Suspicious White Powder Prompts Hazmat Team Response

January 31, 2016

A Hazmat team was called to Cottage Hill Saturday night after a resident reported receiving a package containing a suspicious white powder.

A resident of Smyers Road, just off Williams Ditch Road, called authorities just after 8 p.m. to report the package with the unidentified powder.  Family members were moved away from the scene in an ambulance, as an Escambia County Fire Rescue Hazmat Team responded.

Just before 10 p.m., the Hazmat team made entry into the residence and performed preliminary testing on the substance. Additional tests were done outside the home, and the substance was declared to be not hazardous by 10:30 p.m.

There was no official word Saturday night as to what the substance actually was and an investigation continues.

There were no injuries reported.

Additional units from Escambia Fire Rescue, Escambia County EMS, the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office and other agencies responded to the incident.

For additional photos, click here.

Picture top: Hazmat team members test a suspicious substance received in a package at a Cottage Hill home Saturday night. Pictured inset: Team members prepare to enter the home. Pictured below: Hazmat team members suit up for the operation. photos by Kristi Price, click to enlarge.

Patchy Fog Overnight

January 31, 2016

Here is your official North Escambia area forecast:

Sunday Night: Patchy fog after midnight. Otherwise, mostly cloudy, with a low around 56. South wind 5 to 10 mph.

Monday: A 20 percent chance of showers after 9am. Patchy fog before 9am. Otherwise, partly sunny, with a high near 75. South wind 5 to 10 mph.

Monday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 60. Southeast wind 5 to 10 mph.

Tuesday: A 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after 9am. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 74. South wind 10 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph.

Tuesday Night: Showers and thunderstorms. Low around 61. South wind 5 to 10 mph becoming west after midnight. Chance of precipitation is 80%.

Wednesday: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 64. West wind 5 to 10 mph becoming north in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 50%.

Wednesday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 42. North wind 5 to 10 mph.

Thursday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 56.

Thursday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 35.

Friday: Scattered showers. Sunny, with a high near 55. Chance of precipitation is 30%.

Friday Night: Scattered showers. Mostly clear, with a low around 34. Chance of precipitation is 30%.

Saturday: Scattered showers. Sunny, with a high near 57. Chance of precipitation is 30%.

One Injured In Highway 97 Crash Near Molino Park Elementary

January 31, 2016

One person was airlifted to a Pensacola hospital following a single vehicle crash Saturday evening in Molino.

Authorities believe the driver suffered a medical situation before she lost control of a her northbound Toyota and struck a utility pole at the intersection of Highway 97 and Effie Lane, near Molino Park Elementary School. She was airlifted by LifeFlight helicopter to Baptist Hospital in Pensacola. A passenger in the vehicle was not injured.

The accident remains under investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol; further details have not been released.  The Molino and Cantonment stations of Escambia County EMS and Escambia County EMS also responded to the crash. photos, click to enlarge.

Pictured above and below: A single vehicle crash into a utility pole Saturday evening on Highway 97 near Molino Park Elementary School. Pictured bottom: Lifeflight lands near the scene. photos, click to enlarge.

Northview Graduate Stanley Complete Basic Military Training

January 31, 2016

U.S. Air Force Airman Keona M. Stanley graduated from basic military training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, San Antonio, Texas.

The airman completed an intensive, eight-week program that included training in military discipline and studies, Air Force core values, physical fitness, and basic warfare principles and skills. Airmen who complete basic training earn four credits toward an associate in applied science degree through the Community College of the Air Force.

Stanley is the daughter of Davita S. Stanley of Pensacola, and granddaughter of Sheila R. Stanley of Century, and David Stanley of Brewton.

She is a 2015 graduate of Northview High School.

FWC Law Enforcement Report

January 31, 2016

The Florida FWC Division of Law Enforcement reported the following activity during the weekly period ending January 28 in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.


Officer Barnard received information on the location of a baited hunting site in Yellow River Management Area.  When he responded to the area, he encountered a person leaving the area on a golf cart.  Officer Barnard spoke to the subject about the baited site and he denied any knowledge of it.  Officer Barnard continued to the baited site, noticing that the golf cart tire sign lead straight to it.  At the baited stand site, he discovered corn scattered, a feeder full of corn, a trail camera and a pine tree that had recently been climbed using a climbing tree stand.  He also noticed that the tree that held the feeder had approximately 100 nails and screws driven into it in an apparent attempt to keep squirrels out of the feeder.  Officer Barnard seized the items as evidence.  Officer Barnard again made contact with the subject who again denied any knowledge of the baited sight.  Officer Barnard obtained a search warrant to look at the photos on the trail camera, which had a clear picture of the same subject on it.  Officer Barnard obtained warrants on the subject for placing bait in a management area and for driving metal objects into a tree which was located on a management area.


