Mahle Strikes Out Career-High Nine Hitters In Win

May 31, 2017

Pensacola Blue Wahoos right-hander Tyler Mahle didn’t know that the Cincinnati Reds top dog, Dick Williams, was in the stands watching his performance.

But he said it wouldn’t have mattered if he did know that the Reds president of baseball operations and general manager was there.

Mahle threw seven scoreless innings, gave up three hits and struck out a career-high nine batters as the Blue Wahoos beat the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, 6-0, in front of 3,571 fans at Blue Wahoos Stadium.

“I just felt good tonight,” he said. “I had control of all my pitches. My arm felt live.”

It’s the kind of outing that Pensacola manager Pat Kelly has come to expect from the 22-year-old, who Baseball America says is the Reds 12th best prospect in the organization.

“That’s normal for him this year,” Kelly said. “He has had 11 really good starts that we’ve seen so far.”

The Blue Wahoos lineup staked Mahle to a 6-0 lead, something he’s not used to. It allowed him to focus on pitching and earn his first victory since May 8 and first victory after losing two games. He improved to 6-2 on the year and lowered his earned-run average to 1.55.

For the Blue Wahoos it was the team’s sixth shutout win this season. The team improved to 29-22 overall to remain in first place in the Southern League South Division. Pensacola has either led the division or been tied for first in 51 of 57 days this season. With the second place Biloxi Shuckers losing, 7-3, Tuesday to the Mobile BayBears, Pensacola is now up three games in the standings.

“We need to obviously win every series,” said Mahle about the tight race for the first half crown.

Mahle, the Southern League Player of the Month in April, is doing his best by leading the Southern League in victories (6), and having the second-best strikeout total (72), ERA (1.55) and batting average by opponents (.182).

Pensacola is vying to become the first team since the Tennessee Smokies from 2009 to 2011 win four straight half-division titles.

Pensacola scored first when Jacksonville starter Omar Bencomo had an unusual case of lack of control. The Jumbo Shrimps right hander walked the bases loaded. He entered the game allowing just 1.27 walks per nine innings — third best in the Southern League. Pensacola first baseman Eric Jagielo hit a weak blooper to left field that scored left fielder Tyler Goeddel to put the Blue Wahoos on top, 1-0.

Mahle helped himself in the fourth inning when he hit a chopper to shortstop that scored second baseman Alex Blandino to put the Blue Wahoos up, 2-0. With two outs, center fielder Gabriel Guerrero poked a line drive single to right field that drove in both Mahle and Goeddel for a, 4-0, Pensacola lead.

Kelly praised Guerrero’s clutch two-out single.

“We get all those walks and we can’t take advantage of them,” Kelly said, pointing out that Pensacola batters walked seven times in the game. “You think, ‘Are we only going to get one run again?’ Guerrero punching the ball into the gap over there gave us two huge runs.”

Kelly also credited Guerrero’s defense in center field Tuesday. He caught five balls, chasing down three of them.

“Guerrero played terrific,” Kelly said. “To me if you can run, center field is a really good position to play. Gabby can run very well. He’s improving his angles.”

Pensacola tacked on another run in the fifth inning to go up, 5-0, when with two outs shortstop Blake Trahan doubled to drive in Blandino. The Blue Wahoos extended the lead, 6-0, when Jagielo hit a deep sacrifice fly ball to the warning track in right field to score third baseman Josh VanMeter, who doubled to the left center gap to lead-off the inning.

Both Guerrero, who was 1-4 with two RBIs, and Jagielo, who was 1-3 with two RBIs, led the Blue Wahoos at the plate.

The Cincinnati Reds promoted Double-A Blue Wahoos right-hander Austin Ross (5-0, 1.21 ERA) to the Triple-A Louisville Bats. High-A Daytona Tortugas right-hander Jose Lopez (2-4, 2.84) was promoted to replace Ross.

In addition, former Blue Wahoos starter Jackson Stephens got called up to the Cincinnati Reds. The 23-year-old (3-3, 5.79 ERA) will make his Major League debut, if he gets into a game.

Man Gets Life For Armed Robbery Of Nine Mile Raceway Station

May 31, 2017

A man is headed to prison for life for the armed robbery of a Raceway on Nine Mile Road in 2016.

