Virginia Merle Boone

October 30, 2018

Virginia Merle Boone, 89, passed away Friday, October 26, 2018. She was a loving mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, great-great-grandmother, sister, aunt and friend to many. She was born on January 28, 1929, at home in Escambia County, Florida.

She is preceded in death by her parents, Alvin and Gladys (Kittrell) Adams; and sisters, June Stewart and Eloise Harris.

She is survived by her children, Judy Weaver, Al Boone, Donna (Nick) Welch, Susan (Robert) Lowery and Diane Boone; seven grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; two great-great-grandchildren also survive her. She is survived by one sibling, Mary (Jack) Allen and many nieces and nephews.

Merle is a lifelong resident of the Farm Hill and Clear Springs, AL areas. She graduated from J.M. Tate High School in 1946. Merle was a faithful life-long member of Farm Hill United Methodist Church. She was an animal lover, an avid gardener and a fantastic cook. She enjoyed sharing and passing down her cooking skills and wealth of knowledge. She was always willing to help anyone who needed her.

Funeral services were held at Farm Hill UMC on Tuesday, October 30, 2018.

Burial was at Farm Hill UMC cemetery.

Serving as pallbearers were her grandsons, Mark Weaver, Chad Ward, Scott Ward, Houston Lowery, Cole Frantz, and Joshua Black.

Honorary pallbearers were Bob Stewart, Eric Stewart, Dean Harris and the men of Farm Hill UMC.

Faith Chapel Funeral Home North is in charge of the arrangements.

Natural Gas Leak Shuts Down Cantonment Neighborhood

October 29, 2018

A natural gas leak due to a broken gas main  shut down a Cantonment neighborhood Monday afternoon.

A contractor struck a natural gas line in the area of Booker and Webb Streets in Cantonment about 1:10 p.m. A cloud of gas was visible escaping from the broken main.

At least two homes were evacuated, and traffic was blocked from entering the area as a precaution. There were no reported injuries.

Pensacola Energy stopped the leak about 1:45 p.m.  The Cantonment Station of Escambia Fire Rescue and the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office responded. photos by Kristi Barbour, click to enlarge.

Century Claims Immunity From Apartment Lawsuit Over Water, Sewer Fees

October 29, 2018

The Town of Century has filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit against them by the developers of a new 50-unit apartment complex over the amount charged to connect water and sewer service. The town claims they are immune to the lawsuit under sovereign immunity.

The Paces Foundation and Century Park Apartments claim they only owed the town $57,750 in tap fees to connect water and sewer for the 50-unit complex, but they were charged $165,180. Paces is seeking a $101,430 refund, legal costs and any additional award by the court.

The town claims that Florida law does not allow a party to attempt to enforce an oral agreement against a governmental entity such as Century. Citing a 1984 Florida Supreme Court case, the town says there is not written agreement with Paces; therefore, they have no claim.

The town also asserts that that alleged agreement is unenforceable because it is not written or signed.

The lower fee of $63,750, according to Paces, was decided upon during a 2015 meeting with then-Mayor Freddie McCall and Town Planner Debbie Nickles. The only written agreement to come out of that meeting was a handwritten page showing calculations that Paces said were based upon the 2015 rates as published online in the town’s municipal code. The  handwritten document also included a proposed fee for natural gas; however, the developer later opted to go all-electric.

In 2017, the town council passed two resolutions increasing the water and sewer tap fees and charged Paces based upon 50 connections. The apartment complex, according to the lawsuit, has only one master meter that serves all 50 units.

Paces contends they relied upon the lower payment quote in determining their financial options with the apartment development.  They contend they were forced to submit the higher fee in order to obtain utility services and obtain a certificate of occupancy for the apartments.

The town hired attorney Thomas M. Findley of the Tallahassee firm Baker Donelson for its defense.  Findley is a member of the firm’s Government Enforcement and Investigations Group with more than 20 year experience handling white collar criminal cases.

