Man, 51, Killed In Thursday Highway 95A Crash

October 31, 2013

One person was killed in a single vehicle traffic crash about 9:50 Thursday morning on Highway 95A.

The accident happened in a curve at C&C Hauling, just north of McKenzie Road in the Cottage Hill area. The Florida Highway Patrol said Lonnie L. Davis of Pensacola was northbound on Highway 95A in a Mercedes-Benz convertible when he failed to negotiate a curve and collided with a power pole on the shoulder.

Davis, who was unrestrained, was ejected from the vehicle as it continued on to collide with a second utility pole and a fence. He was pronounced deceased on the scene.

The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office had received a  call about a domestic dispute involving Davis at a home on Welcome Circle, a short distance from the crash site. Before deputies arrived on Welcome Circle, Davis was already gone.

Pictured top: The driver of this convertible was killed in a single vehicle crash Thursday morning. Pictured below: One of the power poles, snapped in half, struck by a driver in a  fatal crash this morning in on Highway 95A. photo by Kristi Smith, click to enlarge.

Weather Cancels Northview’s Bonfire, Trunk Or Treat, Tailgating Event Tonight

October 31, 2013

The Northview High School Chiefs bonfire, trunk or treat and tailgating event that was scheduled for tonight has been canceled due to forecasted weather conditions.

The Chiefs (3-4, 2-0) will take on the Baker Gators (8-0, 2-0) Friday night at 7:00 in Bratt for the district championship.

Pictured: The Northview Chiefs, on their way to a state title, beat the Baker Gators last year 34-0 to claim the District 1-1A championship.

Rain Late Tonight, Friday Morning; Turning Colder Again

October 31, 2013

Here is your official North Escambia area forecast:

  • Tonight: A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms, then showers and possibly a thunderstorm after 10pm. Low around 70. South wind 10 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%.
  • Friday: Showers and possibly a thunderstorm before 1pm, then a chance of showers. High near 77. South wind around 10 mph becoming west in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 80%.
  • Friday Night: A 10 percent chance of showers before 7pm. Mostly clear, with a low around 49. Northwest wind around 5 mph.
  • Saturday: Sunny, with a high near 73. Northwest wind 10 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph.
  • Saturday Night: Clear, with a low around 43. Northwest wind 5 to 10 mph.
  • Sunday: Sunny, with a high near 69. North wind 5 to 10 mph.
  • Sunday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 45. East wind around 5 mph.
  • Monday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 74. East wind 5 to 10 mph.
  • Monday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 57.
  • Tuesday: Partly sunny, with a high near 76.
  • Tuesday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 58.
  • Wednesday: A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 77.
  • Wednesday Night: A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 59.
  • Thursday: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 75.

Fire Crew Won’t Move From Century To McDavid; Century Presents Erroneous Data To Make Case

October 31, 2013

A paid Escambia Fire Rescue crew currently assigned to Century won’t be shifted to the McDavid Fire Station in an effort to improve the level of service across the North Escambia area. The decision was made after the Town of Century made their case to county leaders using erroneous data from an Internet site.

Escambia County Fire Rescue Patrick Grace said Wednesday afternoon that Escambia County Interim Administrator George Touart had decided earlier in the day that the paid crew would remain in Century. Earlier in the day, Touart, Grace, Public Safety Director Mike Weaver, Century Mayor Freddie McCall and Escambia Fire Rescue Century District Chief Regi Burkett met to discuss the idea.

“Moving the paid crew to Molino would have had a bigger impact for the taxpayer’s dollar,” Grace said. “It would have greatly improved service levels.”

A daytime paid fire crew in Century has answered 108 calls during the past year, many of which were in Flomaton. If the crew had been stationed in McDavid, they would have been dispatched on over 160 calls across parts of North Escambia, Grace said.

During Wednesday’s meeting, McCall presented a memo to Touart, Weaver and Grace asking that fire crew remain in Century. The memo listed mileages between the Century and McDavid fire stations and destinations including local schools. The data presented by the Town of Century showed moving the fire crew from Century to McDavid would result in increased mileage, and travel time, to the schools.

However, discovered some of the listed data presented by McCall was erroneous. Century’s data shows the distance from the McDavid Fire Station to Ernest Ward Middle School at 17.72 miles; however, the actual distance is only 12 miles.   Century’s data also overstated the mileage from McDavid to Northview High School  by 3.81 miles, and from McDavid to Bratt Elementary School by an extra 4.8 miles.  (See charts at bottom of article.)

In their data, Century did not include Molino Park Elementary School, which is seven miles closer to the McDavid Fire Station than Century and would benefit from a much faster response time.

