Manhunt In Cantonment

December 31, 2012

A manhunt for a wanted suspect took place today in Cantonment.

The manhunt reportedly began after the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office attempted to serve an arrest warrant on Booth Avenue and the suspect fled. Deputies established a perimeter around Booth Avenue, including Pace Parkway and Morris Avenue, and called in a K-9 to assist in the search.

There’s no word from the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office if the suspect was taken into custody.

Pictured: Deputies search for a wanted suspect Monday morning in Cantonment. Reader submitted photo by Paula Butler for, click to enlarge.

Property Tax Discount Deadline Is Today

December 31, 2012

Monday is final day to pay 2012 real estate and personal property taxes to receive a three percent discount, according to Escambia Tax Collector Janet Holley.

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

  • received in the tax office by close of business December 31 or
  • made on the tax collector website by midnight December 31.

Additionally, payments mailed with a December 31 postmark or left in a 24-hour drop boxes after hours on that date will receive the three percent discount but will be dated in January.

Residents are encouraged to pay  taxes online; however, other options are available, such as payment by phone, by mail, and in person at any of the four convenient tax collector offices.

Drive thru service and 24-hour drop boxes are available at all locations.

Escambia County Tax Collector Offices will be open regular business hours — 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. — on Monday.

Offices are located at:

  • Downtown – 213 Palafox Place
  • Marcus Pointe  – 6451 North W Street
  • Molino – 6440 Highway 95-A North, Suite A
  • Warrington – 507 N. Navy Boulevard

For more information, call (850) 438-6500, ext. 3252.

Locals Performing During Capital One Bowl Halftime

December 31, 2012

A group of local majorettes will be performing during the halftime of Tuesday’s Capital One Bowl in Orlando.

Katilyn Abbott, a majorette at Northview High School, attended a summer camp at the University of South Alabama where she won first place in “Outstanding Majorette Solo”,  “Grand Champion Majorette”, and the “All-Star Performer Award”. With the All-Star Performer award, she received personal invitations to the Capital One Bowl in Orlando and the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.

She picked the Capital One Bowl where she will be joined on the field at halftime by four other members of the local Twirl Time Group –  Dana Hursh, Maggie Thomas, Julie Hester and Valen Shelly.  The group traveled to Orlando last week along with former Twirl Time student Mallorie Beachy and Twirl Time instructor Angie Shelly.

The Capital One Bowl between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Nebraska Cornhuskers will air locally at noon Tuesday on WEAR 3 from the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando.

Pictured top: Previous Twirl Time student Mallorie Beachy, FSU majorette Maggie Thomas, home school student Dana Hursh, Northview majorette Kaitlyn Abbott, Northview majorette Julie Hester, Huxford Elementary student Valen Shelly and Twirl Time instructor Angie Shelly. Pictured: The group at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Photos for, click to enlarge.

Cliffhanger: Fiscal Cliff Talks Down To The Wire

December 31, 2012

The drama over the  so-called “fiscal cliff” enters its final day before the deadline on Monday, with no agreement between Democrats and Republicans.  Americans will face tax increases and deep government cuts on Tuesday if no agreement is passed and signed before then.

In a prayer at the opening of Sunday’s Senate session, Chaplain Barry Black asked God to help the two parties find a compromise. “Lord, show them the right thing to do, and give them the courage to do it.  And save us from self-inflicted wounds,” he said.

By the end of the day’s session, the prayer was still unanswered.

The top Senate Democrat, Majority Leader Harry Reid, said the talks would move into the crucial final hours on Monday. “There is still significant distance between the two sides, but negotiations continue.  There is still time left to reach an agreement, and we intend to continue negotiations,” he said.

Earlier, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell asked Vice President Joe Biden to enter the negotiations.

The top Senate Republican was frustrated that Reid had not made a counteroffer to his proposal from late Saturday, and said Democrats have shown a lack of urgency in the talks. “The sticking point appears to be a willingness, an interest, or frankly, the courage to close the deal.  I want everyone to know I am willing to get this done, but I need a dance partner,” he said.

Biden and McConnell, former Senate colleagues, have negotiated previous agreements.

President Barack Obama expressed his frustration about the impasse in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press,” recorded Saturday.  The president blamed Republicans for the failure to forge a compromise.  “I think anybody, objectively, who has looked at this would say that we have put forward not only a sensible deal, but one that has the support of the majority of the American people, including close to half of Republicans,” he said.