Ryan Erick Cheney, 41, was convicted of armed robbery with a firearm with discharge by Circuit Judge  Edward P. Nickinson. Following his conviction, Nickinson immediately sentenced Cheney to life in state prison. Since there is no parole in Florida, Cheney will serve the remainder of his life in prison.

On June 15, 2016, Cheney and co-defendant, Joseph Reynolds, entered the Raceway Gas Station on Nine Mile Road, while Reynolds acted as a lookout, Cheney pointed the firearm at the clerk and demanded money and cigarettes. Cheney discharged the  firearm into the floor towards the clerk. Both defendants fled the scene in the getaway vehicle waiting outside driven by co-defendant, Hunter Lafoe. All three defendants were apprehended a few days later.

During the course of the investigation, a bulletin was sent out to law enforcement agencies across the country. Cheney was identified by an agency in New Hampshire. Cheney has an outstanding warrant in New Hampshire for a pending armed robbery charge. Also, Cheney had a prior conviction of robbery and served more than five years in prison in New Hampshire.

On May 26, 2017, Joseph Reynolds pleaded no contest to the charge of robbery with a deadly weapon and Lafoe pleaded no contest to the charge of principal to robbery with a deadly weapon. Both Reynolds and Lafoe will be sentenced on August 29, 2017 before Nickinson.

Reynolds, who was the lookout, faces up to 20 years in state prison for his role in the robbery. Lafoe, who was the getaway driver, faces up to 10 years in state prison for his role in the robbery.

Willie Edward Smith

May 31, 2017

Willie Edward Smith, Sr. was born in Molino, FL on July 4, 1945. He went home to be with Jesus on Tuesday, May 30, 2017, at the age of 71. He was known by a lot of his friends and fans as the Guitar Man, when he played in the band. He loved his country and gospel music. At the end of each show they would close with a gospel song. Willie retired from Smith Bakery.

Willie is preceded in death by his parents, E.J. “Elluard” Smith and Lucia Margariet Smith; daughter, Tammy Lynn Smith; grandson, Daniel Smith; great-grandson, Curtis Smith; niece, Samantha Nowling; and several aunts and uncles.

He is survived by his loving wife, Betty “Kay” Smith; son, Willie Edward (Sandy) Smith, II; daughters, Sheila (Randy) Ballard and Christina (Chris) Cody; six grandsons, Christopher Phelps, Richard Ballard, Tyler (Kim) Smith, Devin Smith, Dalton Smith and Michael Cody; six granddaughters, Brittany Brown, Miranda (James) Benton, Skye Smith, Ashley and Kristian Ballard and Emily Cody; one great-grandson, Gabrielle Phelps with one great-grandson on the way, Jasper Wayne Benton; brothers, Melvin (Sharon) Smith, Charles Smith, Roger Smith and Paul Smith; sisters, Wanda (Robert) Cushing, Deborah (Cleve) Cushing, Hazel (Steve) Wilson and Leona (Don) Gafford; aunts, June Weaver and Mary Ann Patrick; uncle, Jimmy Denham; and several nieces and nephews.

Willie will be deeply missed by his wife and all of his family. He was a loving husband. The best thing that has ever happened to me. He loved all of his family. We were all very close and hope it will stay that way. That was his final wish.

Pallbearers will be Christopher Phelps, Chris Cody, Michael Cody, Richard Ballard, Randy Ballard and Michael Smith.

I want to give a special thanks to Brother Ken Johnson and his wife, Vickie for being here at our time of need.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to help with the funeral arrangements.

Visitation will be Saturday, June 3, 2017, beginning at 10 a.m. with the funeral service to begin at 11 a.m. Brother Ken Johnson will be officiating.

Interment will follow at Pugh’s Chapel in Molino, FL.

Faith Chapel Funeral Home North is entrusted with the arrangements.

Betty Marshall Burkett

May 31, 2017

Betty Marshall Burkett, 78 of Atmore, AL, passed away Tuesday, May 30, 2017, in Atmore, AL. She was a retired secretary from Alabama Power Company after many years of service. She was born in Atmore, AL on March 9, 1939, to the late Elmer Earl and Ruth Cole Marshall. She was a member of The First Presbyterian Church of Atmore.

She is preceded in death by her husband, Roy L. Burkett; and one brother, Franklin Marshall.

