Deadline Extended To Apply For Restore Act Funds

September 30, 2015

The deadline to apply for RESTORE funds in Escambia County has been extended through Friday.

Due to a scheduling error, the RESTORE Project Portal closed Tuesday, September 29, at 11:59 p.m. The Portal was reopened when the error was realized, and in order to accommodate anyone who may have been affected by this temporary closure, Escambia County has extended the original deadline. The Portal will remain open until 11:59 p.m. on Friday, October 2.

No project proposals will be accepted after the portal’s closing date, and submitted projects must do the following:

  • Meet at least one of the eligibility criteria outlined in the federal RESTORE Act (see eligible activities)
  • Include a project budget
  • Address the evaluation criteria which can be found at

The Escambia County RESTORE Advisory Committee will meet Tuesday, October 20, at 4 p.m. in the BCC Chambers, 221 Palafox Place, to discuss the submitted projects and the next step in the process. The public is invited and encouraged to attend.

To submit a project idea today, visit For more information or general questions about the submission process, upcoming RESTORE meetings or related topics, visit or contact Shelly Marshall, RESTORE coordinator for Escambia County, at (850) 595-3460 or email

Bat House: Space For 50,000 New Residents In Molino

September 30, 2015

There could soon be 50,000 new residents in Molino, thanks to Navy Federal and Escambia County 4-H.

Tuesday, crews from Navy Federal Credit Union’s general contractor Hensel Phelps Construction Company installed a bat house on its new foundation on the Escambia County 4-H property on Chalker Road in Molino.

According to UF IFAS Extension Agent Carrie Stevenson, the bat house was originally built in 2010 on the former 4-H property located on West Nine Mile Road in Beulah. The property was sold to Navy Federal Credit Union in 2012, but leaders with the financial institution committed to relocating the bat house.

The original bat house was funded by the Florida and Escambia County 4-H Foundations and has enabled thousands of children and their families to learn the ecological benefits of bats.

“We are very excited to be part of this process,” said Debbie Calder, executive vice president of Navy Federal’s Greater Pensacola Operations. “The bat house was a unique feature of the 4-H property and we are glad we could work with Hensel Phelps and the Escambia County 4-H to make sure this structure could continue to serve both as a home for wildlife and as an educational tool for local children.”

Originally, materials for the house cost about $4,500 and the building was constructed for free by Rick Jones and his students in the Pensacola State College carpentry program. The relocation of the bat house was made possible by Navy Federal, Hensel Phelps Construction and the donation of new poles by Gulf Power Company.

“I was thrilled when Navy Federal approached me about moving the bat house up to the new property,” said Carrie Stevenson, who specializes in educational outreach on sustainable land use. “This will be a tremendous resource for 4-H’ers and other members of the community to learn more about local wildlife. We hope that it can become as populated as the large bat house on the UF campus in Gainesville.”

The bat house was designed to provide shelter for up to 50,000 bats. The structure also serves to educate local youth about the important role bats play in the environment and how they make good neighbors.  Contrary to popular culture references, “vampire bats” do not live in the United States, and native bats help control insect populations can fly at speeds of up to 60 miles per hour, she said.

Stevenson said no bats were relocated or displaced by the move. She said the bats that had called the house home in Beulah had abandoned it because of lights and construction on new Navy Federal buildings.

Pictured top and inset: The installation of Escambia County 4-H’s bat house in Molino on Monday. Pictured below: Looking up inside the  bat house and “chambers” designed to house the bats. Photos for, click to enlarge.

Blackwater River State Forest Certified As Sustainable

September 30, 2015

The Florida Forest Service, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, has certified the Blackwater River and Tate’s Hell State Forests, covering 413,000 acres, through the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), one of the world’s most recognized and independent forest management certification standards.

“We are proud of our efforts to ensure that the land and resources entrusted to the Florida Forest Service are managed responsibly and conscientiously. Thanks to certification programs, such as SFI, the public can remain confident that our state forests are managed in line with some of the highest standards in the nation and will remain healthy and productive for generations to come,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam.

SFI’s 2015-2019 Forest Management Standard is based on principles, goals and performance measures that were developed nationally by professional foresters, conservationists and others with the intention of promoting sustainable forest management in North America. SFI and its many partners work together to balance environmental, economic and social objectives such as conservation of wildlife habitat and biodiversity, forest products, protecting water quality, forest industry jobs and recreation.

“We are thrilled that the Florida Forest Service has demonstrated their leadership and commitment to responsible forest management by getting these two beautiful forests covering more than 400,000 acres certified to SFI,” said Kathy Abusow, president and CEO of SFI Inc. “By doing so, they are doing a service to the forests, and the communities and markets that rely on the goods and services that flow from well managed forests.”

