Royce (Roy) Fredrick Jennings, Jr.

July 16, 2013

Royce (Roy) Fredrick Jennings, Jr., 57, of Pensacola died peacefully at home Saturday, July 13, 2013, with his loving wife and sister by his side.

In his years at the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, Roy served as hostage negotiator, field training officer, motor officer, traffic officer, authored the Domestic Violence Policies and Procedures, represented Crime Stoppers, Honor Guard, co-host for Gulf Coast Crime Stoppers, and drummer for Southern Heat, (Sheriff’s Office Community Outreach Band).
Roy had a deep rooted belief in justice and challenged everyone to always make good choices. His strong influence allowed no excuses for failing to weigh the difference between right and wrong.

He had a great appreciation for life and lived every day to the fullest. His example encouraged others to live out their own dreams without excuses. In his last days, God drew him closer and his passion for God’s great love was shared with all. As his relationship with God grew, his role as spiritual leader became his highest priority.

Royce was preceded in death by his parents, Royce Fredrick Sr. and Anne RoseMarie Jennings.

He is survived by his loving wife of 11 years, Kimberly Ann Jennings; sons, Kyle (Amanda) Emmons; TJ (Shannon) Ritchey; Tyler (Michelle) Ritchey; and Kevin Emmons; grandchildren, Kaylee, Addison, Laila, Alaina, Kinsey, CJ, Riley, and Matthew; sister, Barbara Jennings-Miner and husband, William Miner; nephews and nieces, David William (Katie) Dunn, Jr.; Roy E. (Kimberly) Dunn; great nephews and nieces, Joseph, Jannea, Faith, Noah, Abram, Grace and Little David; and father and mother-in-law, W.D. and Barbara Hawthorne.

Pallbearers will be David Dunn, Roy Dunn, Brian Munhollun, Danny Cook, Jeremy Garrett, and Chris Novak.

Honorary pallbearers will be Noah Dunn and Abram Dunn.

In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Visitation will be held on Friday, July 19, 2013, from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. at Faith Chapel Funeral Home North.

Funeral services will be held on Saturday, July 20, 2013, at 2 p.m. at Faith Chapel Funeral Home North.

Faith Chapel Funeral Home North is in charge of arrangements.

One Injured In Bratt Trike Accident

July 15, 2013

One person was injured in a three-wheeled motorcycle crash Sunday afternoon in Bratt.

The female was injured after turning off West Highway 4 onto North Pine Barren Road. The trike ran off the roadway before overturning. The female was transported by Escambia County EMS to Atmore Community Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

The accident is under investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol; further details have not been released. The Walnut Hill Station of Escambia Fire Rescue and the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office also responded to the crash.

Pictured: One person was injured in a three-wheeled motorcycle crash Sunday afternoon in Bratt. The motorcycle was moved from the accident scene prior to this photograph. photo, click to enlarge.

Juveniles Now Charged As Adults In Brutal Cantonment Beating

July 15, 2013

Charges have been upgraded against two juveniles arrested in connection with a severe beating over the long Fourth of July weekend in Cantonment.

Jordan Scott Garrett, 17 and Kaleb Orion Willcutt, 15, are now charged as adults with felony aggravated battery, along with 19-year old Zachary Nathan Clark for the beating of  19-year old Glenn Widish at a Cantonment home on July 6.

When Escambia County Sherriff’s deputies arrived at the home in the 700 block of Jacks Branch Road, they found Widish in the bathroom of the home, barely conscious, not able to talk and having difficulty breathing. Deputies reported his “face was swollen beyond recognition”.

Witnesses told deputies that the four teens were at the home, and Widish has been drinking shots of alcohol.  Garrett became angry with Widish over a song that was playing and punched him three times in the face, witnesses told deputies. After Garrett punched Widish again, they ended up on the ground where Clark grabbed Widish and held him. Garrett also held Widish’s feet and they told Willcutt to hit him, an arrest report states.

Willcutt hit Widish three times, while Clark and Garrett began kicking and punching him in the head, face, back and stomach, the report states.

“I hope you die on this property,” a witness told deputies Willcutt said.

Widish was transported by ambulance to Sacred Heart Hospital as a “trauma alert”.  Deputies were originally unable to speak to him because he remained unconscious at a Sacred Heart Hospital. He suffered a fractured eye orbital, a fractured nose and was unable to maintain on open airway after the beating, according to the arrest report.

As of early Monday morning, Clark and Garrett remained in the Escambia County Jail. Willcutt was released on a $10,000  bond.

Two Injured When Cantonment Woman Hits A Bridge

July 15, 2013

Two people were injured in a single vehicle crash early Sunday morning on Cervantes Street in Pensacola after the truck they were in struck a portion of the Bayou Texar bridge.

