Century Tornado Assistance Waiting List Opens Monday

March 31, 2016

Escambia County and the town of Century are establishing a waiting list beginning Monday, April 4 for town of Century residents requesting housing repair or reconstruction assistance as a result of the February 15 tornado. Only residents in the incorporated town of Century whose housing units were damaged by the tornado are eligible to apply. Owner occupants of manufactured homes are also eligible to apply if they own the property on which the home is located.

Starting April 4, Century residents may call (850) 595-0872 to be placed on the waiting list. Residents must provide the following information when calling:

  • Name
  • Street address of impacted residence
  • Contact phone number

Calls received before April 4 will not be accepted. Services will be made available to income-eligible owner occupants on a first qualified, first served basis as funding permits. Staff will follow up with applicants within five business days to determine program eligibility and to make appointments to begin the application process.

The following chart shows the maximum gross family household income requirements in Escambia County (effective March 28, 2016) for the housing repair and reconstruction activities through the State Housing Initiatives Partnership program, or SHIP. Household income includes income received from all persons residing in the household and from all sources providing income to the household.

Applications are still being accepted for owner occupants needing housing repair or reconstruction assistance from the February 15 and 23 tornadoes. Owner occupants in unincorporated Escambia County can call the Neighborhood Enterprise Division at (850) 595-0022, and those inside the city of Pensacola limits can call the City of Pensacola Housing Office at (850) 858-0306 to apply.

Federal Charges Filed Against Surviving Suspect In ‘Bonnie And Clyde’ Duo

March 31, 2016

A federal grand jury Wednesday returned conspiracy and armed carjacking charges against the surviving member of the Missouri couple dubbed a modern day “Bonnie and Clyde” that was sought for crimes in four states earlier this year before being apprehended in a hail of gunfire in Santa Rosa County in February.

An eight-count indictment filed in U.S. District Court charges Brittany Nicole Harper, 30, of Joplin, Mo., with one count of  conspiracy to transport a stolen vehicle across state lines, two counts of transporting a stolen vehicle across state lines, three counts of carjacking and two counts of brandishing a gun during a crime of violence. Harper remains in the Escambia County Jail in Pensacola on state charges.

The indictment states that the purpose of the conspiracy was for Harper and “her co-conspirator to unlawfully obtain vehicles, by whatever means necessary,” including acts of violence, and then to use the stolen vehicles as transportation between various states. The indictment refers throughout to Harper’s co-conspirator, but does not name him.

Harper was arrested aftera face-off with deputies  in which her co-conspirator was shot and killed.

The indictment describes a 10-day, four-state crime spree by Harper and her male companion, Blake Fitzgerald, that began in Webb City, Mo., on Jan. 26, when the couple took a 2009 Cadillac on a test drive from a dealership and never returned. Highlights of the crime spree, as outlined in the indictment, are as follows:

Before arriving in Alabama, the couple burglarized a home in Missouri, where they parked the stolen Cadillac in the garage and stole a 2007 Chevrolet Trailblazer parked at the home.

The couple’s first crime in Alabama is listed as a theft at the Walmart in Bessemer on Jan. 30, before the couple drove the Trailblazer to Tuscaloosa, where they forced a motel clerk at gunpoint into the backseat of the 2011 Volkswagen Jetta he had driven to work. Harper and her companion drove the Jetta to Hoover, where they tried, unsuccessfully, on Jan. 31, to take a Camaro from a McDonald’s employee, and then released the motel clerk in Vestavia Hills.

Soon after releasing the clerk, Fitzgerald entered a home on Monte Vista Drive in Vestavia Hills, where he encountered one of the home owners and his minor children. Fitzgerald put a gun to the man’s neck and began forcing him toward the garage, but the man got free and went for help. Fitzgerald then forced the man’s wife at gunpoint into the homeowners’ 2010 Ford Edge and drove away.

Harper and her companion released the woman near the Grandview Medical Center on Cahaba River Road in Birmingham, and then drove the stolen Ford Edge to Perry County, Ga.

The indictment lists other crimes in Georgia and Florida before Harper’s arrest on Feb. 5 following a high-speed chase through neighborhoods in Santa Rosa County after deputies confronted the couple.

The other crimes listed as part of the conspiracy, but not individually charged in the indictment, include the robbery and kidnapping of a convenience store clerk in Perry, Ga., on Feb. 1, the robbery of Alvin’s Island beach shop in Destin, on Feb. 3, and the robbery of a shoe store and a home invasion and carjacking, all in Pensacola, Fla. on Feb. 4.

Pictured top and bottom: The scene on Garcon Point Road at Saragon Lane, a short distance from where gunfire erupted, killing on member of a couple dubbed a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde by federal authorities. Pictured bottom inset:  The home were a chase involving the Missouri couple came to an end on Saragon Lane off Garcon Point Road in Santa Rosa County. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.

