No Injuries In Century Crash

July 31, 2015

There were no injuries in a two vehicle crash Friday afternoon in Century. The accident happened about 4:10 p.m. in the 8400 block of North Century Boulevard. Both drivers refused medical treatment. The accident is under investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol. photos by Bethany Reynolds, click to enlarge.

Editor’s note: The car had been moved from the accident location at the time of these photos.

Deputies Investigate Overnight Shooting

July 31, 2015

The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office is investigating an early morning shooting.

About 1:15 a.m., deputies responded to a Shell gas station at Old Corry Field Road and Navy Boulevard for a reported shooting victim.

The victim, described by authorities only as a 34-year old black male, told deputies that he was shot during a drug transaction at the Moreno Court apartments on Old Corry Field Road.

He was transported to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries. There were no arrests reported.

US Supreme Court Targets Death Penalty Case From 1998 Nine Mile Popeye’s Murder

July 31, 2015

The U.S. Supreme Court this fall will hear arguments in a challenge to the way Florida sentences people to death — a challenge backed by three former Florida Supreme Court justices and the American Bar Association.

The case, which stems from the 1998 murder of a Nine Mile Road Escambia County fast-food worker, focuses on the role that juries play in recommending death sentences, which ultimately are imposed by judges.

Hurst, now 36, was convicted in the 1998 murder of Cynthia Lee Harrison, who was an assistant manager at a Popeye’s Fried Chicken restaurant where Hurst worked. Harrison’s body was discovered bound in a freezer, and money was missing from a safe, according to a brief in the case.

Attorneys representing Death Row inmate Timothy Lee Hurst, including former U.S. Solicitor General Seth Waxman, contend that Florida’s unique sentencing system is unconstitutional. Supporting that position in friend-of-the-court briefs are former Florida Supreme Court justices Harry Lee Anstead, Rosemary Barkett and Gerald Kogan, along with the American Bar Association and seven former Florida circuit judges.

Part of the argument centers on what are known as “aggravating” circumstances that must be found before defendants can be sentenced to death. Hurst’s attorneys argue, in part, that a 2002 U.S. Supreme Court ruling requires that determination of such aggravating circumstances be “entrusted” to juries, not to judges.

Also, they take issue with Florida not requiring unanimous jury recommendations in death-penalty cases. A judge sentenced Hurst to death after receiving a 7-5 jury recommendation.

“Florida juries play only an advisory role,” Hurst’s attorneys wrote in a May brief. “The jury recommends a sentence of life or death based on its assessment of aggravating and mitigating circumstances, but that recommendation has no binding effect. Moreover, the jury renders its advisory verdict under procedures that degrade the integrity of the jury’s function. Unanimity, and the deliberation often needed to achieve it, is not necessary; only a bare majority vote is required to recommend a death sentence.”

But in an earlier brief, attorneys for the state argued that the U.S. Supreme Court and the Florida Supreme Court have repeatedly denied challenges to the sentencing process, including the Florida Supreme Court rejecting Hurst’s challenge. The state attorneys argued that a jury, in recommending the death penalty, has found facts that support at least one aggravating factor — which can be the basis for sentencing a defendant to death.

“Therefore, because the jury returned a recommendation of death, this court may infer the jury did find at least one aggravating circumstance beyond a reasonable doubt,” state attorneys wrote in a January brief in the U.S. Supreme Court.

The U.S. Supreme Court this week scheduled oral arguments in the case for Oct. 13, according to an online docket. The court agreed in March to take up the case.

In sentencing Hurst to death, a judge found two aggravating circumstances — that the murder was committed during a robbery and that it was “especially heinous, atrocious or cruel,” according to the brief filed by Hurst’s attorneys. That brief, along with others in the case, were posted on an American Bar Association website and on SCOTUSblog, which closely tracks U.S. Supreme Court proceedings.

Much of the October hearing could focus on how to apply the 2002 U.S. Supreme Court decision — a major case known as Ring v. Arizona — to the Florida law. Hurst’s attorneys contend that the 2002 decision held that “findings of fact necessary to authorize a death sentence may not be entrusted to the judge.” They said Florida’s system undermines the juries’ constitutional “functions as responsible fact-finder and voice of the community’s moral judgment.”

The brief filed on behalf of Anstead, Barkett and Kogan raised similar arguments and said there is “no assurance that
Florida death sentences are premised on a particular aggravating circumstance found by the jury.”

