Inmate Busted For Selling Cocaine While On Work Release

July 30, 2016

An Escambia County work release inmate has been arrested for selling drugs rather than going to work.

A month-long narcotics investigation by the Escambia Count Sheriff’s Office led to the arrest of 31-year old Lamarcus Brown. Investigators received information that Brown was leaving work release and selling cocaine from a home on Carey Avenue.

The Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team and Special Investigations Unit served a search warrant at a home on Carey Avenue. Inside the home, they reported finding 64-grams of cocaine, paraphernalia to package and distribute cocaine, and more than $2,200 in cash.. Brown was charged with trafficking cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Deputies said Brown is a 14-time convicted felon that was on work release from  a previous drug-related charge.

Escambia Man Gets Life For January Murder

July 30, 2016

An Escambia County man was convicted by a jury Friday of first degree murder.

The jury found David Lee Calland guilty in connection with the murder of Darel Mims on January 11, 2016. Mims was found shot in the head in his apartment at the Beauclerc Apartments located off East Burgess Road.

Calland was sentenced to life in state prison by Circuit Judge John Miller.

Two co-defendants, Jezzamay Atherton and Bryan Simmons, have pleaded to a lesser second degree murder charge. As part of their plea agreement, they were required to testify against Calland. The face  maximum of life in prison when sentenced on August 23.

Community Invited To Birthday Party For Missing Teen Danielle Bell

July 30, 2016

It has been about 15 years since then 14-year old Danielle Bell disappeared from Cantonment.

On Saturday, the KlaasKIDS Foundation and Danielle’s family will host a community birthday party for Danielle at the Harvester Homes Community Park located at 430 Belmont Ave in Cantonment from 5:30 until 7:30 p.m.

The free community event will feature a cook-out, digital fingerprinting for children, a bounce house, fire truck from the Cantonment Station of Escambia  Fire  Rescue and Sam’s Fun City’s Bullwinkle.

Brad Dennis, director of Search Operations for the KlaasKids Foundation, will also announce that the KlaasKIDS Foundation will begin a new effort to search for answers surrounding Danielle’s suspicious disappearance.

Danielle Arion Bell was last seen at age 14 at a party in September 2001 in the 500 block of Cedar Tree Lane, between Highway 29 and Highway 95A in Cantonment.

Scattered Showers Tonight

July 30, 2016

Here is your official North Escambia area forecast:

Tonight: Scattered showers and thunderstorms, mainly before 10pm. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 73. Southwest wind around 5 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%.

Sunday: A 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 93. West wind around 5 mph becoming south in the afternoon.

Sunday Night: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms before 1am. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 75. Southwest wind around 5 mph.

Monday: A 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 92. Calm wind becoming southwest around 5 mph in the afternoon.

Monday Night: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms before 1am. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 75. South wind around 5 mph.

Tuesday: A 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 92. West wind around 5 mph.

Tuesday Night: A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 75. Southwest wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the evening.

Wednesday: A 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 93. Calm wind becoming south around 5 mph.

Wednesday Night: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 75.

Thursday: A 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 93.

Thursday Night: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 75.

Friday: A 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 91.

Friday Night: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 75.

Saturday: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 93.

State, Seminoles Spar Over Card Games

July 30, 2016

Nearly a year after the expiration of a high-stakes gambling agreement, the Seminole Tribe of Florida and state regulators made pitches last week in a federal lawsuit over the tribe’s right to operate “banked” card games, such as blackjack.

The dispute involves the Seminoles’ “exclusive” right to operate banked card games at five of the tribe’s seven casinos, part of a broader, 20-year deal, called a compact, signed with the state in 2010.

The five-year agreement regarding the cards expired on July 31, but the Seminoles have continued to offer the games.

The tribe is accusing the state of failing to negotiate in “good faith” on a new agreement, and its case is centered on two types of games — controversial “designated-player” card games and slot machines that simulate blackjack — authorized by state gambling regulators at pari-mutuel facilities. The tribe contends those games violate the compact’s exclusivity provision involving banked card games.

But the state, which is asking a federal judge to order the Seminoles to stop operating the card games, insists that the blackjack-like games are, in fact, slot machines, and that the designated-player games authorized by the state do not violate the compact.

“The state of Florida cannot permit what its laws expressly prohibit. Beyond this, as a matter of fact, the games at issue are not banking games,” lawyers for the Department of Business and Professional Regulation wrote in a document filed in federal court in Tallahassee.