Escambia Property Taxes Due By Today

March 31, 2016

Real estate and tangible personal property taxes become delinquent on Friday.

After the Thursday, March 31 deadline, a penalty of 3 percent for real estate and 1½ percent for tangible taxes will be assessed. Over $28 million (approximately 10 percent) of the Escambia County tax roll remains unpaid, according to Tax Collector Janet Holley.

To avoid the penalty, payment must be made by midnight, March 31.

Many payment options are available:

  • online at www.escambiataxcollector.com
  • mailed with a postmark by March 31
  • in person at any of four tax collector offices
  • phone – please call 438-6500, ext. 3252

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

You may check the status of your taxes and pay online at www.escambiataxcollector.com. For more information, contact the tax collector’s office at (850) 438-6500, ext. 3252.

NorthEscambia.com Publisher Named One Of Area’s Most Influential People

March 31, 2016

The Pensacola Independent News has released their 2016 IN Power List — their ranking of the most the most powerful and influential people in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.

Only two people that work primarily in the North Escambia area were named to the list — NorthEscambia.com publisher William Reynolds of Walnut Hill and Escambia County Commissioner Steven Barry of Cantonment.

Topping this year’s list was Bentina Terry, vice president of customer service and sales for Gulf Power.

To read this year’s Inweekly Power List edition, click here.

‘The Way We Worked’ Molino Stories Tonight

March 31, 2016

The Molino Mid-County Historical Society, along with the West Florida Public Libraries, will host video stories of Molino’s rich work history on Thursday, March 31, at 6 p.m. at the Molino Community Complex (6450 Highway 95-A North). At one time Molino had a lumber mill, canning factory, brick yard and its own phone company. Watch video interviews of longtime Molino residents who recount memories of growing up and working in North Escambia. Several of the interviewees will be present for a question and answer session after the presentation.

“Molino’s Story” is hosted in concurrence with “The Way We Worked,” a Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition, which celebrates the history of our nation’s diverse workers and industries. The exhibit is on display in the Lillian F. King Museum, located in the Molino Community Complex until April 30. Viewing hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekly, closed Sundays, and open during “Molino’s Story” from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

Pictured: The original switchboard for the Molino Telephone Company. NorthEscambia.com photo, click to enlarge.

Jay Tops Northview; Pace Over Tate

March 31, 2016


Jay 5, Northview 2

The Jay Royals rallied in the eighth inning Wednesday evening to defeat the Northview Chiefs 5-2.

Northview had a two-run second inning. The Chiefs scored on an RBI double from Jacob Dunsford and on a groundout by Seth Killam. Roman Manning went 3-4 with three singles.

Josh Neese pitched seven and third inning for the Chiefs, allowing three earned runs, six hits and three walks while striking out six.

The Chiefs are set to host Hopkinsville, KY, Thursday. JV plays at 4:00 followed by the varsity at 6:00.

Pace 9, Tate 5

The Tate Aggies were up four runs in the fourth inning but Pace rallied late to take a 9-5 win and earn District 1-7A top spot.

Tate’s Jake Davis had two RBIs on one hit. He homered in the second inning. On the mound, Davis allowed one earned run, no walks an six hits in five innings. The loss went to Trace Penton  with no walks, no strikeouts while allowing three runs in one-third of an inning.

The Aggies will be at Pace in a district matchup Friday at 6 p.m.

Pictured: Northview’s Jared Aliff splintered a bat during Wednesday evening’s game against Jay. NorthEscambia.com photos by Ramona Preston, click to enlarge.

Escambia Man Gets 15 Years For Robberies

March 31, 2016

An Escambia County man that failed at two of three robbery attempts is headed to prison.

Rodney Jones was sentenced 2016 by Circuit Judge Gary Bergosh to 15 years in state prison to be followed by 10 years of probation. He previously pleaded to charges of attempted robbery by sudden snatching, attempted robbery without a weapon, robbery without a weapon and petty theft.

On June 24, 2015, Rodney Jones went to Sonic on Navy Blvd.  When he started to pay for his food, Jones asked the server if she could make change for $100.  When she  pulled out her money, Jones grabbed the money in her hand but after brief struggle he was unsuccessful in taking the money.  Jones then fled the scene.

Shortly after leaving Sonic on Navy Blvd., Jones went to CVS on Ninth Avenue and  asked the clerk if she had change for $100.  When the clerk opened the drawer, Jones  told her to give him the money, and “don’t make me shoot you.”  He then fled the scene with approximately $200.

The following day, June 25, 2015, Jones went to Wells Fargo on Fairfield Drive.  He approached the counter and gave the teller a note that said “robbery, have a gun on you, all 20’s, quiet”.  When the teller opened the drawer and started to collect the money, Jones leaned over the counter and said “all 20’s”.  At that time, customers in the bank noticed something strange happening, and Jones fled the scene empty handed.

