Vehicle Found Upside Down On Remote Dirt Road

April 29, 2017

The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating a single vehicle wreck Friday night in a remote area west of Walnut Hill.

A 2010 Ford Mustang GT was discovered upside down on South Pineville Road, south of Arthur Brown Road. The driver of the vehicle was no longer with the vehicle when emergency personnel arrived on scene. The vehicle had  a North Carolina license plate.

The Walnut Hill Station of Escambia Fire Rescue also responded to the crash. photos, click to enlarge.

Homeowner Catches Burglar

April 29, 2017

An Escambia County burglar got more than he bargained for Thursday, including a stop by the hospital before heading off to jail.

Luis I Bardisa, 40, broke into a residence in the 8000 block of Binkley Street, according to the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office. After threatening the homeowner and his girlfriend, Bardisa ran off and the homeowner followed, eventually catching up. Bardisa received facial injuries while the homeowner restrained him until deputies arrived.

Bardisa was transported to a local hospital before being booked into the Escambia County Jail on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, armed burglary of an occupied residence, trespassing and larceny.

Hale Graduates From Basic Military Training

April 29, 2017

U.S. Air Force Airman Vonche D. Hale II 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 also earn four credits toward an associate in applied science degree through the Community College of the Air Force.

Hale is the son of Tia and Marcus Rivers of Cantonment.  He is a 2014 graduate of West Florida High School.

Ernest Ward Middle National Junior Honor Society Inducts New Members

April 29, 2017

New members were inducted into the National Junior Honor Society during a candlelight ceremony Friday at Ernest Ward Middle School.

The NJHS is the nation’s premier organization established to recognize outstanding middle school students. More than just an honor roll, NJHS serves to honor those students who have demonstrated excellence in the areas of scholarship, leadership, service, citizenship and character.

New National Junior Honor Society members at Ernest Ward are: Anna Adams, Larry Allie, Hailie Anderson, John Bashore, Lakyn Bodiford, Hunter Borelli, Kenley Brown, Madeline Brown, Tereasia Burt, Christian Bullington, Naudia Carach, Zachary Carach, Shelby Cotita, Aiana Courtney, Miyhanna Davidson, Casandra Davis, Kaitlin Gafford, Wylder Gibson, Payton Gilchrist, Gracie Godwin, Zane Gurganus, Samantha Hammond, Wesley Hart, Sarah Hetrick, Seham Jacobs, Grayson James, Ethan Kilburn, Clay Kittrell, David Lamb, Taylor Levins, Jaden Lewis, Kileigh Lundy, Madelyn McAnally, Kenzy McLaney, Justin Miller, Torka Mills, Kinzey Powell, Dallon Rackard, Makayla Ramsey, Shelby Rice, Eric Roloph, Kaylee Sawyer, Sarah Sconiers, Madelin Sheedy, Mackenzie Sims, Mia Starns, Matthew Taft, Harley Walker, David Ward, Kailyn Watson and Trevor Wood.

Pictured: New members were inducted into the National Junior Honor Society Friday at Ernest Ward Middle School. photos, click to enlarge.

Escambia Elections Office Already Prepping For 2018 Vote

April 29, 2017

The Escambia County Supervisor of Elections Office is already planning for the 2018 election cycle. Late last week, Supervisor of Elections David Stafford spoke to more than 30 citizens at an Election Worker Orientation. Courtesy photo for, click to enlarge.

Florida Gov’t Weekly Roundup: Guessing Games At The Capitol

April 29, 2017

“Deal or No Deal” is not generally a guessing game, but that’s what it meant for much of the week in Tallahassee.

On Monday, the budget process was in shambles. But by Tuesday, there was a deal on “allocations” — a broad outline of state spending needed to move into formal negotiations. Then, by Wednesday, there were questions about whether the House and the Senate had any kind of agreement at all. Even lawmakers seemed to disagree about whether a deal was struck, or when it was done. Thursday, though, the two sides had officially come to an agreement, though there were still questions about what precisely the agreement entailed. The upshot, ultimately, was that it suddenly looked like the legislative session might end on time.

But there were signs that the Senate could have trouble delivering on one of the House’s demands. And Gov. Rick Scott was unhappy with the product emerging from the Capitol, which could also be problematic, given that he holds a veto pen.

