Four People Killed In Four Separate Wrecks This Weekend

March 31, 2013

Four people  have died in four separate traffic crashes this weekend in the two-county region.

Bob Sikes Bridge Crash

The Florida Highway Patrol said 42-year old Kevin Michael Roland Small of Pace was northbound on the Bob Sikes Bridge on a Yamaha motorcycle when he attempted to travel in between  two different vehicles in front of him a high rate of speed. He lost control, hitting one of the vehicles before possibly striking another car and the bridge guardrail.

Small was ejected off the motorcycle and fell from the bridge in the 11:35 p.m. Saturday crash.. The driver of the second vehicle, 16-year old Zane Joseph Johnson of Gulf Breeze, was not injured.

The FHP is looking for a car, unknown in color, possibly a Ford Mustang with rear end damage to the vehicle’s right tail light and possibly the bumper.

Pedestrian Fatality

A pedestrian was killed at 12:00 a.m. Sunday on Michigan Avenue just east of Mobile Highway.

The Florida Highway Patrol said 48-year old  Mark Anthony Stewart  walking northbound in a dark area of Michigan Avenue while wearing dark clothing. Stewart was struck by a 2002 Dodge car driven by 19-year old Amanda Kaye Wilson of Pensacola and a 2008 Ford car driven by 18-year old Asma A. Alsharif of Pensacola.

The crash is under investigation by the FHP Traffic Homicide Unit, and any charges are pending the outcome of that investigation.

Pensacola Country Club Crash

The Florida Highway Patrol said 50-year old James B. Bennett was traveling east on Barrancas Avenue when his 1984 GMC Jimmy SUV crossed into the westbound lanes. He collided with a 2000 GMC Van taxi driven by 42-year old Barry L. Riles of Pensacola in the 12:45 p.m. Saturday crash.

Bennett’s SUV slid off the roadway, across the sidewalk and into a tree and fence at the Pensacola Country Club. Bennett was ejected from his vehicle and was pronounced deceased.

Riles was transported to Baptist Hospital with minor injuries.

Santa Rosa Crash

The Florida Highway Patrol said 38-year old Mikkel Anthony Teekell of Pensacola was northbound on Highway 87  in Santa Rosa County at 11:42 p.m. Saturday. He was traveling at a high rate of speed when he failed to negotiate a curve near River Road and was ejected from the motorcycle.

Teekell was pronounced deceased at the scene as a result of injuries sustained in the crash.

Area Pizza Hut Damaged By Fire

March 31, 2013

Fire damaged an area Pizza Hut restaurant Sunday afternoon.

The fire was reported about 3:45 at the Pizza Hut at 5660 Pensacola Boulevard. The fire was contained by Escambia County Fire Rescue within about 30 minutes. There were no injuries reported.

The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Florida State Fire Marshal’s Office.

Faithful Celebrate Resurrection At Easter Sunrise Services

March 31, 2013

Easter morning sunrise services were held at many locations across the area Sunday morning.

One of the largest in North Escambia was in Molino as several churches came together for a community Easter morning sunrise service at Aldersgate Methodist Church, celebrating with music and a message.

Other sunrise services were held across the area, including Century, Atmore,Walnut Hill, Flomaton, Gonzalez and Cantonment. And thousands attended a Marcus Pointe Baptist Church Son-Rise Service held at the Blue Wahoos Stadium downtown (pictured above and below).

The sunrise services celebrated the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, an important event to the faithful. According to the Bible:

Matthew 28:1-20

Resurrection Morning
1 After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to view the tomb. 2 Suddenly there was a violent earthquake, because an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and approached [the tomb]. He rolled back the stone and was sitting on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his robe was as white as snow. 4 The guards were so shaken from fear of him that they became like dead men. 5

But the angel told the women, “Don’t be afraid, because I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here! For He has been resurrected, just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell His disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead. In fact, He is going ahead of you to Galilee; you will see Him there.’ Listen, I have told you.”

8 So, departing quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, they ran to tell His disciples the news. 9 Just then Jesus met them and said, “Good morning!” They came up, took hold of His feet, and worshiped Him. 10 Then Jesus told them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see Me there.”

The Soldiers Are Bribed to Lie
11 As they were on their way, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 After the priests had assembled with the elders and agreed on a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money 13 and told them, “Say this, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole Him while we were sleeping.’ 14 If this reaches the governor’s ears, we will deal with him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So they took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been spread among Jewish people to this day.

