Florida Leaders Blast Oil Drilling Changes

April 30, 2018

Members of Florida’s congressional delegation from both sides of the political aisle denounced a White House proposal Friday that they say would weaken offshore oil-drilling regulations.

The Interior Department labeled the proposed changes to what is known as the 2016 Well Control Rule as “our common-sense approach,” which “could reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens while ensuring that any such activity is safe and environmentally responsible.”

The American Petroleum Institute said the revisions to a “technically flawed” rule will make offshore operations safer.

But Florida lawmakers pointed to economic damage that the deadly 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill inflicted on the state’s tourism industry and environment, particularly in the Panhandle. Those lawmakers questioned if the risk is worth reducing safety regulations.

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, a Longboat Key Republican and co-chairman of the state’s congressional delegation, criticized the proposal by the Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement as “reckless and unacceptable.” The proposal would alter 44 provisions and delete another 15 involving well-control regulations.

“Have we learned nothing from the worst environmental disaster in American history?” Buchanan said in a prepared statement. “These safeguards should remain in place.”

Buchanan noted that among the proposed changes, independent inspectors who test blowout preventers would no longer need to be certified by the government and real-time monitoring of offshore oil rigs would be loosened. The regulations were enacted under former President Barack Obama.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., criticized the proposal as the Trump administration turning “a blind eye to history, just to help their friends in the oil industry.”

“These rules were put in place to prevent another massive oil spill off our coasts,” Nelson said in a statement. “We can’t allow this new administration to take us backwards in time and, once again, expose Florida’s beautiful beaches and tourism-based economy to such an unnecessary risk.”

The comments from lawmakers were spurred by the Interior Department submitting the proposed revisions to the Federal Register. The changes will be published next week. The move kicks off a 60-day public comment period.

“We are incorporating industry innovation, best science, and best practices to improve reliability, safety, and environmental stewardship,” the Interior Department said.

The changes, directed at oil and gas drilling operations on the outer continental shelf, would revise requirements for equipment and operations for well-control activities. The agency said the changes are proposed to affect less than 18 percent of the 342 provisions implemented in 2016.

Erik Milito, director of upstream and industry operations for the American Petroleum Institute, said in a news release that the revisions “will move us forward on safety, help the government better regulate risks and better protect workers and the environment.”

“As with all regulations, it is important that offshore safety regulations — including BSEE’s Well Control Rule — constantly evolve and are revised based upon new insights and developments in the offshore exploration and development field,” Milito said. “Instead of locking in regulatory provisions that may actually increase risk in operations, it is critical that revisions are made that enhance the regulatory framework to ensure updated, modern, and safe technologies, best practices, and operations.”

Florida lawmakers have repeatedly criticized offshore drilling plans that have emerged in recent months from the White House.

In January, lawmakers took aim at both the initial draft of the Well Control Rule revisions and a separate plan to open to drilling previously protected parts of the nation’s outer continental shelf — a jurisdictional term describing submerged lands 10.36 statutory miles off Florida’s West Coast and three nautical miles off the East Coast.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke appeared briefly Jan. 9 in Tallahassee to announce drilling would not occur off Florida’s coasts. But the administration’s stance has not been formalized and continues to draw questions.

On Jan. 29, Florida Department of Environmental Protection Deputy Director Rebecca Prado outlined the state’s opposition to the rule changes in a letter to the Interior Department.

Prado pointed to the “potential harm that reduced oversight might have on Florida’s environment.”

“As we have seen in the past, oil spills can have a devastating impact to Florida’s economy and our diverse natural resources,” Prado wrote.

Gov. Rick Scott’s office pointed to the letter on Friday.

“As the Florida Department of Environmental Protection clearly stated in January, we are firmly against these proposed changes,” Scott said in a statement Friday. “While I appreciate Secretary Zinke taking Florida off the table for offshore oil drilling, I remain concerned about the potential impact these changes could have on Florida’s environment.”

In November, Florida voters will decide whether to approve a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban nearshore oil and gas drilling. That ban would affect state-controlled waters.