Angela Lacoste, age 45 of Cantonment, was westbound on Cervantes Street in a 2003 Ford Ranger pickup when she struck a metal guardrail before a concrete barrier, according to Pensacola Police Officer Dan Bell.

Bell said neither Lacoste nor a passenger in the truck – Michael Raffield, 31, of Milton – were wearing seatbelts. Lacoste was taken to a local hospital for treatment; Raffield received minor injuries but refused medical treatment.

Bell said charges are pending the results of a blood alcohol test.

Education Commissioner Recommends Changes To School Grading System

July 15, 2013

Education Commissioner Tony Bennett will ask the State Board of Education next week to prevent schools from dropping by more than one letter grade on the state report card in an effort to counter what superintendents say could be an alarming drop in grades.

Bennett’s recommendations, to be taken up at a specially called meeting Tuesday, are seen as an effort to avoid another botched rollout of the school grades after last year’s release became a public-relations headache for the Department of Education.

Bennett’s predecessor, Gerard Robinson, resigned a short time later, though Robinson said he was leaving to spend more time with his family.

The limit on any drop in school grades was one of the key recommendations that local superintendents offered Bennett during discussions last week. It would continue a policy started last year during the grades controversy. The superintendents say that some of the data they’re getting back as they do the initial calculations for the report cards this year seem to be off — but they don’t know why.

Part of the problem, they say, is that the state has implemented 13 changes this year alone to the accountability system for schools — making it harder to meet the standards and harder to figure out what’s going wrong. Concerns about that complexity also hover over the state’s efforts to put in place the “Common Core State Standards,” which are based on national guidelines.

In a letter to state board members explaining his thinking, Bennett took pains to distance the school-grades proposal from any idea that it would water down the state’s accountability system.

“To be clear, my recommendations, outlined below, are made not to soften the blow of higher standards or to reduce the number of failing schools, but rather to advance the best policy for Florida’s students and position our state for a successful transition to full implementation of the CCSS (Common Core State Standards) in the 2014-2015 school year and beyond,” he wrote.

Bennett also recommended not including the scores of students at so-called “ESE centers,” which teach students with disabilities, in the grades of the schools they might otherwise attend. Currently, those students’ scores would count for the “home school” if the ESE center chooses to receive an alternative rating instead of a school grade.

But because grades are set to be released soon, Bennett said any changes to this year’s grades under that recommendation should be handled retroactively through an appeals process.

Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, said he saw the changes recommended by Bennett as a “good, reasonable response.” Montford, who also serves as the CEO of the Florida Association of District School Superintendents, took part in last week’s discussions.

“Clearly, I think this is a fair approach to it,” Montford said.

Montford said he was encouraged that Bennett was keeping the common core system in mind as he considered the changes.

Miami-Dade County Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, who helped spearhead the drive for tweaking this year’s grades, was measured in his praise of the recommendations.

“We support the commissioner’s recommendations, especially the continuation of the temporary safety net that prevents schools from dropping more than one grade letter in a given year,” Carvalho said. “It is our hope, however, that the Florida Board of Education will consider polling districts for the ESE Center choice (rating or grading) prior to the release of school grades; otherwise, they will be branded as failing, and have to appeal.”

by Brandon Larrabee, The News Service of Florida

Walnut Hill Teen, Two Women Seriously Injured In Lillian Hwy Wreck

July 15, 2013

A Walnut Hill teen and two women were seriously injured in a two vehicle wreck Sunday afternoon on Lillian Highway.

The Florida Highway Patrol said 16-year old Deonte Mitchell of Walnut Hill was a passenger in a 2008 Mercury Milan driven by 24-year old Marshall Scott Gilson, Jr. of Pensacola. Their vehicle was traveling at an excessive speed when it entered the intersection of Lillian Highway and 69th Avenue and struck a 1993 Cadillac Deville before hitting a traffic light pole and numerous trees.

Mitchell was transported to Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola in serious condition, while Gilson was taken to Baptist Hospital with minor injuries. Another passenger in the vehicle, 22-year old Kenneth J. Nettles of Pensacola, received minor injuries. A fourth passenger in the vehicle, known only as “John”, fled the scene on foot, according to FHP.

The driver of the Cadillac, 46-year old Anja M. Gullen of Pensacola, and passenger 22-year old Sarah J. Morgan, were transported to Baptist Hospital in serious condition.

Gilson was cited for driving without a license and driving too fast for conditions. Gullen was cited for an expired driver’s license, troopers said.

Pictured: A Walnut Hill teen and two women were seriously injured in this two vehicle wreck Sunday afternoon on Lillian Highway. Photo by WEAR 3 for, click to enlarge.

