Jury Finds Molino Man Not Guilty Of Attempted Murder

December 31, 2015

A Molino man accused of attempted murder was found not guilty of all charges against him earlier this month by an Escambia County jury.

Johnny Walker, Jr., age 24 of Barth Road, was charged with two capital counts of attempted first degree premeditated homicide, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, reckless or negligent discharge of a weapon, firing a weapon into a vehicle and two counts of robbery with a  firearm.

On December 23, 2014, Pensacola Police officers found 22-year old Markquise Wallace and 28-year old Terry Crenshaw shot multiple times while in vehicle  in a parking lot in the area of Sanchez Court. Both were reportedly robbed of about $300-$400 in cash and valuables. A third victim was later located who had been the vehicle at the time of the shooting. They were allegedly shot by two assailants.  including Walker.

Wallace, who suffered multiple gunshot wounds to his chest and arm, told police that he remembered Walker from a time in 2013 that both were incarcerated in the Escambia County Road Prison.

FHP Troopers Out In Force For New Year’s Holiday

December 31, 2015

The Florida Highway Patrol remains out in force on the highways to provide assistance to motorists, as well as to get impaired drivers off the road during the holiday weekend.

From December 16, 2014 to January 1, 2015, 20 people were killed in Florida from alcohol-related crashes. Of the 288 alcohol-related crashes that occurred over the same time period, 20 percent occurred on New Year’s Eve.

Protect your family, your friends and yourself by following these tips:

  • Plan ahead. If you plan on drinking while away from home, designate a sober driver. Even one drink increases the risk of a crash while driving a motor vehicle.
  • Use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member or use public transportation to ensure you get home safely.
  • Be responsible. If someone you know is drinking, do not let them get behind the wheel. If you see an impaired driver on the road, call *FHP (*347). This call could save a life.

To help ensure your safety, the Florida Highway Patrol will be out in force on the highways to provide assistance to motorists, as well as to get impaired drivers off the road. If you need help or see someone driving who you think might be impaired, call *FHP (*347) on your cell phone.

Escambia Property Tax Discount Ends Today

December 31, 2015

All four Escambia County Tax Collector offices will be open regular business hours on New Year’s Eve, according to Tax Collector Janet Holley. Persons paying their 2015 real estate and tangible personal property taxes who want to receive the three percent discount must make their payments by December 31.

In order to receive the three percent discount and have your tax payment receipted with a December date, payments must be:

  • received in the tax office by close of business December 31 or
  • made on the tax collector website by midnight December 31.

Additionally, payments mailed with a December 31 postmark or left in a 24-hour drop boxes after hours on that date will receive the three percent discount but will be dated in January.

Residents are encouraged to pay  taxes online; however, other options are available, such as payment by phone, by mail, and in person at any of the four convenient tax collector offices.

Drive thru service and 24-hour drop boxes are available at all locations.

Escambia County Tax Collector Offices will be open regular business hours — 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

Offices are located at:

  • Downtown – 213 Palafox Place
  • Marcus Pointe  – 6451 North W Street
  • Molino – 6440 Highway 95-A North, Suite A
  • Warrington – 4051 Barrancas Avenue, Suite A

All offices will be closed December 24 and December 25 in observance of Christmas, and closed January 1 for New Year’s Day.

For more information, call (850) 438-6500, ext. 3252.

Escambia, Santa Rosa Holiday Closures

December 31, 2015

The following closures are planned due to the New Year holiday:


Below is a listing of the offices and departments closing Thursday, Dec. 31 and Friday, Jan. 1, in observance of New Year’s. Normal operations resume on Monday, Jan. 4, 2016.

  • Escambia County Supervisor of Elections
  • Escambia County Property Appraiser
  • West Florida Public Library System


  • Escambia County 911 Dispatch, EMS and Fire Rescue services will remain operational.
  • Escambia County Tax Collector will be closed on Friday, Jan. 1, 2016. The office will be open for normal business hours on Thursday, Dec. 31.
  • Escambia County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller will be closed on Friday, Jan. 1, 2016. The office will be open for normal business hours on Thursday, Dec. 31.
  • Perdido Landfill will be open for normal business hours on  Thursday Dec. 31.

Escambia County Area Transit:

  • Administrative office will be closed on Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016. The office will be open for normal business hours on Thursday, Dec. 31.
  • No bus service and administrative office will be closed on  Friday, Jan. 1, 2016.
  • UWF Trolley and express shuttle service will be suspended on Friday, Jan. 1, 2016.
  • UWF Trolley Express Shuttle service will resume Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016, and regular UWF Trolley service will resume Monday, Jan. 4.
  • Details for specific routes are listed on www.goecat.com


ECUA offices will be closed on Friday, January 1, 2016, in observance of the New Year’s holiday.