Florida taxpayers have paid more than $260,000 to private lawyers to represent the state in the dispute with the Seminoles.

Regulators in 2011 first approved the designated-player — also called “player-banked” — games, in which the “bank” is another player, instead of the “house.” The designated players at pari-mutuel facilities almost always are employees of third-party companies.

Under Florida law, a “banking game” is defined as one “in which the house is a participant in the game, taking on players, paying winners, and collecting from losers or in which the cardroom establishes a bank against which participants play.” Pari-mutuel cardrooms are allowed to conduct games in which players compete only against each other.

The designated-player games have become wildly popular with gamblers, and have eclipsed other types of card games at most of the state’s pari-mutuels that operate cardrooms.

After years of operating with little or no interference from regulators, the games became the focus of intense scrutiny as Gov. Rick Scott’s administration hashed out a new gambling agreement with the tribe last year.

The same day that Scott and tribal leaders signed a proposed deal in December, Department of Business and Professional Regulation investigators — who were given a template for complaints — fanned out across the state to observe the games in more than half-a-dozen facilities. Less than a month later, regulators filed administrative complaints against 17 cardrooms. Lawmakers never approved the agreement signed by Scott.

The crackdown on the designated-player card games was directly related to the compact, John Lockwood — a lawyer who represents a number of the pari-mutuels who were hit with complaints — alleged during an administrative hearing involving the Jacksonville Kennel Club, also known as bestbet Jacksonville, earlier this month.

In the administrative case and in the Seminole lawsuit, the state insists that the designated-player card games approved by regulators — which include varieties of two- and three-card poker — are legal.

And, although there have been few if any changes since the games have been in play, regulators now contend that the manner in which the card games are played violates state law.

In a footnote in the  37-page filing, lawyers for the state pointed out that “it is vital to distinguish” between poker games that comply with state law and the operation of banked card by pari-mutuels and card rooms ” who have departed from the internal controls submitted” to regulators.

“If the games are not operated in accordance with the DBPR’s regulations or the games as actually played in the cardrooms meet the definition of a banking game, then the DBPR initiates an action to enforce the prohibition on banking games,” the lawyers wrote, referring to complaints filed on Jan. 25 and noting that the state is “actively prosecuting” the complaints.

The state also maintains that it is not obligated to negotiate a new deal with the tribe because the overall 20-year compact is still in effect.

But the Seminoles allege that federal law requires the state to go back to the bargaining table.

“The state refused to participate in any negotiations regarding such games unless they were part of a renegotiation of the entire compact. It also demanded a substantial increase in the state’s revenue share as a condition of such an amended compact without specifying any new benefits for the tribe that would justify the increase sought,” the tribe’s lawyers, Barry Richard and Joseph Webster, wrote in a motion for summary judgment in June.

by Dara Kam, The News Service of Florida

Voter Registration Deadline Is Monday

July 30, 2016

Florida residents face a Monday deadline to register to vote in the August 30 primary elections.

The Escambia County Supervisor of Elections office will hold extended hours — from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. — on Monday, August 1, to allow voters to register or change parties before the book closing deadline.

Florida law mandates that registration books close 29 days before an election. New registrations and party changes must be completed and received or postmarked no later than August 1, in order for them to be effective for the August 30, election. Address changes can be made after the books close. If you are unsure of your registration status, visit and click Am I Registered?

Florida is a closed primary state. In a primary election, voters may only vote for candidates in their party of registration unless there is a universal primary contest, a nonpartisan contest, or other issue on the ballot.

The primary ballot will include partisan races for the U.S. Senate and many congressional and legislative seats. Also, many areas will have non-partisan local races, and voters statewide will be able to cast ballots on Amendment 4, which would give commercial property owners a tax break on renewable-energy devices similar to one given to residential property owners.

Voter turnout during the 2014 primaries was 18 percent, but Secretary of State Ken Detzner said he expects that number to be higher this year. More than 2 million vote-by-mail ballots have already been sent to Floridians.

Wahoos Beat Montgomery

July 30, 2016

All season long, Pensacola starting pitcher Sal Romano has worked hard to improve with Blue Wahoos pitching coach Danny Darwin.

That extra work paid off Friday when the 22-year-old pitched 6.2 perfect innings to help lead Pensacola to a 4-0 victory Friday over the Montgomery Biscuits at Riverwalk Stadium. The series is now tied, 2-2, going into the final game of the five-game series Saturday.

Pensacola, the first half Southern League champions, improved its record to 17-17 in the second half. Meanwhile, Montgomery fell to 20-14 but still leads the North Division.