House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner retorted that it was the president, not House Republicans, who was unable to say yes to a deal.  In a written statement, Boehner said, “Americans elected President Obama to lead, not cast blame.”

If legislation to avert the “fiscal cliff” is not passed by Congress and signed by Mr. Obama by the end of Monday, almost every American would face a substantial tax increase.  Government programs, including defense, would suffer severe budget cuts, and unemployment benefits would be slashed.

Economists and officials from both parties agree that failure to reach an agreement would have a devastating effect on the U.S. economic recovery.

Pictured top: President Barack Obama delivers a statement to the press in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. Courtesy photo for, click to enlarge.


Perdido Landfill Holding Recycling Workshops

December 31, 2012

Escambia County Solid Waste Management will host two recycling workshops this week to give children a learning experience in recycling.

Offered on Wednesday, January 2 and Thursday, January 3, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m, the workshops are held at the Perdido Landfill, 13009 Beulah Road, Cantonment. The cost of the workshops is a donation of one pair of new or gently used shoes to be given to Soles4Soles.

Activities at the workshops include tours of the landfill and recycling center, arts and crafts with recycled materials and games that focus on recycling and reuse. Participants should wear clothes that are appropriate for outside play and bring a lunch, snack and drinks. Please try to pack a zero waste lunch, which means reusable containers.

The event is sponsored by the Department of Solid Waste Management. For more information or to pre-register, call (850) 937-2160.

Troopers Out In Force For New Year’s Holiday

December 31, 2012

Law enforcement officers will be out in force as 2012 comes to a close, cracking down on drunk and impaired driving.

“December is National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month, and I encourage Floridians to act responsibly this holiday season,” said Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. “Those who drive under the influence endanger everyone on the road and will go to jail.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finds fatalities in crashes that involve one or more impaired drivers appear to increase significantly during the Christmas and New Year’s Day holiday period and for thousands of families across Florida, the holiday season brings a somber reminder of the loved ones they lost to an impaired driver.

“We want everyone to enjoy the holidays, but also we want driving on our roadways to be safe,” said Col. David Brierton, FHP director. “The Patrol will be out in full force to help save lives, and we are not going to tolerate impaired driving. So remember: Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.”

Slight Rain Chance Today, Rain Likely By Tuesday

December 31, 2012

Here is your official North Escambia are forecast:

  • Monday: A 20 percent chance of rain. Partly sunny, with a high near 60. East wind around 5 mph.
  • Monday Night: A 30 percent chance of showers. Cloudy, with a low around 52. Southeast wind around 5 mph.
  • New Year’s Day: Showers likely. Cloudy, with a high near 68. South wind 5 to 10 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%.
  • Tuesday Night: Rain likely. Cloudy, with a low around 50. South wind 5 to 15 mph becoming north in the evening. Chance of precipitation is 60%.
  • Wednesday: A 50 percent chance of rain. Cloudy, with a high near 55. North wind 10 to 15 mph.
  • Wednesday Night: Rain likely. Cloudy, with a low around 42. North wind 10 to 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%.
  • Thursday: A 40 percent chance of rain. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 55. North wind around 10 mph.
  • Thursday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 36. North wind 5 to 10 mph.
  • Friday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 55.
  • Friday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 32.
  • Saturday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 57.
  • Saturday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 33.
  • Sunday: Sunny, with a high near 56.

Florida Government: 2012 In Review

December 31, 2012

In an election year and a redistricting year, you might have expected this. The biggest stories of 2012 ended up being an election and redistricting.

A third ongoing story also pervaded the year’s news: The economy continued its long, slow rise from the ashes of the recession, and by year’s end the rebound – while facing the possible stomach-punch of a fiscal cliff setback – appeared to be solid. Unemployment is down dramatically from a year ago; home sales are back, as are home prices; and consumer confidence is up for most of us.


For political junkies, the election competed with the precursor to the election, the once-a-decade redrawing of political lines, for the biggest news of the year. In retrospect, the remapping of political boundaries had a stunning effect that likely few truly expected: It seems to have re-jiggered the boundaries in a way that allowed the minority party, Democrats, to gain some ground, to make the election a little bit fairer.