Rodney Jones was apprehended in the area by the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office following the Wells Fargo robbery.  Jones admitted to the other two robberies.  Prior to these incidents, Jones had previously been convicted of eight prior felonies and numerous misdemeanors.

Tornado Watch; Flash Flood Watch; Severe Storms, Heavy Rainfall Possible

March 31, 2016

There is a tornado watch in effect this afternoon, and there is a flash flood watch in effect through 1 a..m. Saturday.  Here is your official North Escambia area forecast:
Thursday: Showers and thunderstorms likely. Some of the storms could be severe. Cloudy, with a high near 79. Breezy, with a south wind 10 to 20 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%.

Thursday Night: Showers and thunderstorms. Some of the storms could produce heavy rain. Low around 68. South wind 10 to 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%.

Friday: Showers and thunderstorms. Some of the storms could produce heavy rain. High near 74. Southwest wind around 5 mph becoming north in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 90%.

Friday Night: A 50 percent chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 55. North wind 5 to 10 mph.

Saturday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 70. North wind around 10 mph.

Saturday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 46. Northwest wind 5 to 10 mph.

Sunday: Sunny, with a high near 71. North wind around 5 mph.

Sunday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 47. Northwest wind around 5 mph becoming northeast after midnight.

Monday: Sunny, with a high near 75.

Monday Night: Clear, with a low around 52.

Tuesday: Sunny, with a high near 74.

Tuesday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 49.

Wednesday: Sunny, with a high near 73.

Concealed Weapons Fees Are Lowered

March 31, 2016

The cost to get concealed-weapons licenses will be reduced under a bill signed into law Wednesday by Gov. Rick Scott.

The measure reduces the license fee from $70 to $60 on the initial application and from $60 to $50 for renewals. With nearly 1.5 million concealed-weapons licenses currently issued in Florida, the change is projected to reduce state revenue by $2.99 million next fiscal year, according to a Senate analysis of the bill. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, whose agency oversees concealed-weapons licenses, has said the measure is part of efforts to make the application process “more convenient and affordable.”

by The News Service of Florida

Governor Backs Dozier School For Boys Justice Bill

March 31, 2016

Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday signed a bill addressing what one lawmaker described as a “dark chapter” in Florida history at a now-shuttered reform school.

The measure (SB 708), one of 14 bills Scott signed into law Wednesday, will allocate money for the reburial of remains removed from the 1,400-acre site of the former Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys. The bill also establishes plans for a memorial at the reform school, which operated from 1900 to 2011 in the Jackson County community of Marianna.

“This law finally ends a tragic chapter in Florida’s history,” Senate Minority Leader Arthenia Joyner, a Tampa Democrat who sponsored the bill, said in a prepared statement. “It buries the dead with dignity and establishes a permanent reminder so that the atrocities the children endured at Dozier are neither forgotten nor repeated.”

Rep. Alan Williams, D-Tallahassee, said the legislative effort is a way to say “we’re sorry.”

“It’s a dark chapter in Florida’s history,” Williams said. “We sent young men there to be reformed. It was a reform school. We didn’t send young men there to die.”

A 168-page report by University of South Florida researchers was presented to Scott and the Cabinet in January on excavations at the site. The report didn’t verify any students were killed by Dozier staff, but outlined 51 sets of remains unearthed from an area known as the Boot Hill Burial Ground.

“There were young men, black and white, went in thinking they were going to be reformed and come back home, and they never made it out,” Williams said.

The law provides up to $7,500 per family for funeral, reburial and grave-marker costs and calls for the creation of a task force that would make recommendations about an appropriate memorial for the site and how to rebury remains that are unidentified or unclaimed.

Rep. Ed Narain, a Tampa Democrat who sponsored the House version of the bill, said in a prepared statement the law is intended to provide “a measure of justice.”

“These boys and these families should not be forgotten, nor should they be further victimized,” Narain said. “This bill, passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, represents the right thing to do and will also serve as an ongoing reminder that such injustice should never happen again.”

Three lawmakers — Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, Rep. John Tobia, R-Melbourne Beach, and Rep. John Wood, R-Winter Haven — voted against the proposal. Tobia had sought to reduce the per-family payment to $2,000.

The Dozier funding drew support from former Gov. Bob Martinez and members of the state Cabinet.

During the January Cabinet meeting, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam offered apologies to the generations of boys who suffered hardships at the reform school while saying a new use is needed for the land, whether recreational, educational or even for veterans’ services.

“Those who spent time at Dozier and the loved ones of those who died at Dozier have for far too long had their history cloaked in secrecy,” Putnam said in a prepared statement Wednesday.

by Jim Turner, The News Service of Florida

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