Century Town Clerk Leslie Gonzalez said she obtained the mileages for the mayor’s memo presentation from the Mapquest website. confirmed that, with a ordinary search, Mapquest does return the incorrect mileages due to mapping a partially incorrect route. (Editor’s note: In our computations, used mileages as provided by Google Maps using the most direct route over paved roads via verified correct routes.)

In his effort to convince Touart to keep the fire crew in Century, McCall also presented data showing there are 70 tax paying businesses in the Town of Century. He did not present any information about the number of businesses outside Century that would be served by a paid fire crew if it were moved to McDavid.

According to the University of West Florida’s Haas Center for Business Research and Economic Development, there are 259 licensed businesses operating in the Century zip code; 250 in the Mcdavid/Walnut Hill zip code, and 425 in Molino.  It should be noted that the business numbers from both the Town of Century and the Haas Center include numerous small, home-based businesses.

An attempt to reach Touart for comment Wednesday afternoon  was unsuccessful..

Paid Firefighter Crew

The paid firefighter crew currently staffs the Century Fire Station from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday-Friday. The crew provides coverage during the daytime hours when many volunteers are unavailable due to employment outside the area. Volunteer firefighters answer calls at other times and on the weekends.

Until a few weeks ago, a paid crew was stationed at the Molino Fire Station during the same hours. But Molino’s paid crew was among those transferred to the Cantonment Station in order to provide 24/7 paid coverage after Cantonment experienced an overall lack of volunteer response. Since the switch, volunteers have worked to answer calls in Molino around the clock.

From the more centrally located McDavid Fire Station on Highway 29, a paid firefighter crew would have been dispatched and been able to answer calls a few miles — and just a few minutes — away in Century, Molino and Walnut Hill during the daytime hours when the availability of volunteers is the lowest. Volunteer firefighters in those areas would still have been dispatched and respond to call in their districts.

“Moving the fire crew to McDavid would have greatly benefited the tax paying citizens north of Cantonment,” Weaver said.  Fire taxes and fees collected from Molino north fall just short of funding the expense of the paid crew currently assigned to Century.

“Molino would have benefited from the move. Walnut Hill would have benefited from the move,” he said. “Those citizens are paying for that service.”

Weaver noted that the volunteers at the Walnut Hill and McDavid fire stations have  historically good response rates and times to calls in their district.  The Walnut Hill fire district is 225 square miles — comprising over one-third of Escambia County’s total 660 square mile area. A paid crew in McDavid would have been poised to provide coverage in the immediate Walnut Hill area when Walnut Hill volunteers were answering calls in outlying areas of their relatively massive fire district.



Three Subway Restaurants Burglarized

October 31, 2013

Burglaries are under investigation at three Escambia County Subway restaurants.

The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office responded to burglaries at the Subway on Highway 29 in Gonzalez, West Nine Mile Road near Highway 29 and Pine Forest Road. The restaurants were burglarized sometime between closing time Tuesday night and opening Wednesday morning.

There’s no word yet on what was stolen from the restaurants.

Anyone with information on the burglaries is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (850) 433-STOP.

Escambia Public Schools Foundation Announces 62 Grants for Excellence

October 31, 2013

The Escambia County Public Schools Foundation’s Grants for Excellence Committee will award over $53,000 in grants to fund classroom projects this year.

The Grants for Excellence Classroom Grant Program  is a competitive grant program to fund classroom projects to enhance curriculum and drive student achievement in Escambia County classrooms that is not available through current school or district budgets

This year, the Committee  selected 62 projects to fund for a total of $53,862.34.  Each recepient will receive up to $1,000  for their innovative classroom projects in the areas of literacy, STEM education, low-performing students, increasing graduation rates, career and technical education, and teaching quality.

Grant recipients are:

• Mitzi Allen, Tate High School, “Literally Great Photos”
• Kimberly Andreoli, Bratt Elementary School, “Learning Through Literacy”
• Angela Avery, Ransom Middle School, “Hide and Seek-Geocaching Project”
• Dr. Alana Battaglia, Escambia High School, “Skeleton in Search of a Closet”
• Edward Bauer, Washington High School, “Bringing Back the Bayous”
• Saundra P. Bell, Hellen Caro Elementary School, “Sailboat Breeze Meets Captain I. Seegood”
• Janice Bello, Navy Point Elementary School, “Math Madness”
• Russell L. Bertles, Workman Middle School, “Who Said All Great Music Composers are Dead?”
• Adam Bretschneider, Roy Hyatt Environmental Center, “Touch of the Gulf”
• Rose M. Briggs, George Stone Career Center, “Shining a ‘Light’ on Mathematics”
• Donna Burch, West Florida High School, “Photo Me This”
• Rebecca Burt, Global Learning Academy, Beulah Elementary and Cook Elementary Schools, “The ART of Writing”
• Anita Carnley, Ensley Elementary School, “Wingspan of Monarch Butterflies”
• Nichole Childress, Jim Allen Elementary School, “Visual Vocabulary Cards”
• Leslie R. Cuyuch, Workman Middle School, “Kickstarting Student Discourse with Kagan”
• Elizabeth Dunaway, Oakcrest Elementary School, “Paying it Forward”
• Jennifer Etheredge, Scenic Heights Elementary, “Creating a Therapeutic Play Therapy”
• Stephanie Furey, Washington High School, “Helping Students One Question at a Time”
• Stephanie Gaffney, Navy Point Elementary School, “Looking, Hearing, and Feeling Through Literacy”
• Kathy Gilliland, Pine Forest High School, “Connected, Unique, and Powerful!”
• ReNae Grant, Semmes Elementary School, “Android-Powered Learning”
• Janice Hall, Bellview Middle School, “Cooking with the Write Stuff”
• Anna K. Harageones, Ferry Pass Elementary School, “What’s the Weather Today?”
• Ila Harvey, Sherwood Elementary School, “Bridging the Learning Gap”
• Pam Hicks, Washington High School, “Volumetric Measurement”
• Maurine Kramerich, PATS Center, “Let’s Make a Puppet!”
• Justin Luciano, West Florida High School, “E-magine That!”
• Matthew MacGregor, Escambia High School, “Protecting Our Estuaries”
• Jason Majors, Escambia High School, “Original From Step One”
• Jeffrey R. Mason, PATS Center, “Physical Computing and Digital Electronics”
• Sarah Mason, Blue Angels Elementary School, “The Engineering Wall: Rube Goldberg Style”
• Janneke McElroy, Oakcrest Elementary School, “Kicking It Up A Notch”
• Angela McFarland, West Florida High School, “iPhotograph, iOptimize, iCode”
• Jill Mealy, Ensley Elementary, “Ensley’s Project Green”
• Cathy S. Melton, Weis Elementary School, “Boots and Bits and a Little ‘Bit’ More”
• Nancy Melton-Buffington, Workman Middle School, “Thinking Differently to Change the World We Live In”
• Catheryn Morrison, Bellview Middle School, “Discover and Explore Pensacola”
• Jean Odom, N. B. Cook Elementary School, “Reader’s Theatre”
• Dawn Parnell, Pensacola High School, “Increasing STEM Skills”
• Paula Petsel, West Florida High School, “Aquaponics System”
• Hytza Piatt, Tate High School, “My iSpanish Experiences”
• Karen Potter, Ransom Middle School, “Getting Middle School Readers ‘Interactive’ with Reading”
• Sharon Powers, Longleaf Elementary School, “Literacy for All”
• Jeff Pribble, Escambia High School, “Career Preparation in High Definition”
• Sylvia Ramos, West Florida High School, “Virtual Hispanic Center”
• Julie Reda, West Florida High School, “Color My World”
• Dottie Ritchie-Riddle, Global Learning Academy, “Small Group Learning Stations”
• Anita M. Schmitt, Lipscomb Elementary School, “Young Mentors-Kindergarten Reading Buddies”
• Jennifer Shiver, Holm Elementary School, “Learning Through Music”
• Cindy Speed, Weis Elementary School, “E-Books for Every Student”
• Paula Stillman, A.K. Suter Elementary School, “Pocket Full of Sunshine”
• Alicia Stone, Lipscomb Elementary School, “Reading Fluency with Technology”
• Zenda G. Swearengin, Workman Middle School, “Music and Tech Geeks Meet”
• Angela Taylor, Myrtle Grove Elementary School, “Check Out Math!”
• Nancy Thomas, Ferry Pass Elementary School, “Bop and Skip Into Reading”
• Chet Truett, Ransom Middle School, “Music Video Translation”
• Kevin Turner, Washington High School, “Observing Benthic Diversity and Water Density”
• Kristi Waldrop, Ransom Middle School, “Let’s Get Those Boards Out!”
• Shawn Walker, West Florida High School, “Go Out on a STEM!”
• Pamela Weiseman, Capstone Academy, “Increasing Engagement and Success”
• Ronald J. Williams, Extended Program, Hall Center, “Flying ‘B’ Enterprises”
• Dorice Zeier, Holm Elementary School, “Ready Bodies”

The 62 projects funded this fall will directly impact a total of 20,018 students and 74 teachers this school year alone.  Many of the classroom materials, software, technology, and other items purchased with Grants for Excellence grant funds will continue to be used for years to come.