Inside Century Correctional Institution

July 15, 2013

Today, we begin our  look inside the Century Correctional Institution with a trip through security and a look at what’s behind the fence and razor wire. Our series will continue this week inside the medical unit, the chapel, the prison’s most secure housing unit and more.

No weapons, no drugs. Must have a picture ID. Subject to search. No cell phones, no cameras. No smartphones.

No smartphone? That one seemed a little harsh and hard to swallow. I live with my smartphone in running — I always figured the paramedics would pry it from my hands one day.

Otherwise the briefing on entering the Century Correctional Institution seemed simple enough. The same rules apply to family visiting prisoners on the weekends, but we were getting the all-access pass, far beyond the visitation room and yard.

We were told the no camera and no phone rules did not apply to us — Tallahassee had pre-approved for the tour. But no photos of locks, guard control rooms or anything else related to security. And no photos that showed the identifiable faces of a prisoner. Seems that the state’s rules say prisoners have a right to privacy behind bars unless they sign a photo release.

Col. Joseph Schwarz is in charge of keeping the prisoners in and the rest of the world out as security boss. A commanding voice, with a bit of an accent, he seemed fit to play himself in a movie giving orders and watching over a Southern prison chain gang.

Standing under the razor wire that surrounds the 40-acre CCI campus, the barbs look like enough deterrent to keep one on the proper side of the fence.

Then it was through the gate, five people at a time on a Community Partnership Tour. Gates and doors must close behind those  entering the facility before the one in front opens. There was no slamming sound like the movies. If you are headed into CCI to begin your life sentence, you’ll miss the gate slamming closed sound that momma warned you about. Just the sound of a chain link fence gate closing. And an electrical hum as a lock is opened and closed from a control room. Still, it’s hard to imagine what the feeling would be like headed in for 10, 20 years or even life.

In the guard tower, those watching over Century Correctional from above are armed with different weapons. One of the weapons is a shotgun. Aim is not terribly important with a shotgun…it’s not terribly hard to hit the guy trying to get over the fence.

Just inside the first fence, still surrounded by more fence and razor wire, it very much feels and looks looks the typical preconceived idea of a prison. And then there’s the thought of the guy up in the tower with the shotgun.

Stepping through the second gate is a bit of a surprise. A two-lane road, bright painted yellow lines in the middle and sides. Staff walks down the middle, while prisoners must walk outside the yellow lines on the “shoulder”. The grass is freshly trimmed, flowers beds are neat and plentiful around the buildings lining the road.

The flower beds — filled with fresh mulch, pansies, petunias and other little flowering plants like grandma would plant — are everywhere around the sidewalks and along neatly painted buildings.

Library. Chapel. Security. — neat, hand lettered signs are above the doors of each building. A “Town of Century” water tower close behind the buildings. It really looks more like small town USA than a prison…if you overlook the bars on the windows. Somehow the bars look very out of place on the Chapel.

But at the far end of CCI small town, USA, there’s another fence, razor wire and another guard tower. Beyond those are the dorms — the home of  over 1,400 inmates. Some will spend their final days and last breaths here.

Our series “Inside Century Correctional Institution” continues this week on photos, click to enlarge.

Christmas In July Shopping Event Today At Atmore Hospital

July 15, 2013

A Christmas in July event will be held today at the Atmore Community Hospital Auditorium.

Merchandise from Avon, Mary Kay, Pampered Chef, Tupperware, Scentsy, Origami Owl, Thirty One, Miche Purses and more will be available for early Christmas shopping. The event will be hosted by the Atmore Community Hospital Pink Ladies for Atmore Community Hospital Relay for Life Team from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Photos: Fire Destroys Jeep

July 15, 2013

Fire destroyed a Jeep late Sunday night near Barrineau Park.

The fire was reported about 11:40 p.m. on Jacks Branch Road, near the intersection of Barrineau Park Road. The Jeep was fully involved when the first firefighters arrived on scene. There were no injuries.

The Molino Station of Escambia Fire Rescue responded to the call.

Pictured inset:  A Jeep burns along side Jacks Branch Road late Sunday night before firefighters arrive on scene. Pictured top and below: Firefighters work to extinguish the fire. Reader submitted photos by Nick Helmkin for, click to enlarge.

NHS QB Club Hosting Softball Tournament

July 15, 2013

The Northview High School Quarterback Club will host a coed softball tournament on August 2 and 3.

The entry fee is $150 per team. To register a team and support the Class 1A state football champions in their upcoming season, call Bodie Tullis at (850) 390-3945.

Editor’s note: The above represents a lower registration fee and a date change from a previous announcement.

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