FHP Conducts Roadside Checkpoint On Nine Mile Road

December 30, 2017

The Florida Highway Patrol conducted a roadside checkpoint on Nine Mile Road Friday night from 8:00 until about midnight at Baron Miller Road (between Walmart and Kohls). There were scheduled to be about 30 uniformed officers participating, along with support personnel from the local Mothers Against Drunk Driving chapter.

During the operation, vehicles were stopped to check for driver impairment with roadside sobriety testing performed on site.

Statistics from the checkpoint, including the number of citations and arrests, were not immediately available.

Courtesy photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Lawmakers Look To Boost Scholarship Programs

December 30, 2017

For Florida residents, attending a state university or college is a bargain.

This academic year, in-state students at Florida’s 12 universities will pay an average of $6,091 in tuition and fees for 30 credit hours, which is nearly 40 percent below the national average of $9,970 for four-year public schools, according to the College Board.

At Florida’s 28 state colleges, full-time students will pay an average of $3,205 in tuition and fees, which is 10 percent below the national average of $3,570, according to the College Board.

And when the Florida Legislature convenes its 2018 session on Jan. 9, lawmakers are expected to further ease the financial burden by expanding merit- and need-based aid.

The scholarship expansions are part of Senate President Joe Negron’s initiative to improve the quality and accessibility of Florida’s higher-education system.

Lawmakers backed most of the higher-education package in the 2017 session, although some of the changes were lost when Gov. Rick Scott vetoed a bill after raising concerns about its impact on the state college system.

Legislation (SB 4) that will be on the Senate floor early in the 2018 session would make permanent an expansion in Bright Futures scholarships and would authorize programs that recognize high-performing graduate schools and efforts to hire top-level faculty and researchers at state universities. The bill would also hold universities to a four-year graduation standard in performance funding.

“I’m very encouraged and very optimistic we will get that done,” Negron, R-Stuart, said in an interview with The News Service of Florida.

Sen. Bill Galvano, a Bradenton Republican who oversees higher-education spending in the Senate, said the initiative reflects “a real desire to make sure no one has an obstacle to obtaining a higher education.”

“We’re going to do two things at once,” said Galvano, who is sponsoring the main Senate bill. “We’re going to create much greater access, which in the end results in a more qualified workforce and more innovation in the economy. And the other thing is we are going to heighten the (quality) level of the institutions that we have in the state of Florida.”

Several provisions in the bill affect the 94,000 students who have merit-based Bright Futures scholarships.

One measure would make permanent a decision to cover 100 percent of tuition and fees for the top-performing Bright Futures students, who are known as “academic scholars.” The bill also includes $300 for books for both the fall and spring semesters and would allow academic scholars to use the scholarships during the summer.

A new provision, which was not included in the 2017 legislation, would also boost Bright Futures scholarships for “medallion” scholars, who currently receive $77 for each credit hour. Credit hours average more than $200 across the system.

The bill would expand the scholarships to 75 percent of the tuition and fees, or $159 for each credit hour.

The legislation, with the support of Senate Appropriations Chairman Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, would also allow medallion scholars to use their scholarships during the summer.

The medallion scholarship expansion would cost some $77 million, with an additional $27.6 million for the summer semesters beginning in 2019, according to Senate analysts.

Lawmakers are also expected to build on a need-based aid expansion, which boosted the Florida Student Assistance Grant program by $121 million and expanded coverage to some 234,824 students this year, an increase of more than 122,000 students receiving the aid.

The grants, which average $1,147 per student this year, are used on top of federally funded Pell grants, which are awarded based on family income levels.

The new legislation also would double the state’s match for students in the “First Generation” grant program, which helps students with financial need who come from families where parents have not earned college degrees.

In the 2016-17 academic year, 8,361 university and state college students received the awards, which averaged $1,270, although another 15,442 students were eligible but did not receive funding.

The program is particularly important to state colleges, which have the majority of students who qualify for the program.

