District 1’s Hill Vs Bydlak Was One Of The State’s Closest House Races

August 30, 2018

Primary elections were held Tuesday in dozens of state House and Senate districts, but few held much suspense like the House District 1 race in Escambia County.

Only four House races were decided by less than 4 percent – and none of the Senate races were that close, according to results posted on the Florida Division of Elections website.

In Escambia County’s House District 1, Republican Mike Hill received 9,003 votes, or 48.09 percent, while runner-up Rebekah Bydlak received 8,460, or 45.19 percent — the third closest legislative race in the state.  A third candidate in the GOP primary, Lisa Doss, received 1,257 votes, or 6.71 percent.

The closest primary was in Volusia County’s House District 26, where Republican Elizabeth Fetterhoff received 5,683 votes, or 50.27 percent, while her GOP primary opponent, Michael Cantu, received 5,623 votes, or 49.73 percent, according to unofficial results.

by The News Service of Florida

Byrneville Elementary Considers Financing Options For Over $7 Million In Improvements

August 30, 2018

The Byrneville Elementary School Board of Directors continued their discussion on new school buildings Wednesday, taking a look at financing options offered by an area bank.

The charter school is considering over $7 million in expansions and improvements including classrooms and a new cafetorium, in addition to improvements to their main building.

Representatives from United Bank presented the board with details on two non-traditional lending programs.

Using a New Market Tax Credits program, the school would received a fixed interest rate for seven years, and the closing process would take about two months. The New Market Tax Credits are part of a federal tax credit program enacted by Congress in 2000, designed to stimulate private investment in low income urban neighborhoods and rural communities.

The bank also presented information on the Community Facilities Direct Loan program in partnership with the USDA. The program would offer fixed rate financing up to about 38 years with an estimated six month closing time. It is designed to provide long-term, low-cost financing for the construction, acquisition, maintenance or renovation of essential community facilities in rural areas.

The board is also considering other funding options. Board member Cheryl Boutwell said she has contacted the Capital Trust Agency about possible financing options.

The Capital Trust Agency (CTA) is an independent public body for the purpose of financing or otherwise accomplishing development programs. The City of Gulf Breeze and the Town of Century sign off on CTA projects, certifying that the projects meet a public purpose under IRS rules and regulations. No funding comes from the or is approved by the municipalities; it is directly from CTA.

Pictured: Byrneville Elementary School board members discuss financing options Wednesday afternoon. NorthEscambia.com photo, click to enlarge.

Humidity And Thunderstorms On Tap

August 30, 2018

Here is your official North Escambia area forecast:
Thursday: Showers and thunderstorms likely, mainly after 1pm. Partly sunny, with a high near 88. Northeast wind around 5 mph becoming southeast in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.

Thursday Night: A 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly cloudy, with a low around 70. Southeast wind around 5 mph becoming calm.

Friday: Showers and thunderstorms likely. Partly sunny, with a high near 89. Southeast wind around 5 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%.

Friday Night: A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 72. East wind around 5 mph.

Saturday: Showers and thunderstorms likely. Partly sunny, with a high near 89. Southeast wind around 5 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%.

Saturday Night: A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 72. East wind around 5 mph.

Sunday: A 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 88. Southeast wind around 5 mph.

Sunday Night: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 72. East wind around 5 mph.

Labor Day: A 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 89.

Monday Night: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly cloudy, with a low around 71.

Tuesday: A 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly sunny, with a high near 89.

Tuesday Night: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly cloudy, with a low around 71.

Wednesday: A 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly sunny, with a high near 90.

Engineers Survey Carver Park Area Drainage Improvement Project

August 30, 2018

Engineers were on site Wednesday discussing an upcoming Carver Park drainage project in Cantonment.

The project will improve drainage south of Muscogee Road, roughly in a triangular shape area bordered by Louis Street, Booker Street and Washington Street.  The project will include the construction of roadside swales, ditch bottom and curb inlets, reinforced concrete and polyethylene storm water transmission pipes and a single dry retention pond to be located east of Ransom Street.

Water mains will also be relocated, and the streets will be milled and resurfaced.

It is anticipated that construction will begin this fall.

The $1,291,129.48 contract was awarded to B&W Utilities, Inc. Other bids ranged from over $1.5 million to $1.7 million.

NorthEscambia.com graphic, click to enlarge.

FWC Law Enforcement Report

August 30, 2018

The Florida FWC Division of Law Enforcement reported the following activity during the period ending Augst 16 in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.


