Work Beginning On Magnolia Lake Drainage Project

August 31, 2015

Escambia County’s Engineering Division is beginning work  on a draining improvement project in the Magnolia Lake Estates/Fall Tree Drive area off Kingsfield Road.

The project will upgrade and and repair storm water facilities damaged during the April 2014 flooding event.  The project will first be focused in the cul-de-sac area of Fallen Tree Drive, with the second phase to soon follow.

The project is funded by the Federal  Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at a project construction cost of $70,000.

Construction is estimated to take place during the hours of 7 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, with an occasional Saturday necessary to complete remaining work.

All construction will take place within the  existing road right-of-way, pond and easements.  Roadways may be blocked briefly during  construction, but residents will be provided access to their property at all times may be blocked, as construction progresses.

Mostly Sunny For Monday

August 31, 2015

Here is your official North Escambia area forecast:

Monday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 91. North wind around 5 mph.

Monday Night: Patchy fog after 1am. Otherwise, mostly clear, with a low around 68. Calm wind becoming west around 5 mph.

Tuesday: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after 1pm. Mostly sunny, with a high near 94. Northwest wind around 5 mph.

Tuesday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 69. South wind around 5 mph becoming calm.

Wednesday: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly sunny, with a high near 94. Northwest wind around 5 mph.

Wednesday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 71. Southwest wind around 5 mph becoming calm.

Thursday: A 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 90. Calm wind becoming northwest around 5 mph.

Thursday Night: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 71. Calm wind.

Friday: A 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 89.

Friday Night: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 71.

Saturday: A 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 88.

Saturday Night: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 71.

Sunday: A 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 89.

Atmore PD Warns Of Increase In Vehicle Burglaries

August 31, 2015

The Atmore Police Department is reporting a recent uptick in vehicle burglaries in their city.

Officers are increasing overnight patrols in neighborhoods in response to these incidents. Police Chief Chuck Brooks recommended that residents take the following steps:

– Don’t leave valuables in your vehicle.  If you leave valuable items  visible in your vehicle, your vehicle is automatically a target.
– If you must leave valuable items in your vehicle while out and about, place items out of sight before reaching your destination or move  them so that they are inconspicuous.
– Once home, unload your valuables immediately.  Do not store valuables in your vehicle any longer than necessary.
– Raise your window and lock ALL of your vehicle’s doors even if you plan to be gone for a brief time.
– Set any alarm or anti-theft device.

Anyone that is the victim of  a vehicle burglary should not touch or adjust anything in, on or around the vehicle and contact law information.

Anyone seeing suspicious activity or have any information regarding the  recent vehicle burglaries in Atmore should  contact the Atmore Police Department at (251) 368-9141.

On A Happy Note: An Act Of Kindness For Deputy And His Family

August 31, 2015

On a “happy note”…the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office reports that Deputy Jay Zawawi was working a recent evening shift. During this shift, he had a dinner break and joined his family for a quick meal, something that’s often hard to do when working 2 p.m. until midnight.

As Zawawi and his family finished their meal at a local restaurant, a little girl about four-years old approached the uniformed deputy. She appeared shy, but was holding a small piece of paper in front of her face. The little girl said, “This is from my mommy,” and handed him the note. She walked away, not to be found again

Zawawi opened the note, which read:

“To You & Yours, Enjoy your meal. ♥ Thank you for all you do and will continue to do. Thank you to your family as well for all the sacrifices you have made as well. You Are Love & So Very Much Appreciated!”.

She also paid the entire restaurant bill for Zawawi and his family.

Escambia County Weekly Traffic Alerts

August 31, 2015

The Florida Department of Transportation has issued the following alerts for this week.

Drivers will encounter traffic disruptions through Friday, Sept. 4 on the following state roads in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties as crews perform construction and maintenance activities:

  • U.S. 98 between the Pensacola Bay Bridge and the Gulf Breeze Zoo in Santa Rosa County, Sunday, Aug. 30 through Thursday, Sept. 3 from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Crews will pave, make minor roadway repairs and perform shoulder widening.
  • Interstate 10 westbound, near the Scenic Highway overpass in Escambia County, alternating lane closures beginning  Monday, Aug. 31 from 8 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. and continuing for approximately two weeks as crews drive piles for the new Scenic Highway overpass. In addition, the on-ramp from Scenic Highway to I-10 westbound will be intermittently closed during this time. Traffic will be detoured to Davis Highway for access to I-10 westbound.
  • U.S. 98 (Pensacola Bay Bridge).  Operation will require slow moving vehicles as crews make repairs to highway lighting from 8 p.m. Tuesday, September 1 to 5 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 2.
  • Interstate 10 from U.S. 29 to State Road 291 (Davis Highway) and I-110 from I-10 to the Pensacola Civic Center.  Operation will require slow moving vehicles as crews make repairs to highway lighting from 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 2 to 12 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 3.

