Fire Destroys Cedartown Road Home

January 31, 2015

Fire destroyed an unoccupied  home in Molino Friday night.

The fire in the 6800 block of Cedartown Road was reported about 6:15 p.m. The wood frame home was fully involved when the first Escambia Fire Rescue firefighters arrived on a scene.

There were no injuries reported.

The exact cause of the blaze in under investigation by the Florida State Fire Marshal’s Office. photos by Kristi Price and others, click to enlarge.

Elderly Man Dies In Single Vehicle Crash

January 31, 2015

An elderly Escambia County man died in a single vehicle crash Friday night.

The Florida Highway Patrol said 94-year old Edward Marlowe was traveling east on Prieto Drive when he failed to negotiate a left curve and traveled into the front yard of a residence. His 2010 Kia Forte then struck two large oak trees.

He was pronounced deceased on the scene by Escambia County EMS.

Rain For Sunday

January 31, 2015

Here is your official North Escambia area forecast:

  • Tonight Mostly cloudy, with a low around 46. Southeast wind around 5 mph.
  • Sunday Showers. High near 66. Southeast wind 5 to 15 mph becoming south in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 80%.
  • Sunday Night A 50 percent chance of showers. Cloudy, with a low around 45. South wind around 10 mph becoming west after midnight.
  • Monday Mostly sunny, with a high near 49. North wind 10 to 15 mph.
  • Monday Night Mostly clear, with a low around 31. North wind 5 to 10 mph.
  • Tuesday Mostly sunny, with a high near 54. Northeast wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the afternoon.
  • Tuesday Night A 30 percent chance of showers, mainly after midnight. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 39. Calm wind.
  • Wednesday A 50 percent chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 57. East wind around 5 mph.
  • Wednesday Night A 50 percent chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 46. Northeast wind around 5 mph.
  • Thursday A 40 percent chance of showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 56.
  • Thursday Night Mostly cloudy, with a low around 38.
  • Friday Mostly sunny, with a high near 52.
  • Friday Night Mostly clear, with a low around 36.
  • Saturday Sunny, with a high near 57.

FWC Law Enforcement Report

January 31, 2015

The Florida FWC Division of Law Enforcement reported the following activity during the weekly period ending  January 29 in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.


Officer Pettey received a call from a hunter who heard a shot near the boundary line of his hunting club in McDavid.  The hunter explained that he had heard several shots over the last several days and suspected the person might be shooting doe deer.  Officer Pettey responded to the area and observed a hunter exiting the woods.  The subject had harvested an illegal buck with approximately one inch antlers.  Officer Pettey seized the deer as evidence and issued a criminal citation for the violation.

Officer Livesay was working in Perdido River Wildlife Manage Area (WMA), when he observed an individual exit the woods wearing hunter orange and possessing a rifle.  The subject claimed he was not hunting and was just walking around.  Officer Livesay informed the subject that he was going to look for his stand.  The individual then admitted he was hunting and had a stand set up nearby.  Officer Livesay walked with the subject to his hunting stand and discovered he had recently scattered corn (bait) in the area.  After further questioning, the subject admitted to placing the corn on the ground as bait.  The subject was cited for the hunting over bait and no quota permit.


Officer Hutchinson was conducting land patrol in the Blackwater State Forest when he observed a vehicle parked in close proximity to a known baited location.  Officer Hutchinson trailed the suspect and observed him sitting in a tree stand overlooking the bait site.  Officer Hutchinson made contact with the hunter who admitted to placing the bait on the ground and hunting deer.  The subject’s hunting license was expired.  The hunter was issued the appropriate citations for hunting over bait and no hunting license.

This report represents some events the FWC handled over the past week;however, it does not include all actions taken by the Division of Law Enforcement. Information provided by FWC

Take A Survey: County Seeks Input On RESTORE Fund Spending

January 31, 2015

Escambia County wants to know how you would like to see RESTORE funds spent on projects.

“Projects can be anywhere in the county,” Kathleen Dough-Castro, Escambia County’s public information manager, said. “It’s not funding just for the beach; projects could be completed using RESTORE funds in Century, for instance.”