On October 15, Mayor Henry Hawkins told the town council that Century’s response to the  lawsuit would be “getting them on technicalities” [read previous story...]. He said subpoenas were incorrectly served on Town Clerk Kim Godwin but still listed a former town clerk’s name. Hawkins said that he should have been served as the “highest ranking person” in town government, and “if they are going to serve anybody else, they have to serve them between 11 a.m. and noon.”

None of the issues raised by Hawkins were in the motion to dismiss filed in Escambia County Circuit Court.

Pictured top: Century Park Apartments. Pictured top inset: A check submitted under protest to the town by the Paces Foundation. Pictured bottom inset: The handwritten document Paces contends demonstrated a lower water and sewer tap fee as authorized by town code. Pictured below: Century’s justification for the $165,180 tap fee charged to the developer. photo and images, click to enlarge.

IP Awards $85,000 In Community Grants

October 29, 2018

International Paper’s Pensacola Mill awarded $85,000 in grants through International Paper Foundation to local community organizations. Funding priority for grants is given to programs related to International Paper’s Signature Causes:

Education – Programs focused on helping children succeed via a comprehensive approach to education. Priority is given to literacy programs from birth through 3rd grade.
Hunger – Programs dedicated to improving food security throughout our communities.
Health & Wellness – Programs that promote healthy living habits.
Disaster Relief – Programs that help communities prepare for and recover from natural disasters.
Funding also is available to address environmental initiatives, employee engagement and other critical community needs.

“We are privileged to be able to assist our local community organizations in their efforts to make a difference in the lives of the residents and children of Northwest Florida,” said Whitney Fike, manager, communications, International Paper Pensacola Mill. “We are able to provide the resources to address critical needs in communities where we live and work and the efforts of these organizations serve to strengthen our community.”

Local community organizations and their projects that were awarded grants for 2018 are:

  • AMI Kids Pensacola, “Pensacola GED”
  • Autism Pensacola, “Summer Learning Lab and Kids for Camp”
  • Ballet Pensacola, “Discover Dance”
  • Beulah Academy of Science, “Culinary Arts Program”
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters, “One to One Mentoring”
  • Cantonment Improvement Committee, “Cantonment Community Outreach Festival”
  • Capstone Adaptive Learning and Therapy centers, “The Tell Me Early Learning Literacy Program”
  • Children’s Home Society of Florida, “Garden for Community Partnership”
  • Council on Aging of West Florida, “Foster Grandparents Eco Solutions Project”
  • Covenant Hospice Foundation, “Covenant Care – Granting Final Wishes for Hospice Parents”
  • Creative Learning Academy “Professional Development Resources: Being a Writer”
  • Epilepsy Foundation of Florida, “Camp Boggy Creek”
  • Episcopal Day School, “Exhibit A(rt) – Taking Pride in Student Art”
  • Ernest Ward Middle, “Innovation Walls,” “Aquaponics,” “Eagles Build for the Birds,” and “Food Backpack and Share Table”
  • Escambia County 4-H Foundation, “4-H Shooting Sports”
  • Escambia County Extension, “Healthy Trees, Healthy Communities”
  • Escambia County Public Schools Foundation, “Literacy Grants for Excellence”
  • Every Child a Reader in Escambia, “Books for the Break”
  • Feeding the Gulf Coast, “Backpack Program”
  • First Baptist Church of Ensley, “Feeding the Homeless”
  • Greater First Baptist Church, “Community Literacy Mentoring and Tutoring Program”
  • Greater Pensacola Symphony Orchestra, Inc., “5th Grade Concerts”
  • Health and Hope Clinic, “Access to Care”
  • Hillcrest Baptist Church of Pensacola, “Disaster Relief Engagement”
  • Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, “STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Programs”
  • Jim Allen Elementary School, “Learning to Read…the Possibilities are Endless”
  • Junior Achievement of Northwest Florida, “Financial Literacy Education for Cantonment Students”
  • Kingsfield Elementary, “Literacy Libraries” and “The Future Engineers of Fourth Grade”
  • Manna Food Bank, “Healthy Kids Initiative”
  • Milk and Honey Outreach Ministries, “Literacy and Language”
  • Miracle League of Northwest Florida, “Improve Lightning on Fields”
  • My Brothers and Sisters, “Women in Transition”
  • My Fathers Arrows, “The Green Healing Project”
  • Partnership for Community Programs “Bay Day 2019”
  • Pathways for Change, “Healing Women Veterans”
  • Pensacola Children’s Chorus, “2019 Summer Festival”
  • Pensacola Civitan Club, “Wheelchair Ramp Building Program”
  • Pensacola Little Theatre, “Acting Up”
  • Pensacola Mess Hall, “Questing Corner”
  • Pensacola State College Foundation, Inc., “Food Pantry”
  • Pensacola United Methodist Community Ministries, “Food on the Go”
  • Pensacola’s Promise Chain Reaction, “Service Learning Program”
  • Pine Forest High School, “Scholastic for Success” and “Literacy, Learning and Life”
  • Quintette Community Park Association “Senior Citizen and Youth Programs”
  • Ronald McDonald House of Northwest Florida, “Home for Dinner Program”
  • Sacred Heart Foundation, “Motor and Sensory Therapy Rooms” and “Hands-on Learning”
  • Santa Rosa Education Foundation, “Literacy Lifelines for Early Learners”
  • Studer Community Institute, “Brain Bags”
  • The Global Corner “The Global Corner Visits Canada: An Activity Book for Young Explorers”
  • University of West Florida Foundation, “Argo Pantry,” “Emerald Coast B.E.S.T. Robotics Hub,” “National Writing Project,” and “UWF Community Garden”
  • WSRE Foundation, “Imagination Station Literacy”

