubanks Sr. of Oak Grove and the late Junior and Dorthy Chavers of Davisville.

Tiffany and Philip are both graduates of Northview High School. Philip is currently a firefighter for the Department of Defense.

Their wedding will be held Saturday, November 5, 2011, at Walnut Hill Baptist Church . All friends and family are invited to attend the joyous occasion. Reception to follow.

Freeze/Frost Warnings Issued

October 30, 2011

A frost advisory is in effect for Escambia and Santa Rosa counties in Florida, and a freeze warning is in effect for Escambia County, Alabama, tonight. Precautions should be taken to protectww tender vegetation.

Here is your official North Escambia area forecast:

  • Tonight: Clear, with a low around 32-35. East wind around 5 mph becoming calm.
  • Monday: Sunny, with a high near 72. North wind between 5 and 10 mph.
  • Monday Night: Clear, with a low around 39. North wind around 5 mph.
  • Tuesday: Sunny, with a high near 73. Northeast wind between 5 and 10 mph.
  • Tuesday Night: Clear, with a low around 42. East wind around 5 mph.
  • Wednesday: Sunny, with a high near 72. East wind between 5 and 10 mph.
  • Wednesday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 47. East wind around 5 mph.
  • Thursday: A 20 percent chance of showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 75. East wind around 5 mph.
  • Thursday Night: A 20 percent chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 53.
  • Friday: Partly sunny, with a high near 76.
  • Friday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 55.
  • Saturday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 76.

Florida Gov’t Weekly Roundup: Mack Attack, Gambling

October 30, 2011

The Republican field for the U.S. Senate gained a well-known contender this week and lawmakers got their first glimpse of a controversial gambling measure that has already attracted the attention of casino fat cats and “The Mouse.”

While backers of resort gaming began testing the waters, a federal judge early this week ordered state officials to stop testing the water of applicants seeking temporary cash assistance from the feds in a battle pitting drug tests against federal protections from unnecessary searches.

But the judicial fireworks weren’t limited to the federal courts, as state circuit judges heard testimony on church/state separation and pension contributions from state employees.

U.S. Rep. Connie Mack (IV) entered an already crowded field of GOP hopefuls vying to challenge popular Democratic incumbent, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson. The Cape Coral Republican brings to the race a recognizable name that has so far eluded the field. Much of that is based on the fame of his father, a former U.S. senator, and his great-grandfather, a baseball manager for more than 50 years in the early 20 century.’s entry immediately brought attacks from contenders who already were arguing who is more outside the Washington establishment. It’s been a recurring theme in a tea party dominated primary season that even Pat Robertson worries is veering too far to the right.

“He knows first-hand from his many years working with the Washington establishment how broken our government is and I’m certain that voters will closely examine his record on job creation, immigration, and government spending,” said Mike McCalister, a candidate in that GOP primary who has never held elected public office.

Mack’s campaign responded that he is the most viable candidate to challenge his two-term Democrat Nelson, but he still faces tough odds. A late March survey of GOP voters by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm based in North Carolina that regularly polls Florida, found Mack leading the race with 28 percent to 14 percent for LeMieux and 4 percent for Adam Hasner. The candidate emerging from the field would still have to recoup a double digit gap with Nelson, though.


While many issues have yet to percolate up to the top of the legislative agenda, one sure bet took a step forward this week as backers of destination gambling showed their hand. A much anticipated bill permitting up to three luxury casinos was filed Wednesday, accelerating an intense lobbying war that will play a big role in the legislative session when it begins in January.

The 142-page bill (HB 487) allows the state to issue up to three resort casino permits in counties where voters have already passed or would pass referenda approving expanding gambling. So far, only Broward and Miami-Dade counties have done so, but the bill as written does not limit the resorts to those counties only.

These are not strip mall Internet cafes. The proposal limits successful bids to those able to put together a development eclipsing $2 billion, of which gambling comprises not more than 10 percent of the footprint.

It also creates more government. Modeled after similar regulatory agencies in New Jersey and Nevada, the proposed Department of Gaming Control would strictly regulate gambling in the state, from the pari-mutuel race track facilities, to Internet cafés.

The proposal faces opposition from at least one business group. The Florida Chamber of Commerce has said it will fight the move to expand gaming in Florida. The statewide friend of business joins Disney as an opponent. The mouse that roars fears the luxury venues could prompt would-be Disney visitors to choose black jack over Capt. Blackbeard.