Residential Customers: Garbage, Yard Trash & Recycling Services

• Friday pick-ups will be on Saturday

Commercial Customers: Dumpster Services
• Friday pick-ups will be on Saturday

Residential Garbage, Yard Trash & Recycling Services

• No garbage, yard trash or recycling collection on Jan. 1.

• Garbage and yard trash will be collected on the next normally scheduled collection day for those routes (Monday or Tuesday).

• Please place real wreaths and Christmas trees, free of stands and decorations, at the curb for pick-up with regular yard waste collection.

• Recycling collections scheduled for Jan. 1 will be collected on Saturday, Jan. 2.

All other holiday week collections will remain on normal schedule.  Customers may call ECUA Customer Service at 476-0480, if they require further information.


The following offices and departments are closed Friday, Jan. 1, in observance of New Year’s. Regular hours of operation resume Monday, Jan. 4.

·      Santa Rosa County Board of County Commissioners, including the library system and animal shelter

·      Santa Rosa County Clerk of the Court

·      Santa Rosa County Property Appraiser

·      Santa Rosa County Supervisor of Elections

·      Santa Rosa County Tax Collector

Registration Underway, Discount Available For Cantonment Baseball, Softball

December 31, 2015

A limited time discount is available as registration is underway online for baseball and softball at the Cantonment Sportsplex.

In-person registration dates will be every Saturday in January (including this Saturday, January 2) and the first two Saturdays in February from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Teams will be available for ages 3-14. The registration fee will be $85.

Online registration is available at www.cantonmentbaseball.org/Register, and there is a $15 discount for registering online by January 1.

Donations of new and gently-used equipment will be accepted on registration Saturdays.

County Blocked From Intervening In Gretna Slots Case

December 31, 2015

The Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a request from Gadsden County to formally intervene in a closely watched case about slot machines — but the county will be able to file a friend-of-the-court brief.

The case focuses on whether slot machines should be allowed at the Gretna Racing pari-mutuel facility in Gadsden County owned by the Poarch Creek Indians of Atmore, but it also could have implications for pari-mutuels in Brevard, Hamilton, Lee, Palm Beach and Washington counties.

Voters in Gadsden and the other five counties approved allowing slot machines in referendums, but the Supreme Court is expected to decide whether the lucrative machines can be offered without the express permission of the Legislature. In a motion to intervene as a party this month, Gadsden County argued it had the right to authorize a referendum that would clear the way for slots.

The Supreme Court, however, issued a three-sentence order Wednesday denying the request to intervene, though it said the county could file a friend-of-the-court brief by January 6.

Gretna Racing took the case to the Supreme Court after a panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal in October sided with Attorney General Pam Bondi and Gov. Rick Scott’s administration in ruling that legislative approval was needed for slots.

by The News Service of Florida

Tips From The IRS On Year-End Gifts To Charity

December 31, 2015

The Internal Revenue Service today reminded individuals and businesses making year-end gifts to charity that several important tax law provisions have taken effect in recent years. Some of the changes taxpayers should keep in mind include:

Rules for Charitable Contributions of Clothing and Household Items

Household items include furniture, furnishings, electronics, appliances and linens. Clothing and household items donated to charity generally must be in good used condition or better to be tax-deductible. A clothing or household item for which a taxpayer claims a deduction of over $500 does not have to meet this standard if the taxpayer includes a qualified appraisal of the item with the return.

Donors must get a written acknowledgement from the charity for all gifts worth $250 or more. It must include, among other things, a description of the items contributed.

Guidelines for Monetary Donations

A taxpayer must have a bank record or a written statement from the charity in order to deduct any donation of money, regardless of amount. The record must show the name of the charity and the date and amount of the contribution. Bank records include canceled checks, and bank, credit union and credit card statements. Bank or credit union statements should show the name of the charity, the date, and the amount paid. Credit card statements should show the name of the charity, the date, and the transaction posting date.

Donations of money include those made in cash or by check, electronic funds transfer, credit card and payroll deduction. For payroll deductions, the taxpayer should retain a pay stub, a Form W-2 wage statement or other document furnished by the employer showing the total amount withheld for charity, along with the pledge card showing the name of the charity.

These requirements for the deduction of monetary donations do not change the long-standing requirement that a taxpayer obtain an acknowledgment from a charity for each deductible donation (either money or property) of $250 or more. However, one statement containing all of the required information may meet both requirements.


