Hurricane Hunters Fly Over North Escambia Checking Out Potential Tropical System

June 30, 2014

The Hurricane Hunter aircraft flew over the North Escambia area this morning as part of their investigation into a system near the east coast of Florida that may become the season’s first tropical depression.

The flight was to measure upper level winds in our area to determine any impact on the system. The tropical depression, if it forms, is set to move the up East Coast of the U.S.  and have  no real impact on our local Northwest Florida forecast.

Some computer models are forecasting the system will strengthen toward the Carolinas on Friday and become Tropical Storm Arthur before moving off into the Atlantic.

Pictured: This graphic shows the Hurricane Hunter aircraft flight over the Florida Panhandle, including the North Escambia area, and the forecast path of the weather system up the East Coast.

Two Of Three Convenience Store Murder Suspects Arrested

June 30, 2014

Two of three suspects have been arrested in connection with the June 22 murder of  31-year old Tabius Cardell Huff.

Trent Baker was arrested June 24 and charged with third degree felony murder.

And then on Sunday moring, Jarrod Blackmon, 23, was arrested by the Linden (Ala.) Police Department. Blackmon. He was wanted in Escambia County for the first degree premeditated murder .

Deputies are still looking for Jimmy Bonner for third degree felony murder.

Anyone having information concerning the whereabouts of Jimmy Jermaine Bonner is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at (850) 433-STOP.
Huff was shot about 10 p.m. June 22 outside a convenience store in the 5300 block of  Jackson Street near Edgewood Circle.  Huff was pronounced deceased at the scene by Escambia County EMS.

Wreck Near Walnut Hill Claims Life Of Recent Northview Graduate

June 30, 2014

A recent Northview High School graduate was killed in a single vehicle accident Sunday afternoon near Walnut Hill.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, 18-year old Audra Elizabeth Martin of Century was traveling northbound on a dirt portion of Greenland Road when she veered to the left in her 2001 Chevrolet Impala,  over-corrected to the right, struck a ditch and overturned into a field.

Her passenger, 17-year old Tori Amber Jordan of Century,was ejected from the vehicle. Jordan, who was not wearing a seat belt, was pronounced deceased on the scene. She was a 2014 Northview High School graduate and would have celebrated her 18th birthday this week, according to family friends.

Martin was transported by Atmore Ambulance to Atmore Community Hospital with minor injuries. Charges against Martin, who also was not wearing a seat belt, will be pending further investigation, according to the FHP. photos, click to enlarge.

Hot Muggy Weather

June 30, 2014

Here is your official North Escambia area forecast:

  • Monday Night Mostly clear, with a low around 73. Southwest wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the evening.
  • Tuesday Mostly sunny and hot, with a high near 98. Heat index values as high as 106. Northwest wind around 5 mph.
  • Tuesday Night Partly cloudy, with a low around 73. West wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the evening.
  • Wednesday A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after 1pm. Mostly sunny and hot, with a high near 97. North wind around 5 mph.
  • Wednesday Night Partly cloudy, with a low around 74. Northwest wind around 5 mph.
  • Thursday A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 95. North wind 5 to 10 mph becoming west in the afternoon.
  • Thursday Night A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly cloudy, with a low around 73. Southwest wind around 5 mph becoming northwest after midnight.
  • Independence Day A 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly sunny, with a high near 94.
  • Friday Night A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly cloudy, with a low around 71.
  • Saturday A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 93.
  • Saturday Night A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly cloudy, with a low around 71.
  • Sunday A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly sunny, with a high near 93.

Fire Heavily Damages Jacks Branch Road Home

June 30, 2014

A Cantonment home received heavy fire and smoke damage Sunday night.

The fire was reported just after 9 p.m. in  single story residence in the  400 block of Jacks Branch Road, near Green Tree Circle. The first firefighters on scene reported heavy smoke coming from the house.

There were no injuries reported, and there was no immediate word in the cause of the blaze.

Pictured: Fire heavily damaged a home on Jacks Branch Road Sunday. reader submitted photos by iHeather Murphy, click to enlarge.

Schedule Change For ECUA July Household Hazardous Waste Collection

June 30, 2014

Taking advantage of the ECUA’s Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Program is a great way to dispose of unwanted household hazardous materials in an environmentally responsible way.