Survivors include one son, Jason Eric Burkett; and one daughter, Christy Burkett (David) Neff, all of Atmore, AL; and one granddaughter, Lisa Coleen Neff of Phoenix, AZ.

Services will be held Friday, June 2, 2017, at 11 a.m. from Johnson-Quimby Funeral Home Chapel with Rev. Jim Thorpe officiating.

Interment will follow in Oak Hill Cemetery.

Family will receive friends on Friday, June 2, 2017, at Johnson-Quimby Funeral Home from 10 a.m. until service time at 11 a.m.

Johnson-Quimby Funeral Home is in charge of all arrangements.

Lilly Miller Wells

May 31, 2017

Mrs. Lilly Miller Wells, 77, passed away on Sunday, May 28, 2017, in Atmore, Alabama.

Mrs. Wells was a native of Wallace, AL and had resided in Atmore, AL for most of her life. She is preceded in death by her father and mother, Johnny Miller and Elsie Burch; three sisters and two brothers.

She is survived by one sister, Shirley Kenney of Atmore, AL; a number of nieces and nephews and a special great-nephew, D’Angelo Riley of Bay Minette, AL.

Graveside services were held Tuesday, May 30, 2017, at the Flomaton Cemetery with Bro. Ronnie Macks officiating.

Petty-Eastside Chapel Funeral Homes is in charge of all arrangements.

Former Teacher, Coach Arrested For Sexual Contact With A Student

May 30, 2017

A former teacher and coach has been arrested for having sexual contact with a student.

Jason Paul Blaney, age 38 of 4884 Highway 4 in Jay, was employed by the Escambia County (AL) Board of Education as a math teacher, volleyball coach and softball coach at W.S. Neal High School in East Brewton.

Blaney’s May 26 arrest stemmed from a complaint received on March 30, 2017, by the Sheriff’s Office. He was released from the Escambia County Detention Center in Brewton on a  $10,000 bond.

The case is still under investigation at this time and possible further charges may be pending. The case has been turned over to the District Attorney’s office.

Blaney was hired a W.S. Neal in 2009 after leaving Milton High School, to teach math and coach volleyball. He became softball head coach in February 2016. He resigned his teaching and coaching positions on April 12.

Escambia County, Century Free Up Housing Assistance Funds

May 30, 2017

A new agreement between Escambia County and the Town of Century will free up tens of thousands of dollars in housing assistance.

In May 2016, Escambia County made a total of $260,000 available to tornado victims in the town limits of Century for housing repairs.

To date, $174,761 has been expended or is currently allotted for 10 applicants. The original agreement between Escambia County and Century restricted the assistance to only those impacted by the February 2016 tornado in Century. The deadline for tornado victims to apply for assistance has passed.

An amended agreement recently passed by the Escambia County Commission will free the remaining $85,239 to provide housing rehabilitation assistance regardless of tornado damage.

The application procedure and timeline for the funding has not yet been announced.

Pictured: The first home in the town of Century completed under the SHIP Program through Escambia County and Habitat for Humanity. photo, click to enlarge.

ECAT Offers Free Summer Rides For Youth

May 30, 2017

The Escambia County Area Transit (ECAT) Summer Wheels Pass program is now in effect, allowing youth to ride ECAT free all summer.

The pass will allow youth 18 and under to ride ECAT from Memorial Day to Labor Day at no charge.

“We are excited that ECAT will be offering the Summer Wheels Pass to our students again this summer,” said Escambia County School Superintendent Malcom Thomas. “A bus pass can mean easier access to the public libraries, the museums downtown, summer activities all over town and even the beach. We hope the passes will encourage families to spend their free time giving their students new experiences as well as making frequent trips to the libraries because we all know that summer reading is a great way for our students to avoid the summer slide.”

The Summer Wheels Pass can be obtained with an application and a parent or guardian at the ECAT administrative office on Fairfield Ave. To download the Summer Wheels Pass application, please visit or call Tonya Ellis at 850-595-3229.

Dedria’s Gift Presents Local Scholarship Awards

May 30, 2017

The charity Dedria’s Gift recently presented two scholarships to deserving Northview High School students.

Dustin Radcliffe will attend Pensacola State College to study music education. He plans to transfer to Troy University after two years.

Ta’Keyzha Johnson will attend Pensacola State College to study cosmetology. She hopes to go on from there to become an esthetician.