Pictured top: Ernest Ward Middle School (recipient of multiple awards).  Pictured below (top to bottom): Cantonment Improvement Committee, Greater First Baptist Church (Cantonment), Kingsfield Elementary, Jim Allen Elementary, Ernest Ward Middle (two photos) and all grant recipients. Photos for, click to enlarge.

Marianna Mom: Real Life After Hurricane Michael

October 29, 2018

by Ali Wiggins

If you think a little rain and some wind rolled through here, you’re wrong.

If you think since folks are getting their power turned back on everything’s fine now, you’re wrong.

If you’ve seen some pictures and think you know what it feels like to live it because you’ve seen a hurricane before, you’re wrong.

Travel 45 minutes to the east or west of us and things are probably back to normal again.

If I hear one more person say that they have seen a few hurricanes and then proceed to tell me how bad they were…. well, this wasn’t just a hurricane. It was the third strongest hurricane to hit the US in recorded history.

I don’t care what hurricane you’ve seen, you ain’t seen bad! If you were alive in 1935 and saw the “Labor Day” hurricane hit the FL Keys, or in Mississippi in 1969 to see Camille, then we’ll talk. If not, you have no clue.

If you are seeing the national news about Panama City and Mexico Beach, we are close to the same. The storm never really slowed down much or weakened when it left them. It hit us full force and we are 60 or so miles inland.  Jackson and Calhoun counties were hit just as hard.

Folks are living with generators, gas cans, sometimes rationed gasoline if you can find a place that sells it.

Curfews. Only two times of day: daylight and dark. People are living in tents, their cars, friend’s homes, hotels.

You don’t go to the store, you get in line at the PODs. We have long lines for water, MREs, tarps, bug spray, and baby diapers. You could be the wealthiest guy around and it wouldn’t matter. There are very few places to spend it. It’s cash only purchases,  no fast food, no ATMs. The stores that are open are only open from sun up to sun down. So you can forget picking up a gallon of milk on your way home. Winn Dixie closes at 5 now and Walmart probably not long after that.

We have no idea what’s going on outside of this bubble because we have no internet, no phones, no cell service, no television.

We live with our windows wide open and no air conditioning.

We have people from all over the nation here, most of them to help us. We are so thankful for them all. Those folks came here with good intentions, to get us back up and running.

But everyone that came here isn’t here to help.  How do you know for sure which is which? We have looters and scammers. Some just walk up behind you in your own yard while you’re hanging your laundry on the clothesline and scare the mess out of you just asking if you need help with a downed tree. That fellow snuck right up behind me. He should’ve hollered from his truck. NOT COOL! You can’t tell who belongs in your neighborhood or not.