With two out in the seventh inning, Romano hit Montgomery shortstop Willy Adames to end his perfect game. The next batter, Biscuits first baseman Jake Bauers, singled on a line drive to right field to break up the no-hitter.

After Darwin visited the mound to calm the big righty, Romano struck out Montgomery left fielder Granden Goetzman.

Romano, rated the ninth best prospect in the Cincinnati Reds organization by, struck out six batters total, which included striking out the side in the fifth inning. He didn’t walk any batters.

The last time Romano pitched a one-hitter was when he completed seven innings July 21, 2015, for the High-A Daytona Tortugas. Romano struck out six in that game, too, and walked none.

Romano improved to 4-10, winning three of his last four starts, and lowered his earned-run average to 3.98. It’s the first time his ERA fell below 4.00 since May 4

Rated the pitcher with the best fastball in the Reds system, Romano now has 106 strikeouts this season to lead the Southern League.

Pensacola reliever Carlos Gonzalez replaced Romano in the eighth inning and pitched two scoreless innings, allowing one more hit to Montgomery. He earned his seventh save for the Blue Wahoos this season.

The Blue Wahoos scored two runs with two outs in the eighth inning to go up, 2-0, when Pensacola shortstop Zach Vincej doubled —his 17th of the season — to left field to drive in Ray Chang, who had doubled. The second run scored when DH Brandon Dixon reached first on an error by Adames that allowed Vincej to score from second base.

Vincej is now hitting .337 (29-86), so far, this month and has 11 RBIs in July — his highest monthly total.

Alex Blandino launched a two-run homer to center field in the top of the ninth inning to give Pensacola a 4-0 lead. It was his seventh homer this season and he now has 25 RBIs.

Pensacola did have two good chances to score earlier in the game. In the third inning, Chang came up with the bases loaded and one out and flew out to Montgomery right fielder Cade Gotta. Gotta then threw home to catcher Jake DePew to nail the Blue Wahoos’ Blandino at home.

Chang had been 3-3 with the bases loaded with a double and five RBIs when he stepped to the plate.

Again, Pensacola had runners at the corners with two outs when right fielder Jeff Gelalich doubled and moved to third on a wild pitch and Blandino walked. However, Pensacola center fielder Beau Amaral struck out to end the inning.

Montgomery starting pitcher Chris Kirsch also threw well. He pitched six scoreless innings, allowed four hits, walked one and struck out seven. He left the game in a 0-0 tie.

Northview Chiefs Name Dereck Marshman As New Head Football Coach

July 29, 2016

Northview High School has named Dereck Marshman as their head football coach.

Mashman has been an assistant coach for the Chiefs since 2010, except for a short stint in Tennessee. He was part of the coaching staff that led the Northview Chiefs to a state football championship in 2012. He said he expects his transition from defensive and strength coach into the head coaching position will be an easy step for a team he says is poised for great season.

“It will be seamless when we start practice on Monday. We have our assistant coaching staff already in place, and  I have confidence in them. It will not be like we are starting over today.”

“We have a chance to be a pretty special team this year. The senior leadership is special this year; they have worked together for a long time and have proven themselves during very demanding summer workouts and in the weight room.”

Marshman said the Chiefs have a very touch regular season schedule in which they will play up several classifications against much larger schools, and he said he’s looking forward to a December trip to Orlando and the state championship game.

Northview Principal Gayle Weaver said Marshman was an easy and obvious choice to lead the Chiefs. He was offered and accepted the position Friday morning after interviews were conducted.

“He brings stability and consistency to the team,” Weaver said. “I have great hopes for this season.

Marshman will not take over as Northview’s head baseball coach as the position was originally to be advertised. Instead, Weaver said Marshman’s current job as In School Suspension coordinator will be advertised in conjunction with the head baseball coach position.

Former football and baseball head coach Sid Wheatley announced his resignation in late July to return home to a coaching position in his native Mississippi. He said he wanted to be closer to his family after 11 years away at Northview. He had a 50-31 record as Northview’s head coach. photos, click to enlarge.

Mosquito Borne Zika Cases Confirmed In Florida

July 29, 2016

Florida’s worries about the Zika virus have turned into reality.

In the middle of the state’s typically humid, buggy summer, Gov. Rick Scott announced Friday that four Zika cases in South Florida were likely caused by mosquito bites.

