North Escambia’s Top 16 Stories Of 2016

January 1, 2017

Here our picks for the Top 16 North Escambia Stories of 2016. The list was compiled to include those stories that were “big news”, had a great influence on the North Escambia area, had the most views on or had the community talking most during 2016.

(Scroll down below each photo)

16. Century Church Arson

A fire that destroyed a Century church building early one Sunday morning in October was ruled a case of arson. Neighbors reported hearing an explosion before looking outside to see the  Wesley Chapel Church on Jefferson Avenue fully involved in flames. The building was a complete and total loss. There were no injuries reported. The church building had sat empty since a February 15 EF-3 tornado ripped through Century, causing significant damage to the building.

15. What Are The Odds?

After selling an $80 million Powerball ticket in 2015, the State Line Gift Shop on Highway 97 once again proved to be North Escambia’s luck lottery spot in 2016. During the year, the store sold three different winning Fantasy 5 tickets worth about $55,000, $90,000, and $66 thousand.

14. Smithsonian Exhibit in Molino

“The Way We Worked,” a Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition was on display in Molino at the Lillian F. King Museum. The exhibit celebrated the history of American workers.

13. Northview High FFA National Awards

The Northview High School FFA chapter was named one of the very best in the nation, and the Northview High School FFA Alumni  received a national bronze award. The Northview High School FFA’s “Fresh From Florida Advocacy Program” was also named the second best program in 2015 and 2016 and was previously honored as the best in Florida for three consecutive years.

12.  Teacher Of The Year

Kristy Imhof, the new Escambia County Teacher of the Year, received a surprise visit in her seventh grade language arts classroom at Ransom Middle School in February. She was named Escambia County’s Teacher of the Year and received the official crown and flowers from Superintendent Malcolm Thomas.

11. Century Council Member Passes Away

Century Town Council member Annie Carter Savage  passed away unexpectedly at age 75. Savage was appointed to the council in August 2011 to fill the unexpired term of Nadine McCaw who had passed away. She was reelected in 2011 for a term ending January 2017, and recently reelected without opposition for another four-year term that would have began in January.

10. IP Pensacola Mill Celebrates 75 Years Of Operations

The International Paper Pensacola Mill in Cantonment celebrated 75 years of operation in October.  The front lawn of the plant transformed into a day of fun for retirees, employees and their families with games, kids activities, arts and crafts, music, food and more. The Pensacola Mill started operations with one paper machine on a 600 acre site in 1941.

9. Educator Alice Woodward Retires

Molino Park Elementary School Principal Alice Woodward retired after 30 years in local education. She started her teaching career in 1986 at Barrineau Park Elementary School. She moved into administration as the curriculum coordinator and then served as a principal intern splitting her time between Barrineau Park and Molino Elementary while the new Molino Park Elementary School was under construction. Molino Park opened in the fall of 2003, and  Woodward stepped into the role of principal in the fall of 2006.

8. New Mayor For Century

Former council member Henry Hawkins was elected Century’s new mayor, ousting two-term incumbent Freddie McCall.

7. Donald Trump

President elect Donald Trump made three campaign stops in Escambia County during 2016.  Trump offered his thoughts on a couple of key local issues — the Blue Angels and the Pensacola Bay Bridge.  “We will ensure the Blue Angels continue to inspire. I love those guys, I love the Blue Angels,” he said. He also said the Pensacola Bay Bridge should be replaced. Trump said he loves the Pensacola area. “It’s a great honor to be with you tonight. It’s a great area. This is an amazing area,” Trump said.

6. Tate High School Showband To Hawaii

The Tate High School Showband of the South joined in a special performance in Hawaii on December 7 to mark the 75th anniversary of the attack on Peal Harbor.

5. Florida’s Superstar SRO

Senior Deputy Ronnie Gill, school resource officer at Ernest Ward Middle School, was named the top SRO in Florida, and was awarded the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office Meritorious Service Medal for the crucial role he plays in breaking down the barriers between law enforcement and youth.

4. Airgas Explosion

A massive explosion in August claimed the life of one person at the Airgas facility next to the Ascend Performance Materials plant in Cantonment.

3. Goodbye To Our Blue Angel

North Escambia considers the  Blue Angels just as much ours as Pensacola does. And we mourned with the rest of the nation as our Number 6, Capt. Jeff Kuss, died in a Tennessee crash.

2. Recycling Returns

ECUA and Escambia County held a held a kick-off ceremony in August to mark the opening of ECUA’s Interim Materials Recycling Facility, or IMRF, at the Perdido Landfill  The collaborative effort between ECUA and Escambia County is a state-of-the-art facility that will have the capacity to recycle up to 40,000 tons of materials per year.  The opening of the facility meant the return of recycling for ECUA customers.

1. Century’s Darkest Day

February 15 saw an EF-3 tornado damage and destroy a large area of Century, dominating the headlines for the rest of the year as Florida’s poorest town struggled toward recovery. photos, click to enlarge.


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