Romney Projected Winner Of Florida Republican Primary

January 31, 2012

Moments after the polls closed across Florida the major television networks all projected that Mitt Romney had won today’s Florida Republican Primary.

Fox News, CNN, NBC, ABC and CBS all project Romney as the winner before the first ballots were counted in Northwest Florida. Because of the time zone difference, 51 percent of the state’s precincts were reporting at the time of the predictions. Romney held a 48 percent lead, followed by Gingrich with 31 percent, Rick Santorum with 13 percent and Ron Paul with 7 percent.

Deputies Release Identities Of Double Shooting Victims

January 31, 2012

The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office has released the names of two men that were shot Monday afternoon, as the man charged in the double shooting remains behind bars.

The victims were identified as 22-year old Chris Eric Chapman and 30-year old Chez Everett, both of Pensacola. They were shot outside of a residence in the 2500 block of Truman Avenue.

Derrow Peterson, 22, was charged with two counts of attempted murder and booked into the Escambia County Jail without bond for the shooting.

Both Chatman and Everett were shot multiple times by Peterson as they drove up to a residence where Peterson was located, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Both victims sustained serious injuries and are still hospitalized at a local hospital. Their official condition is unknown at this time.

Deputies said Chatman has an active warrant for a shooting that occurred on December 21, 2011, at America’s Best Value Inn on Plantation Road. In that incident, Chatman shot into an occupied vehicle which was reported stolen with the Pensacola  Police Department. No one was injured in that incident.

Water Outage: Bay Springs, South Highway 99

January 31, 2012

Due to water line repairs, water service will be off in the Bay Springs and South Highway 99 area until about noon today, according to provider Escambia River Electric Cooperative.

Florida Primary Underway

January 31, 2012

Months after its date became an issue and 10 days after it turned the state into the center of the political world, Florida’s presidential primary is underway today as voters the polls are open until 7 p.m.

And Republican leaders are saying that the contest could ultimately decide which one of the candidates wins the nomination — just what legislators wanted when they set up a committee last year that upended the GOP’s plans for a carefully orchestrated voting calendar.

As the candidates sprinted across the state Monday in their last chance to sway those voters who haven’t already cast a ballot, polls showed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney opening up a double-digit lead against former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and Texas Congressman Ron Paul, who has all but ignored Florida in pursuit of later states, were even farther behind.

Romney used two strong debate performances and an onslaught of ads in Florida to try to counter Gingrich’s momentum after the speaker shook up the race by thumping Romney in South Carolina. By Monday, Gingrich supporters were already trying to downplay expectations for Gingrich, who vowed to press on no matter what happens today.

“If he has a respectable showing, I think he’s still a viable candidate,” said Sen. Thad Altman, a Melbourne Republican who supports Gingrich. “I think it’s important that he has a good showing here, but I don’t think he has to win.”

A respectable showing, Altman said, would be one that put the former speaker within 10 points of Romney — though Gingrich wasn’t out of the race for Florida even with the daunting margin, Altman said.

“If look you at the polls of the past primaries, Newt’s run stronger than the polls indicated and Romney ran a lot weaker,” he said.

Romney supporters were also looking to tamp down any emerging story lines that the onetime front-runner needed a big win in Florida after a long list of polls showed him putting ever more distance between himself and the rest of the pack.

“Any win is a win, okay?” said Sen. Steve Wise, a Republican from Jacksonville, a Romney stronghold.

Following a debate in Jacksonville Thursday night, in which Romney was seen as the winner, adviser Eric Fehrnstrom also tried to quiet talk that a win in Florida could prove to be a knockout punch for Romney, who has already won in New Hampshire and is the best-funded candidate in the race.

“The nomination process doesn’t end on the 31st of January,” he said. “It keeps going.”

Florida Republicans coming off a bruising battle to put the state in the limelight were eager to paint a different narrative. Last year, facing the prospect of sanctions from the national Republican Party for the Jan. 31 primary date, GOP lawmakers cobbled together a committee to establish the date of the presidential primary. The panel decided to go with Jan. 31 anyway.

That prompted the national party to strip Republicans of half of their delegates to the GOP convention, set to be held in Tampa.

“No one can argue that that has not concentrated extraordinary focus, emphasis and potentially … decisiveness in terms of the impact of Floridian voters’ voices,” said state House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park. Cannon has remained neutral since his first choice, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, dropped out of the race.

Lenny Curry, chairman of the state Republican Party, was more reserved.

“I’d rather that we didn’t lose half of our delegates, but this is where we are, and it is all about Florida,” he said. “So some will argue that it was worth it.”

By The News Service of Florida

Walnut Hill Man Charged With Stealing Two Vehicles

January 31, 2012

A Walnut Hill man with an outstanding grand theft auto charge was caught by deputies driving a second stolen car.

Ronald Wayne Boone, 34, was charged with two counts of grand theft auto and booked into the Escambia County jail with bond set at $10,000.

An Escambia County deputy spotted a black Ford Mustang with a paper tag while on routine patrol in the area of North Highway 99 and Lambert Bridge Road. The deputy recognized the vehicle has one that was reported stolen by the Atmore Police Department.

He followed the vehicle north on Highway 99 to Highway 4 and then north on Highway 97 while awaiting the arrival of backup. As backup arrived, a traffic stop was conducted in Davisville on Highway 97 at the Piggly Wiggly, just south of the Alabama state line.

The Atmore Police Department also responded to the traffic stop, and the vehicle was released to its rightful owner.