That was the goal of a couple of constitutional amendments that were in effect for the first time this year. Voters in 2010 approved the amendments, called “fair districts” for short, which essentially required legislators to remap the state’s politics in a way that sought to avoid protecting incumbents or political parties.

Impossible, most of us said. And a true measure of whether it worked may also be impossible.

But one thing was clear – a number of Republican legislative incumbents in the House were drawn into the same districts as fellow GOP members, and some were drawn into districts that nearly assured they’d lose. Gone from the Legislature after Election Day, arguably as a result of redistricting, were big-name Republican lawmakers Scott Plakon and Chris Dorworth, who had been in line to become speaker in 2014. A number of other Republican lawmakers also lost, with Democrats gaining seats in the Legislature for the first time in years.

The same was true in Congress, where national tea party superstar Allen West lost to neophyte Democrat Patrick Murphy, despite being one of the biggest fundraisers in the country. Credit in part the new district West had to run in. Another tea party favorite, U.S. Rep. Sandy Adams, was also victimized by the establishment Republicans drawing the lines – they put her in the same district as long-time incumbent Republican Rep. John Mica, who won.

In a stunner, Republican Cliff Stearns, who was elected to Congress in 1988 the same day the first George Bush was elected president, was ousted, in part, because he had to run in a revamped district. Stearns lost in the GOP primary to Ted Yoho despite a fundraising advantage of 16-1. Yoho went on to win the seat in November.

Democrats didn’t hail the redistricting plans when passed – in fact they went to court over how the Republican majority drew the maps. Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith said the GOP had failed to implement the will of the people. While the state Supreme Court forced lawmakers to redo the Senate maps, the House plan as drawn by lawmakers was approved, and the congressional map withstood a court challenge.

But in the end, Democrats appeared to benefit more from the new districts than the Republicans.

In the November election, Democrats picked up two seats in the Senate, though Republicans still have a 26-14 advantage. Democrats picked up five House seats, narrowing the GOP margin in that chamber to 76-44. They also gained seats in Congress.

Republican legislative leaders at first fought and tried to nullify the Fair Districts amendments. And it is hard to assess the degree to which the amendments ultimately worked.

A key difficulty is that the amendments are predicated on intent. Lawmakers can’t draw districts that favor incumbents – but if an incumbent wins, who is to say whether it was because of the way the district was drawn or not? Whether they tried to draw districts to help themselves or not is in the eye of the beholder (a judge, or Supreme Court justice, in this case).

Despite their initial anger at the amendments and attempt to invalidate them, Rep. Will Weatherford and Sen. Don Gaetz, who were generally in charge of redistricting efforts, eventually said they would try to follow them. Whether the redistricting process is fairer may ultimately take several years to determine. If legislative representation comes to more closely resemble other measures of political preference, such as party registration and how people vote in statewide and national elections, then perhaps at the end of a decade or so, the determination can be definitively made.


Whether owing largely to redistricting or not, the Democratic success in November was the main political story this year for most casual observers.

And Democratic President Barack Obama’s winning of the state’s electoral votes was the apex of that year-long story, and a big surprise to a number of people on both sides of the political spectrum who thought the race might be closer.

Democrats replicated their strong registration push and get-out-the-vote effort from 2008, doing something that conventional wisdom said would be unlikely with the economy having been in the tank the last few years.

The state’s senior U.S. senator, Bill Nelson, also benefited from the Democratic effort, easily defeating Republican Connie Mack.

But Obama’s Florida win this time wasn’t needed – it turned out he won plenty of electoral votes across the country, and Florida’s mattered only in the margin of victory.

With that lack of drama, the story of a Democratic presidential candidate winning for a second election in a row in swing state Florida was overshadowed by the fact that it took us a few days to know exactly what happened.


Yet again, Florida voters seemed to have trouble voting, and officials seemed to have a problem counting votes.

As was the case in 2000, when Florida burst onto the late-night election joke scene in a big way, it was really only a few counties where there were problems. Most Floridians either voted early with no problems, or showed up on Election Day and cast a ballot in a generally unremarkable way.

But for some voters, and it was a large number because the trouble was most pronounced in heavily populated counties, particularly Miami-Dade, the election wasn’t so easy.

Voters reported waiting, in some cases, seven hours – nearly a full work day – to cast a ballot. Lines were unbelievably long on Election Day, even though voters had been able to vote early on eight days leading up to the election.