On Friday, Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, was asked whether he thought it was possible — particularly given Scott’s concerns — that the Legislature might have to return to Tallahassee to do the budget process all over again. ” Absolutely. I do,” Latvala responded.

Deal or no deal? For now, the first. But things can change quickly in Tallahassee.


For months now, reporters, lobbyists and more than a few lawmakers have been looking for signs that the Legislature wouldn’t be able to finish a budget on time, and that a special session would be needed.

That seemed to come Monday, when the House readied a vote on its second budget of the year, an act of brinksmanship that threatened to derail the entire process.

The House’s “standard operating budget” — or “S.O.B.,” as it soon became known at the Capitol — would have essentially held much of state spending at current levels, extending many of the same provisions into the coming budget year, which begins July 1. Extra spending meant to account for increased Medicaid costs and public school enrollment would also be funded.

House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’ Lakes, emphasized in a memo to House members that he was still optimistic about finding common ground with the Senate — but wanted to approve the S.O.B. just in case.

“However, by considering this standard operating budget as a contingency, we would prevent an unnecessary government shutdown, protect the state’s future, and still enable us to fund new priorities in the future,” he wrote.

The Senate was unimpressed, comparing the measure to the continuing resolutions passed by Congress when that body can’t agree on spending.

“Why do we want to model Florida after Washington, D.C.?” asked Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater.

The House Appropriations Committee approved the S.O.B. on Tuesday morning. And then, Tuesday night, came word that the House and Senate had a deal. Or not. Or had a deal but still had some details to work through.

“When we closed business (Tuesday), the major issues had been agreed on, at this point there is some tweaking going on what I call second- and third-tier issues,” Sen. Bill Galvano, a Bradenton Republican set to become Senate president late next year, said Wednesday morning.

The next morning, the deal was formally, officially announced. Many were frustrated by the secrecy surrounding the allocations process, but most of the big items had either leaked out or were confirmed by legislative leaders.

The Senate would get the higher education changes and increased investment in universities that are dear to Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart. Negron would also get a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee, another priority.

In exchange, the House would get its way on public schools. That included around $200 million for teacher bonuses and $200 million to encourage charter schools to open up near academically struggling traditional public schools. The exact language was either still being worked out or still a closely guarded secret.

The Senate would get a pay raise for state workers; the House would likely get changes to the retirement and health-care plans for those same employees. But there was something else that Corcoran wanted that could still threaten the pact.


One part of the understanding between House and Senate leaders appears to be approving a new homestead exemption on local property taxes that Corcoran has pushed for. The question is whether Senate GOP leaders, down two members, can deliver.

The constitutional amendment (HJR 7105) would need 24 votes to go before voters in the 2018 elections. And Republicans won 25 seats in last year’s election, which would normally mean the fate of an amendment crucial to the budget process would be all but decided.

However. Sen. Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange, has missed the session as she recovers from cancer treatment. And former Sen. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, was forced to resign last week after a racially charged rant in front of colleagues at a Tallahassee nightspot.

That gives Democrats a veto on something like the homestead exemption proposal — if they can hold together.

“We’re pretty united on that issue,” Clemens said Thursday. “It’s an issue that hurts the poor. It hurts renters and it hurts small businesses.”

At the same time, two Democrats voted for the amendment in a committee meeting Friday, before the legislation moved to the Senate floor. Corcoran might still get his way in the end.

Someone else had reason to be unhappy with the deal as it was: Scott. The agreement would give him $25 million for tourism marketing — he wanted as much as $100 million — and none of the business incentives that he asked for.

But upon returning from a trade mission to Argentina, Scott shied away from using the most powerful weapon in his arsenal: the veto threat.

Addressing reporters outside his Capitol office Thursday between individual meetings with more than a dozen lawmakers, Scott said there is a lot of “frustration” over the way the session is going. But the governor repeated that he intends to review the budget after it reaches his desk.

“I’m going to look at all my opportunities,” Scott said, when asked about a potential budget veto. “I’ll go through the budget. I’m going to do whatever is the best for the citizens of this state.”


Even as the budget was up in the air, lawmakers were looking to hammer out an agreement on another contentious issue: Gambling. The joint House-Senate conference committee working on that issue began meeting Monday.