Drivers are reminded to use caution, especially at night, when traveling through a work zone, according to FDOT. All planned construction activities are weather dependent and may be re-scheduled in the event of inclement weather.

Wahoos In Battle For South Division Crown

August 31, 2015

Pensacola is battling to become the first Cincinnati Reds Double-A affiliate to make the playoffs since 2006.

But Jackson, which has sunk to last place in the Southern League’s North Division in both the first and second half, isn’t making it easy. The Generals won its second straight game over the Blue Wahoos, 8-2, Sunday at The Ballpark in Jackson.

Pensacola, which took the opener in the five-game series, is now 6-7 overall against Jackson this season.

Blue Wahoos starter Tim Adleman, who led the Southern League with a 2.12 ERA entering the game, had a rare bad outing. He gave up six earned runs in 4.1 innings, falling to 9-9 this season with a 2.43 ERA.

The Pensacola right-hander was done in almost singlehandedly by Jackson second baseman Tyler Bortnick, who hit a solo shot in the first inning. He then smacked a grand slam off Adleman in the Generals’ five-run fifth inning that put Jackson up, 6-0. Bortnick last went yard on Aug. 22, 2013.

The Generals added two more runs in the eighth inning to go ahead, 8-0, before Pensacola finally scored.

The Blue Wahoos scored one run in the eighth inning with two out when second baseman Zach Vincej doubled and shortstop Alex Blandino singled him in. Pensacola right fielder Duran then crushed a solo homer to left center field in the ninth, his sixth dinger this season and second in four days. Duran currently has 42 RBIs on the season.

After failing to post a winning half since the team started in 2012, Pensacola is battling Mississippi for a postseason spot. The Blue Wahoos dropped to 35-28 in the second half of the Southern League South Division race.

Meanwhile, Mississippi, which is 34-27, was playing Biloxi Sunday night. If the Braves win, they would go up a half game. If not, they would remain a half game behind the Blue Wahoos.

The Blue Wahoos are looking to become the first Reds Double-A affiliate to advance to the playoffs since Chattanooga in 2006 — the longest drought of any Southern League affiliate. Chattanooga lost to Huntsville in the first round.

Pensacola right fielder Jesse Winker’s six-game hitting streak was snapped with a 0-4 day. Winker, the Reds top prospect, has hit in 20 of his 26 games this month and is batting .352 (32-91) in August.

Marquez Smith was 2-4 — the only Blue Wahoo to have a multi-hit game Sunday — and raised his season average to .270 with Pensacola.

Tate Ag Students Get Up Close Look At Baling Hay

August 31, 2015

Agriculture students at Tate High School took part in a class Friday led by Melissa Gibbs and Austin Courson on how to bale hay.

“Cut it. let it dry, flip it, let it dry some more, rake it into rows and bale it,” explained observer Kim Stefansson, school district public relations coordinator.

Pictured: Baling hay Friday morning at Tate High School. Photos by Kim Stefansson for, click to enlarge.

Pot Industry Pitches: Armored Cars, Pot Billboards, Flavor Varieties

August 31, 2015

Armored cars ferrying pounds of pot products — with names like “Stinky Purple” — from Pensacola to Miami. Cannabis advertised on billboards throughout the state by companies linked to some of the Capitol’s most powerful lobbyists.

That scenario could soon become a reality as state officials prepare to pick Florida’s first medical-marijuana vendors.

More than two dozen nurseries — and their consultants, doctors and pot experts from across the country — are seeking to become one of the fortunate five granted “dispensing organization” licenses to grow, process and distribute the non-euphoric marijuana authorized by Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature last year. One nursery will be chosen in each of five regions of the state.

The News Service of Florida conducted an intensive review of the 28 applications, released by Department of Health officials last month.

Many of the applications are highly redacted, leaving the public in the dark regarding critical information, such as ownership of the organizations, what types of products they want to sell or the financial fitness of the applicants. Some of the applications are almost completely blacked out due to claims of “trade secret” exemptions.”

The analysis of the applications, which range in length from fewer than 200 to nearly 2,000 pages, provides a glimpse into what the state’s medical-marijuana industry might look like before the end of the year, when pot products could be on the shelf.

One applicant is interested in proffering pot “pods” like those more commonly used in single-dispenser coffee machines.