The venues are being touted for their economic development potential. Meanwhile, state-backed efforts to lure businesses may not be getting as much bang for their taxpayer bucks.

The Department of Economic Opportunity released the names of six companies it says received state incentive money to create jobs but didn’t deliver as many jobs as promised.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel and Orlando Sentinel reported that nearly $40 million has been paid in incentives to companies that have fallen short of promised job creation by 3,600 jobs. Almost all of the incentive packages were negotiated a few years ago, when Charlie Crist was governor.

One company, Gartner, Inc., was paid $1.2 million from 2009 to 2011 to create 400 jobs, but appears not to have been credited with any, the Sentinel papers reported. The state is re-negotiating terms with the companies.


A federal judge on Monday barred the state from drug testing applicants for federal financial assistance until the lawsuit challenging the new law is resolved. U.S. District Court Judge Mary Scriven rejected the state’s arguments that the drug-testing program did not violate the U.S. Constitution’s ban on unreasonable searches and would instead ensnare thousands of would-be welfare recipients in an impermissible dragnet.

Meanwhile, a state circuit judge heard arguments this week on whether a proposed constitutional amendment making it easier for taxpayer funds to go to religious institutions should go on the ballot in November 2012. Circuit Judge Terry Lewis is being asked to throw out the proposal crafted by lawmakers earlier this year. A lawsuit filed by the Florida Education Association, says the ballot language is misleading.

STORY OF THE WEEK: Two: a federal judge in Miami issued an injunction, barring the state from enforcing its mandatory drug testing of federal cash assistance until a lawsuit challenging the law is resolved. And U.S. Rep. Connie Mack enters the U.S. Senate race, at least giving the Republican field a name more than a few people know.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “It’s going to get a lot more fun,” Jennifer Duffy, senior editor of the Cook Political Report on the entrance of Connie Mack into Florida’s Senate race.

By The News Service of Florida

Alabama Vs. Auburn Pumpkins

October 30, 2011

Lots of folks have been busy carving pumpkins the last few days. For Jessica Killam and Trey Johnson, pumpkin carving time was a bit of a rivalry — a relationship divided of sorts.

“We carved our own pumpkins since I am an Auburn fan and my boyfriend is an Alabama fan,” Killam said.

For football fans looking to support their favorite team in orange fruit glory, Killam said it’s easy.

“I printed logos off the internet then taped them on the pumpkins to carve with carving tools,” she said.

Submitted photo for, click to enlarge.

Area Credit Unions Receive High Financial Strength Ratings

October 30, 2011

Area credit unions have earned high marks from BauerFinancial for financial strength and stability.

Twelve credit unions earned a 5 Star Superior Rating, the highest given: Baptist Regional Medical Credit Union; Central Credit Union of Florida; Florida State Employees FCU; Gulf Winds FCU; Members First Credit Union of Florida; Navy Federal Credit Union; Pen Air Credit Union; Pensacola Federal Credit Union; Pensacola Government FCU; Pensacola L&N FCU; Santa Rosa County FCU; and West Florida Medical FCU.

One, Harvesters FCE of Cantonment, earned a 4 Star Excellent rating.

The rating is based upon the overall financial strength of the institutions. BauerFinancial is an independent bank and credit union ranking and research firm. Financial institutions do not pay for their ratings.

28 Years: Longtime Nursing Center Employee Retires

October 30, 2011

Atmore Nursing Center celebrated the retirement of longtime employee Woodrow Curry.

Last Friday was a long time coming, marking the end of 28 years of service by Woodrow Curry to the residents at Atmore Nursing Center.

In a room filled with his co-workers saying goodbye, Curry said his job had been good to him and he loved all the residents and everybody else.

Coworker Eric Grant told the group when he would hear Curry say “well if I can’t help you I ain’t gonna do nothing to hurt you”, it made him respect Curry even more. According to Greg Wilson his favorite saying from Curry was, “if the Lord willing and nothing happens I’ll see you tomorrow”.

Curry says one thing he wants to do during his retirement is go fishing with his brothers.

Pictured above: Woodrow Curry retired from the Atmore Nursing Center after 28 years of service. Pictured below: Woodrow Curry was presented a plaque by Administrator Cindy Lee and Director of Maintenance Greg Wilson .