Another provision in the bill, which was advanced by Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, would create a scholarship program to cover full tuition and fees for students from farmworker families.

The program, which would cost some $500,000, would award up to 50 scholarships per year.

At the university level, another measure in the bill could impact student finances.

The legislation would require state universities to develop a “block tuition” program by the fall of 2018. In such a program, students would pay a flat rate each semester rather than paying for classes on a credit-hour basis.

For instance, a student could pay a fee representing 15 credit hours but take classes totaling 18 or more credit hours, which would represent a savings.

However, if a student paid a fee representing 15 credit hours but took only 12 hours of classes, it would represent a financial penalty.

by The News Service of Florida

Escambia BOCC Weekly Meeting Schedule

December 30, 2017

Here is a schedule of Escambia County public meetings for the week of January 1-5:

Monday, Jan. 1

County offices closed – New Year’s Day

Wednesday, Jan. 3

Board of County Commissioners and International Association of EMTs and Paramedics Bargaining Meeting – 10:30 a.m., Escambia County Public Safety Building, 6575 N. “W” St., Meeting Room 222

Development Review Committee - 1 p.m., Escambia County Central Office Complex, 3363 West Park Place

Board of County Commissioners and International Association of Firefighters Bargaining Meeting – 2:30 p.m., Escambia County Public Safety Building, 6575 N. “W” St., Meeting Room 222

Thursday, Jan. 4

Board of County Commissioners Executive Session (Amalgamated Transit Union) – 8 a.m., Ernie Lee Magaha Government Building, 221 Palafox Place, BCC Conference Room

BCC Agenda Review, Public Forum and Regular Meeting – 9 a.m., 4:30 p.m. & 5:30 p.m., Ernie Lee Magaha Government Building, 221 Palafox Place (Agenda)

Youth Sports Thriving at Escambia County Parks

December 30, 2017

More than 1,000 local youth participated in football and cheerleading this season at Escambia County athletic parks, offering children and teens opportunities to develop athletic skills and make friends in a fun, structured environment.

Through partnerships between the Escambia County Parks and Recreation Department and local youth sports associations, youth participate each fall in football, cheerleading and flag football at several county-owned parks.

Escambia County Parks and Recreation Director Michael Rhodes said the department is proud to partner with local athletic associations to offer sports to local youth, and it wouldn’t be possible without the many volunteers who dedicate their time to the programs.

“The parks and recreation department knows the importance of youth involvement in athletics and other recreation programs and knows the benefits that can be reaped throughout childhood and teenage years when involved in athletics at a young age,” Rhodes said. “Without the volunteer support and long hours put in by these parents, relatives and friends, youth sports in Escambia County would not thrive as it does today.”

And for the kids and teenagers who participate, youth sports represent so much more than just a game, said League Commissioner Brian Reed with the North West Florida Youth Sports Alliance. Just wrapping up its fourth season, the league has about 125 teams in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties with more than 4,000 youth ages 5-14 participating, Reed said.

“I don’t think anybody puts enough emphasis on what youth sports does,” Reed said. “It goes beyond just the game…It provides them an activity to do, but I think more than that it’s providing them positive role models, and they’re learning the sport the correct way. I think the guys who are out here involved, they’re out here trying to make a positive influence on the youth.”

Reed said the partnership between the league and the county is essential to keeping football and cheerleading programs running, especially when it comes to maintaining fields so the athletes have a safe place to play. The Escambia County Parks and Recreation Department always works hard to keep up the fields and quickly address any issues as they arise, Reed said.

“They take so much weight off of my guys, the guys that are running these parks,” Reed said. “I don’t know what we would do without the parks and recreation department. Anytime I have an issue or one of my parks has an issue, I just pick up the phone and it’s handled. It’s a priceless, symbiotic relationship.”

Youth football and cheerleading finished their approximately four-month season in November, and the youth flag football league kicked off shortly after at Escambia County’s Ashton Brosnaham Athletic Park.

