Hurricane Insurance Funds Better Prepared, Still Fragile

May 31, 2012

With hurricane season set to begin Friday, the acting head of the state-backed insurer is canvassing the state to bring residents up to speed.

Tom Grady, interim president of Citizens Property Insurance Corp., has scheduled a series of media interviews and meetings along the Southwest Gulf coast in advance of a hurricane summit scheduled for Friday in Tampa. The topic: How to depopulate the state’s largest property insurer.

Grady’s tour comes as Florida is in the best position since the devastating 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons to weather a major storm. But officials remain wary over the fragile nature of government-backed programs set up to cover catastrophic losses and insure nearly 1.5 million residents who live in some of the riskiest areas of the state.

“The whole purpose of this is so we can agree on a set of facts, irrefutable facts, and see where we want to go,” Grady said Wednesday after visits with media outlets in Naples, Fort Myers and Charlotte. “… It’s surprising to me how few people realize that they are only making a down payment on their insurance. The full cost is much higher.”

Meanwhile, the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund could find itself about $1.8 billion short of its $17 billion obligation if it has to go to the bond market immediately following a devastating event, according to an analysis prepared by Raymond James for the state-backed re-insurer.

Added to nearly $7.4 billion in losses paid by private insurers before the CAT fund kicked in, available funds could adequately cover a 1-in-25 year storm, which would cause about $21.5 billion in losses. Assessments would be needed, insurance regulators say, to begin refilling the CAT fund.

Citizens, meanwhile, continues to add customers despite its announced goal of reducing the number of policies and turning those customers over to the private market. As it stands, the insurer faces billions in potential losses that could trigger assessments of up to 45 percent for policyholders, though such an increase would be politically difficult.

Coastal homeowners and a handful of lawmakers say many of Citizen’s nearly 1.5 million policyholders couldn’t afford the initial financial hit and have nowhere else to turn. Those fears have bubbled to the surface recently as Citizens board of governors meets to address proposed rate hikes for next year.

Insurance industry representatives say Citizens and the CAT fund are doing the best they can, but stress that the whole system is fragile. If a severe storm hits, Citizens funds will be exhausted and the CAT fund may find itself short. Both events would trigger assessments on most automobile and property insurance policyholders.

“It will take an awful, awful storm to trigger that,” said Sam Miller, executive vice president for the Florida Insurance Council. “But if they do, they will fall short and would need to go to assessments.

To drive home the point, the state’s insurance consumer advocate on Wednesday began a statewide campaign to educate Floridians on how much they may have to pay should a particularly devastating storm ravage the state.

For non-Citizens policyholders whose automobile and property insurance total $4,500, for example, the potential assessment on a 1-in-25 year storm would total up to $456, or $1,440 if paid out with interest over 30 years.

“It was clear that many Floridians (do) not recognize the potential for assessments following a storm if Citizens, the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund or the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association does not have the capacity to pay claims,” said Robin Westcott, Florida’s insurance consumer advocate.

By The News Service of Florida

Gerald G. Skipper, Sr.

May 31, 2012

Gerald G. Skipper, Sr. of Cantonment died quietly at home Monday, May 28, 2012.

Gerald is a native of Excel, AL. After graduating high school and serving two years in the U. S. Army, he moved to Cantonment. He worked at Monsanto until retiring in 1985. His second career of 10 years was with Manheim Remarketing.

Gerald is survived by his loving wife of 60 years, Lera Nell Skipper; sons Gerald G. Skipper, Jr (Debbie) of Waco, TX, Artice J. Skipper of Milton, Marvin L. Skipper (Vivi) of Pensacola Beach; grandchildren Jolene Burroughs (Shane), Malinda Talierico, Kyle Skipper, Kayla Skipper; eight great grandchildren; loving sister-in-laws Vera McCrory, Linda Cartwrigh;t and brother-in-law Rupert Cartwright.

Visitation will be at Faith Chapel North on Thursday, May 31, 2012. Family visitation will be 5-6 p.m., and friends from 6-8 p.m. Funeral services will be at Monroe Chapel, Monroeville, AL, at 10 a.m. on June 1, 2012.

In lieu of flowers, donations to Emerald Coast Hospice would be appreciated.

Faith Chapel Funeral Home North, 1000 Highway 29 South, is in charge of arrangements.

Chester Gunn

May 31, 2012

Mr. Chester Gunn, 86, passed away on Wednesday, May 30, 2012, in Bratt.

Mr. Gunn was a native of Bonifay and a resident of Bratt for the past 81 years. Mr. Gunn was a WWII veteran, served with the U.S. Marine Corp in the South Pacific, received the Purple Heart and was a civil service crane operator at Brookley Field, Ghost Fleet.