At the time of his arrest, Boone was wanted on an outstanding grand theft auto charge in connection with a 2000 GMC Sonoma reported stolen January 2 from the 4700 block of West Highway 4.

Election Day Tips

January 31, 2012

Polls will be open from until 7 p.m. today for the Republican Presidential Primary. All Escambia voters, including Democrats and independents, can vote on the countywide EDATE referendum.

Voter turnout was reported to be light across the North Escambia area. At precincts in Bratt and Walnut Hill, only Mitt Romney signs lined the highways. There were no visible signs of support for other candidates.

Escambia County Supervisor of Elections David Stafford offers the following Election Day tips:

  • If you are unsure of your registration status, check, or call 595-3900
  • Confirm the location of your polling place: check your sample ballot, voter information card,, or call 595-3900
  • Photo and signature ID is required for all voters – if you do not present an approved form of ID, you may vote a provisional ballot
  • While only registered Republicans may vote in the Presidential Preference Primary contest, all voters may vote on the countywide EDATE referendum
  • Registration books closed on January 3 – new registrations and party changes for this election may not be made at the polls
  • You may not return your voted absentee ballot to your precinct on Election Day – it must be returned to the Elections Office by 7 p.m.
  • Early voting ended Saturday – if you have not yet voted, you must go to your precinct on Election Day
  • Busiest times at the polls tend to be 7:00 a.m. until 9:00 a.m., and 4:30 p.m. until the polls close at 7:00 p.m.

For more information,  contact the Escambia Supervisor of Elections Office  by phone at (850) 595-3900, e-mail  at or visit

Pictured: Precincts at the Walnut Hill Community Center (top) and the First Baptist Church of Bratt (inset) late Tuesday morning. photos, click to enlarge.

Gulf of Mexico Initiative Conservation Assistance Meeting Signup Deadline Is Wednesday

January 31, 2012

There will be a meeting to discuss the Gulf of Mexico Initiative (GoMI) on Friday, February 3rd at the Walnut Hill Community Center.

The Gulf of Mexico Initiative (GoMI), recently announced by the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS), is providing $50 million for conservation plan development and financial assistance for the five Gulf Coast states over the next three years. GoMI will direct additional technical and financial assistance to landowners within specified watersheds in parts of Escambia County Florida and Alabama. These funds will be available to eligible producers to voluntarily implement conservation plans and practices that will help enhance water quality along rivers, tributaries and bays that flow into the Gulf of Mexico.

Under GoMI, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) offers financial assistance to help carry out conservation work. Some of the conservation practices available under these programs are brush management, pasture and hayland planting, fences, water development for livestock, prescribed grazing, drop pipes for erosion and drainage control and management type practices like nutrient (fertilization) and pest (weed control).

The meeting at the Walnut Hill Community Center will begin at 10 a.m. and will be followed by a barbecue lunch. Interested persons should RSVP to the to the Molino (NRCS) Field Office at (850) 587-5404 Ext. 3 or the Brewton (NRCS) Field Office at (251) 867-3185 by 2 p.m. on Wednesday February 1st.

Application cutoff date for GoMI 2012 funds is March 1, 2012.

Incumbent Malcolm Thomas Pre-files For School Superintendent

January 31, 2012

Escambia County School Superintendent Malcolm Thomas pre-filed for re-election Monday. To date, no other candidate has pre-filed for the position.

“While we celebrate our milestones, we have not reached our destination.  We must continue the journey to excellence,” the first-term superintendent said. He attributed better student achievement and discipline, greater transparency, a strong school board, thousands of dedicated employees, and motivated students as a few of his reasons for running for re-election.

Thomas will run once again as a Republican.

Foot Chase Ends With Suspect In Dog Pen

January 31, 2012

A Century man that ran from deputies before being found hiding in a dog pen is now behind bars in the county jail.

Charles Tyrell Wesley, 27, was charged knowingly driving with a suspended license while classified as a habitual traffic offender, resisting arrest without violence and improper tag display.

After noticing a temporary tag not properly attached to his vehicle, an Escambia County Sheriff’s deputy attempted to stop Wesley on Jefferson Avenue near Taylor Street.  After the deputy activated his lights and siren, Wesley continued for about 50 yards before turning into a yard at 230 Taylor Street and running from the vehicle, according to an arrest report.

After a short foot pursuit through the backyards of several homes, Wesley was arrested after being found hiding in a dog pen. He was booked into the Escambia County Jail where be remained early Tuesday morning with bond set at $1,000.

State Releases List: Where Does Your Child’s School Rank In Florida?

January 31, 2012

The Florida Department of Education released school by school rankings for every school in the state.

Among North Escambia area schools:

Molino Park Elementary was ranked at No. 236 in the state, the fourth best elementary in Escambia County. Bratt was ranked at No. 402, Jay at No. 523,  Byrneville at No. 564 at Jim Allen at No. 984 of 1795 elementary schools in the state.

Ransom Middle School was the second highest ranking in Escambia County at No. 111. Ernest Ward Middle School was the third highest ranked in Escambia County at No. 200 of 583 middle schools in Florida.

West Florida High School was the highest ranked in Escambia County at No. 30 in entire state. Pensacola High School was at No. 111, Northview High at No. 138 and Tate High at No. 168 of 404 high schools in Florida.

Jay High School was No. 27 and Central School was No. 33 in the state of 55 total in the much small combination middle and high school category.

  • For the complete list of Escambia County schools, click here.
  • For the complete list of Santa Rosa County schools, click here.

The rankings are based on each school’s total school grade points, derived from the FCAT. High school rankings also include graduation rates, student participation and performance in accelerated coursework and postsecondary readiness.

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