HHW in landfills can leak or, if disposed of on the ground, can contaminate our drinking water supply or other water resources. And HHW disposed of in garbage containers can leak or react with other substances, possibly starting fires that may injure drivers and others nearby.

ECUA’s  HHW Program is a monthly service that is free to all ECUA residential sanitation customers.

Normally, ECUA’s HHW collection is on the first Saturday of the month.  For this July, the HHW pick-up will instead be scheduled on the second Saturday, July 12, because of the Independence Day holiday the previous week.

Some of the items accepted in the HHW Program pick-up list include swimming pool and household chemicals, paints, used cooking grease, lawn and garden chemicals, and used motor oils.   These materials are collected by ECUA crews at the customer’s doorstep, making it as easy and convenient as possible.

For more information, or to request a pick-up, ECUA sanitation customers may call the ECUA Customer Service line at 476-0480, or email

Schools: Pick Up Individual Student FCAT Scores

June 30, 2014

Individual student FCAT scores are available for pick up at your child’s school. For schools not listed below, call the school office for summer hours.

  • Jim Allen Elementary: June 30, 7 a.m. – noon; July 21-24, 7 a.m. – 4 p.m.,; July 28-31, 7 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Bratt Elementary: June 30 – July 3,  July 7 – July 10, from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Byrneville Elementary: Everyday except Fridays July 1-24 from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.; everyday beginning July 28, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Molino Park Elementary: June 30 – July 3, or July 7 from 7:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. and July 8-10 from 7:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
  • Ernest Ward Middle: June 30 – July 2 from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. and again from July 7 from 7:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., or July 8-10 from 7:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Parents should be prepared to show and identification and sign that they have received the report. Those not picked up during the summer will be sent home with the student in the fall.
  • Northview High School:  July 1 – 3 from 8 a.m. – 3:30  p.m. in the administrative office. Those not picked up during that period will be given to the student during orientation – August 13, 9 a.m. – noon for grades 10-12, or August 14, 8 – 9:30 a.m. for ninth grade.

Two Injured In Crash With Utility Pole

June 30, 2014

Two people were injured in a single vehicle rollover accident Sunday night near the intersection of Highway 196 and Highway 95A near Molino.

The driver apparently lost control, ran off the road and hit a utility pole just before 10 p.m. Both were transported by ambulance to Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola; neither injury was considered severe or life threatening.

The accident remains under investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol. photos by Kristi Smith, click to enlarge.

New Speciality Tags Will Soon Hit Florida’s Roads

June 30, 2014

As they did a year ago, Florida lawmakers this spring approved four new specialty license tags, also extending a self-imposed barrier that hasn’t slowed the program.

Starting October 1, sales will start on the four plates — Fallen Law Enforcement Officers, the Florida Sheriffs Association, the Keiser University, and the Moffitt Cancer Center — signed into law this year by Gov. Rick Scott.

Each plate raises money for the sponsoring organization. The fallen hero tag, which will feature the motto “A Hero Remembered Never Dies” across the bottom, will assist the Police and Kids Foundation, Inc.

The latest tags come despite a “moratorium” lawmakers imposed on new license plates in 2008. The moratorium was set to expire this year, but lawmakers extended it through mid-2016.

Since the moratorium was passed, the number of tags on the road has grown from 113 to 122. Also, lawmakers have since established a 1,000-plate pre-order requirement before actual production of the plate begins.

The new plates also come despite warnings from Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, which oversees license plates, officials that the program may have reached a tipping point in terms of sales.

In November, Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Deputy Director Stephen Fielder told a House subcommittee that the market for specialty plates has become saturated.

The base of motorists spending extra for the specialty plates has remained stagnant over the past few years, Fielder said.

“When I had 30 plates, I had 30 organizations competing for 1 million (motorists),” Fielder told the panel. “I now have 120 plates competing for 1 million customers.” But a lobbyist for specialty plates said the state needs to make it easier for motorists to purchase them.

“There is a reason that many people aren’t able to buy them. The Department of Motor Vehicles will not put an option on the renewal form to go to the specialty plates,” said Susan Goldstein, who represents several associations with specialty plates as well as the Florida Association of Specialty License Plates. “You actually have to physically go to the tax collector or DMV to switch to a new plate.”