Mr. Gunn was preceded in death by his parents, a sister and three brothers.

Survivors include his wife of 63 years Gracie Mae Gunn of Bratt; three sons: Steve (Linda) Gunn of Byrneville, Mike (Joyce) Gunn of Bratt, and Wayne (Donna) Gunn of Bratt; two daughters Debbie (Jeff) Jackson of Brewton and Sandra Conway (Willie Hughes) of Memphis, TN; a brother: Kelly Gunn of Bratt; 12 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren.

Funeral services will be Saturday, June 2, 2012, at 2:00 p.m. at the Petty-Eastside Chapel Funeral Home with the Rev. Ricky Peebles officiating.

Burial will follow at the Godwin Cemetery with full military honors.

Visitation will be Friday, June 1, 2012 from 6:00 to 9:00 P.M. at the Petty-Eastside Chapel Funeral Home

Pallbearers will be grandson Jason Jackson, Randy Jackson, Rodney Jackson, Brian Conway, Gary Gunn and Eric Gilmore.

Honorary Pallbearers will be members of the VFW.

Christine Carol Stewart

May 31, 2012

Christine Carol Stewart, known by her friends as Carol, passed away the morning of May 29, 2012m at the age of 51.

Carol was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of six weeks. She was a very loving person to everyone. She was always happy, cheerful and never met a stranger. In November of 2010, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She wouldn’t give up. She fought until she couldn’t anymore. She will be missed by her family and friends.

Carol is preceded in death by her parents, Augusta Stewart and Earnestine Stewart Dykes; brother, Tommy Bunn; both maternal grandparents and paternal grandparents.

She is survived by four brothers, Herman “Buck” (Bessie) Stewart of Quintette, Carl Lee (Mary) Stewart of Jonesboro, TN, Joey (Denise) Jordan of Baker, Tim (Cathy) Jordan of Baker; eight sisters, Jerlain (David) Folk of Eryhardt, SC, Catherine (Will) Lowery of Molino, Alice Smith, of Pensacola, Rosie (Glen) Johnson of Dovelasdille, GA, Betty “Kay” (Willie) Smith of Pensacola, Sandy Madden of Quintette, Ann (Tracy) Ford and Linda Bauer, both of Pensacola, FL; several aunts and uncles; numerous nieces and nephews as well as great nieces and nephews; numerous cousins; and many friends at Cove Center. Se is also survived by special friend and second mom, Miss Nelly.

Graveside services will be held on Monday, June 4, 2012, at 2:45 pm at Pugh’s Chapel in Molino. Pallbearers will be Chester Stewart, Greg Jensen, Charles Stewart, Glenn Johnson, Harrison, Christopher Phelps and Leighton Stacey.

Visitation will be held on Monday, June 4, 2012, from 1-2 p.m. at Faith Chapel Funeral Home South in Cantonment.

Blue Wahoos Beat Jackson

May 31, 2012

Kyle Lotzkar (2-1) had more than enough run support as the Blue Wahoos scored all seven of their runs over the game’s first three innings on Wednesday afternoon at Pringles Park in Jackson, Tenn. Lotzkar went on to have one of his best starts of the season by matching his season high for strikeouts with eight over six innings.

Pensacola got on the board when Josh Fellhauer singled home Ryan LaMarre in the top of the first putting the Wahoos in front 1-0. They added some cushion with two more in the second on Mark Fleury’s RBI double and an error on a batted ball by Brodie Greene later in the inning. The Blue Wahoos opened it up with a four-run third that included Fleury’s second RBI double of the game. He also scored later in the inning. All seven runs were charged to the Generals’ starter Taylor Stanton (0-1) who ended up taking the loss.

Meanwhile, Lotzkar pitched very well on his way to earning the win for Pensacola. This was his first start during his time with the double-A club that he didn’t issue a walk. He also matched his overall season high with eight punchouts, something he hadn’t done since his first start of the season on April 9 while pitching with Bakersfield (advanced-A).  He allowed just two runs in the fourth inning when he gave up back-to-back extra base hits to Kalian Sams (double) and Chih-Hsien Chiang (triple) to start the inning.

P.J. Phillips joined Fleury with a multi-hit game by going 2-for-5. He also scored a pair of runs and drove in one.

The series continues on Thursday night at Pringles Park in Jackson, Tenn. Pensacola sends right-hander Daniel Corcino (2-2, 3.50) to the mound against Jackson righty Brandon Maurer (2-1, 4.38).

Pictured: Kyle Lotzkar yielded just two earned runs over six innings as the Wahoos beat Jackson 7-3 Wednesday in Tennessee. photo by Chris Nelson, click to enlarge.