The IRS offers the following additional reminders to help taxpayers plan their holiday and year-end gifts to charity:

  • Qualified charities. Check that the charity is eligible. Only donations to eligible organizations are tax-deductible. Select Check, a searchable online tool available on IRS.gov, lists most organizations that are eligible to receive deductible contributions. In addition, churches, synagogues, temples, mosques and government agencies are eligible to receive deductible donations. That is true even if they are not listed in the tool’s database.
  • Year-end gifts. Contributions are deductible in the year made. Thus, donations charged to a credit card before the end of 2015 count for 2015, even if the credit card bill isn’t paid until 2015. Also, checks count for 2015 as long as they are mailed in 2015.
  • Itemize deductions. For individuals, only taxpayers who itemize their deductions on Form 1040 Schedule A can claim deductions for charitable contributions. This deduction is not available to individuals who choose the standard deduction. This includes anyone who files a short form (Form 1040A or 1040EZ). A taxpayer will have a tax savings only if the total itemized deductions (mortgage interest, charitable contributions, state and local taxes, etc.) exceed the standard deduction. Use the 2015 Form 1040 Schedule A to determine whether itemizing is better than claiming the standard deduction.
  • Record donations. For all donations of property, including clothing and household items, get from the charity, if possible, a receipt that includes the name of the charity, date of the contribution, and a reasonably-detailed description of the donated property. If a donation is left at a charity’s unattended drop site, keep a written record of the donation that includes this information, as well as the fair market value of the property at the time of the donation and the method used to determine that value. Additional rules apply for a contribution of $250 or more.
  • Special Rules. The deduction for a car, boat or airplane donated to charity is usually limited to the gross proceeds from its sale. This rule applies if the claimed value is more than $500. Form 1098-C or a similar statement, must be provided to the donor by the organization and attached to the donor’s tax return.

If the amount of a taxpayer’s deduction for all noncash contributions is over $500, a properly-completed Form 8283 must be submitted with the tax return.

A Wet End To 2015

December 31, 2015

Here is your official North Escambia area forecast:

Thursday Night: Showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm. Cloudy, with a low around 46. North wind around 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%.

New Year’s Day: A 50 percent chance of showers. Cloudy, with a high near 50. North wind around 10 mph.

Friday Night: A 40 percent chance of showers. Cloudy, with a low around 38. North wind around 10 mph.

Saturday: Mostly cloudy, with a high near 52. North wind 5 to 10 mph.

Saturday Night: A 20 percent chance of showers after midnight. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 38. North wind around 5 mph.

Sunday: Partly sunny, with a high near 53. North wind around 5 mph.

Sunday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 35. North wind around 5 mph.

Monday: Sunny, with a high near 57.

Monday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 38.

Tuesday: Sunny, with a high near 59.

Tuesday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 42.

Wednesday: A 20 percent chance of showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 62.

2015 In Photos: April

December 31, 2015

Today, we continue our look back at the year 2015 in photos with a look at April.

During an Earth Day celebration in Byrneville, USDA Rural Development presented Central Water Works with a $1.588 million check to replace existing water lines in both Florida and Alabama.

An Alabama woman has claimed her prize from the winning Powerball ticket sold in North Escambia on April 11.  Alice Dawson, 60, of Frisco City, AL, chose to receive the winnings as a one-time, lump-sum payment of $53,440,213.76.

The Northview Chiefs captured their first District 1A  title as they destroyed Chipley 11-1  in Bonifay.

The West Florida High Jaguars beat Catholic 5-2 for a back to back District 1-4A titles, and the ninth overall under Coach Marc Conti.

The Bristol Park community was hard-hit by flooding in 2014. Homes were filled with several feet of water; numerous residents were rescued from floodwaters from their homes, even their roofs, by first responders. In April 2015, the community remembered, with luminaries lining the streets.

The defending 4A state champion West Florida Lady Jaguars were knocked out of the state playoffs. The Lady Jags lost to the Walton Braves  6-0 in the Region 1-4A quarterfinal.

The Town of Century allocated funds to spruce up the Century Business Center.

Community groups joined hands in April to clean up the Barrineau Park community.

The Escambia County Commission has issued a proclamation in honor of longtime volunteer fireman K.C. Fehl upon his retirement.

The Tate High School Lady Aggies won the District 1-7A softball championship 6-4 over Niceville.

Despite a move from Tate High School to the Pensacola Fairgrounds due to rain, the Greater Escambia Relay for Life was a success.

The Gulf Coast Agriculture and Natural Resources Youth Organization (GCA & NRYO) Spring Livestock Show was held Saturday in  April. It was  the first youth livestock show and sale at the newly complete 4-H barns on South Highway 99 just north of Chalker Road.

Sixty students were inducted into the National Junior Honor Society during a candlelight ceremony at Ernest Ward Middle School.

The first grade classes at Molino Park Elementary School presented “The Alphabet Adventures of Sometimes Y” at the school.