“And because jury unanimity is not mandated during the sentencing process, there is no assurance that a Florida jury’s death recommendation represents a reliable consensus of the community,” the brief said. “As a consequence, (the former justices) believe that the jury’s role is impermissibly denigrated and that there is an unacceptable risk that Florida death sentences are erroneously imposed, in violation of the Sixth and the Eighth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States.”

by Jim Saunders, The News  Servic of Florida

Free School Supplies Available Saturday In Century

July 31, 2015

Free school supplies will be available to those in need this Saturday in Century.

The supplies will be distributed in memory of Dedria Robinson, who was killed in 2005  in an automobile accident at age 11. Organizers of the “Dedria’s Gift” program said the school supplies are available to children from Escambia County in both Florida and Alabama.

The giveaway begins at 10 a.m. Saturday in the Nadine McCaw Park (Roadside Park) on North Century Boulevard and continues until the school supplies are gone.

Rain Chances Continue Into The Weekend

July 31, 2015

Here is your official North Escambia area forecast:

Today: Scattered showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 93. North wind 5 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 50%.

Tonight: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms before 1am. Partly cloudy, with a low around 72. Calm wind becoming north around 5 mph after midnight.

Saturday: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Increasing clouds, with a high near 93. Calm wind becoming northeast around 5 mph in the morning.

Saturday Night: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly cloudy, with a low around 70. South wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the evening.

Sunday: A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly sunny, with a high near 95. Calm wind becoming southeast around 5 mph in the morning.

Sunday Night: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly cloudy, with a low around 74. South wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the evening.

Monday: A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 96. South wind around 5 mph.

Monday Night: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly cloudy, with a low around 73. South wind around 5 mph becoming calm after midnight.

Tuesday: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly sunny, with a high near 93. Calm wind becoming south around 5 mph in the morning.

Tuesday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 74.

Wednesday: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 92.

Wednesday Night: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 73.

Thursday: A 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 92.

Langley Bell 4-H Center Earns Environmental, Energy Efficiency Award

July 31, 2015

The new Langley Bell 4-H Center on Stefani Road in Cantonment has received an environmental and energy efficiency award.

The center was awarded a Three Green Globes certificate. Green Globes is an online green building rating and certification tool that can be used for a wide range of commercial, institutional and multi-residential building types including offices, school, hospitals, hotels, academic and industrial facilities, warehouses, laboratories, sports facilities and multi-residential buildings.

The building accomplished an overall rating of 70% demonstrating leadership in applying best practices regarding energy, water and environmental efficiency. Originally, this project was specified to receive only two Green Globes. However, the architect of record, Hernandez Calhoun, and the contractor, A. E. New, Jr., worked together with Escambia County to secure a higher level of certification with the guidance and support of the Green Globes assessor.

Other county buildings with environmental certifications include:

LEED Certified buildings (Levels: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum)

  • Central Office Complex (LEED Gold, March 2011)
  • Perdido Key Fire Station (LEED Certified, November 2014)

Green Globes (Levels: 1-4 Globes)

  • Marie K. Young Wedgwood Community Center (Three-Globes Certified, 2012)
  • Molino Tax Collector (Two-Globes Certified, 2012)
  • 4-H Center (Three-Globes Certified, 2015)

Energy Star

  • Sheriff’s Warrington Precinct (2012)
  • Englewood Community Center (2014)
  • Perdido Firing Range (2013)

.Pictured: The new Langley Bell 4-H Center on Stefani Road. file photos, click to enlarge.

Rehearing Sought In Florida Teacher Evaluation Case

July 31, 2015

Teachers unions and individual educators this week asked a federal appeals court to reconsider a decision upholding a controversial Florida law that tied teacher evaluations to student performance.

A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on July 7 upheld the 2011 law, dubbed the “Student Success Act.” The judges found that it did not violate constitutional rights for the state or a school district to base part of a teacher’s evaluation on tests that the teacher’s students took in other subjects or on tests taken by children not taught by that teacher.

But in a motion filed Tuesday, the unions and other plaintiffs asked for a rehearing, arguing that the court misconstrued an attorney’s argument and that part of the ruling was “built entirely on a false factual premise.”

In 2013, the state passed a law aimed at making sure classroom teachers are only assessed based on the students they teach, but the appeals court said that didn’t make the lawsuit moot because the new law could still allow districts to approve similar policies.

by The News Service of Florida

Overturned Vehicle Found In Century Later Reported Stolen From Alabama

July 31, 2015

A vehicle found overturned in Century during the early morning hours of Wednesday was reported stolen a few hours later in Alabama.

The overturned SUV was reported in the 8400 block of North Century Boulevard, near Burger King, about 1:20 a.m. Wednesday. First responders and law enforcement were unable to locate the driver of the vehicle following the crash.

Several hours later, the vehicle’s owner awoke to find it gone and reported it stolen to the Flomaton Police Department, according to Flomaton Police Chief Bryan Davis.