Officer McHenry received information regarding a subject who was catching undersized Spanish mackerel at Fort Pickens. He responded to the area and found the subject in possession of seven undersized Spanish mackerel. Officer McHenry learned that the subject had a local warrant out of Escambia County. Officer McHenry cited the individual for undersized Spanish mackerel and transported him to the Escambia County Jail for the warrant.


Officers Hutchinson and Mullins were patrolling on the Escambia River concentrating on illegal fishing activity when they saw a freshly set bush hook that was baited with a live bream and not identified as required with the owner’s name and address. They continued patrolling and located several more similar lines baited with bream. They hid their patrol vessel and waited until just before daylight when they heard a boat approaching. They saw the operator of the boat check all the lines. The officers stopped the vessel to address the violation. The operator admitted to baiting the lines with bream despite knowing that it was illegal. The officers issued him a notice to appear citation for using bream for bait and fishing with untagged bush hooks.

Officer Roberson was on land patrol when he received information regarding a subject operating an ATV near Burnt Grocery Creek in Yellow River Wildlife Management Area. Officer Roberson located the subject and ran his information through dispatch. The subject’s information came back with a warrant out of Santa Rosa County. Officer Roberson received confirmation of the warrant and instructed the subject to put his hands behind his back because he was under arrest for the warrant. The subject refused multiple times and fled on foot. The subject crossed a creek and took off in a vehicle. The suspect was arrested a few days later by Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office for the same warrant. The suspect was issued multiple citations by Officer Roberson at the Santa Rosa County Jail.

This report represents some events the FWC handled over the past week; however, it does not include all actions taken by the Division of Law Enforcement. Information provided by FWC.

NorthEscambia.com photo.

Escambia Voters Follow Statewide Choices – Except For A Few Races

August 30, 2018

Escambia County voters generally followed the rest of the state in their choices Tuesday, but there were a few differences including strong support for a hometown resident.

In the Republican race for Governor, Escambia County voters were remarkably close in mirroring the statewide vote. Ron DeSantis received 56 percent of the vote in Escambia County and 56.5 percent across the state.

Democratic Escambia County voters were more firm in their choice of Andrew Gillum for governor at 47.5 percent, while he received 34.3 percent of the Florida total.

In the Republican race for Attorney General, Pensacola resident Frank White had 63 percent of the vote in Escambia County. But his 43 percent across the state saw him lose to Ashley Moody with 57 percent.

Baxter Troutman was the choice of Escambia County Republicans at 35 percent compared to Matt Caldwell’s 34.5 percent, but Caldwell took the state with 35 percent and Troutman (26 percent) actually came in third behind Denise Grimsley (27 percent).

Here is a comparison of how Escambia County voters cast their ballots versus the statewide totals:

Florida Supreme Court Weighs Dog Racing Amendment

August 30, 2018

The Florida Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in a legal fight about whether voters should cast ballots in November on a proposed constitutional amendment aimed at ending greyhound racing at pari-mutuel facilities.

The hearing came after Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers this month sided with the Florida Greyhound Association, a group of breeders, owners and trainers, and ruled that the proposal should not go on the ballot because it was misleading. The state appealed Gievers’ ruling, setting up the Supreme Court arguments little more than two months before the Nov. 6 general election.

Jordan Pratt, a state deputy solicitor general, disputed that the proposal is misleading and urged justices to overturn Gievers’ decision. Backers of the measure, known as Amendment 13, sat in part of the courtroom listening to the arguments and said afterward that the measure should go before voters.

“This amendment should go and be voted upon,” said Stephen Turner of the pro-amendment Committee to Protect Dogs. “It’s clear that the people have a right to choose whether they want a gambling activity of greyhound racing, which is cruel to animals, to continue. It’s that simple.”

But former Supreme Court Justice Major Harding, representing the Florida Greyhound Association, told the court that the ballot title and summary — the wording that voters see when they go to the polls — did not properly disclose information about the effects of the amendment. Harding and Jack Cory, a lobbyist for the association, said that means the proposal should be kept off the ballot.

“The vague ballot language and the vague title do not disclose everything to the people of the state of Florida that’s included in the proposed amendment,” Cory said after the hearing.

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission this spring placed the proposed dog-racing ban on the November ballot after years of legislative debates about the future of greyhound racing in the state. The 37-member commission has unique authority to place proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot, but its proposals this year have faced a series of legal challenges.