More Potential Traffic Delays For Highway 29 Construction

April 30, 2018

Drivers can expect alternating lane closures on Highway 29 north and southbound, from Muscogee Road to West 9 ½ Mile Road  from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. through Thursday as crews pave the roadway.

Click here for a complete list of weekly road construction issues from the Florida Department of Transportation for Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.

Pictured: Highway 29 at West 9 ½ Mile Road as seen Sunday afternoon. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.

Dorothy Louise Cawthon

April 30, 2018

Mrs. Dorothy Louise Cawthon, age 67, passed away on Friday, April 27, 2018, in Atmore, Alabama.

Mrs. Cawthon was a native of Atmore, AL, former resident of Sweetwater, AL and has resided in Atmore, AL for the past 10 years. She was of the Baptist Faith. She is preceded in death by her son, Bryan Tedder, one brother, Edward Spicer and one sister, Diane Fanning.

Survivors include her two sons, Bubba (Cindy) Tedder of Atmore, AL and Henry Tedder of Atmore, AL; two daughters, Sherry (Ricky) Milstead of Brewton, AL and Daphne Rentz of Jay, FL; husband, Bobbie Cawthon of Jay, FL; foster mother, Mrs. Bell; three brothers, Tom (Tonya) Presley of Byrneville, FL, Tim (Linda) Presley of Byrneville, FL and Wayne Fowler of Gulf Breeze, FL; two sisters, Tammy Jo Smith of Byrneville, FL and Rhonda Spicer of Pensacola, FL; 12 grandchildren, Brandon Tedder, Wiley Lindsey, Zeondra Reaves, Richie Tedder, Jr., Sissy Rolin, Jacob Tedder, Adrienne Tedder, Michael Tedder, Cody Tedder, Courtney Wehmeyer, Kayla Rentz and Logan Bass; and 13 great-grandchildren, Madison Brown, Jayda Lindsey, Ashlynn Milstead, Autumn Reaves, Lagan Rolin, Emily Rolin, Izreal Tedder, Gabriel Wehmeyer, Zachery Wehmeyer, Cason Tedder, Olivia Tedder, Amelia Tedder and Oliver Bass.

Petty-Eastside Chapel Funeral Homes, LLC in charge of all arrangements

James Riley Robbins

April 30, 2018

On April 27, 2018, James (Jim) Riley Robbins, 85, of Cantonment, Florida, was released from the bonds of his earthly home and lifted into the loving arms of his heavenly father.

Jim was preceded in death by his parents, James L. and Stella Robbins; and brother, Pellar Robbins.

He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Joyce Whitson Robbins; son, Jeffrey K. Robbins; daughter, Jamie D. Robbins (London), daughter, Joanna Rene Robbins Hayes; son, James F. Holladay Robbins; son-in-law, Robert Richard Hayes III, grandchildren Sabrina Kathleen Robbins, Alexandra Robbins Hayes, Anastasia Robbins Hayes, Robert Riley Robbins Hayes, Stella Jolena London, sister Carolyn Jordan (Donald) and brother H. Raymond Robbins. He also was loved and will be remembered by numerous relatives, nieces, nephews, extended family, coworkers and lifelong friends.

The oldest of Luther and Stella Robbins’ four children, Jim (born at home in the “old Bullwinkle house”) arrived on this earth on July 8, 1932, in Bratt, Florida. A curious child with a thirst for knowledge and adventure, he was often noticed by neighbors at the mail box reading the local newspaper, absorbing news of the outside world, setting the precedence for the adventurous man whom he would grow up to be.

A military veteran, he joined the Navy at age 17 and served for three years during the Korean Conflict aboard the USS Duncan as part of the Underwater Demolition Team as well as performing his other ship board duties and “seeing the world”. After service he returned stateside and began his foray into industrial construction.

Jim was a generous, nurturing, and devoted son, brother, husband, father, and grandfather. As an only child for several years, and in his willingness to help others, he quickly became the caretaker with an intense sense of duty to his siblings and family for his entire life: a trait instilled in him by his mother, Stella.