Bigfoot monster truck “Trick Flow” visited Alto Products in Atmore, where the vehicle’s transmission clutch plates are manufactured.

Radio icon Marty White, a Tate High school graduate, retired after 42 years on the air, with 37 of those years on Pensacola radio.

“Graffiti Bridge” in Pensacola, as seen on Easter Morning.

NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.

Children’s Health Program To Resume Enrollment Next Month

December 31, 2015

Under fire in the media and the state Senate, the Florida Department of Health  took another step toward accepting children into a program that serves kids with “chronic and serious” medical conditions.

After a hearing on a proposed rule to determine which youngsters will be eligible for the Children’s Medical Services Network, Department of Health officials said they were on track to reopen the program to new enrollees next month.

“We could be again screening in early January,” said Jennifer Tschetter, the department’s chief operating officer.

The Department of Health has faced criticism after 9,000 special-needs kids were dropped from Children’s Medical Services between May and September. Critics blamed the use of a controversial screening tool to determine whether the children were eligible for services. The issue has drawn heavy attention this week because of investigative reporting by the Miami Herald.

An administrative law judge ruled in September that the Department of Health could not use the screening tool without adopting it through a formal rule-making process. Since then, new enrollments in Children’s Medical Services have been on hold pending the rule-making process now under way.

The hearing was aimed at adopting a screening tool that would address some of the criticism.

“We are delighted that they are moving forward with a process that will allow children to be screened and have access to the services at (the Children’s Medical Services Network), and we are delighted that they are moving very quickly with that,” said Laura Brennaman, policy and research director for the advocacy group Florida CHAIN.

The department also has agreed to revisit the proposed rule three months after it goes into effect.

Department of Health officials say the current screening tool was based on the legislative intent behind a 2012 law that changed Children’s Medical Services from a fee-for-service plan, based on a child’s needs, to a specialty managed-care plan that involves the department providing care coordination.

The screening tool, which has been in effect since May, relies solely on parents’ responses to a five-question survey. Pediatricians and lawmakers have criticized the approach on the grounds that many parents did not understand the questions they were being asked, yet their children lost vital services as a result of their answers.

Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, and some senators have watched the process warily.

In October, members of the Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee said they’d had calls from constituents — “in tears,” in the words of Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach — over their special-needs kids being dropped from Children’s Medical Services.

Gardiner told The News Service of Florida  that he might consider legislative changes to the program, depending on the options available to families whose children need the specialized care.

“Is it being communicated to them that there are other options where services are not reduced?” Gardiner asked. “If people are being told they’re no longer eligible for services, what are they being offered? Is it just, ‘Hey, we’re no longer serving you’ — or is it, ‘Here’s the other program that we’re recommending you move into?’ That’s what we’re trying to figure out.”

Department of Health officials say the kids who left the program obtained services through other managed-care plans “with the same level of service agreement as the CMS Plan, or other Medicaid programs” — but critics have contended that other managed-care plans can’t provide the same quality of service that Children’s Medical Services does.

“So much of it is communication, but there may be some policy decisions, too, that we need to look at,” Gardiner said.

Agency officials say the proposed rule would ensure that all Medicaid-eligible children with special health care needs are given the option to enroll in the Children’s Medical Services Network. It’s a dual approach to eligibility screening that would consider medical professionals’ opinions as well as parents’ responses to a five-question survey.

Additionally, the department has worked with the Children’s Medical Services regional medical directors to create a revised list of diagnosed conditions that would allow physicians to attest to children’s eligibility for the program.

For instance, Tschetter said, sickle cell anemia and certain cardiac conditions have been added to the list of diagnoses that would qualify a child for Children’s Medical Services.

Pediatricians and advocates like Brennaman still have qualms about the list of diagnoses in the proposed rule, but are banking on the department’s agreement to reopen the process down the line.

“We’re delighted that they’ve already agreed to revisit the rule in three months — and that will happen while children are being allowed to enter the system,” Brennaman said. “So we can take a more deliberate approach at that time to ensure that the final rule comes out right for all of Florida’s children.”

Meanwhile, with CMS enrollment temporarily closed, the state Agency for Health Care Administration has been accepting the sickest children into managed-care plans. Additionally, new enrollments for October, November and December include kids who were screened and found eligible prior to the judge’s ruling in September, were then screened by AHCA and ultimately chose Children’s Medical Services for their care.

Gov. Rick Scott, who has recently made a mission of fighting “price-gouging” at Florida hospitals, said that services for fragile children have not been disrupted.

“There will be absolutely no interruption in service,” he told reporters. “What AHCA has been doing, I think, is good for those that need service in our state. But I can tell you there will be absolutely no interruption in service.”

by Margie Menzel, The News Service of Florida

Next Page »