Officers Lewis and Ramos were on patrol when they heard gunshots after legal shooting hours in a nearby farm field.  They entered the farm field and observed a truck that was attempting to exit the field. The officers observed a man and a woman along with three rifles on the front seat of the truck.  When asked about the gunshots, the male said that he was attempting to shoot at a fox because they were digging holes in the field.  He said he was hunting in the field earlier but did not see any deer.  The officers located an injured antlerless deer lying in the field.  The man was interviewed and admitted to shooting at a doe deer as they left the field.  A computer check revealed that the man was a convicted felon and the woman had a warrant for worthless checks.  The rifle the man shot the doe deer with came back as stolen.  The officers charged the male subject with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and taking an antlerless deer during the closed season and arrested the woman for the warrant.  Both subjects were booked into the Santa Rosa County Jail.  The theft of the firearm is under investigation.

Lieutenant Hahr located an area along Coldwater Creek that had been baited with milo for ducks.  He returned to the area before sunrise and observed three subjects arrive at the site, set up wood duck decoys and begin calling for wood ducks.  After a little while, two of the subjects shot but did not hit any ducks.  As they began to leave, Lieutenant Hahr approached them.  They admitted to baiting the area and attempting to take wood ducks.  Lieutenant Hahr documented several other violations including hunting with an unplugged shotgun, using lead shot to take waterfowl, no federal duck stamp, and no hunting license or applicable permits.  The three subjects were all charged with hunting ducks over bait and were given citations for some of the license violations.  They were warned for the additional violations.

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.

FDOT: Weekly Traffic Alerts

January 31, 2016

Drivers will encounter traffic disruptions on the following state roads in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties as crews perform construction and maintenance activities.

U.S. 29, Escambia County – Intermittent and alternating lane closures within the town of Century and from Champion Drive north continue.

I-10 over Eleven Mile Creek Bridge, Escambia County – East and westbound traffic reduced to one lane at the bridge near exit 5 ( U.S. 90 ALT/ 9 Mile Road) as crews reconstruct the bridge approaches.

I-10 Widening, Escambia County – Alternating east and westbound lane closures near U.S. 90 (Scenic Highway/Exit 17) from 7 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. the week of Feb. 1 as crews perform bridge deck work for the new Scenic Highway overpass.  Drivers are reminded that the speed limit on I-10, between Davis Highway and Scenic Highway, is reduced to 60 mph.

U.S. 98 (Pensacola Bay Bridge), Escambia/Santa Rosa County –East and westbound outside lane closures from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. Monday, Feb. 1 through Thursday, Feb. 4 as crews repair lights on the bridge.

State Road (S.R.) 289 (9th Avenue), Escambia County – Crews continue paving operations between the intersection of Bayou Boulevard and Creighton Road.  Lane closures will be in effect from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.  Motorists will also encounter intermittent and alternating daytime lane closures between Fairfield Drive and Cervantes Street as crews adjust manholes and valves.

U.S. 90 (Scenic Highway) at the intersection of Scenic Highway Circle, Escambia County – Emergency repair work continues.  New stormwater pipe will be installed beneath Scenic Highway.  Traffic flaggers will be on site to assist with traffic control as  construction vehicles enter and exit the work area.  The repair work will take about two months to complete.

U.S. 90 at White River Bridge, Santa Rosa County – Westbound lane closures will take place Saturday, Jan. 30 or Sunday, Jan. 31. from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. as crews make repairs to roadway at bridge.  Work is depended on daytime temperatures which must be 65 degrees and rising to allow crews to lay asphalt properly.   Variable messages boards are on site to alert drivers of the upcoming change in the traffic pattern.

I-10 Widening, Santa Rosa County – Alternating lane closures on I-10 between the Escambia Bay Bridge and State Road (S.R.) 281 (Avalon Boulevard/Exit 22) from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 31 through Thursday, Feb. 4 as crews perform construction activities.

U.S. 98, Santa Rosa County- Alternating lane closures between Central Parkway and the Gulf Breeze Zoo from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Sunday through Thursday beginning Sunday, Jan. 31.  Crews will mill and pave crossovers and side streets through the end of February.