“There are some low-hanging fruits in here, and there are some more complicated issues that we need to work through, but it is the intent of the House to negotiate in good faith and hopefully get us across the finish line,” the House’s chief negotiator, Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami, said. “Obviously, time is running out, but we are still early enough in session where I think we can be productive and do a good deal for the state of Florida.”

By the end of the week, the Senate had made a concessions to the Seminole Tribe, whose rights to offer certain games at its casinos is central to the negotiations.

Under the latest offer, the Seminoles would not be required to guarantee $3 billion in payments to the state in exchange for adding craps and roulette to the tribe’s casino operations.

But the upper chamber didn’t back away from other high-profile positions. Those positions include allowing slot machines at pari-mutuels in eight counties where voters have approved them, as well as limited blackjack at South Florida “racinos,” and two new casinos — with slots and cardrooms — in Broward and/or Miami-Dade counties.

The elimination of the proposed $3 billion requirement for the Seminoles, which would have been paid over seven years, is a concession to the tribe, which has maintained that federal officials won’t sign off on such a deal, something that would be required.

“I’m excited about the direction this is going,” Diaz said Thursday morning.

The issue of slots in the eight counties — Brevard, Duval, Gadsden, Hamilton, Lee, Palm Beach, St. Lucie and Washington — remains one of the main sticking points in the negotiations, after Diaz made an offer Wednesday that included major concessions to the Senate.

In that offer, the House partially agreed to the Senate’s plan to allow nearly all dog and horse tracks to do away with live racing but keep more lucrative cardrooms or slots, a process known as “decoupling.” The House, however, would require voters to approve decoupling in county referendums.

The Senate’s counteroffer Thursday rejected the requirement of decoupling referendums and maintained a Senate position that would also allow jai alai frontons to quit holding matches while keeping more lucrative gambling activities.

STORY OF THE WEEK: Lawmakers reached an agreement on the broad outlines of an $83 billion budget and began negotiations aimed at bridging the remaining gaps.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “The reports of the demise of session have been greatly exaggerated.”—House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’ Lakes, in a statement announcing the deal.

by Brandon Larrabee, The News Service of Florida

Rain, Storms For Sunday, Sunday Night

April 29, 2017

Here is your official North Escambia area forecast:

Tonight: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 72. Breezy, with a southeast wind 10 to 20 mph, with gusts as high as 30 mph.

Sunday: A 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms, mainly after 1pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 84. Windy, with a south wind 15 to 25 mph, with gusts as high as 40 mph. New rainfall amounts of less than a tenth of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.

Sunday Night: Showers and thunderstorms. Some of the storms could produce heavy rainfall. Low around 62. Breezy, with a southeast wind 15 to 20 mph decreasing to 10 to 15 mph after midnight. Winds could gust as high as 30 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New rainfall amounts between 1 and 2 inches possible.

Monday: A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms before 10am. Mostly cloudy, then gradually becoming sunny, with a high near 77. Northwest wind 5 to 10 mph.

Monday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 56. Northwest wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the evening.

Tuesday: Sunny, with a high near 85. Calm wind becoming south around 5 mph in the afternoon.

Tuesday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 61. South wind around 5 mph.

Wednesday: A 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 82. South wind 5 to 10 mph.

Wednesday Night: Showers and thunderstorms likely. Cloudy, with a low around 66. South wind 5 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%.

Thursday: Showers and thunderstorms likely. Cloudy, with a high near 75. Chance of precipitation is 70%.

Thursday Night: A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 54.

Friday: A 20 percent chance of showers. Mostly sunny, with a high near 73.

Friday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 51.

Saturday: Sunny, with a high near 76.

Biloxi Beats The Wahoos

April 29, 2017

For a change, the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, who have the best ERA in the Southern League, lost the pitching duel against the Biloxi Shuckers Friday at Blue Wahoos Stadium.

The Blue Wahoos has lost five of its last six games and two in a row to the Shuckers, falling 1-0 to Biloxi in front of 4,465 fans.

Pensacola starter Luis Castillo worked six innings and gave up only one run in the first inning but picked up the loss to even his record, 1-1, even though, his ERA dropped to 2.08 on the season. He gave up seven hits and one walk and struck out four.