Through the SFI Forest Partners Program, the Florida Forest Service joined other public agencies to seek cost-effective and efficient methods to implement and achieve independent SFI certification on its two largest state forests.

The goal of the SFI Forest Partners Program, which was founded by Time Inc., the National Geographic Society, Macmillan Publishers, Pearson, and with support from Hearst Enterprises, is to increase certification throughout the supply chain which in turn enables current and future generations to enjoy America’s forests for years to come.

“By participating in the SFI Forest Partners Program, we are helping infuse the forest products industry with an increased supply of certified timber. Although responsible forest management has been a priority of the Florida Forest Service since the beginning, this new certification provides conscientious consumers with the guarantee that our focus is on protecting, renewing and sustaining healthy forests,” said Jim Karels, Florida State Forester.

Pictured: Work in the Blackwater State Forest, which has been certified as sustainable. Photos for, click to enlarge.

A Cold Front Will Bring Change By Tonight

September 30, 2015

A cold front will move through the North Escambia area by Wednesday night, bringing a change to our weather. Here is your official North Escambia area forecast:

Tonight: A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms, mainly before 7pm. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 66. North wind around 5 mph.

Thursday: Partly sunny, with a high near 81. North wind around 10 mph.

Thursday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 60. North wind 5 to 10 mph.

Friday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 76. North wind around 10 mph.

Friday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 57. North wind 5 to 10 mph.

Saturday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 75. Northwest wind 5 to 10 mph.

Saturday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 56. North wind 5 to 10 mph.

Sunday: Sunny, with a high near 76. Northwest wind 5 to 10 mph.

Sunday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 57.

Monday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 78.

Monday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 58.

Tuesday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 81.

Talks Begin On Future Of Dozier School For Boys In Marianna

September 30, 2015

Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet began discussions Tuesday on the future of the shuttered Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, a former state-run reform school in Marianna where children are alleged to have been abused and died.

However, no decisions were made as the state officials agreed to await a final report expected in January from University of South Florida researchers, who excavated the 1,400-acre site about 70 miles west of Tallahassee and continue to try identify remains.

State Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, who requested the Cabinet discussion, said after the meeting that he doesn’t know what the future holds for the property, which Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam called the “gateway to Marianna.”

“I don’t know any one of us can answer that question by ourselves,” Atwater said. “I think it’s clear … the reality of economics, you also heard the importance of the spiritual, there are people’s whose lives were lost there. How can it be a site for good in the future? What should be seen and known there? I don’t know.”

Atwater added that a funding request may be made to the state Legislature to help cover internment costs when remains are matched through DNA testing with surviving family members.

Putnam, while noting some of the buildings have issues that range from asbestos to simple years of neglect, suggested the state consider recreational or educational uses for the land north of Interstate 10.

“We all are painfully aware of the dark chapter that Dozier represents in our state’s history,” Putnam said. “This is our opportunity to bring that to a close and start a new chapter, a brighter chapter for the resources on that parcel, for the community of Marianna.”

But Charles Fudge, a former resident of Dozier School for Boys, worried that the history of Dozier may be lost if the site is overly redeveloped.

“Until they find the remaining bodies, they should never let any kind of buildings be put on that property,” Fudge said. “Those boys … you know when we were sent there, we didn’t expect to be beaten, and we certainly didn’t expect to die.”

Dale Landry, president of the NAACP’s Tallahassee branch, said Florida needs to pay costs, even if it’s capped at $5,000 per family, to help pay for transportation and services when remains are turned over to relatives after DNA matches.

“Those remains are remains of Florida’s children and a few men,” Landry said. “We did not handle this ceremoniously from the beginning. We need to ceremoniously handle this from now on.”

Erin Kimmerle, a forensic anthropologist at USF, said researchers have completed their field work but left the post-excavation status of Dozier to state officials.

Researchers found the remains of 51 people at the site, of whom six have been identified.

“Of the six identifications we’ve had, four were to direct siblings. So, even though they are quite elderly now, it’s brothers and sisters,” Kimmerle said. “I know they are extremely grateful to all of you (Scott and the Cabinet), as we are for the opportunity to take on this project and bring this history forward.”

The state originally had hoped to sell the Dozier site, a move that was put on hold by the investigation.

Secretary of State Ken Detzner said after the meeting that his agency, which includes the Division of Historical Resources, would be able to handle any historical artifacts and records, but so far hasn’t been given any such directions.

“I don’t have any plan,” Detzner said. “If they ask us to be a part of the process, the governor directs me to do that, we will.”