Along with football teams, each ballpark also has cheerleaders who participate through the Emerald Coast Cheer Association, cheering at each game and taking part in an annual cheer competition. The cheer association has athletes in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties, with participants ranging from ages 4-14.

Emerald Coast Cheer Association President Andi DeVito said the program focuses on skill progression, with the rules established to prepare young athletes to enter high school cheer programs.

DeVito said the importance of youth cheerleading and other sports is huge, and she hopes to continue to grow the cheer program in both Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.

“Kids need to have some kind of organized social interaction, whether it’s a sport or some kind of program to be involved in,” DeVito said. “And being involved in community recreational programs makes those kids a part of our community – they’re our future leaders.”

Escambia County provides its facilities to youth sports organizations, and Rhodes said the county is happy to support them in their continuous efforts in the community.

“Ultimately, the parks and recreation department is pleased that we can have parks under our purview that offer several options to parents, whether it be tackle football, flag football, cheerleading, lacrosse or other sports,” Rhodes said. “This supports our goal of being involved in youth sports and its tremendous benefits to young people in our community.”

John Louis Gandy

December 30, 2017

Mr. John Louis Gandy, 80, passed away on Sunday, December 24, 2017, in Flomaton, Alabama.

Mr. Gandy was a native of Bluff Springs, FL, former resident of Century, FL and resided in Flomaton, AL most of his life. He was a member of the Poplar Dell Baptist Church. He is preceded in death by his parents, J.L. and Louise Gandy; brother, William H. “Bill” Gandy; and grandson, Judson Slocom.

He is survived by his wife, Mary Faye Gandy of Flomaton, AL; two sons, John Michael “Mike” (Rena) Gandy of Century, FL and Tracy Lee (Tammy Jo Smith) Gandy of Century, FL; one daughter, Belinda (Ellie, Jr.) Black of Seminole, AL; grandchildren, KC (Meaghan) Ives, Shawn (Tamara) Black, Danielle (Luke) Whedbee, Robin (Robert) Fuqua, Cole Gandy, Shenna (Andy) Robinson, Chrystal (Shane) Dunsford and David (Kayla) Wilson, Cody (Christy) Smith, Clay (Destinie) Smith, Chad Smith and Cloe Smith; and great-grandchildren, Tinsley Gandy, Matthew Slocom, Robert Tompkins, Braxton Smith, Braelyn Smith, Briana Dunsford, Addie Dunsford, Riley Wilson, Logan Wilson, Zackary Black, Jamee Black, Amari Whedbee, Luke Whedbee, Caleb Barrentine, Maurice Dixon and Blake Dunsford.

Funeral services will be Saturday, December 30, 2017 at 2 p.m. at the Petty-Eastside Chapel Funeral Home with Bro. Mitch Herring officiating.

Burial will follow at the Flomaton Cemetery.

Visitation will be Saturday, December 30, 2017 from 1 p.m. until service time at the Petty-Eastside Chapel Funeral Home.

Pallbearers will be Cole Gandy, Hanes Gandy, Caleb Barrentine, Robert Fuqua, Shane Dunsford, David Wilson, Clay Smith and Jace Gandy.

Honorary pallbearers will be Donnie Cofield, Bill Priddy, Mickey Powell, Carl Gandy, George Chavers, Hank Coleman and Robert Fuller.

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

Robert Eugene Garrett

December 30, 2017

Robert Eugene Garrett, 72, passed away peacefully on December 23, 2017, surrounded by his loving family. He was a professional truck driver and an avid Florida Gator fan.

He is preceded in death by his son, Timothy Wayne Garrett; parents, Samuel and Anna Garrett; brothers, David and ER Garrett; sisters, Florence White, Barbara Garrett and Doris Hughes.