The RESTORE Act was created to help the Gulf of Mexico’s environment and economy recover from the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster and other harmful influences. Signed into law in July 2012, the RESTORE Act (Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act) dedicates 80 percent of all Clean Water Act administrative and civil penalties related to the Deepwater Horizon spill to a Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund.

The amount of money that Escambia County will receive through the RESTORE Act is unknown. The main source of funds is anticipated to be the federal lawsuit against BP. On August 15, 2014, the United States Treasury released its Interim Final Rules regarding procedures and policies to apply for funds. Once the BP trial is completed the amount of funding coming to the County will be finalized.

However, the federal government and Transocean have agreed to a settlement, which will provide $10.6 million to Escambia County after the County has an approved Multi-Year Implementation Plan (MYIP), which will include a list of selected recovery projects. In order to create the MYIP, the RESTORE Act Advisory Committee (RAC) is currently in the process of developing criteria to use to assess various projects that will be brought before the committee in consideration for funding from the RESTORE Act. These projects will be presented by the project stakeholder in front of the Committee and then evaluated using this criterion. Public input is critical to ensure that the approved projects are in line with the community’s wants and needs with regard to expenditure of the RESTORE funds.

The RAC recently adopted an Interim Needs Assessment, which outlines the needs of Escambia County and supports the development of the Project Selection Criteria.

he RAC recently adopted an Interim Needs Assessment, which outlines the needs of Escambia County and supports the development of the Project Selection Criteria.

The current draft Project Selection Criteria reflects the needs identified in the Interim Assessment. The criteria has been divided into five categories:

  • Baseline
  • Environmental
  • Economic
  • Infrastructure
  • Bonus

The comment period opens today, Wednesday, January 28 and runs through Sunday, February 8.   There are three ways to submit your comments:

  • Take an Online Survey. This survey will take approximately 15-20 minutes to complete.
  • Email your comments to
  • Attend at the February 2 RESTORE Act Advisory Committee meeting to present your comments directly to the Committee. Each speaker will be limited to a maximum of three minutes. Allowed time may be less depending on the number of speakers. The meeting will be held at 4 p.m. on February 2 in the BOCC chambers.

Authorities Seek Credit Card Thief

January 31, 2015

Authorities are searching for a man that used a stolen credit card at multiple locations in the Bay Minette and Atmore areas on January 11.

The man is believed to be from the Bay Minette, Atmore or North Escambia, FL, area, according to the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division. He was driving what appeared to be a silver, mid-2000’s model Ford Focus, two-door, hatch back car.

Anyone with information on his identity is asked to call Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office Cpl. Matt Morrison at (251) 972-8589, option 6, or their local law enforcement agency.

Pictured: An alleged credit card thief exits the Walmart in Atmore. Pictured below: A picture of the man’s car taken at a gas station at Exit 54 on I-65 in the Atmore area. Photos courtesy Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office for, click to enlarge.

Program Connects School Counselors With Community Groups

January 31, 2015

An event Thursday and Friday in Escambia County brought together school district counselors and social workers with over 30 local non-profit service organizations. The program, sponsored by United Way, was designed to bring together those who work with students and families with the agencies that can help.

Finding a way to make stronger connections between those who work with students and their families and those who can help, has been a goal of the United Way staff for a few years, according to Marlena Lewis, United Way’s partnership manager.

“Getting all of these groups together in the same room is a rare opportunity for everyone to truly listen to each other and compare what can be done with what needs to be done,” Lewis said.

“Our primary goal is to educate the children of Escambia County, however what our counselors and social workers often deal with is the fact that learning can’t happen when a child is under stress,” explained Superintendent Malcolm Thomas, with Escambia County School District.  “As school officials learn more about outlets for assistance that can reduce the cause of that stress, they will be able to get help for the child and allow him or her to focus more easily on being a student.”

The design of this event allowed time for local service organizations to explain their mission. The second part of the meeting was a chance for school district staff to tell the service providers what they wish they had available to help them do their jobs.