In his first five starts this season in Double-A, Castillo has lasted at least 5.0 innings and has allowed two runs or less in each game.

However, Biloxi right-hander Jorge Lopez was even better, throwing six scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and one walk, and striking out 10 Blue Wahoos batters. He struck out five in a row and Lopez separately also retired 12 in a row.

On the night, Pensacola got just four hits and struck out 14 times as they got shutout for the second time this season.

Pensacola manager Pat Kelly said his hitters have to remain upbeat at the plate despite their struggles at the plate with a .210 team batting average, which is ninth in the Southern League.

“They got to stay positive because it’s a long season,” Kelly said. “This is a tough league. Some of the managers think the pitching is better this than last year. This is a tough league to hit in.”

Kelly pointed out the Pensacola offense has scored 66 runs in its 22 games this season but still has the second-best record in the Southern League at 14-8 and is in first place in the Southern Division.

He complimented 24-year-old Biloxi pitcher Lopez, who was named the Southern League Pitcher of the Year in 2015 when he went 12-5 with a 2.26 ERA. That year, Lopez even started two games for the parent club, Milwaukee Brewers. Last year, though, he was 3-11 between Triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox and Biloxi.

Pensacola did have a chance to score in the seventh inning. Gabriel Guerrero, who was 2-4, got thrown out at third by Biloxi catcher Jacob Nottingham. Kelly argued the call because he thought the throw pulled Shuckers third baseman Blake Allemand off the bag on the close play. If Guerrero reached third safely, Pensacola would have had the bases loaded with no outs.

But Biloxi reliever Josh Uhen bore down and struck out the next two Pensacola batters to get out of the jam.

Biloxi scored first in the top of the first inning to go ahead, 1-0, when Allemand scored from third on a passed ball by Adrien Nieto. The Shuckers then loaded the bases with two outs on two singles and a walk but Castillo go out of the jam on a fly ball to right field.

Atmore Man Found Shot To Death Inside His Vehicle

April 28, 2017

Invtigators are searching for clues in the shooting death of a 20-year old Atmore man Wednesday night.

The victim was identified by police Friday as 20-year old Donta Demorris Russell of 176 Patterson Street in Atmore.  He was found dead after the Escambia County (AL) Sheriff’s Office responded to a report of a shots fired at 1980 Martin Luther King, Jr. drive about 10:16 p.m.

They arrived to find a Crown Victoria partially off the roadway, resting against a tree in yard. They found Russell deceased in the driver’s seat with obvious gunshot wounds. Investigators believe he was alone in the vehicle.

The case remains under investigation by the Escambia County (AL) Sheriff’s Office. Anyone with information on the murder is asked to call (251) 809-2154 or leave an anonymous tip at

Cottage Hill Cockfighting Investigation Leads To One Arrest

April 28, 2017

One person has been arrested for cockfighting after a search warrant was executed Thursday in Cottage Hill.

The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office and Escambia County Animal Control seized 11 roosters from a home on McKenzie Road near Handy Road Thursday, according to Amber Southard, spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Office.

Terry Maurus Jackson, age 58 of McKenzie Road, was arrested at the home Thursday night and charged with three counts of animal fighting and three counts of possession of a controlled substance. He was released from the Escambia County Jail on a $30,000 bond.

Escambia County deputies executed a search warrant at Jackson’s residence for narcotics and found cockfighting roosters, cockfighting paraphernalia, cockfighting trophies and pictures of roosters. Escambia County Animal control was then contacted, along with the State Attorney’s Office.

Animal control reported that the roosters’ talons had been cut and prepared for cockfighting, according to court documents. They were also found to have injuries consistent with cockfighting.

Paraphernalia seized from the home included “Gamecock” magazine;  medications, needles, syringes, saws, spurs and hooks; a written journal and cockfighting trophies. Written on one of the trophies were the words “1st Place — 5-Cock Derby — Poor Man’s Club 3-18-17″.

Schedule III narcotics associated were cockfighting were also seized, according to court documents, including Trenbolone, Testosterone Propionate and Testerone Acetate.

There was no word if the alleged cockfighting was taking place at the home on McKenzie Road or elsewhere. The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office and the State Attorney’s Office are continuing their investigation. photos by Kristi Barbour, click to enlarge.

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