Afterward, there were calls for investigations of what went wrong, and a few are ongoing. Gov. Rick Scott determined that three questions need to be looked at closely: whether local elections supervisors need more flexibility in setting up polling sites; whether the ballot was too long and difficult for people to read; and whether the state messed up when Republican lawmakers passed – and he signed – a bill that reduced early voting from 14 days in 2010 to eight this year.

That last one was an extraordinary admission: Rarely in recent memory has a leading member of the majority party suggested that a high profile reform measure – especially one that was so heavily criticized by the other party – might have been a mistake.

But that’s exactly what Scott said.

For two years, Republicans in Florida have said that the 2011 changes to the election laws were needed to help prevent fraud, wouldn’t keep legal voters from voting and were benign in every way. Democrats warned the whole time that the changes would make it harder for legally registered voters to cast ballots.

Scott may have sold his GOP colleagues, who have so adamantly suggested the changes were needed, down the political river. Scott didn’t make any commitments but said that the number of early voting days is certainly something worth re-examining.

“People are frustrated in our state,” Scott said. “We’ve got to restore confidence in our elections.”


If there was a voter of the year it was the newly registered Hispanic. Latino voters not only registered heavily as independents – making them up for grabs – but they registered in huge numbers. And then they voted in huge numbers, largely for Democrats.

Democrats worked hard for that Latino vote, aiming much of their ground game at Hispanic communities. Republicans have generally acknowledged they didn’t, and that was a big part of the difference in November.


In the latest numbers this year, Florida’s jobless rate stood at 8.1 percent. While not great when compared to the go-go days of the late-90s or mid-2000s, it looks pretty good when considering that it was over 10 percent just a year ago.

The unemployment rate is now at its lowest point in Florida since 2008, good news for Scott who has staked his whole governorship on getting the state back to work. So far, whether he can really claim the credit or not, he’s looking good. The jobless rate has dropped and jobs are being created.

Unfortunately for Scott a lot of people say the state’s economy is coming back just as the nation’s is – a recent poll showed many Florida residents don’t credit Scott with the turnaround.

Consumer confidence was up near the end of the year, though after the election about half the people – presumably those who wanted Mitt Romney to be president – got a little less optimistic about the future. But people’s perceptions about their own personal financial status are much higher than a year ago.

Home prices have also risen, as sales have picked up. Real estate fueled earlier Florida booms, and economists say now that a housing recovery is within sight, the state is just about back on its feet.

There was one major caveat as the year came to a close: the fiscal cliff talks in Washington. If a deal isn’t reached, the economy could go back into a stall.


When was the last time that the year’s most fascinating politician was someone who is not in office or technically running for office — and lost his last election after having to leave his party because he would have likely been defeated in a primary?

If 2011 was the year of Marco Rubio in Florida, Charlie Crist was undoubtedly the most intriguing political figure of the year. Even those who hate Crist – and that’s much of the Republican political establishment – have to admit his reincarnation as a Democrat, his re-emergence as a magnet for media attention, and his continuing popularity among the general non-political crowd has been astonishing.

Crist made a number of interesting moves, from changing his registration to Democrat to endorsing Obama for re-election. He also managed to get himself inserted into the lineup of speakers at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., even though he hadn’t yet become a Democrat.

Just as when he was a Republican governor of the state from 2007 to 2011, Crist generally was able to read where the political winds were blowing – getting out ahead of a Democratic wave year in a way that would benefit him.

In December, we learned that Crist’s re-emergence appears to be for real. A Quinnipiac University poll found that Crist had a 47 percent favorable rating – higher than Gov. Scott, who remains mired in the mid-30s in approval. And more than half of voters at the end of the year told pollsters they didn’t think Scott should get a second term, which must have been interesting to Crist and anyone else contemplating a run against the governor.

“Obviously, the governor has almost two years to go until the election and anything is possible, but he faces a herculean task in changing public opinion to his favor,” Quinnipiac pollster Peter Brown, said after the survey’s mid-December release.


As the year began it wasn’t clear whether the federal health care overhaul would be in place come the end of the year. But it is because of two things: first, Florida and other states lost a U.S. Supreme Court challenge to the law and second, the president won re-election, defeating Romney who had promised a repeal.

For what amounts to an arcane overhaul of insurance law, the Affordable Care Act has grabbed the attention of the American people like few other new laws in history.