Another is relying on the expertise of a pot expert from Colorado who is also the co-host of “The Funky Fresh Garden Show,” whose Facebook page features a directive to “Inhale the funk, extract the bull****.”

Two nurseries are partnering with a group that includes the son of an owner of two Florida greyhound tracks.

Yet another applicant boasts the former head of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Tim Moore, as its chief security officer.

Some of the applications are bursting with in-depth information about everything from machinery, such as air-conditioning systems and carbon-dioxide extraction machines, to “bear-proof dumpsters.”

Many include photographs of marijuana plants in various stages of growth and processing, presumably shot at grow operations in other states.

Nearly all boast that they are best-suited to provide the medical marijuana products — including oil, paste, capsules, nasal sprays, liquids for vaporizing and suppositories — anxiously sought by parents of children with life-threatening seizures who pushed for the law last year.

Each of the applicants turned to experts in places where marijuana is legalized and in production, including Colorado, Illinois, Oregon, Nevada and Canada.

Some of the applications appear to have been adapted from other areas of the country.

For example, Winter Garden-based Razbuton applied in the Central region of the state and is aligned with “Phoenix Botanical Research of Florida,” an organization linked with “Phoenix Farms” and “Phoenix Botanical Research Partners of Illinois.”

Although Florida’s law prohibits smoking of the low-THC products, the Razbuton application includes a lengthy description evocative of a wine review of the “dry hit,” “flavor” and “cloud” of the Harlequin strain of medical marijuana marketed elsewhere by Phoenix.

“The soft scent of mentholated dry mango swirls around the tongue, punctuated by the flavor of overripe peaches,” an explanation of the Harlequin “dry hit” reads. “Exhaling Harlequin produces a dense fog of sweet incense, with a soothing, soft and spicy sandalwood scent.”

Many of the applications include nearly identical information about issues such as systems they intend to use to keep track of the pot plants and products.

And more than a few said they were interested in getting into Florida’s marijuana business because of its potential to help sick patients, especially epileptic children.

But the documents also show the financial benefits some of the businesses hope to reap.

Dewar Nursery, which applied in the Central region, predicts its “Sunshine Holistic Care” medical-marijuana operation could bring in at least $700,000 in sales-tax revenue for the state in its first year, according to an analysis conducted by University of Central Florida economist Sean Snaith.

Razbuton estimates it will rake in $6.8 million in sales the first year, with a net profit of $1.4 million.

Southwest-region applicant Plants of Ruskin predicts its pot operations will harvest from $11,000 to $950,000 a month in sales. The nursery, which has leased 15 acres in Hillsborough County for cannabis cultivation and which estimates its start-up costs at $7.7 million, projects a $2.6 million loss the first year.

Several of the applicants hope to give patients access to additional services.

Knox Nursery, which also applied in the Central region, plans on cultivating and processing medical marijuana at its existing nursery in Winter Garden. If licensed, Knox intends to open dispensaries at the nursery as well as in Orlando, Tampa and Tallahassee.

The nursery also promises to offer “complementary lifestyle services at a discounted rate,” including acupuncture, yoga, massage therapy, meditation, and “other potentially helpful treatment methods.”

Arcadia-based Sun Bulb Nurseries wants to go even farther. The nursery, which applied in the Southwest region of the state, plans to sponsor an annual health fair in the Fort Lauderdale area as part of its marketing strategy.

“Yoga instructors, massage therapists, chiropractors, health coaches, meditation guides, reiki masters, homeopathic doctors, mental health counselors, acupuncturists and those practicing other holistic healing modalities could all participate in the annual health fair,” Sun Bulb’s application reads. “Not only would this give them a lot of exposure to potential clients and be a good opportunity to network with other practitioners, but it would give them an excellent venue for providing pro bono work and serving the community they practice within.”

State officials have at least 90 days from the when the applications were due on July 8 to pick the five licensees. But that three-month period has been extended because health officials are seeking additional information from several of the applicants.

As of Tuesday, the Department of Health had not named two of the three members of the committee created to select the five licensees. According to the agency’s rule, the committee will be comprised of the director of the agency’s Office of Compassionate Use; a member of the Drug Policy Advisory Council appointed by the state surgeon general, who heads the health department; and a certified public accountant, also appointed by the surgeon general.

Lawyer Christian Bax, who was affiliated with unidentified medical-marijuana organizations in other states, was appointed to take over the Office of Compassionate Use last month after former director Patricia Nelson, who helped develop the rule governing the applications, stepped down. Bax is the third director of the division in less than a year.