The Foundation will present grant recipients with their checks at the 2013 Grants for Excellence Reception on Thursday, November 7.

Trial Set To Begin For Lottery Store Murder Suspect

October 31, 2013

A docket hearing was held Wednesday for one of the two men accused in the robbery and shooting death of a Davisville lottery store owner last November.

Malcolm McGhee. Jr., 25, has entered a not guilty plea.   Jury selection is set to begin in less than two weeks  in his trial on charges of premeditated first degree murder and robbery with a firearm for the shooting death of 74-year old Thomas “Tommy” Kroll during a robbery on November 6, 2012, at the State Line O’ Yes Lotto on Highway 97.

His co-defendant, Brent Dewayne Lambeth, 21, has pleaded no contest to second degree murder. Under his plea deal, he will receive no more than 30 years in prison, provided he testifies against  McGhee.

Investigators said McGhee and Lambeth targeted Kroll’s business because they had previous purchased “Spice” there and the duo intended on robbing the store of more of the synthetic marijuana.

Pictured top and bottom: The scene outside the State Line O’ Yes Lotto on Highway 97 following the murder of store owner Thomas Kroll on November 6, 2012. file photos, click to enlarge.

Abundance Of Fall Festivals, Halloween Events Planned For Tonight

October 31, 2013

A wide variety fall festivals and other events are scheduled for tonight in the North Escambia area

Northview Event
An event planned for Northview High School has been canceled due to weather conditions.

Cantonment Pumpkin Patch
Allen Memorial United Methodist Men’s Pumpkin Patch will be open from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. The pumpkin patch is located on Highway 29 at Neal Road, just north of the paper mill.

Molino Community Fall Festival
A Community Fall Festival will be held Thursday, October 31, from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. at Victory Assembly of God Church located on Highway 29 in Molino. Come join the churches of the community for a fun-filled evening of games, candy, great food and fellowship.

Century Library Program
The Century Branch Library will have their Halloween program on Thursday, October 31 at 5 p.m. There will be ghost stories and lots of goodies for little goblins. Everyone is invited to attend and wear their costume.

Beulah Chapel Fall Festival
Fall Festival, Thursday, October 31 from 6-8 p.m. at the Beulah Chapel Assembly of God at 2311 Highway 4A. Food, games, bounce house and more.

Trunk Of Treat Cantonment
St. Monica’s Episcopal Church, 699 S. Hwy. 95-A, Cantonment will host Trunk or Treat from 6-8 pm Thursday, October 31st in the church parking lot. Children are invited to trick or treat free from trunk to trunk. There will be music provided by our DJ and a hay ride. Chili and refreshments will be also be available.

Cottage Hill Fall Festival
First Baptist Church of Cottage Hill will hold their community wide Family Fun Fall Festival on Thursday, October 31, from 6 – 8 p.m. There will be an inflatable bounce house, lots of carnival booths with lots of candy, face painting, hayrides, cake walk, chili with all the fixings, hot dogs, desserts, and drinks. Everyone welcome and everything is free. More info: or (850) 968-2357.

Living Truth Fall Festival
Living Truth Church will hold their Fall Festival on Thursday, October 31, from 5:30 p.m. until 8 p.m. at the church, located at 8897 Byrom Campble Road. Admission is free and there will be lots of food and games.

Century Care Fall Festival
Century Care Center will hold their annual fall festival, October 31, beginning at 4 p.m. There will be games prizes, food, a give away basket drawing, and a haunted house. Everyone is invited to attend.3

Flomaton Fall Festival
The annual Flomaton Fall Festival will be held in downtown Flomaton Thursday from 5:30 until 7 p.m.

Jay Trick or Treat
The Jay Chamber of Commerce will host Trick of Treat in Park from 5-8 p.m. at Bray-Hendricks Park. Admission is free, and there will be a costume contest.

Dogwood Park Fall Festival (Saturday)
Dogwood Park Baptist Church will hold their annual old fashioned peanut boil and fall festival on Saturday, November 2, from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. at 3301 Highway 97. Lots of boiled peanuts, bounce house, live music, horse rides, games and more. Everyone is invited to attend.

Sheriff: Exercise Caution This Evening Due To Halloween

October 31, 2013

Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan is reminding residents to be careful this evening as young people are out for Halloween.

“Drivers should exercise extra caution Thursday night,” said  Morgan, “especially when driving through neighborhoods, due to the increase in pedestrian traffic. We want everyone to have a good time and be safe.”