Dedria’s Gift honors the memory of Dedria Robinson who was killed in a 2005 automobile accident at age 11. The group annually provides school supplies for hundreds of children the Century area.

Photos for, click to enlarge.

FDOT: Weekly Traffic Alerts

May 30, 2017

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

Escambia County:

·         Interstate 10 (I-10)/U.S. 29 Interchange Improvements Phase I- Alternating lane closures on I-10 eastbound near the U.S. 29 interchange (Exits 10A and 10B) from 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 30 to 6 a.m. Wednesday, May 31 as crews perform paving work.

In addition, the U.S. 29 north to I-10 westbound ramp will be closed from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Tuesday, May 30 through Thursday, June 1 as crews perform shoulder work. Traffic will be detoured north to make a U-turn at Broad Street to access I-10 westbound.

·            I-10 Widening from Davis Highway (S.R. 291) to the Escambia Bay Bridge- Alternating lane closures on Scenic Highway (U.S. 90), between Whisper Way and Northpointe Parkway, from 7 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, May 30 through Thursday, June 1 as crews perform paving work.

·            Creighton Road (State Road (S.R.) 742) Construction Improvement Project from east of Davis Highway to Scenic Highway – Intermittent and alternating lane closures between 9th Avenue and Scenic Highway from 8:30 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. beginning Tuesday, May 30 as crews begin sidewalk repairs and Americans with Disabilities Act upgrades.

·            S.R. 4 Routine Bridge Inspection over West Coldwater Creek- Alternating lane restrictions, 3.3 miles east of S.R. 89, from 8 p.m. Monday, May 30 to 5 a.m. Tuesday, May 31 as crews perform a routine bridge inspection.

·            S.R. 30 (U.S. 98) Pensacola Bay Bridge Replacement – The eastbound, right lane will be closed from 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 31 until 5 a.m. Thursday, June 1 as tankers deliver fuel to barges being used in the construction of the new bridge.

·            Road Ranger Service Patrol on the Pensacola Bay Bridge – Service patrol vehicles will be stationed on each of the bridges between 5 a.m. and 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, and between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. on weekends and major holidays. At other times, at least one unit will be on-call and available to respond within 30 minutes.  Road Ranger assistance on the Pensacola Bay Bridge will be available by dialing the Florida Highway Patrol at *FHP (*347).

·            Bayou Boulevard (S.R. 296) Resurfacing from Basiden Road to U.S. 90- Traffic shift and low barrier wall in place between Lakeview Drive and Conway Drive as crews continue working on drainage improvements.  The traffic shift will be in place through the end of May.

·            U.S. 29 (S.R. 95) Widening from I-10 to Nine Mile Road- Alternating lane closures continue from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. on U.S. 29 between I-10 and 9 1/2 Mile Road and on Nine Mile Road near the U.S. 29/ Nine Mile Road overpass as crews perform drainage and bridge operations.

·         Nine Mile Road (S.R. 10/U.S. 90A) Widening from Pine Forest Road to U.S. 29- Alternating lane closures continue on Untreiner Avenue as crews perform jack and bore operations.

Santa Rosa County

·         I-10 Widening from Escambia Bay Bridge to Avalon Boulevard (S.R. 281) – Alternating lane closures from the Escambia Bay Bridge to just east of S.R. 281 (Avalon Boulevard/Exit 22), from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Tuesday, May 30 through Thursday, June 1 as crews continue widening work. In addition, alternating lane closures on Avalon Boulevard near the I-10 interchange during this time as crews reconstruct the Avalon Boulevard overpass.

· I-10 Resurfacing from east of S.R. 87 to the Okaloosa County Line- Intermittent and alternating closures between the S.R. 87 interchange (Exit 31) and the Okaloosa County line from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Tuesday, May 30 through Thursday, June 1  as crews perform paving operations.   Motorists are reminded the speed limit is reduced to 60 MPH within the lane closure.

·         Gulf Breeze Parkway (U.S. 98) Underground Utility Work at Woodlawn Way- The westbound, left turn lane at Woodlawn Way will be closed from 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 30 to 5 a.m. Wednesday, May 31 as crews perform underground utility work.

Drivers are reminded to use caution, especially at night, when traveling through the construction zone, and to pay attention for workers and equipment entering and exiting the work area.  All activities are weather dependent and may be delayed or rescheduled in the event of inclement weather.

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