County Fire Chief Rusty Nail Rescinds His Resignation

April 30, 2019

Escambia Fire Chief Rusty Nail rescinded his resignation Tuesday, one day after the commission chose Janice Gilley as the next county administrator.

On April 3, Nail submitted his resignation to be effective on June 1, calling it a “personal decision”.

But in a letter to Interim County Administrator Amy Lovoy on Tuesday, Nail said:

“Many changes have occurred since my resignation in early April, and in good conscience I cannot leave my position or departments without a succession plan. Uncertainties regarding future direction make it even more critical to stay involved.

“Other factors include the obvious show of support from the Escambia County BOCC towards not only County-wide improvements, but also initiatives aimed at improving the County’s emergency services. These are all great undertakings that will benefit the citizens for decades to come.

“Hearing the new County Administrator’s vision for the future; I hereby rescind my resignation as Fire & EMS Chief.”

On Sunday, Nail had provided another letter to Interim Public Safety Director Matt Coughlin requesting that he begin administrative leave on Monday, April 30 and amending his resignation date from June 1 to June 15. That request was granted.

Lovoy, Coughlin, former public safety director Mike Weaver and Human Resources Director Erik Kleinert have all submitted their resignations. Weaver is no longer on the job.

Three Vehicle Crash On Highway 29 In Molino

April 30, 2019

There were no serious injuries in a three vehicle crash Tuesday afternoon on Highway 29 just north of Molino Road.

At least two people were taken to an area hospital by Escambia County EMS.

The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating. The Escambia Station of Escambia Fire Rescue and Escambia County EMS also responded. photos, click to enlarge.

Escambia Man Gets Prison Time For Hitting Eight Navy Personnel While Driving Drunk

April 30, 2019

An Escambia County that was driving under the influence when he struck eight Navy personnel from NAS Pensacola on Perdido Key has been sentenced to prison.

Escambia County Circuit Judge Stephen Pitre sentenced Eric Watt to five years in state prison, followed by two years community control, followed by five years of probation for two counts of driving while under the influence causing serious bodily injury and two counts of driving while under the influence.

On April 29th, 2017, eight flight students with the United States Navy were walking home along Perdido Key Drive when they were hit from behind by a car driven by Watt. The crash caused serious bodily injury to six of the eight victims, and they were transported to several area hospitals.
An investigation determined that Watt was under the influence of alcohol and marijuana at the time of the crash. Watt pled to the charges in February.

Food Truck Wreck Slows Highway 29 Traffic For Hours

April 30, 2019

A pre-dawn wreck involving a food truck with double trailers slowed traffic for hours Tuesday morning on Highway 29 near Kingsfield Road.

The driver of the U.S. Foods truck lost control about 4 a.m., ran off the roadway and traveled along the woodline. The driver was transported by Escambia County EMS to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

The Florida Highway Patrol investigated the crash. photos by Kristi Barbour, click to enlarge.

Assault Incident Involving 11 Inmates Reported At Holman Prison; Two Stabbed

April 30, 2019

Tuesday morning, the Alabama Department of Corrections made public an assault incident involving 11 inmates last Friday at the Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore.

The inmate on inmate assault occurred about 10 p.m. April 26.

Two of the three inmates were taken to a local hospital and treated for stab wounds that were reported as not life-threatening.  The inmates were later released back to ADOC’s custody.   A third inmate was treated at the facility’s infirmary for minor injuries.

Following the incident and as a precautionary measure, ADOC deployed a correctional emergency response team to augment the staff during each of the facility’s daily shifts.  Prison officials reported that the incident was isolated to one housing area and that no other inmates were involved.  Eight inmates who were identified as suspects in the assault were moved to different facilities for security reasons.  ADOC is not releasing the names of the inmates at this time.  The circumstances that led to the incident remain under investigation.