The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office is offering these Halloween safety tips for adults:

  • Slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods. Children are excited on Halloween and may move in unpredictable ways. Popular trick-or-treating hours are 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. so be especially alert for kids during those hours.
  • Notify Law enforcement authorities immediately of any suspicious or unlawful activity.
  • Obtain flashlights with fresh batteries for all children and their escorts.
  • A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children on their neighborhood routes.
  • Trick-or-treaters should wear reflective clothing; carry a bright orange bag, a flashlight or glow stick; walk on sidewalks or left sides of roads facing traffic.
  • Trick-or-treat in an area you are familiar with.
  • Go to houses you know, with the porch light on.
  • Adults should be sure to plan a safe way home before drinking, and designate a sober driver if you’re drinking. If you drink too much, take a taxi, take a bus, or call a sober friend

Southeastern Religious Leaders Fight SNAP Food Aid Cuts

October 31, 2013

As a congressional conference committee began talks on cutting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — known in the past as food stamps — religious leaders from across the Southeast said Wednesday they’re worried about potential effects on the poor and working poor in a region with the country’s highest rates of poverty.

The debate is part of negotiations over a federal farm bill that includes the SNAP program. The Republican-led U.S. House wants to cut SNAP funding by $39.5 billion over 10 years, while the Democratic-controlled Senate holds the line at a $4 billion reduction. President Obama has said he would veto the larger amount.

The talks come as $11 billion in cuts resulting from the expiration of a 2009 federal-stimulus act kick in Friday — $36 per month for a family of four on full SNAP benefits.

Leaders of Methodist, Baptist, Catholic, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Jewish and Lutheran congregations from eight Southeastern states held a conference call to underline the start of negotiations, saying that too many Americans are going hungry already.

“As SNAP benefits are decreasing, we’re seeing an increase in individual needs in our area,” said Bishop Paul Leeland of the Alabama-West Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church, representing 650 congregations. “(Our pastors) tell us that they are seeing an increase in the number of people at their food closets and clothing closets, and that the majority of these people are children and older adults.”

“Even before the recession, there were alarming rates of poverty in North Carolina,” said the Rev. Betty L. Meadows of the Presbyterian Church USA. “And now there’s just an increasing gap between the haves and the have-nots. Hunger is real. One in four children lives in poverty and is hungry.”

According to the Food Action and Research Center, the SNAP caseload in Florida has increased 130.5 percent over the past five years. More than one in four of the state’s children — 25.4 percent — live in poverty; the national child poverty rate is 22.6 percent.

Florida Congressman Steve Southerland, one of the House conferees, is spearheading a proposal that would require work for SNAP benefits, though the proposal exempts children, seniors and people with disabilities.

“For those vulnerable people, we want to make sure they’re protected and they’re cared for,” he said.

The Southerland amendment is currently part of the House bill and requires able-bodied adults to earn their benefits by working 20 hours a week or participating in a job training program.

Southerland is passionate about the importance of work and said he and his wife require their four daughters to get part-time jobs when they turn 15 years old.

“I’ve been deeply burdened that there’s so many people — and a segment of people in our population — that have never been introduced to the blessing of work,” Southerland said.

Responding to the religious leaders’ posture on SNAP cuts, he said his amendment is also based on scriptural concerns.

“All through scripture there is a requirement of individuals who are able-bodied — individuals who are able, not children, not disabled, not seniors — but individuals who are physically, mentally, psychologically able to work to participate in their own well-being,” Southerland said.

But Debra Susie, the executive director of Florida Impact, an advocacy group, said many SNAP recipients live in areas where there are no jobs or job-training slots.

“You can’t force people to go to work where there are no jobs,” she said. “And you cannot punish their children by removing food stamps if those jobs don’t exist.”

Virtually all the religious leaders on the call described their states’ efforts to help hungry children. Many routinely send backpacks home on weekends with students they suspect aren’t eating on days they’re not in school.

“If the children coming (to school) are hungry, they’re never going to learn,” said the Rev. Canon Geoff Taylor of the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina. “If they’re never going to learn, they’re never going to work and we just have a cascading problem. I think we need to address these things at their roots, and at the very root of that hierarchy of needs is food.”

Southerland on Tuesday said he was “optimistic” about the fate of the amendment he has championed.

But Jim Weill, president of the Food Action and Research Center, said Democrats in both chambers and in the White House oppose the measure strongly.

“So it may well be stripped out at some point,” Weill said. “On the other hand, the Republican leadership put Southerland on the conference committee, so he’s going to be in the room when the deals are cut. And they obviously put him there for a reason.”

By Margie Menzel, The News Service of Florida

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