You carry a pistol with you at all times just in case you guessed wrong on whether they are a good guy or a bad guy.

Now it’s time for bed. The whole family piles up in one room with air mattresses, fans, open windows and firearms in case someone decides they need your generator, gas cans or food more than you do. You can’t sleep because you hear every single noise outside. You hear every siren and you cringe with each one. Flashlights in the dark? It could be a lineman or a boogie man, you don’t know!

You go a week and then realize you haven’t seen nor heard one bird because there are no trees left. All the trees are on the ground, and I mean ALL of them. And all the creatures that lived in them are now everywhere. Yellow jackets and mosquitoes that look like they’re from Jurassic Park.

The sounds of chainsaws, diesel trucks, helicopters, sirens, and generators are a constant.

The death toll continues to rise. Many deaths aren’t from the storm. Folks are dying in the clean up of this storm. Houses are burning down as some folks get power turned back on and all the history that they’ve held are now gone with them.

Debris piles are taller than the homes they sit in front of. One lane roads and downed power lines everywhere. AND THIS IS DAY 15!!

The depression this brings is real. No one here is dreaming this up. You couldn’t even if you tried. If you think you could handle all this and go right on like nothing happened, you are welcome to set up camp here in Jackson County, Florida. I will give you my spot. I would love to see how you fair. Everywhere else in the world seems to be business as usual. Not here!

We are all now using the phrase, “new normal”. I hate it. I liked my old normal just fine, as crazy as it was. I’ve cried. I’ve thrown things. I’ve screamed. And I’ve cried some more. My heart hurts for so many people right now. And my family’s loss is nowhere near what some people have experienced. They’ve lost it all. We still have our family and our home. It is a little damaged, but still in tact. So many don’t.

This wasn’t just a hurricane. This destroyed the lives of thousands of people. We post a dozen or more things a day on social media to help folks find what they are looking for, whether it be a place to wash clothes, a hot meal, clothes for their kids. We post what we are living. This is all we can think about and social media is our only way out.

This last 15 days have been awful. And if you can pick right up and get back to it already, then good for you. I’m having a little trouble with that right now. It still looks like a war zone here. Things won’t ever be the same again. I’ve tried so hard to be positive for the last two weeks.

Now on day 15, I’m tired. My muscles ache from cutting trees and hauling fence. I wasn’t cut out for this. I’ve got poison ivy and ant bites. I’m pissed and I wish this was all just a bad dream. And I really, really miss Netflix.

Day 15 has been a bad one for me. Day 16, I know, will be better.

Thank y’all for your prayers and your support. Thank you for letting the folks in the Panhandle of Florida know we aren’t forgotten. We are tough and determined. It is just how we were made. We will come back from this. I don’t know when, but with all the help that has shown up here in the last two weeks, how could we not?

Thank you all and much love from from Jackson County.

Ali Wiggins is a lifelong resident of Jackson County, which encompasses Marianna, Sneads and Cottondale.  She is the mother of two and works as director of sales are marketing for a pharmacy company.

Pictured: Hurricane Michael damage in Marianna. Photos by SPC Jeffrey Scott Hagan for, click to enlarge. For more photos by Hagan, click here.

Trump To Hold Rally In Escambia County This Week

October 29, 2018

President Donald Trump will hold a Make America Great Again rally next Saturday in Escambia County.

The rally will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the Pensacola International Airport. Doors will open at 3:30 p.m.

For free tickets, click here.

This will be Trump’s fourth stop in Pensacola since 2015.

Pictured: President Donald Trump during a December 2017 visit to Pensacola. file photo.

Mostly Sunny, About 80

October 29, 2018

Here is your official North Escambia area forecast:

Today: Sunny, with a high near 81. North wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the afternoon.

Tonight: Mostly clear, with a low around 55. Calm wind.

Tuesday: Sunny, with a high near 81. Light and variable wind becoming south 5 to 10 mph in the afternoon.

Tuesday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 63. South wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the evening.

Wednesday: A 20 percent chance of showers before 1pm. Partly sunny, with a high near 82. Light southeast wind becoming south 5 to 10 mph in the morning.