The Great Commission
16 The 11 disciples traveled to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had directed them. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped, but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

from the Holman Christian Standard Bible

Molino Branch Library Opens Monday

March 31, 2013

The new  Molino Branch Library will open Monday.

The new library in the Molino Community Complex will be open 52 hours per week –  from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

“Libraries are a fantastic place for families and individuals to visit to explore reading,” said District 5 County Commissioner Steven Barry.  “As part of the West Florida Public Library system, the Molino Branch is the seventh library in the County and a valuable resource to all citizens.”

An opening reception will be held at 10 a.m. on Monday to give the public an opportunity to meet the library staff, peruse the opening day collection, register for a library card and tour the facility.

“This long awaited branch will be a wonderful resource for the citizens of Molino and the surrounding community. We are expecting it will be a highly used facility,” said Darlene Howell, library administrator.

The Molino Branch Library is located at 6450 Highway 95A (just south of Molino Road) in the Molino Community Complex, which opened back in October 2012.

Pictured: Last minute preparations were still underway late last week for Monday’s grand opening of the Molino Branch Library. photos, click to enlarge.

Rain And Thunderstorms Tonight

March 31, 2013

Here is your official North Escambia area forecast:

  • Tonight: Showers and thunderstorms likely, mainly after 7pm. Patchy fog after 1am. Otherwise, cloudy, with a low around 59. South wind 5 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%.
  • Monday: A 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms, mainly before 1pm. Patchy fog before 10am. Otherwise, mostly cloudy, with a high near 75. West wind around 5 mph.
  • Monday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 52. West wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the evening.
  • Tuesday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 77. Northeast wind 5 to 10 mph becoming southeast in the afternoon.
  • Tuesday Night: A 30 percent chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 54. South wind around 5 mph becoming east after midnight.
  • Wednesday: Showers likely. Cloudy, with a high near 71. East wind 5 to 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%.
  • Wednesday Night: Showers likely. Cloudy, with a low around 56. East wind 10 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%.
  • Thursday: Showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm. Cloudy, with a high near 70. East wind around 10 mph becoming north in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 60%.
  • Thursday Night: A chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 52. Chance of precipitation is 40%.
  • Friday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 71.
  • Friday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 48.
  • Saturday: Sunny, with a high near 75.
  • Saturday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 52.
  • Sunday: Sunny, with a high near 77.

Easter Egg Hunts, Sunrise Services, Worship Services

March 31, 2013

Numerous churches across the North Escambia area will hold egg hunts, sunrise services and special worship services in observance of Easter.


Sunrise Services

  • Molino Community Sunrise Service, 6:30 a.m. at Aldersgate United Methodist Church, Highway 29 just south of Highway 97. Everyone invited. Service on the front lawn, weather permitting. Speaker is Rev. Jeff McKee of Victory Assembly of God.
  • Oak Grove Baptist Church sunrise service at 6:30 a.m. in Oak Grove Cemetery with breakfast to follow in Walker Hall.
  • Pine Forest United Methodist Church sunrise service at 2800 Wilde Lake Boulevard, 6:15 a.m.
  • Gonzalez United Methodist Church sunrise service by the pond at 6:30.
  • Marcus Pointe Baptist Church will be hosting a Community Son-Rise Service  at 6:15 a.m.  at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium.

Other Easter Services

  • Aldersgate United Methodist Church Easter services 8:15 and 10:45 a.m. Compline service at 6:30 p.m.
  • Ray’s Chapel Baptist Church in Bogia will have an Easter Resurrection Celebration will be held Sunday, March 31 from 8:30 a.m. until 11 a.m.
  • Immanuel Baptist Church in Pace Easter services start Sunday, March 31 at 8:30 a.m. with a Celebration Worship service, followed by Life Groups at 9:45 and contemporary worship services at 11 a.m. The church is located at 4187 Hwy 90 in Pace.
  • Highland Baptist Church will have an Easter egg hunt during morning services at 9:30 a.m. Easter morning. Bring a basket and take part.
  • My Father’s Vineyard will hold their Race To Grace Easter service at 9:30 a.m. at 5 Flags Speedway. Day full of praise and worship from the MFV worship band, celebration of the risen Christ, an Easter egg hunt for the kids with over 5000 Easter eggs, and pictures with the Easter Bunny.
  • Cottage Hill United Methodist Church Easter service at 9:30 a.m.
  • St. Monica’s Episcopal Church in Cantonment, 9:30 a.m. An egg hunt and reception will follow the Easter Day Holy Eucharist.
  • Gonzalez United Methodist Church combined service at 10 a.m. 2026 Pauline Street in Cantonment.
  • The First Baptist Church of Bratt will hold a special service  with the Celebration Choir presenting the musical “The Story” at 10:30 a.m. in the Family Life Center. Everyone is invited.
  • Oak Grove Baptist Church Easter cantata and service at 11 a.m. Highway 99 North.