Pictured top: Bratt Elementary School Counselor Sheila Bryan (center) discusses needs during a United Way program to connect counselors and community groups. Courtesy photo for, click to enlarge.

Five Charged In Home Invasion

January 31, 2015

Five people have been charged in connection with a January 10th home invasion on Olive Road.

According to the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, three females barged into the home and then let in two males who attacked a 60-year old male, taking his cell phone, wallet and keys before fleeing.

Charged were:

Haley Ann Moran 18, $50,000 bond
Trina Faye Moran, 37, $70,000 bond
Patrick W. Cherf, 24, $200,000 bond
Ian Scott Datz, 22, $200,000 bond
Ricki Rene Baxter, 18, $10,000 bond

All five remained in the Escambia County Jail Friday night with the bond listed.

Florida Gov’t Weekly Roundup: Scott Hopes For An Early Spring

January 31, 2015

Groundhog Day might not be until Monday, but Gov. Rick Scott probably doesn’t need a rodent to tell him that his winter of discontent is going to last awhile longer.

If Scott somehow thought that one of the most difficult periods of his governorship was about to end, the Associated Press’ annual legislative planning day this week was proof that it was likely to continue. one hand, his three fellow Republicans on the Cabinet continued to suggest that Scott, or at least his administration, had mishandled the forced resignation of former Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey. Meanwhile, the pixels on Scott’s budget (posted online) were barely dry when legislative leaders started casting doubt on whether the governor’s proposed tax cut on cell-phone and television services would be as large as he wants.

But some issues have been lingering even longer than Scott’s troubles — including how the state handles medical marijuana, something that would change under a bill filed this week by a Republican lawmaker.


What did the governor know, and when did he know it? That was the question perhaps inadvertently added to the saga of Bailey’s firing when Attorney General Pam Bondi floated the idea that maybe Scott’s staff acted without his knowledge in the way that the FDLE commissioner was pushed out last month.

“Did I know that Jerry Bailey was going to be told he was fired and have his things packed up, his entire life as a career law-enforcement officer in a cardboard box, and be told to be out of the office before the end of the day? Absolutely not. Nor do I believe the governor knew it,” Bondi said to reporters and editors gathered at the Capitol for the Associated Press event.

Of course, even Bondi acknowledged that she didn’t have any proof to back her opinion, and it seemed to conflict with how Scott’s office has explained the events that led to Bailey’s ouster. But it was about the nicest thing that a Cabinet member said about the controversy during Wednesday’s planning session.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam described the treatment of Bailey as “shabby.”

Putnam and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater both said they had been advised in December by Scott’s staff that the governor was interested in making a change at FDLE, but expected the change to come up at a January Cabinet meeting. Instead, Scott office announced in December that Bailey had left the agency.

“I wasn’t aware that it was accelerated,” said Atwater, who declined to say he was “misled.”

Scott stuck to his guns. He acknowledged that his office asked Bailey “to step down.”

“Gerald Bailey was given the opportunity to step down, he did,” Scott said.


The governor was able to avoid answering too many questions about the Cabinet issues during Wednesday’s legislative planning session because he formally unveiled his nearly $77 billion spending plan for the budget year that begins in July. But legislative leaders were already raising questions about a $470.9 million tax cut that lies at the heart of the proposal.

Overall, Scott is proposing $673 million in tax reductions, on everything from cell-phone bills to college textbooks. But the lion’s share of that money would go to relaxing the communications services tax applied to cell-phone, cable and satellite television services.

“The benefit of the CST (communications services tax cut) is that it impacts pretty much everybody in the state. … It’s going to go to everybody,” Scott said.

But House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, told the AP gathering that Scott’s plan on the communications tax was higher than what the House had in mind. And Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, said there are “plenty of ideas” about how to reduce taxes in addition to Scott’s request.

“Certainly, that will be on the table,” Gardiner said. “But there will also be quite a few others.”

There were few surprises in Scott’s budget plan, which he’s spent several weeks rolling out in piecemeal fashion. The proposal would reduce state spending by about 0.1 percent from the current budget year.