S.R. 281 (Avalon Boulevard), Santa Rosa County – Interment lane closures from north of I-10 to south of the Moors Oak subdivision from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Friday, Feb. 5 as crews complete construction activities.

S.R. 87, Santa Rosa County– Northbound inside lane closed near intersection of Magnolia Street from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Friday, Jan. 29, Sunday, Jan. 31 and Friday, Feb. 5 as crews perform utility work.

All activities are weather dependent and may be delayed or re-scheduled in the event of inclement weather.  Motorists are reminded to use caution, especially at night, when traveling in a work zone and to watch for construction workers and equipment entering and exiting the roadway.

One More Show: Tate Drama Presents ‘Brigadoon’ This Afternoon

January 31, 2016

There is one more chance Sunday afternoon to see the Tate High School Drama Department production of “Brigadoon”. The show will be at 2:30 p.m. in the school cafetorium; tickets are $7 at the door.

Brigadoon tells the story of  American tourists Tommy and Jeff who get lost on vacation in Scotland and stumble into Brigadoon, a mythical village that appears for only one day every 100 years. No outsider can stay in Brigadoon unless they fall in love, and no resident can ever leave or the village will vanish forever.

But when Tommy falls for a village girl, he is forced to choose between returning to the world that he knows—or taking a chance on life and love in the mysterious Brigadoon.

The stage play became a popular MGM movie starring Gene Kelly, Van Johnson, and Cyd Charisse.  The Tate Drama Department is presenting a full-staged musical for the 19th straight season.

Photos for, click to enlarge.

Florida Gov’t Weekly Roundup: Choosing Sides

January 31, 2016

This is the part of the legislative session where the House and the Senate’s honeymoon — especially one as dubious as this year’s — begins to face its first serious test. The opening weeks and the easy compromises have been sent to the governor for his signature. It gets harder from here.

The biggest fight is always how to divvy up tens of billions of dollars in state spending in a way that makes as many people as possible happy. Already, battle lines on a spending plan are becoming clear and revolve around Gov. Rick Scott’s two priorities. The House has fully embraced Scott’s call for $1 billion in tax cuts, though the chamber has reconfigured them a bit; the Senate has taken up the governor’s proposal to create a $250 million “Florida Enterprise Fund” to boost economic development incentives., lawmakers are finally taking votes on bills that could become bargaining chips later in the process. Legislation dealing with guns, transportation services like Uber, and a controversial method of drilling for oil and natural gas advanced out of the House or the Senate this week.

And Floridians themselves will face a high-profile question this November, in addition to that pesky question about which presidential candidate will win the nation’s largest swing state: whether or not to allow patients with a variety of illnesses to use marijuana for medicinal purposes.


Technically, legislative budget-writers had less to work with when they sat down to craft spending plans than Scott did when he released his proposal months ago. Economic forecasters recently lopped nearly $400 million off the amount they expected to be at the Legislature’s disposal.

Because of the vagaries of the state budget process, though, House and Senate spending plans released Friday were heavier than the proposal Scott put forward. The governor’s plan for the budget year beginning July 1 checked in at $79.3 billion. The House landed just short of $80 billion. The Senate overshot that by nearly $1 billion.

In addition to the split over Scott’s priorities, the two chambers were apart on whether to ease up on local education property taxes — which provide the bulk of the increase allowing state leaders to promise record school funding this year — and an array of other issues, ranging from hundreds of millions of dollars to relatively small projects.

One of the biggest differences, though, would be Scott’s ideas on incentives. Sen. Jack Latvala, a Clearwater Republican who chairs the Senate subcommittee dealing with economic development, announced early in the week that he would back the governor’s proposal.

“I think it’s important that we acknowledge the priority of creating jobs and that we all try to work in that direction and we acknowledge that we do it collaboratively,” Latvala said.

For its part, the House was busy trying to figure out how to provide about $1 billion in tax relief to Floridians — a joyous chore in an election year.

Several House Democrats expressed concern about the size of the package, but some of the same members also pitched additional items — lifting the sales tax on bear-proof trash cans and gym memberships — that they’d like added to the legislation, which is expected to swell to more than $1 billion as it advances in the coming weeks.

The proposal unveiled by House Finance & Tax Chairman Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, matches Scott’s price tag but includes less in permanent, or recurring, cuts than Scott proposed. It would meet Scott’s call for a 1 percentage-point reduction in a tax on commercial leases starting July 1, 2017 and would permanently eliminate a tax on manufacturing machinery that is set to return in 2017.