On April 18, Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) conducted a joint law enforcement operation at the prison that targeted illegal contraband.  The operation led to the seizure of illegal drugs, weapons, cellphones and various types of electronic devices.  The operation recovered 356 makeshift weapons, 91 grams of meth, 98 grams of marijuana, some cocaine, more than 400 assorted pills, and 16 cell phones.

Holman, a maximum security prison with 827 inmates of which 148 are on death row, is required to have 166 correctional officers with 53 on staff.

ADOC is pursuing new options to increase correctional officer staffing through ongoing collaboration with the Alabama Personnel Department, and has also been working to pass legislation surrounding compensation, which would be extremely beneficial for hiring and retaining correctional staff. The legislation would allow for a 5 percent pay raise along with incentive bonuses for career milestones for security staff.

ADOC’s strategic plan, to be released early May, will highlight several additional initiatives intended to reverse long-established trends negatively affecting the prison system. file photo.

One-On-One With Janice Gilley, Escambia County’s Next Administrator

April 30, 2019

Monday, the Escambia County Commission chose Janice Gilley of Molino as the next county administrator.

After contract negotiations are complete, her employment will be ratified by the commission, making her the first female administrator for the county.

“I am absolutely thrilled to have this opportunity. I wanted to purse this because our community has so much potential,” she told shortly after the commission made their choice. “I knew I needed to get involved to make it reality. We need a stronger, more quality Escambia County.”

“I am extremely excited to work with Janice Gilley as our next county administrator,” District 5 Commissioner Steven Barry, who added Gilley to the finalist list two weeks ago. “She has so many of the qualities that Escambia County citizens deserve in their county administrator; integrity, aptitude, savvy, and a true heart for public service. I know she is going to do a fantastic job, and I can’t wait to for her to get started.”

Gilley’s 100 Day Plan, “Strive to Thrive in 2025″

Gilley has drafted a potential 100-day plan of “things I wish to accomplish and hold me accountable,’ she said. “There are four buckets of things — people, policies, processes and plans — a 100-day listening, learning and learning strategy.”

She plans to review the past county budgets, understand collective bargaining agreements and analyze the county’s organizational chart.

“There are 40 departments; that’s a lot of departments I want to look and see if the functions match, maybe organize them into divisions,” she said. “I also want to look at the how the procurement process works, making improvements to the process to make things move along. It should not take six months, plus three months on the street (to receive bids) to procure. At that point, almost a year has gone by without executing a plan.”

She is also concerned that less than 3-percent of county vendors are minorities. “I just don’t think that is acceptable,” she told

It’s all part of the strategic plan Gilley is calling “Strive to Thrive in 2025″.

“Recruitment and staff development are big issues, as are employee engagement programs,” she said. “Employees should know their role in government. Some feel like they have special privileges because of who and what they know, and that’s just not acceptable today.”

Escambia County EMS and Fire

As for the problems and the state investigation into Escambia County EMS, Gilley said she’s not able to offer much comment at this point. That’s because she only knows the little information that has been made public. More details have not yet been released outside current county administration due to the ongoing investigation.

“What I do know now is this…I do like transparency and accountability in government. The community should be involved in such a way that people don’t get surprised when something like this becomes public. I  want to make sure everyone is aware of what is going on.”

On another public safety topic, Gilley said she is supportive of continuing with a mix of career and volunteer firefighters if the system continues to work.

“As long as our volunteers are able to take the time and respond, I am 100 percent supportive of a volunteer service. We have to look at some metrics and numbers, and what is the level of service we will guarantee.”

Gilley’s Background

Gilley currently serves as the associate vice president of external affairs for the president at the University of West Florida. She oversees the management of special projects and governmental relations and serves as the liaison to the university’s board of trustees.

In addition to her professional experience at the University of West Florida, Gilley has served in the governor’s office, was a member of the Florida Legislature and is currently a member of the Santa Rosa Island Authority. She previously served as an Escambia County commissioner from May 2002 to November 2004, Escambia County School Board member in 1999 as well as a member and vice chair for the Three Rivers Conservation and Development Council from 1993 to 2007. Her volunteer services include working with the Pensacola Opera Board, American Cancer Society, Leukemia Society, Children’s Home Society and Trinitas Christian School.