The Supreme Court is focused on the wording of the ballot title and summary to make sure they accurately reflect the effects of the proposal. Gievers’ ruling cited a series of problems with the wording, describing the proposed amendment as “misleading and inaccurate and incomplete, while adding up to a ‘hide the ball,’ ‘fly a false flag’ and outright ‘trickeration,’ ”

The ballot title and summary say: “ENDS DOG RACING. — Phases out commercial dog racing in connection with wagering by 2020. Other gaming activities are not affected.”

But a major point of discussion during Wednesday’s arguments was part of the broader text of the proposed amendment that says, “The humane treatment of animals is a fundamental value of the people of the State of Florida.”

Harding said the ballot title and summary fail to disclose that the amendment would make the humane treatment of animals a “fundamental value.” As a result, he said, voters would not be informed that the provision is included in the potential constitutional changes.

“The people will not know that they are incorporating that in the Constitution if it is not in the ballot title and the summary, because that is all that is on the ballot,” Harding said.

But some justices questioned that argument. For example, Justice Alan Lawson questioned what the legal effect of the “fundamental value” part of the amendment would be. Even if it passed, he said lawmakers would have to take some action to give it legal effect.

“If you can’t identify a legal effect, then it sounds like political rhetoric, it’s just a fluff label,” Lawson said. “And we have cases that say you can’t put political rhetoric on a ballot summary. So, I think that if they had put it on (the ballot summary), your argument would be that it has no legal effect and it’s political rhetoric and it should come off.”

It was not immediately clear how soon justices could rule in the case. But general-election ballots will begin to be sent out to voters in September.

by Jim Saunders, The News Service of Florida

Wreck Near Atmore Claims Two Lives

August 29, 2018

A father and son were killed in a single vehicle wreck on I-65 about three miles north of the Atmore exit Tuesday evening.

Conan L. Ivey, 42 and Nathan R. Ivey, 17, were passengers in a 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe that ran off the road and hit a tree, according to Alabama State Troopers.

Troopers said Conan Ivey was pronounced deceased at the scene. Nathan Ivey was transported to Sacred Heart Hospital and later died from his injuries. Both are from Repton, AL, about 30 miles north of the accident location.

The driver, Elizabeth Ivey, 42, was transported to Sacred Heart Hospital. Her condition was not available.

Alabama State Troopers are continuing their investigation.

File photo.

Escambia Corrections Office Evacuated Over Odor Believed To Be Sewer Gas

August 29, 2018

The Escambia County Corrections Office Building, located at 2251 Palafox St., was evacuated about 11:30 a.m. after a strong smell thought to be sewer gas was reported by staff in the building.

Pensacola Energy was notified and gas to the building was turned off. Escambia County Facilities Management crews were working to determine the cause of the smell. Additionally, in an abundance of caution,  a Hazmat team responded as a precaution.

After running tests, authorities believe an organic material was the cause of the odor, according to the county.

The building remained closed for the remaineder of the day and was set to reopen on Thursday for regular business hours.

No injuries were reported, and more information will released as it becomes available.

Gulf Power Files For Rate Decrease In 2019

August 29, 2018

Today, Gulf Power filed an agreement with the Florida Public Service Commission seeking approval to reduce rates for 2019 and beyond by approximately $9.6 million on an annual basis.

This reduction reflects the remaining tax savings resulting from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The proposed decrease comes on the heels of the previous tax savings related rate decrease of $103 million for 2018. In addition, Gulf Power also recently filed a separate request with the FPSC to reduce prices based on reduced fuel, conservation and environmental costs.

In total, if all of the proposed changes are approved by the FPSC, the average Gulf Power customer using 1,112 kilowatt-hours per month can expect to see a $2.70 drop on their monthly electricity bill for 2019.

“This is more great news for customers,” said Stan Connally, Gulf Power chairman, president and CEO. “Reduced taxes and reduced costs means reduced prices for Gulf Power customers — about $32 per year for the average customer. This will be the eighth time in 10 years we’ve been able to decrease prices. With approval by the Florida Public Service Commission, customers will see the decrease beginning in their January 2019 bills.”

On the tax-related decrease, Gulf Power worked together to reach an agreement with the Office of Public Counsel, the Florida Industrial Power Users Group, The Florida Retail Federation and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy to agree on how to deliver these savings to customers.

Gulf Power said if approved, rates would be at their lowest point in five years.

File photo.

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