“All four of these people live in Miami-Dade and Broward counties and the Florida Department of Health believes that active transmissions of this virus could be occurring in one small area in Miami,” Scott said in a prepared statement. “While no mosquitoes have tested positive for the Zika virus, DOH is aggressively testing people in this area to ensure there are no other cases. If you live in this area and want to be tested, I urge you to contact the county health department which stands ready to assist you.”

Florida has seen a steady increase in Zika diagnoses in recent months, with the total number of cases nearing 400. But until Friday, health officials said cases stemmed from people who were infected because of travel to places such as South America, where the virus emerged last year. Two travel related Zika cases have been reported in Escambia County.

Public-health officials have worried for months that the virus, which is particularly dangerous to pregnant women and can cause severe birth defects, would become mosquito-borne in Florida. The state last week began investigating two potential non-travel related cases in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, followed by two more cases this week.

Scott’s office said Friday that one of the cases involves a woman and the other three involve men, none of whom have needed to be hospitalized. It said health officials believe transmissions of the virus have happened in a 1-square-mile area just north of downtown Miami.

The governor and state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam announced a series of steps aimed at reducing the potential for mosquito bites and preventing the spread of the disease through blood.

In part, Scott said he directed the state Department of Health to contract with commercial pest-control companies to increase spraying and to take other steps to reduce mosquitos in the targeted area of Miami-Dade. Mosquito-control districts in Miami-Dade and Broward also will receive $1.28 million from the state through December, the governor’s office said.

Similarly, Putnam issued a “mosquito declaration” that will last 45 days and calls for aggressive mosquito-control efforts within 200 yards of patients’ homes. That includes efforts to eliminate standing water where mosquitos lay eggs.

“Floridians can do their part by draining standing water surrounding their homes, as it can serve as breeding grounds for the mosquitoes that are capable of transmitting the virus,” Putnam said in a statement released by his office.

Scott’s office also said the Department of Health will provide $620,000 to OneBlood, the primary blood bank in the area, to help ensure blood screening for Zika. Also, the department will work with the federal Food and Drug Administration and blood banks to make sure that tests are conducted on each unit of blood collected in Miami-Dade and Broward.

The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday requested that blood banks in the two counties temporarily halt collecting blood until safeguards are put in place. OneBlood said on its website Friday that all blood collections in the areas it serves in Florida, Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina will be tested for Zika.

“With testing beginning, OneBlood operations remain business as usual and collections will continue throughout its service areas, uninterrupted,” the OneBlood website said.

Meanwhile, the state Department of Health said it is continuing “door-to-door outreach” and collecting urine samples in the targeted area of Miami-Dade.

“The results from these efforts will help (the) department determine the number of people affected.,” the department said on its website. “These local cases were identified by clinicians who brought them to the attention of the department.”

Miami-Dade and Broward also have been the hardest-hit areas of the state for travel-related Zika cases. As of Friday morning, the Department of Health’s website said the state had 331 travel-related cases that did not involve pregnant women. Miami-Dade had 99 of those cases, while Broward had 55 — substantially more than any other counties.

The state does not release the counties for travel-related cases involving pregnant women. But the department said it has monitored 55 pregnant women who have shown evidence of Zika.

by Jim Saunders, The News Service of Florida

Century Task Force Meets Again In Sunshine; Recommends $700K Grant App

July 29, 2016

Two days after holding a meeting in an apparent violation of Florida’s Sunshine Law, the Town of Century’s Community Development Block Grant Citizen’s Advisory Task Force (CATF) met again “in the sunshine” Thursday, recommending that the town apply for a grant up to $700,000 for housing rehabilitation and replacement.

A published public notice stated that the CATF would meet Tuesday at 4 p.m.; however the meeting was held at 2 p.m., the time noted in letters to CATF members.

Town consultant Robin Phillips of Jones-Phillips and Associates said the public noticed 4 p.m. time was a typographical error by her firm.

“There was never any intent on the Town’s or on our part to mislead or misinform anyone.  It was an unintentional typographical error, ” Phillips said in a letter to

After re-holding the CATF meeting Thursday afternoon and a public forum, the next step in the grant application process is a second public hearing during a town council meeting on August  15.

Florida’s Sunshine Law requires that the public’s business be conducted in open, public noticed meetings. Violators can face fines and/or time in jail.

Pictured top: CATF members Helen Mincy, Robert Mitchell and Sylvia Godwin during a Thursday afternoon meeting. Task force member Alfonzie Cottrell, who was present for Tuesday’s meeting, was absent on Thursday. Pictured below: Town consultants Robin Phillips (left) and Debbie Nickles on Thursday. photos, click to enlarge.

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