To cover the tax cuts and a record level of per-student education spending while keeping the overall budget relatively flat, Scott’s proposal calls for deep reductions in other areas. Spending on transportation would fall by almost $235.5 million, though Scott’s office said the Florida Department of Transportation’s work plan is smaller this year and fully funded. The proposal would also cut nearly $120 million from the Department of Health and the Agency for Health Care Administration.

The plan would reduce the state’s payroll by more than 1,000 full-time positions. Scott’s office said that the “vast majority” of those jobs are expected to be unfilled by the time the budget takes effect. Most of the positions would come from the Department of Health; the agency would shed 758 full-time positions.

Some agencies would gain jobs. For example, the Department of Corrections, recently plagued by reports of suspicious inmate deaths, would add 163 full-time positions.

Lawmakers will consider Scott’s proposal as they negotiate a budget and tax cuts during the legislative session that starts March 3. In preparation for the session, House and Senate committees will receive presentations about the proposal next week.

Scott also had some apparent suggestions this week for how to spend a hefty chunk of the billions of dollars earmarked for land and water conservation efforts under a constitutional amendment approved by voters last year.

The proposal, outlined on Tuesday, would devote $5 billion to the Everglades, beginning with $300 million in the upcoming year. It would include money for building water-retention reservoirs and maintaining the upland habitat of endangered Florida panthers.

Lawmakers are working to determine how to carry out the constitutional amendment, which designates 33 percent of the revenue from a type of real-estate tax to conservation for the next 20 years.

Scott didn’t support or publicly oppose the amendment, and his office didn’t mention it in a news release Tuesday. But the Everglades proposal, if funded through the amendment, would require about a third or a quarter of the money.


The Legislature wasn’t in town this week, but that didn’t keep a handful of measures from being filed or discussed. And one was certain to draw some attention, even if its chances at passage were still up in the air.

Less than three months after Florida voters narrowly rejected a plan to legalize medical marijuana, Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, filed a bill that would allow patients to get pot if they suffer from diseases such as cancer, AIDS, epilepsy or multiple sclerosis.

The proposal (SB 528) includes a detailed regulatory structure that would place requirements on patients, doctors, growers and retail stores. Patients could only get “medical-grade” marijuana if their physicians sign off on the need.

“Many groups have been working on this initiative for quite some time, and my goal is to work openly with all of the interested parties on this issue so that we can pass responsible legislation that provides relief to those Floridians in need,” Brandes said in a prepared statement.

Medical marijuana has been a heavily debated topic in Florida for more than a year, primarily because of a proposed constitutional amendment that would have legalized the substance. That amendment received support from 57.6 percent of voters during the November election, slightly short of the 60 percent needed to pass ballot initiatives.

Backers of the constitutional amendment made clear they would continue trying to legalize medical pot, either through the Legislature or another ballot proposal in 2016.

“This bill proves that the massive support we received in the last election — 58% of voters — plus our quick work to bring the petition back for 2016 is getting recognized by reasonable legislators like Senator Brandes,” the group United For Care, which has led efforts to pass a constitutional amendment, said in an email to supporters Monday.

But another long-debated health-care proposal already seems dead before this year’s session starts. Crisafulli on Wednesday said the House has “no plans” to expand Medicaid coverage to an additional 800,000 residents during the session.

“We do not plan to do anything on Medicaid expansion,” Crisafulli said during the AP planning session. “I am a never-say-never kind of guy, and certainly anything can come about that provides opportunity, but at this time we do not plan to hear Medicaid expansion.”

Democrats, who have pushed the expansion for years only to see House Republicans stymie plans supported by Senate Republicans and at least tacitly supported by Scott, tried to find the silver lining.

“We want a full debate” on Medicaid expansion, said House Minority Leader Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach. “You heard the speaker — he’s not a never-say-never guy.”

Whatever issues lawmakers address this spring will also be faced by some new members in the House and the Senate.