Asked about expanding the offerings for specialty tags online, department spokesman John Lucas responded in an email, “It’s strictly a technical reason due to additional fees that (are) involved in such a switch.”

The state sold and renewed 1.35 million specialty tags in 2013, up nearly 14,000 from 2012, but still noticeably off from 1.62 million purchased in 2009. Nearly half of the plates have attracted fewer than 5,000 buyers, including 18 with fewer than 1,000 in sales.

Private colleges are among the lowest sellers. Clearwater Christian College has ranked at the bottom of the sales with just 57 plates sold over the past two years.

Top sellers continue to be the University of Florida, Florida State University, Helping Sea Turtles Survive, Protect Wild Dolphins and Protect the Panther.

Goldstein noted that the number of specialty plates dropped after the fees for first time and renewals of specialty license plates were increased in 2009, when lawmakers were also hiking the cost of vehicle registration and other driver fees to close a budget shortfall.

“The person that wants to buy a new specialty plate has to pay $38 in fees to the state to make a $25 donation to the organization,” Goldstein said. “And we still did over $30 million last year.”

According to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, the $15 to $25 fee on specialty tags generates about $30 million a year, with about $8.6 million going to state revenue for processing fees and the rest divided among different sponsor organizations. Lawmaker support doesn’t guarantee the tag will hit the road, however.

Of the four tags approved for pre-sale starting July 1, 2013, Florida Freemasons and Lauren’s Kids — a non-profit group that helps survivors of childhood sexual abuse — surpassed the 1,000 mark and went on the road earlier this year.

Meanwhile, the American Legion and Big Brothers Big Sisters continue to struggle in the pre-sale world, with each organization selling about 100 plates as of June 2.

In addition to the new plates, production will begin this year on a new special use plate to recognize field medics who accompanied infantry into battle with a Combat Medical Badge plate. The state already offers Combat Action Badge and Combat Infantry Badge plates.

by Jim Turner, The News Service of Florida

Jacksonville Takes Opener 12-6 Over The Blue Wahoos

June 30, 2014

On Sunday at the Pensacola Blue Wahoos baseball game, fans had lots of fun for the first five innings.

Ryan Wright hit his first Double-A home run, which cleared the left field fence and put Pensacola ahead, 6-5, in the bottom of the fifth inning. It was also the second baseman’s first hit at home, after going hitless during his first five-game homestand at Pensacola. However, he’s hitting .300 (6-20) since then.

However, in Jacksonville’s very next at bat the Suns scored six runs off three Blue Wahoos pitchers to go ahead, 11-6, on their way to a 12-6 victory in the opener of a five-game series at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium. Alfredo Silverio led off the big inning for the Suns with a home run.

The big hitter Sunday, though, for Pensacola was first baseman Marquez Smith. Smith hit a two-run home run, doubled in another run and walked in four at bats. It was Smith’s first home run this season, too, in a Blue Wahoos uniform after getting called up from High-A Bakersfield.

Smith said the homer to deep right center felt good after starting his stint with two hits in his first 18 at bats.

“It’s definitely good to get on the right track,” Smith said. “I was glad today to get some hits.”

Delino DeShields said that he would like to get the same production from Smith that Bakersfield got in the first half of the season. There Smith hit .298 with 15 homers and 67 RBI in 68 games.

“I’m hoping he will produce for us while he’s here,” DeShields said. “He is an older player. It gets tougher when you get older.”

The 29-year-old Smith was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 2007 out of Clemson University and has played 737 games in the minors, including 2,615 at bats. He also has played 14 games in the Major Leagues, including 13 with the Cubs in 2011.

“I’ve been doing it for a long time and been lucky enough to still have a jersey on my back,” said Smith, who was born in Panama City down the coast from Pensacola. “I’m still having fun playing the game, so you can’t beat that.”

The second game of the five-game series with Miami Marlins Double-A affiliate the Jacksonville Suns gets underway at 6:30 p.m. Monday. RHP Jon Moscot (4-6, 2.83) takes the mound for the Wahoos and is scheduled to be opposed by the Suns RHP Jay Rogers (2-2, 4.81).

by Tommy Thrall

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