Having grown up as a country boy in the north end of Escambia County, he was versed at hunting, fishing and gardening; skills that not only provided sustenance for his family during his younger days but was a sense of pride and enjoyment with “Joyce and the young’uns”. In addition to his love of nature he was blessed with God given musical talent teaching himself how to play the guitar, banjo, harmonica, dulcimer, piano, and could easily coax a tune from any instrument he picked up, “even the spoons”.

He generously shared his musical gifts with his children, family, and friends as evidenced in the hours gathered together playing music, singing, and dancing.

He enjoyed reading, traveling, vacationing with his wife and children, as well as attending theatrical productions especially when his “stars” were performing. Raised in the Free Will Baptist faith, he later (after marriage) embraced the United Methodist faith and is currently a member of the Gonzalez United Methodist Church. “Thank you Jesus”.

Jim enjoyed a long and varied career in industrial construction. Traveling throughout the country, he enjoyed the responsibility and took great pride in the completion of many projects from California to Tennessee and Wyoming to Key West. Respected by legions of workers, from management to laborers, he never asked anyone to do anything he wasn’t willing to do himself. He shared his wealth of construction knowledge gleaned from hard work and on-the-job experience over the years, with many up-and-coming craftsmen.

Jim lived larger than life, was beloved by many and will be greatly missed.

Services will be held Tuesday, May 1, 2018. Family will receive friends at 10 a.m. followed by the service at 11 a.m., at Faith Chapel North Funeral Home North.

EREC Holds 79th Annual Meeting (With Gallery)

April 29, 2018

Escambia River Electric Cooperative members held their 79th Annual Meeting Saturday at Northview High School.

Members enjoyed food and entertainment, voted for trustees and bylaws, and met in session.

In 1937, the first meeting was held to organize Escambia River Electric Cooperative, Inc. at the  Oak Grove Community House. By lamplight, several prominent community leaders laid out the  blueprints for the formation and operation of EREC.

After Congress passed the Rural Electrification Act of 1936, which made loans available for  the establishment of rural electric cooperatives, widespread rural electrification began. The formation of cooperatives in other parts of the country stimulated the interest of local leaders  such as C. R. Walker, E. H. Lundy, J. L. Robbins and County Agent J. G. Hudson. They continued to move forward with their plans even though they were often met with opposition and  skepticism.

On March 10, 1939, Escambia River Electric Cooperative, Inc. was born when the incorporators met at the American National Bank building in Pensacola to pass the bylaws, which would establish the cooperative and make their dream a reality. The cooperative’s first month of  operation brought them 88 members. Since that time, the cooperative has grown to serve approximately 10,000 members in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties with over 1,800 miles of  energized line.

Click here for a NorthEscambia.com photo gallery from the event.

NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.

Escambia BOCC Weekly Meeting Schedule

April 29, 2018

Here is a schedule of Escambia County public meetings for the week of April 30-May 4:

Tuesday, May 1

Planning Board – Rezoning – 8:30 a.m., Escambia County Central Office Complex, 3363 West Park Place

Planning Board – Regular – 8:35 a.m., Escambia County Central Office Complex, 3363 West Park Place

Amalgamated Transit Union 1395 Collective Bargaining – 1 p.m., ECAT Administrative Offices, 1515 W. Fairfield Drive

Environmental Enforcement Special Magistrate – 1:30 p.m., Escambia County Central Office Complex, 3363 West Park Place

Pensacola Beach Congestion Management Plan Public Workshop – 5:30 p.m., Ernie Lee Magaha Government Building, Board Chambers, 221 Palafox Place

Wednesday, May 2

Contractor Competency Board – 9 a.m.,  Escambia County Central Office Complex, 3363 West Park Place

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

Thursday, May 3

Board of County Commissioners Agenda Review – 9 a.m., Ernie Lee Magaha Government Building, Board Chambers, 221 Palafox Place

Innerarity Point Park Groundbreaking – 2 p.m., Innerarity Point Park, 5835 Cruzat Way