Pictured top: A trench dug in the search for human remains at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna. Pictured inset: The remains of George Owen Smith have been positively identified.  File photos for, click to enlarge.

Pepsi Cola Of Atmore Named One Of Company’s Top Bottling Companies

September 30, 2015

The Pepsi Cola Bottling Company of Atmore is one of the top three Pepsi bottling companies in the United States and Canada..  The Pepsi of Atmore franchise was recently named as finalist for the Donald M. Kendall Bottler of the Year Award.

Company officials were on hand in Kissimmee, FL, Monday night as the award was presented to Allen Beverages from Gulfport, MS.

“We were very honored to be a finalist and the love and support from our family ,friends and community has been amazing,” Pepsi of Atmore said on their Facebook page after learning the winner.

Named for PepsiCo’s co-founder and former chairman and chief executive officer, the Donald M. Kendall Bottler of the Year Award was created in 1994 to honor the best of the best among Pepsi-Cola bottlers in the United States and Canada.

State Pot Panel Faces Turnover

September 30, 2015

State health officials have  announced another shake-up in the effort to get Florida’s medical-marijuana industry off the ground. Less than a month after being appointed to a three-member team that will choose five nurseries to grow, process and dispense medical marijuana and derivative products, accountant Ann Filloon is stepping down.

Filloon “has decided to remove herself from the panel to focus on her duties as the fiscal unit director with the Division of Children’s Medical Services,” according to a news release issued by the Department of Health. Filloon is being replaced by Ellyn Hutson, an accountant with a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Clemson University and a master’s degree in accounting from Florida State University, according to the release. Hutson joins Christian Bax, executive director of the department’s Office of Compassionate Use, and Patricia Nelson, a special adviser to Gov. Rick Scott. Nelson was Bax’s predecessor and shepherded creation of the industry’s preliminary guidelines, including the applications from growers.

Under a rule created earlier this year, the selection committee must be comprised of the chief of the Office of Compassionate Use, an accountant and a member of the governor’s Statewide Drug Advisory Policy Council appointed by the state surgeon general, who also serves as the secretary of the Department of Health.

Twenty-four nurseries — which have joined forces with consultants, investors and out-of-state pot growers — are vying to be one of five “dispensing organizations” with licenses to grow cannabis that is low in euphoria-inducing tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and high in cannabadiol, or CBD. Parents of children with a severe form of epilepsy pushed the Legislature last year to approve the low-THC cannabis, believing it can end or dramatically reduce life-threatening seizures.

Doctors who have undergone special training were supposed to begin ordering the low-THC products for eligible patients — those with cancer or severe muscle spasms — on Jan. 1.

But legal challenges and a judge’s decision last year that tossed out health officials’ first stab at a rule put implementation of the law far behind what lawmakers envisioned. Health officials have not said how long the committee will take to evaluate the 28 applications, which include at least four in each of five regions of the state.

Escambia Business Tax Renewals Due By Today

September 30, 2015

Escambia County Tax Collector Janet Holley is reminding all business owners and practicing professionals that today is the final day for business tax receipt renewals. After today, penalties will be added.

Online renewal is encouraged, but renewals can be made by mail, phone (with a convenience fee) and in person at any of three tax collector locations:

  • Downtown – 213 Palafox Place
  • Marcus Pointe – 6451 North W Street
  • Molino – 6440 Highway 95-A North, Suite A

Applications and information for business tax receipts are available at For more information or to make an appointment, visit the tax collector’s website or call  (850) 438-6500, ext. 3252.

VB: Baker Tops Northview

September 30, 2015

The Baker Gators won their home district volleyball match against Northview Monday by a score of 3-0.

Baker downed the Chiefs 25-7, 25-7, 25-8.

In junior varsity action, Baker defeated Northview 2-0, 25-12, 25-13.

The Chiefs will travel to Laurel Hill on Thursday.

For more photos, click here. photos by Gary Amerson, click to enlarge.

Deadline Approaching To Enter Northview Homecoming Parade

September 30, 2015

Friday is the deadline to enter the annual Northview High School Homecoming Parade. The parade has been set for Friday, October 9.

The parade will line up at noon and travel from Bratt Elementary School to Northview High.  Entries are being accepted now; there is no cost to enter. For a printable entry form, click here. Entries are due by October 2.

Contact Perry Byars at (850) 327-6681 ext. 248 for more information.

The Northview Chief’s homecoming game will kickoff at 7 p.m. on October 9 against Liberty County.

Pictured: A float in the 2014 Northview High Homecoming Parade in Bratt. file photo, click to enlarge.

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