In elections Tuesday, Rep. Travis Hutson, R-Elkton, cruised to an easy win in a special Republican primary for a Senate seat in Northeast Florida, setting him up for a likely general election win in April. Meanwhile, Republicans Paul Renner and Cyndi Stevenson won primaries for two House seats in the region.

Hutson, R-Elkton, topped the three-man field in Senate District 6 with 52.2 percent of the vote. Rep. Ronald “Doc” Renuart came in second, carrying 35.1 percent of the vote, and Dennis McDonald was a distant third with almost 12.7 percent. Hutson will face Democrat David Cox in a general election scheduled for April 7.

Renner breezed to a win in the GOP primary to fill Hutson’s seat, carrying almost 70.2 percent of the vote in House District 24, which includes Flagler County as well as portions of St. Johns and Volusia counties. He’ll face Democrat Adam Morley in the special general election.

Stevenson, a St. Johns County commissioner, edged out Michael Davis in Renuart’s district. Both candidates spent more than $100,000 in the GOP primary in House District 17, which also included candidate Jack Capra. Stevenson garnered 41.6 percent of the vote to 39.2 percent for Davis; Capra had 19.2 percent. Stevenson will face Judy Stevens, a candidate running without a party affiliation, in the general election.

STORY OF THE WEEK: The controversy over the removal of former Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey continued for a third week, as Cabinet members continued to criticize how Bailey’s departure was handled by Gov. Rick Scott.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Hubris appears to be the organizing principle of our executive branch.” Senate Minority Leader Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, on Gov. Rick Scott’s handling of the ouster of former Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey and a possible move by the governor to bring in a top insurance official from Louisiana.

by Brandon Larrabee, The News Service of Florida

Last Minute, Healthy Super Bowl Snack Ideas

January 31, 2015

by Dorothy C. Lee, Escambia County Extension Service

Get defensive about your health. These easy-to-tackle recipes are just as tasty, but lower in fat and calories than typical game-day fare. It’s a Win-Win situation.
Skip the six-foot-long sub sandwich usually drenched in  mayonnaise. Instead serve a soup and sandwich smorgasbord with a variety of low-fat cheeses, whole grain breads, fresh, low-sodium cold cuts, and lots and lots of fresh vegetables. Serve soups that are hearty and full of vegetables or grains.

Swap calorie-laden soft drinks with 100% fruit juice or vegetable juice. Prepare mock cocktails using half juice and half seltzer water for a healthy, refreshing beverage.
Set up a make-your-own sundae bar. Use low-fat, protein-rich Greek yogurt and add low-fat granola, fresh or frozen fruit like strawberries, blueberries, even dried fruit. Top off yogurt sundaes with nuts.

Replace chips with vegetable sticks or fruit, or try making your own tasty pita chips. Recipe follows and it only takes a few minutes. Serve a store-bought salsa or a homemade bean dip (see recipe) with carrots, celery, red pepper strips, and cucumbers instead of high-fat dips and salty chips.

If you are going to serve dessert, opt for fruit—fresh, frozen, or canned in its own juice, or there are sugar-free options.

These game day decisions will help you develop a winning game plan.

Garlic & Herb Pita Chips

  • 4-6 whole wheat pitas
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon salt

Coat 2 large baking sheets with non-stick cooking spray
Cut pitas into 8 wedges each and separate each wedge at the fold
Place the pita wedges in an even layer on the baking sheets
Brush wedges with oil and sprinkle with Italian seasoning, garlic powder and salt
Bake at 350°F for 6 to 10 minutes or until golden brown.
May be baked ahead of time and stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Pinto Bean Salsa Dip

  • 1 (approximately 15-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed, or 1 1⁄2 cups cooked dried beans
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • 1⁄2 to 1 cup chunky salsa
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped onion (optional)
  • 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 teaspoon chili powder or to taste (optional)

Mash beans with a fork. Mix in cheese. Stir in enough salsa until mixture is desired consistency for dipping. Add onion and seasoning as desired. Serve cold or cook, stirring, over medium heat until the cheese melts and the mixture is well-blended and hot (about 5 minutes).

Next Page »