BCC Public Forum – 4:30 p.m., Ernie Lee Magaha Government Building, Board Chambers, 221 Palafox Place

BCC Regular Meeting – 5:30 p.m., Ernie Lee Magaha Government Building, Board Chambers, 221 Palafox Place

Northview Football Holds Wash, Plans Another One Next Saturday

April 29, 2018

The Northview High School football linemen held a car wash Saturday at an Atmore auto parts store. But don’t worry if you missed it, they’ll do it all again next Saturday with a car wash from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at Aldersgate United Methodist Church on Highway 29 in Molino. (Saturday was National Superheroes Day, just in case you are wondering about that top photo.)  Photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Barrineau Park Cleans Up

April 29, 2018

The 10th Annual Barrineau Park Community Clean Up was held Saturday. Members of the community, including the Barrineau Park 4-H Club, worked together for to clean up along Barrineau Park area roadways. The event was sponsored by the Barrineau Park Historical Society and and the Honeysuckle Garden Club. Photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Highway 29, I-10 And More — This Week’s Construction Delays

April 29, 2018

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

Escambia County:

·         Interstate 10 (I-10) Routine Maintenance between U.S. 29 and Davis Highway- There will be alternating east and westbound lane restrictions from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. Sunday, April 29 through Thursday, May 3 as crews replace overhead lights and signs lights.

·         U.S. 29 Construction Activities north of E. Kinsfield Road- The northbound outside lane will be closed from 8 p.m. Sunday, April 29 to 5 a.m. Monday, April 30 as crews construct a paved shoulder for the O’Reilly’s Auto Parts store.

·         State Road (S.R.) 742 (Creighton Road) Construction Improvement Project from east of Davis Highway (S.R. 291) to Scenic Highway (U.S. 90)- Alternating and intermittent lane closures on Creighton Road between Davis Highway and 9th Avenue and on 9th Avenue at the intersection of Creighton Road from 8:30 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. Sunday, April 29 through Saturday, May 5 continue as crews perform milling, paving, sidewalk and curb replacement.

  • U.S. 29 Widening from I-10 to Nine Mile Road- – Drivers traveling U.S. 29 and Nine Mile Road will encounter traffic pattern changes from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday, April 29 through Saturday, May 5 as follows:
    • Nine Mile Road at the U.S. 29 overpass: North and southbound traffic will be reduced to one lane in each direction. Alternating traffic shifts will direct all traffic onto the westbound or eastbound lanes as crews continue construction of the new center bridge deck. Nine Mile Road lane restrictions are Sunday through Friday.
    • U.S. 29 between I-10 and 9 1/2 Mile Road: Drivers may experience alternating lane closures as crews continue drainage and paving operations. U.S. 29 lane restrictions are Monday through Saturday.

·         U.S. 29 Resurfacing between U.S. 90 and Muscogee Road – Alternating lane closures on U.S. 29 north and southbound, from Muscogee Road to West 9 ½ Mile Road, from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. through Thursday, May 3 as crews pave the roadway.

·         I-10 / U.S. 29 Interchange Improvements Phase I- The following traffic impacts are planned on I-10 and U.S. 29 near the interchange (Exits 10) from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday, April 29 through Thursday, May 3:

    • Alternating lane closures on I-10 east and westbound and U.S. 29 north and southbound.
    • The U.S. 29 on-ramps to I-10 eastbound will be intermittently closed. Traffic will be detoured on U.S. 29 to access I-10 eastbound.
    • Alternating lane closures on the I-10 westbound exit ramp to U.S. 29 north and south (Exit 10).
  • U.S. 98 (S.R. 30) Pensacola Bay Bridge Replacement - Alternating east and westbound, lane closures between 14th Avenue in Pensacola and Bay Bridge Drive in Gulf Breeze, from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. Sunday, April 29 through Thursday, May 3 as crews perform construction activities.
  • Nine Mile Road (S.R. 10/U.S. 90A) Widening from Beulah Road to Pine Forest Road – Pine Cone Drive near Nine Mile Road will be reduced to one lane from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Monday, April 30 and Tuesday, May 1 as crews relocate utilities. Traffic flaggers will be on site to safely direct drivers through the work zone.