Wednesday Night: A slight chance of showers, then showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm after 1am. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 69. South wind 5 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%.

Thursday: Showers and thunderstorms before 1pm, then showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm after 1pm. High near 77. South wind 5 to 10 mph becoming west in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 100%.

Thursday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 53. Northwest wind around 5 mph.

Friday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 68. Northwest wind around 5 mph.

Friday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 42.

Saturday: Sunny, with a high near 69.

Saturday Night: Clear, with a low around 43.

Sunday: Sunny, with a high near 71.

Firefighters Visit Camp Fire Kids

October 29, 2018

The Century Station of Escambia County Fire Rescue visited Camp Fire Century this week. The firefighters talked about fire safety with the children and showed them firefighting equipment. Photos for, click to enlarge.

Bonus Gallery: Northview Band, NJROTC, Cheerleaders

October 29, 2018

For a bonus gallery featuring the cheerleaders, band and NJROTC from Friday night’s Northview game, click here.

For an action gallery and game summary, click here. photos, click to enlarge.

FDOT: Weekly Traffic Alerts – Where To Expect Delays

October 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:

  • U.S. 29 Widening from Interstate 10 (I-10) to U.S. 90 (Nine Mile Road) – The following traffic impacts will take place from Sunday, Oct. 28 through Saturday, Nov. 3. Work requiring lane restrictions will take place from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.
    • Nine Mile Road at the U.S. 29 Overpass: 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: Drainage and paving operations continue.  Drivers can expect alternating lane closures Monday through Saturday.
  • U.S. 98 Pensacola Bay Bridge Replacement – Construction activities continue.  Drivers will encounter alternating lane closures between 14th Avenue in Pensacola and Bay Bridge Drive in Gulf Breeze from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 28 through Sunday, Nov. 4
  • State Road (S.R.) 750 (Airport Boulevard) from S.R. 291 (Davis Highway) to S.R. 289 (9th Avenue) – Paving operations continue between Davis Highway and 9th Avenue.  Lane closures will be in effect from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 28 through Thursday, Nov. 1
  • U.S. 98 (Lillian Highway) Resurfacing from the Perdido Bay Bridge to Dog Track Road– Paving operations continue from the Perdido Bay Bridge to Dog Track Road.  Lane closures will be in effect from 8 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 28 through Sunday, Nov. 4.

Santa Rosa County:

  • I-10 Widening from the Escambia Bay Bridge to S.R. 281 (Avalon Boulevard/Exit 22) – Drivers traveling I-10 and Avalon Boulevard will encounter the following traffic impacts from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 28 through Thursday, Nov. 1:
  • U.S. 98 Pensacola Bay Bridge Replacement – Construction activities continue.  Drivers will encounter alternating lane closures between 14th Avenue in Pensacola and Bay Bridge Drive in Gulf Breeze from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 28 through Sunday, Nov. 4.
    • Alternating lane closures on Avalon Boulevard near the I-10 interchange as crews perform construction activities.
    • Alternating lane closures on I-10 from the Escambia Bay Bridge to east of Avalon Boulevard as crews widen the roadway.
    • Drivers will encounter new traffic patterns on I-10 east and westbound as crews reconstruct the inside and outside shoulders. This work will continue throughout the fall.
  • S.R. 87 Multilane from Eglin AFB boundary to C.R. 184 (Hickory Hammock Road) – Traffic between Hickory Hammock Road and the Eglin AFB boundary will continue to be restricted to loads less than 11-feet wide. The restriction will be in place until the project is completed.
  • U.S. 98 Safety Improvements at Constitution Drive and Navarre School Road-Construction activities at the intersection of Constitution Drive and Navarre School Road are scheduled to begin the week of Monday, Oct. 29.  Improvements will include new turn lanes, drainage upgrades, new curb and gutter, and resurfacing and widening Navarre School Road near the U.S. 98 intersection.  Motorists can expect lane closures to occur between 8 p.m. and 5:30 a.m.

All activities are weather dependent and may be delayed or rescheduled 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.

Pictured: Road construction on Highway 29 at Nine Mile Road. photo, click to enlarge.

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