Learning By Fire

March 31, 2013

Firefighters from the Century and McDavid stations of Escambia Fire Rescue took to the woods Saturday for a live lesson in fighting and controlling brush fires. The training is part of the firefighter certification process.

The live burn exercise was conducted on a 40 acre parcel on North Highway 99 in Oak Grove.

Pictured top: A firefighter watches a controlled burn Saturday afternoon in Oak Grove. Pictured inset: Firefighters pull a hose a long a fire line cut into the wooded area. Pictured below: The exercise was conducted on a 40 acre parcel. Pictured bottom: A portion of the fire is lit. photos, click to enlarge.

Photos: Ray’s Chapel Baptist Church ‘Eggstravaganza’

March 31, 2013

Dozens of area children took part in the annual “Eggstravaganza” Saturday at Ray’s Chapel Baptist Church in Bogia.

The children played Easter egg bingo, jumped in a bounce house, dined on cupcakes and hunted hundreds of eggs. Two lucky children found prize eggs that won them a new bicycle.

For a photo gallery, click here.

Do you have photos of an event at your church? Email them

Submitted photos by Ramona Preston for, click to enlarge.

Florida Gov’t Weekly Roundup: Scott Campaign Gets To Work

March 31, 2013

Former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist has received plenty of attention as he ponders another run for governor as a newly minted Democrat.

But the current occupant of the governor’s mansion, Republican Rick Scott, is leaving little question that Crist should be ready for a tough campaign. Scott this week signaled that a major line of attack would juxtapose his economic leadership to Crist’s tenure, when the nation tumbled into a recession that caused widespread job losses.“We’re going to show that there’s a stunning contrast (between) the economy I inherited and the economy today,” Scott said Tuesday.

He also added: “In the four years before I became governor, the state had lost 832,000 jobs, unemployment tripled from 3.5 to 11.1 percent, state debt had increased by over $5 billion, and, you know the housing market collapsed.”

Is it fair to pin all of that on Crist? Nah, probably not.

But here’s one translation: Scott will not be Jim Davis, the Democrat who Crist steamrolled during the 2006 gubernatorial race.

Need more evidence? Scott this week jumped on Crist after the release of an inspector general’s report about Digital Domain Media Group, a company that received $20 million from Florida in 2009 but later failed. Scott tried to tie Crist to the deal.

“This Inspector General report shows two things – first, our current economic project vetting process is in place for a reason, and second, that process was clearly circumvented by the previous administration for the Digital Domain deal,” Scott said in a release.

Despite all the media attention and a stream of pre-emptive Republican Party attacks, Crist has not formally announced he will run next year. And even if he does, 2010 Democratic gubernatorial nominee Alex Sink has indicated she is thinking about entering the race, and former Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich has been trying to build support for months.

Rumors also surfaced that Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson might take on Scott. But Nelson, who was in Tallahassee on Wednesday, said he doesn’t have plans to run for governor.

At this stage, Crist appears far more popular than Scott. A Quinnipiac University poll this month gave Crist an edge of 50 percent to 34 percent in a head-to-head matchup.

A group that is a fund-raising arm for Scott began running the campaign’s first ad this week on the Internet. Scott also has taken steps to try to shore up his popularity, such as calling for $2,500 raises for teachers and objecting to college tuition increases.

But Democrats appear ready to portray Scott as a Johnny-come-lately to such issues. The Florida Democratic Party website touts Scott’s “state of denial” and says he is “running away from everything he campaigned on to get reelected.”