Bessie Ann Moses

May 31, 2012

Bessie Ann Moses left us on May 25, 2012, as a loving and beloved mother and grandmother. She was a long time employee of Wal-Mart and known by many wonderful folks.

Ann was preceded in death by husband Fred Moses; brother, Wiley Johnston; and sisters, Beatrice and Mary Johnston, and second husband Ted Bobe.

She is survived by daughter Beth Brown and husband Lloyd of Cantonment; Dennis Moses and spouse Saundra of Kempner, TX; sister Earla Flippin and spouse James of Escanaba, MI; six grandchildren, nine great grandchildren and her beloved schnauzer Lily.

Viewing was from 6-9 p.m. Monday May 28, 2012, at Faith Chapel North Funeral Home in Cantonment. Funeral services were at 10 a.m. Tuesday May 29, 2012, at Faith Chapel North, with interment at Eastern Gate Memorial Cemetery.

Faith Chapel Funeral Home North, 1000 Hwy 29 Cantonment, was in charge of the arrangements.

Man Charged In 2009 Escambia Murder

May 30, 2012

A man has been charged with a 2009 murder.

Joseph Rhashawn McNeil is being held in the Escambia County Jail with no bond. McNeil was arrested in Pollock, LA and transported back to Escambia County.

He is accused of the October 9, 2009, murder of Derry Dickerson who was found murdered in his Crescent Drive home. Investigators say McNeil stabbed Dickerson several times and took beer and money from Dickerson.

During the investigation and  forensic tests, McNeil was developed as a suspect and subsequently charged, according to the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office.

No Serious Injuries In Hwy 29 Crash Near Hwy 97

May 30, 2012

One person was injured in a two vehicle crash on Highway 29 near Highway 97 Wednesday afternoon.

The driver of small station wagon turned from northbound Highway 29 across the southbound lanes attempting to enter the Tom Thumb parking lot but instead pulled into the path of a Ford Mustang. The first driver said the view of the Mustang was blocked by a large truck in the 12:56 p.m. accident.

The 52-year old female driver of the Mustang was transported by Escambia County EMS to Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola in good condition. There were no other injures.

The accident is under investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol.  Escambia Fire Rescue Engine 1819 from Molino also responded to the crash. photos, click to enlarge.

Three Charged In Robbery, Shooting Of Escambia Store Clerk

May 30, 2012

Three people have been charged in the late night shooting and robbery of an Escambia County Circle K clerk.

Christopher Michael Barge, 18, Bobby Elliot, 19, and Tyric Cortez Lowery, 16, were arrested shortly after they fled from deputies and crashed their car into an unoccupied house in the 1800 block of West Jackson Street.

Just before midnight Tuesday, one of the suspects entered the Circle K located at 3430 Barrancas Avenue armed with a handgun and a mask over his face. The clerk said the suspect pointed the gun at him and demanded money. The suspect then fired the gun and struck the clerk in the arm, knocking him to the ground. The clerk was able to get up and give the suspect an undetermined amount of money, according to the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office.

Moments later, a deputy spotted the suspect vehicle and conducted a traffic stop. The driver refused to stop until the suspects crashed their vehicle into a vacant house on West Jackson Street.

Barge was immediately taken into custody. Elliot and Lowery were arrested after being tracked down by a Sheriff’s Office K-9 unit.

The clerk suffered a gunshot wound to his arm and was taken to a local hospital for a non-life threatening injury.
All three were charged with wearing a mask during the commission of a crime, aggravated assault with the intent to commit a felony, aggravated battery with the use of a deadly weapon, using a firearm during the commission of a felony, robbery with a firearm and resisting arrest without violence.
Barge and Elliot were each booked into the Escambia County Jail with bond set at $236,000. Lowery was taken to the  Division of Juvenile Justice.
The investigation is continuing and more charges and arrests may be forthcoming, according to the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office.

Mom: Son Stole Motorcycle For Appointment With Probation Officer

May 30, 2012

A Molino man has been charged with stealing his mother’s motorcycle, allegedly so he would not miss an appointment with his probation officer.

Tavares Antwan Lewis, age 35 of Barth Road, was arrested on a felony vehicle grand theft charge for allegedly stealing a 1982 Honda Goldwing. Lewis remained in the Escambia County Jail without bond early Wednesday morning on additional charge of violation of probation.

Lewis’ mother told deputies that she returned home to find the motorcycle missing and that someone had entered her home and used her shower. She told deputies that she believed it to be Lewis because he had an appointment on the date of the incident with his probation officer. The victim also reported seeing Lewis riding her motorcycle in the area of Booker and Calloway streets in Cantonment.

According to court records, Lewis was on probation in a 2011 case in which he was charged with operating a vehicle while his driver’s license was revoked as a habitual traffic offender.

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