Rep. Lori Berman, D-Lantana, expressed concern with the $1 billion figure, as state revenue projections have changed.

“I do think it’s quite a lot of money, and I think we have to balance this against making sure we’re funding our education, our health care, our safety,” Berman said.

Gaetz said while he shared Berman’s “caution,” he views past cuts as having helped the growth of the state’s economy, which has seen tourism and home building grow the past six years.

“We do continue to cut taxes, we continue to be aggressive in cutting taxes, by $1 billion, but we do so within this tax package for finite periods of time, so that if the revenue position does change, or oscillate, or dip, that we have the opportunity to have that revenue to come back into the picture,” Gaetz said. “But for now I want to put $1 billion back into the pockets of Floridians because I think that is the best way to stave off some of the leveling we see in this state.”

There could be even more changes coming to the tax-cut proposal. Gaetz’s father — Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville — floated the idea this week of lowering local education property taxes as part of the same discussion.

“If we do nothing and simply allow the formula to take effect and approve the governor’s proposal, there’s a $500 million property tax increase in the state of Florida,” Gaetz said. “Pretty hard to sustain that kind of an increase when we’re talking about tax cuts.”


There was no shortage of controversial legislation on the House and Senate floors this week. House members approved a bill that would bar local governments from imposing moratoriums on the oil and gas drilling method known as “fracking” while requiring the state Department of Environmental Protection to undertake a wide-ranging study that would include looking at potential risks and economic benefits of the process.

Fracking has been blamed for everything from poisoned water supplies to earthquakes. All the more reason to have a state agency look at it and decide what needs to be done, Republicans said.

“Wishing for a zero-risk process or some absolute safety is not possible,” said Rep. Cary Pigman, R-Avon Park. “I acknowledge that oil and natural-gas production is an untidy process. So is all of mining, so is farming, so is industry, yet our society needs energy, we need food and we need the finished products made from natural resources.”

Democrats were more skeptical.

“Why would we even want to consider a bill that is going to potentially poison our drinking water? What we’re doing is we’re injecting toxic fluids in the ground,” Rep. Irv Slosberg, D-Boca Raton said. “What’s wrong with us here? I mean, something’s going on. And you know what’s going on, this fracking bill is really called the anything for money bill.”

The House bill dealing with ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft also spurred debate, but passed fairly easily.

The Senate, meanwhile, spent a chunk of its floor time this week on guns. By a 24-12 vote, members signed off on a measure (SB 344) that would alter the burden of proof in “stand your ground” self-defense cases. Democrats contend the proposal will put an end to cases before all of the facts are fully revealed.

“It potentially stops an investigation cold after the last man standing tells his side of the story,” said Senate Minority Leader Arthenia Joyner of Tampa. “The dead do not have the opportunity to rebut the tale told by the survivor. In cases where there are no witnesses, this bill stacks the deck against the justice for the dead.”

The bill stems from a Florida Supreme Court ruling last year that said defendants have the burden of proof of showing they should be shielded from prosecution under the “stand your ground” law. In “stand your ground” cases, pre-trial evidentiary hearings are held to determine whether defendants should be immune from prosecution. The measure, sponsored by Sen. Rob Bradley, would place the burden of proof on prosecutors in the evidentiary hearings.

“I think it’s simply incorrect to suggest that this bill will result in an otherwise guilty individual going free,” Bradley, R-Fleming Island, said. “If the state has sufficient evidence to successfully prosecute a defendant in a jury trial, the state will prevail in the immunity hearing before a judge, and the judge will permit the case to go to trial.”

The Senate unanimously passed a second measure (SB 130) — dubbed the “backyard range” bill — intended to restrict the recreational discharge of firearms in certain residential areas.


It wasn’t really a surprise that backers of a medical-marijuana citizens initiative got enough petition signatures to get on the ballot again this year, but it became official this week. Prominent Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan, who has pushed the constitutional amendment, sent an email to supporters Wednesday announcing that the petition drive was successful.

“This effort cost millions of dollars — but it needed to happen. … Medical marijuana is coming to Florida,” Morgan wrote in his email.

But opponents quickly promised to wage another campaign to deny the measure the support of 60 percent of Florida voters, the remaining hurdle for getting the language added into the Constitution. A 2014 initiative led by Morgan failed to reach 60 percent.