Crist might be persona non grata with many Republican leaders. But for months, they probably shared a hope that former party Chairman Jim Greer would head off quietly into Florida political history.

It remains to be seen whether Greer will stay quiet. But a judge this week sentenced Greer to 18 months in prison after he pleaded guilty in a scheme that involved creating a fund-raising company and steering party business to it.

Crist installed Greer as GOP chairman, but a trial threatened to expose a pile of dirty laundry about the party. Greer argued before pleading guilty that he was being punished for his support of Crist, who split from the party to run in 2010 as an independent for U.S. Senate.

Greer’s attorney, Damon Chase, contended that the former chairman should get a short sentence and that he was being punished because of who he was and the high-profile nature of the case.

“If this weren’t Jim Greer, this would be probation,” Chase told Circuit Judge Marc Lubet before the sentencing. “Mr. Greer wants to move on, he wants to make amends, he is contrite for everything that occurred.”

Prosecutors sought a longer term for Greer, but Lubet handed down the 18-month sentence because he noted that Greer had paid $65,000 in restitution and because his former partner in the fund-raising company wasn’t prosecuted. The former partner, Delmar Johnson, served as executive director the party and later wore a wire to help prosecutors make the case against Greer.

“A court has responsibility to see that there’s justice whenever it sentences, tempered with some sort of mercy if that mercy is deserved,” Lubet told Greer at the sentencing in Orlando. He added that Greer, who had no prior criminal history, had “egregiously violated a position of trust for your employers.”


Lawmakers had a short week, breaking for Passover on Monday and Tuesday and Good Friday on, well, a beautiful Friday.

But back in the warrens of offices, House and Senate appropriations staffers finished drawing up budget proposals that reflected the brighter economy. As examples, lawmakers could tell folks at home about plans to pump an additional $1 billion or more into schools and give raises to teachers.

Lawmakers also crammed in committee meetings Wednesday and Thursday, as bills spun through on issues such as revamping the state retirement system and allowing designated employees to carry guns at school.

Maybe the most-popular move this week, however, was a final vote on repealing a 2012 law that caused confusion among international visitors to the state — especially the Canadian snowbirds who load up their cars and head south during the winter.

The 2012 law called for foreign visitors to get what are known as international diving permits before leaving their home countries. Those permits would be in addition to regular driver’s licenses, with the requirement designed to help Florida law-enforcement officers sort out traffic incidents.

But the Senate, following an earlier move by the House, voted unanimously this week to repeal the law because of the consternation it caused. Gov. Rick Scott is expected to quickly sign the repeal, which Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, said is designed to make sure foreign visitors know the “welcome mat” is out.

STORY OF THE WEEK: Former Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer was sentenced to 18 months in prison after he pleaded guilty in a scheme that involved creating a company and steering party business to it.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “As we all come back from Passover and Easter, that’s when – as President Lee said – the smell of death will be in the air, because bills will begin to die that haven’t been heard.”— Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, referring to former President Tom Lee and the hopes of numerous lobbyists and interest groups watching their bills wither.

By The News Service of Florida

Pamela Henderson Mathis

March 31, 2013

Pamela Henderson Mathis, 62, of Century, passed away at 5 p.m. on March 28, 2013, at her home in Century surrounded by her family.

Pamela was born in Atmore on June 18, 1950, to Vivian “Red” Henderson and Annie Mae Henderson. She is survived by her high school sweetheart and husband of 42 years, James “Dooley” Mathis, her daughter Pamela (Bob) Evans, her sister Sue (Wayne) Johnson, and brother Tommy Henderson.

She was a lifelong resident of Century and graduated from Century High School in 1968. Despite a disability caused by childhood polio, she went on to become an educator for 32 years, earn a master’s degree in history and a specialist degree in education. She was the first teacher in Escambia Countyto earn a National Teaching Certificate from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. She retired from education as principal of Ernest Ward Middle School.

She loved showing and riding horses, traveling with her daughter to rodeos, fishing, watching movies, and taking trips with her family, and her best friend “Joy”. In the final chapter of her life, she was comforted by her dear Jack Russell terrier, “Bailey”.

Pamela is preceded in death by her parents, “Red” and Annie Mae Henderson, her brother Robert “Bobby” Henderson and Don Henderson.

A memorial service will be held to celebrate her life on April 5th, 2013. at 6 p.m. at Faith Chapel Funeral Home North.

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