To their credit, Floridians also widely debated another controversial law this year, with discussions in town halls, on radio talk shows, on Facebook and in letters to the editors about the 2005 “stand your ground” self-defense law.

The reason for the examination was tragic, however. The shooting early in the year of an unarmed African-American teenager, Trayvon Martin, by a neighborhood watch volunteer under disputed circumstances, not only exposed the continuing racial divisions embedded in criminal justice in the state, but also raised questions about when and where Florida residents are allowed to shoot each other.

A year-long examination of the stand-your-ground law by a special panel appointed by Scott ended with a draft report that suggested few major changes. But by the end of the year the talk of gun culture had shifted dramatically after the December school shooting in Connecticut that killed 20 children and six teachers and staff.


The year may be remembered by advocates for gay and lesbian people as the year in which Florida voters, for the first time, sent openly gay legislators to represent them in Tallahassee. It wasn’t just one: Florida voters elected Rep. David Richardson, D-Miami Beach, and Rep. Joe Saunders, D-Orlando.

Both ran largely on other issues but said they’d be proud to help advance issues important to gay Floridians, too.

“If people want to ask me about being gay, I’ll talk about that,” Richardson told the News Service. “If you want to talk to me about the budget, I’ll talk about that.”

PASSINGS OF NOTE: Among those who left us in 2012:

-Sam Gibbons, a legend of Florida politics who served three decades in Congress and was chairman of Ways and Means, died at 92 in October. The Tampa Bay area Democrat never lost an election and was considered the “father of the University of South Florida.”

-Doyle Conner, who was the state’s agriculture commissioner for 30 years, from 1961 to 1991, died in December at age 83, Conner became speaker of the Florida House at age 28 and remains the youngest person to hold that post in the state’s history.

-Bill McBride, who ran for governor in 2002, losing to Republican Jeb Bush after defeating Janet Reno in the Democratic primary, died at 67 in December. McBride was married to Alex Sink, who lost the governor’s race in 2010.

-Phil Lewis, who was Senate president from 1978 to 1980 and served in the Senate for a decade, before becoming a member of the Board of Regents, died Sept. 4. He was 82.

-Ken Sorensen, who served in the House from 1998 to 2006 and then worked in the House for Speaker Marco Rubio, died in July at age 77.

-Former House Republican Leader Jim Tillman, who represented Sarasota County from 1967-1974, died in July. He later worked as a lobbyist.

By The News Service of Florida

2012 In Photos: June, July

December 31, 2012

All this week, we are looking back at the photos that were in the news in 2012. Today, we are featuring photos from June and July.

Tropical Storm Debby brought heavy surf to Pensacola Beach.

The Northview High School Food for America program was named the best in the Florida during the 84th Florida FFA State Convention in Orlando.

A Walnut Hill man escaped serious injury when a car reportedly fell on his neck.

Portions of Escambia County experienced extreme flooding in June.

June flooding in Pensacola.

Hundreds of people turned out in Walnut Hill in June to apply for one of just 20 jobs available with the opening of a new crude oil transfer station.

Graduations were held for area schools, including Tate High School.

The Northview High School Class of 2012 graduated at the school.

A July fire caused minor damage at a Century apartment complex.

Numerous churches held Vacation Bible Schools, including Highland Baptist Church in Molino.

Wounded Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Daniel Palmer was welcomed home in July.

The new Escambia County Tax Collector and Property Appraiser offices opened in Molino.

Farmer’s markets, including the Market at St Monica’s in Cantonment, offered the best of summer’s bounty.

Northwest Escambia brought home the state title Sunday from the 16A State Babe Ruth Softball Tournament in Brewton — the first ever softball state championship for NWE.

Fire set by an arsonist damaged Escambia High School.

Relatives comfort each other following the death of an 11-year old in an Atmore house fire.

Flomaton and Century celebrated the Fourth of July with fireworks at Showalter Park.

Walnut Hill, Bratt: 911 Back In Service

December 30, 2012

An outage is over that left Frontier Communications landline customers in the 327 Walnut Hill and Bratt exchanges unable to 911 Sunday morning, according to Escambia Fire Rescue officials.

Residents should now be able to reach 911 from their landline phones.

Residents unable to reach 911 should call (850) 471-6300 from their landline or cell phone for fire or EMS services, or call (850) 436-9620 for the Sheriff’s Office.

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