“It legalizes pot smoking in Florida under the cynical guise of helping sick people. Marijuana is not medicine, it is an illegal and dangerous drug,” said Tre’ Evers, a spokesman for the anti-marijuana “No on 2″ campaign, in a press release. “The fact is that wherever pot smoking has been legalized under the guise of ‘medical marijuana’ it has proven to be a farce, a ruse, de-facto legalization.”

STORY OF THE WEEK: The House and Senate rolled out spending plans for the budget year that begins July 1, setting the stage for completing the one duty lawmakers are required by the Constitution to fulfill every year.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “I can recall as a youngster that if you misbehaved or disobeyed you’d often hear, ‘You’re going to end up in Marianna.’ You sort of grew up thinking that must be one hell of a hellhole.”—Former Gov. Bob Martinez, talking about legislation that would establish a memorial and allocate $1.5 million for the reburial of bodies removed from the site of the former Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, where students allegedly suffered brutal abuse.

by Brandon Larrabee, The News Service of Florida

Free Showing Of ‘War Room’ Sunday In Molino

January 31, 2016

Highland Baptist Church on Highway 95A in Molino will present a free showing of the movie War Room today at 5 p.m.

From the award-winning creators of Fireproof and Courageous comes War Room, a compelling drama with humor and heart that explores the power that prayer can have on marriages, parenting, careers, friendships, and every other area of our lives.

Tony and Elizabeth Jordan have it all—great jobs, a beautiful daughter, and their dream house. But appearances can be deceiving. Tony and Elizabeth Jordan’s world is actually crumbling under the strain of a failing marriage. While Tony basks in his professional success and flirts with temptation, Elizabeth resigns herself to increasing bitterness. But their lives take an unexpected turn when Elizabeth meets her newest client, Miss Clara, and is challenged to establish a “war room” and a battle plan of prayer for her family. As Elizabeth tries to fight for her family, Tony’s hidden struggles come to light. Tony must decide if he will make amends to his family and prove Miss Clara’s wisdom that victories don’t come by accident.

War Room is a vivid reminder that prayer is a powerful weapon. The film was the number one movie in America during its second weekend.

Cantonment Woman Charged With Assaulting Girlfriend, Two Deputies; Threatening To Kill Deputy

January 30, 2016

A Cantonment woman is facing a long list of charges after allegedly choking her girlfriend, destroying her cell phones, escaping from deputies, assaulting two deputies, threatening to kill a deputy and even tossing in a bomb threat involving ISIS.

It all started about 4:00  Thursday afternoon in the 1500 block of Pauline Streeet were Celeste Nicle Roberson, 24, allegedly got into an altercation with her live-in girlfriend. While driving home from a funeral, the girlfriend said Roberson attacked her and kept turning off the vehicle and pulling the emergency brake. She allegedly threw the girlfriend’s cellphones and other personal items out of the car window.

They then traveled to the Cantonment Post Office on South Highway 29 where Roberson attacked her girlfriend, placed her in a choke hold. pulled her hair and beat on her in the parking lot. They then traveled north on Highway 29 until the girlfriend stopped the vehicle and tried to leave Roberson by the road. Instead, Roberson jumped on the hood and held on to the windshield wipers until they arrived at a gas station at Highway 29 and Beck’s Lake Road in Cantonment. Roberson then took the vehicle keys and began walking north of Highway 29.

Responding Escambia County Sheriff’s deputies took Roberson into custody. Deputies reported that she became violent inside back of the cruiser, kicking and screaming, and somehow managed to get her hands from her behind her back to the front of her body. After deputies removed her and attempted to re-adjust the handcuffs, Roberson escaped and ran northbound. She was subdued by deputies about 30 yards away in a turn lane of Highway 29. Four deputies struggled to get her handcuffed again, according to an arrest report.

She then threatened a deputy that was placing her in the back of a patrol vehicle, saying, “You’re dead…” Deputies were forced to push her inside the vehicle in order to close the door. She continued to yell obscenities and make threats, according to an arrest report, saying “I hope you got kids too because they dead too”.

Roberson continued to violently bang her head inside the vehicle cage. Deputies were forced to remove her from the vehicle and her place her in leg irons.  In the process, she began to kick a deputy repeatedly in the chest and spit into his eye.

While being transported to the jail, Roberson continued to make threats against a deputy, threatening to harm him and his family. She said stray bullets would find his family “and having a box placed in my front yard that will blow up in my Face. Roberson state she knew all about ISIS,” the deputy wrote in his report.

Roberson was charged with battery, two counts of criminal mischief, petit theft, resisting arrest without violence, escape, two counts of battery on a law enforcement officer and corruption by threat against a public servant

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