Under the law, nurseries that have been in business for at least 30 years in Florida and grew at least 400,000 plants at the time they applied in July were eligible to seek licenses. Twenty-six nurseries applied for licenses, and three applied in two of the five regions established in the rule. Applicants could apply in more than one region, but can only receive a license in one.

Redlands Nursery and Alpha Foliage, owned by John and Carolyn DeMott, both applied in two separate regions. The nursery has partnered with “Surterra Florida,” a limited liability corporation whose officers include two Atlanta investors also seeking to establish a footprint in Georgia’s nascent medical-marijuana industry. Alex Havenick, whose mother Barbara owns greyhound tracks in Naples and Miami, is also one of the officers of the Florida group.

Influential lobbyists Billy Rubin, a close ally of the governor, and Ron Book both represent Surterra.

Tallahassee lobbyist Brian Ballard, an influential Republican who is also a fundraiser for Scott, is listed as one of the owners of Sunbulb, an Arcadia nursery seeking a license in the Southwest region of the state. Ballard’s name can also be found on the application for Homestead-based Keith St. Germain Nursery, an applicant for licensure in the Southeast region.

In a telephone interview, Ballard said he is also affiliated with San Felasco Nurseries, doing business as “Grandiflora,” which is trying to get a license in Northeast Florida. Nearly all of that nursery’s 765-page application was redacted — including the “entire operations manual” — because of “trade secrets.”

Ballard said it is common for lobbyists to accept ownership shares of businesses they represent, as he did in the case of the medical-marijuana applicants.

“We both know there’s plenty of folks out there that have interests that don’t disclose. I wanted to make sure that we complied not only with the rule but with the intent of the rule. Clearly the intent of the rule is to not be surprised by people who have ownership-type interests,” he said.

by Dara Kam, The News Service of Florida

David Tyler Palmer

August 31, 2015

Mr. David Tyler Palmer, age 17, of Bullard Road Milton, passed away Sunday, August 30, 2015, from injuries sustained in an automobile accident.

Tyler was born in Pensacola and was a resident of Milton. He was a senior at Jay High School. Tyler loved to hunt and fish and was an avid Alabama fan. He was preceded in death by his paternal grandfather, Joseph Carl Palmer.

He is survived by his parents, Shannon and Denise Palmer of Milton; a brother, Johnathan Palmer of Milton; paternal grandmother, Betty Palmer of Milton; maternal grandparents, Wayne and Marie Johnson of Baker; maternal great-grandmother, Margie Johnson of Century; his girlfriend, Alaina Smith of Jay; and numerous aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends.

Funeral services will be held on Thursday, September 3, 2015, at 10:30 a.m. at True Worship Assembly of God in Berrydale with Rev. Adam Peterson and Rev. Mike Adams officiating. Interment will follow in Bradley Cemetery.

Visitation will be held at True Worship Assembly of God on Wednesday from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m.

Pallbearers will be Kolton Caraway, Ashton Wilson, Colton Morris, Alan Mitchem, Jordan Morris, Gage Holland and Austin Martin

Craver’s Funeral Home of Brewton directing.

John Truman Sheffield

August 31, 2015

John Truman Sheffield, 69, husband of Linda Witherspoon Sheffield, passed away on Tuesday, August 11, 2015, at his home in Greenwood, SC.

He was born in McDavid on January 20, 1946, to Samuel Bernard Sheffield, Sr. and Florence Catherine Few Sheffield.

John graduated from Auburn University with a Mechanical Engineering Degree. He also received his Masters in Business Administration from the University of West Florida. He worked for Monsanto/Solutia for 35 years where he served in various leadership positions.

John was a member of the First Baptist Church of Greenwood, where he served as a deacon, was active on many church committees and was a member of the Bowers Sunday School Class. John volunteered his time toward various community mission projects. He was a Mason with the Cantonment Lodge in Florida. John also served as a Board Member and former Chairman on the Piedmont Technical College Foundation. In addition to being an avid hunter and golfer, he loved his Auburn football, but not nearly as much as his family. John was a dedicated and loving husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend.

In addition to his wife, John is survived by his son, Geddes Dowling Anderson, Jr. and wife, Marla, of Jacksonville; daughter, Nancy Catherine Sheffield Kleiner and husband, Jonas, of Charleston, SC; five grandchildren, Amelia Alma, Maryann Dowling, and Cora Nancy of Jacksonville and Lila Marin and Samuel Louis of Charleston, SC; sister, Carolyn S. Milligan and husband, Wayne, of Cantonment; and he also shared a special brotherly friendship with Charles H. Herndon, III.

Following a private burial, the memorial service was held at the First Baptist Church Fellowship Hall, with Dr. Tony Hopkins officiating. The family received visitors directly after the service.

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