He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Sherry Garrett; son, Scott Garrett; sisters, Lucille (Lamar) Kilcrease and Joyce (Skip) Blackmon; brother-in-law, Charles (Sharon) Wilkerson; four grandchildren, Stephanie, Anthony, Shaine and Jordan; four great-grandchildren, Trenton, Ayden, Khloie and Cade; and many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.

Pallbearers were Clifford Blackmon, Darin Kilcrease, Clay Hughes, Jimmy Martin, Thomas Carter and Dwayne Patterson.

Services were held Thursday, December 28, 2017, at Faith Chapel Funeral Home North with Brother Dale Patterson officiating.

Faith Chapel Funeral Home North is entrusted with the arrangements.

Clara O’Farrell

December 30, 2017

Mrs. Clara O’Farrell, age 88, passed away Tuesday, December 26, 2017, in Mobile, Alabama.

Mrs. O’Farrell was native of Pineville, FL and resided in Atmore, AL. She was a member of the Atmore First Baptist Church. She is preceded in death by her parents; husband, Buford O’Farrrell; and brother, J.W. Hubbird.

Survivors include her son, Donald A. O’Farrell of Atmore, AL; four nieces and three nephews, Ronnie, Brenda, Janette, James, Joe, Regina and Candice.

Funeral services were held Saturday, December 30, 2017, at the Petty-Eastside Chapel Funeral Home with Rev. Arnold Hendrix officiating.

Burial will follow at the Serenity Gardens Cemetery.

Pallbearers will be the church deacons.

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

Funeral Services Set For Century Accident Victim Daizee Angus

December 29, 2017

Funeral services have been set for Daizee Brooke Angus, the young Flomaton woman that passed away in a vehicle accident last week near Century.

Funeral services will be held at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the West Milton Church of Christ, with Pastor Al Bethea officiating.

The family will receive friends from 1:30 p.m. Sunday until the time of service at the church. Burial will follow in the Serenity Gardens Cemetery.

Daizee was 19-years old. She was a senior at Flomaton High School and was employed at McDonald’s in Flomaton.

For the complete obituary, click here.

Cantonment Woman Charged With Shooting, Killing Puppy

December 29, 2017

A Cantonment woman  has been charged with shooting and killing a misbehaving puppy.

Amanda Cay Carpenter, 27, was charged with animal cruelty and firing a weapon in public in connection after the incident at a mobile home park on Ryale Road.

Carpenter’s next door neighbor called the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office and reported that she was inside her residence when she heard two gunshots, a slight pause and one more gunshot. The witness told deputies that she heard the dog whimpering and crying after the first two shots. Then after the last shot, she did not hear the animal anymore. She said she walked outside to see what was going on and observed Carpenter going back inside her residence with what was later found to be a .22 caliber rifle, an arrest report states.

Carpenter told deputies that her nine-month old pit bull chewed up and damaged several items in her room. She said she tried to put it in a kennel but it would not go. According to an arrest report, she said the  puppy also attempted to bite her in the face before she put it outside.

When asked by deputies why she did not just leave the dog outside, locked in the yard and call animal control, Carpenter could not answer, the report states.

When Carpenter shot at the dog, she was firing in the direction of another trailer only about 40 feet away, according to the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office.

FHP Seeks Driver In North Davis Hwy Pedestrian Hit And Run

December 29, 2017

The Florida Highway Patrol is searching for the driver of a Chevrolet Trailblazer that struck a pedestrian Thursday afternoon on North Davis Highway.

About 3:16 p.m. the vehicle was traveling southbound on North Davis Highway as 52-year old Paula Clark was crossing the roadway in a marked crosswalk with a walking signal. The FHP said the suspect failed to yield to Ckark, hitting her  in the side. Clark walked to the nearby West Florida Hospital emergency room for treatment of minor injuries.

The suspect vehicle is a mid 2000’s dark blue Chevrolet Trailbalzer with damage to the right side of the vehicle. Anyone with information on the suspect vehicle, driver or crash is asked to call Trooper Timothy Brown in the Florida Highway Patrol Pensacola District at (850) 484-5000.

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