Anyone with information on the stolen vehicle is  asked to contact the Flomaton Police Department at (251) 296-5811 or the Florida Highway Patrol at (850) 484-5000.

Blood Centers Announce Merger

July 31, 2015

OneBlood, Inc. which includes the local area blood bank, is merging effective July 31 with The Blood Alliance, Inc.

The newly formed organization will distribute more than one million blood products annually, serve over 210 hospitals throughout most of Florida, parts of Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina and employ more than 2,400 people.

“The landscape of the blood industry is rapidly changing and it demands that we continue to evolve and diversify to meet the needs of our hospital partners and their patients,” said Don Doddridge, President and Chief Executive Officer of OneBlood. “We are confident that the merger will have a positive impact in further defining the new template for the future of our industry and ensuring our communities have a progressive, forward-thinking local blood center that is here to serve for years to come,” said Doddridge.

More stringent transfusion protocols, health care reform and advances in medical science are all helping shape a new era of blood banking.

“Bringing the two organizations together is the right thing to do for our communities,” said Dr. Marsha Bertholf, Medical Director of The Blood Alliance. “We can no longer rely on the business models of the past to take us where we need to go in the future.  Hospitals want larger scale blood centers to serve their multiple locations and the merger will allow us to accommodate their needs and still keep the hometown connection,” said Bertholf.

In addition to mitigating cost to hospitals and patients, the merger is expected to bring additional operational efficiencies and further stabilize the blood supply, especially in times of natural disasters such as hurricanes and enhance donor outreach initiatives.

OneBlood CEO, Don Doddridge, who began his blood banking career in Jacksonville, will lead the newly merged organization and an 11 member board of directors will provide oversight, governance and guidance.

Integration of the two organizations will begin immediately.  In addition, The Blood Alliance will undergo a rebranding phase in the coming months and transition to the OneBlood brand.

OneBlood is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) community asset responsible for providing safe, available and affordable blood to more than 200 hospital partners and their patients throughout most of Florida and into parts of southern Georgia and Alabama.

OneBlood was established on January 27, 2012 when three of Florida’s independent, not-for-profit blood centers merged, including the Northwest Florida Blood Center. Together, OneBlood brings more than 100 years of lifesaving experience to the community. OneBlood distributes nearly one million blood products annually, employs more than 2,000 people, operates more than 70 donor centers and deploys nearly 200 of its signature Big Red Buses throughout its service area for blood drives.  T

Pictured: The OneBlood “Big Red Bus” at the Walnut Hill Volunteer Fire Department. file photo, click to enlarge.

Wahoos Fall In Pitcher’s Duel

July 31, 2015

The Pensacola Blue Wahoos (18-15, 43-57) were stymied at the plate in a 3-0 loss to the Chattanooga Lookouts (13-18, 56-43) Thursday night at AT&T Field.

Wahoos starter Josh Smith (5-4) earned the loss despite a solid effort at the mound, throwing all eight innings and allowing three runs on eight hits.

The game would be won by Chattanooga’s Jason Wheeler (2-2), who threw 8.0 shutout innings while only allowing three hits. J.T. Chargois would relieve him in the ninth to earn his eighth save of the season.

Yovan Gonzalez, a player known more for his behind-the-plate prowess than his offensive ability, led Pensacola at the dish. He went 2-3 and was the only Wahoo with multiple hits on the evening.

The Wahoos threatened in the top of the third as Juan Perez and Yovan Gonzalez opened the frame with a pair of singles. However, Wheeler retired three straight batters to keep avoid damage.

The Lookouts got the scoring started in the bottom of the third as Aderlin Mejia was brought to the plate on a sacrifice fly from Heiker Meneses. They added another run on a solo blast over the right field wall from Max Kepler to make it 2-0.

The Wahoos would load the bases with three consecutive two-out singles from Gonzalez, Amaral and Zach Vincej, but they were unable to capitalize as a grounder ended the frame. Before those hits, Wheeler had retired 17 straight Wahoo batters.

Chattanooga added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth with another solo home run for Kepler, this time on a line drive for his sixth of the season. Smith had retired 10 straight before the homer.

In the ninth, the Wahoos put two men on with a Marquez Smith walk and a Sean Buckley single, but the Wahoos came up empty once again.

The scoreless effort marked the first time that the Wahoos had been shut out since a 1-0 defeat in Mississippi on June 26th.

Seth Mejias-Brean did not reach base for the Wahoos, bringing an end to a streak of 23 consecutive road games.

The Blue Wahoos are on a 10-day road trip against the Chattanooga Lookouts and Jacksonville Suns

Next Page »