Fire Destroys Escambia County Road Prison Barn

October 29, 2011

Fire destroyed a hay barn Saturday morning at the Escambia County Road Prison in Cantonment.

The first firefighters on scene at the compound on Highway 297A reported the large barn full of hay was fully involved and threatening other structures. Numerous stations of Escambia Fire Rescue, including Cantonment, Molino, Ensley, Beulah and Bellview responded to the fire, which was reported just before 9:30 a.m.

The hay barn fire was not threatening the buildings housing prisoners, according to reports.

There were no immediate reports of injuries. file photo, click to enlarge.

Two People Seriously Injured In Highway 29 Crash (With Photo Gallery)

October 29, 2011

Two people were critically injured in a two vehicle accident Friday night on Highway 29 in Bluff Springs.

According to the Florida High Patrol, 42-year old Terrie Brown of Pensacola was southbound on Highway 29 south of Bluff Springs Road when she ran off the roadway onto the grassy shoulder. She over corrected, and her vehicle began to rotate. Her 1998 Mercedes SUV crossed the median and collided with a southbound 2008 Toyota Tundra driven by 56-year old Woodie Glaze of Pensacola.

Brown’s SUV came to rest on its roof in the southbound lanes of Highway 29 following the 6:39 p.m. crash. Glaze’s pickup came to rest on the shoulder of the road.

Glaze was trapped in his pickup for over half an hour as firefighters worked to extricate him using the Jaws of Life. He was airlifted by LifeFlight helicopter to Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola. He was listed in serious condition early Saturday.

Brown, who was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from her vehicle during the crash, was airlifted by a second LifeFlight helicopter to Baptist Hospital where she was listed in serious condition early Saturday morning.

Charges against Brown are pending, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

The Century, McDavid and Molino stations of Escambia Fire Rescue, the Flomaton Fire Department, Escambia County EMS, Atmore Ambulance and the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office also responded to the crash.

For a photo gallery from the crash scene, click here.

Pictured: Two people were airlifted to Pensacola hospitals after this wreck Friday night on Highway 29. photos, click to enlarge.

Northview Chiefs Sting Vernon’s Yellow Jackets

October 29, 2011

The Northview Chiefs picked up a  win on the road Friday night over Vernon, 47-6.

Senior Brandon Sheets had 101 yards passing for two touchdowns while running for two more touchdowns for the Chiefs, while Junior Roderick Woods had 73-yards and a touchdown.

The Chiefs took the lead with 8:07 to go in the first quarter with a Brandon Sheets touchdown. With a good kick from Kevin Vaughan, Northview was up 7-0 over the Yellow Jackets. Then, with 5:24 in the first, Austin Albritton returned an interception 60 yards for a touchdown, 13-0 Chiefs.

The Chiefs were not done yet with the first, quarter with Sheets in from 30-yards out with 1:55 to go. With a good two point conversion, Northview was up 21-0.

Early in the second quarter, Roderick Woods had a 25-yard touchdown to up the Chiefs’ advantage to 28-0. Northview stung the Yellow Jackets again with 7:-8 to go in the half on a 50-yard pass from Sheets to LaMikal Kyles, 35-0.

The Yellow Jackets’ last drive of the half was cut short with a Chiefs interception by junior Trey Johnson. Headed into the lockers at the half, NHS held a strong 35-0 lead.

Woods scored his second TD of the night with 10:40 remaining in the third. With a missed extra point, Northview’s advantage explanded to 41-0.

With 2:41 remaining in the game, Vernon (3-5) managed their only TD, 41-6. Northview sealed their win with a Jammie Gafford touchdown late in the fourth, 47-6.

Next Friday night will be big for the Northview(5-2, 2-0). It’s homecoming for the Chiefs, and it’s a chance to seal a district championship as they take on the Baker Gators in Bratt.

If the Chiefs knock off Baker, Northview takes the district and Freeport takes the No. 2 spot. But if Baker should beat Northview, there would be a three-way tie  with Freeport, if Freeport defeats Jay. The Jay Royals are totally out of the district championship hunt.

For more submitted photos from the game, click here.

Pictured top: The Northview Chiefs celebrate Friday night in Vernon after defeating the Yellow Jackets 47-6. Pictured inset: Northview’s varsity cheerleaders, including Charleigh McPherson and Ariel Holland, led Chiefs fans in Vernon. Submitted photo by Wayne Holland for, click to enlarge.

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