·         S.R. 292 (Perdido Key Drive) Turn Lane Construction just east of River Road-The Traffic shift on Perdido Key Drive, just east of River Road, will continue through 8 a.m.  Friday, May 4.  The temporary shift will allow crews to construct an eastbound, left and westbound, right turn lane.  Lane width will be reduced to 11-feet and the speed limit will be lowered to 35 miles per hour within the construction zone.

·         Mobile Highway at Beulah Road Intersection Project- Work to improve the intersection of State Road 10A (Mobile Highway) at County Road (Beulah Road) in Escambia County is scheduled to begin the week of Monday, May 21. To help minimize traffic impacts, much of the construction work will take place behind a low-profile concrete barrier wall. No lane closures will be allowed Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. or 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.  In addition, no lane closures will be scheduled during special school events.

·         Cervantes Street over Bayou Texar Routine Bridge Maintenance- The east and westbound inside lanes of Cervantes Street over Bayou Texar in Pensacola will be closed from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Wednesday, May 2 as crews perform routine bridge maintenance.

Santa Rosa County:

  • U.S. 98 Pensacola Bay Bridge Replacement – Alternating east and westbound lane closures between 14th Avenue in Pensacola and Bay Bridge Drive in Gulf Breeze, from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. Sunday, April 29 through Thursday, May 3 as crews perform construction activities.
  • I-10 Widening from Escambia Bay Bridge to Avalon Boulevard (S.R. 281/Exit 22) Alternating lane closures on I-10, from the Escambia Bay Bridge to east of S.R. 281, from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday, April 29 through Friday, May 4 as crews work to widen the roadway.  Additional impacts to traffic include:

o   Alternating lane closures on Avalon Boulevard, near the I-10 interchange, as crews continue reconstructing the roadway.

o   Traffic shift Sunday evening, April 29 on the I-10 westbound off-ramp to Avalon Boulevard. The shift will be in place for the remainder of the spring so that crews may widen the off-ramp.

  • S.R. 87 (Stewart Street) in Milton between Rosasco Street and Magnolia Street- The southbound lane will be closed from 8 p.m. Monday, April 30 to 5 a.m. Tuesday, May 1 as crews perform utility work.

·         S.R. 87 Multilane from Eglin AFB boundary to Hickory Hammock Road – Southbound traffic will be shifted to the outside travel lane from the Eglin Air Force Base boundary to two-miles south of the Yellow River the week of Monday, April 30 so crews can work in the median and inside lanes.  Northbound traffic will remain in its current configuration with traffic remaining on the outside northbound lane. Additionally, traffic between C.R. 184 (Hickory Hammock Road) and the Eglin AFB boundary is restricted to loads less than 11-feet wide. The restriction will be in place until the project is complete

All activities are weather dependent and may be delayed or re-scheduled in the event of inclement weather. Drivers are reminded to use caution, especially at night, when traveling through a work zone and to watch for construction workers and equipment entering and exiting the roadway.

Sunny And Warm Week Ahead

April 29, 2018

Here is your official North Escambia area forecast:
Sunday: Sunny, with a high near 80. North wind 5 to 10 mph.

Sunday Night: Clear, with a low around 49. Northeast wind around 5 mph.

Monday: Sunny, with a high near 82. Northeast wind 5 to 10 mph becoming southeast in the afternoon.

Monday Night: Patchy fog after 1am. Otherwise, mostly clear, with a low around 57. South wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the evening.

Tuesday: Patchy fog before 10am. Otherwise, mostly sunny, with a high near 83. South wind 5 to 10 mph.

Tuesday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 58. South wind around 5 mph.

Wednesday: Sunny, with a high near 85. Southeast wind 5 to 10 mph.

Wednesday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 58. South wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the evening.

Thursday: Sunny, with a high near 84.

Thursday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 61.

Friday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 84.

Friday Night: A 20 percent chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 64.

Saturday: A 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 83.

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