Gilley earned her master’s degree in public administration from the University of Florida and a bachelor’s degree in journalism, public relations and communications from the University of Southern Mississippi.

A Mom Remembers A Daughter Lost As Search Continues For Molino Woman’s Killer

April 30, 2019

“Yours was a heart full of joy and love for the Lord, your children, family and friends; your lilting voice, melodious and sweet with song, wafts thru our hearts and minds.”

That is the opening line of a poem written Sue Brown as she remembers her daughter Anna Louis Brown. Tuesday, April 30, marked two years since Anna was found shot and killed on Gibson Road off Crabtree Church Road in Molino. Her family is hoping for closure from the arrest of a suspect.

Brown, 38, was pronounced deceased at the scene; her body was discovered face down by the roadway.

Investigators believe the murder was not a random act of violence, and they believe Brown knew the person that killed her. No suspect has been named by the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office.

“Anna was a caring and compassionate person, helping others and ministering to them with God’s love and grace. She never met a stranger, often smiling and greeting many with whom she came into contact,” Sue Brown said in statement on the first anniversary of her daughter’s death.

When Anna joined a class at Hamilton Baptist Church in Robertsdale, Anna was asked to write down something about her life.

“I am …doing life as a working, blessed Mom of two amazing children,” Anna wrote. “I love being a mom! There are moments and days and situations that are tough and rough and painful and challenging and hard; but the joy of loving and having the privilege to nurture and teach my kids is a gift. I know they are each God’s first, and that helps me worry less when they are away,” Anna wrote. “I work as a Physical Therapist Assistant …I love doing therapy!”

She continued, “I have a great family. I have wonderful parents and I have a growing relationship with my Creator, my Lord, my salvation, my strength, provider, comforter and friend. With my natural family and my church family, I am never alone or separated. I receive love and support and physical, tangible help when it’s needed. That support and encouragement makes single parenting not so single! Yay!”

Anyone with information on the murder is asked to contact the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office at (850) 436-9620 or call Gulf Coast Crime Stoppers at (850) 433-STOP

The complete poem penned by Sue Brown for the second anniversary of her daughter is below.

Images for, click to enlarge.

Father Of Man Killed In Easter Wreck Has Died

April 30, 2019

A man involved in a traffic crash on Easter Sunday has died from his injuries.

Randy Riley, 49, passed away at Baptist Hospital on Monday. His son, 22-year-old Nelson Riley, was killed in the collision that happened at Fairfield Drive and W Street.

The Florida Highway Patrol said 47-year old Marie Ann Simpkins (pictured) failed to stop her Hyundai Sonata at a red traffic signal at Fairfield Drive and W Street about 4:30 p.m. and collided with a Ford Mustang driven by Randy Riley.

Simpkins’ vehicle also hit a Nissan Murano drive by Gladys Taylor, who suffered minor injuries.

Two passengers in Simpkins’ car, 19-year old Jobe Simpkins and a 4-year old, were also transported to the hospital.

Simpkins was charged with vehicular manslaughter, DUI manslaughter, DUI with serious bodily injury and reckless driving. She was booked into the Escambia Jail after the crash and remains behind bars with bond set at $701,000.

Jay Man Involved In Fatal Crash Involving A Pedestrian

April 30, 2019

A Jay man was involved in a fatal crash involving a pedestrian Sunday night, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

The FHP said Monday that 20-year old Tristan Hughes was traveling east on Highway 90 when his 1994 Ford F150 struck a pedestrian that was walking in his lane of travel.

The pedestrian, 22-year old Alex Elks of Milton, was pronounced decreased following the 10:52 p.m. crash.

No charges were filed.

Northview Beats PHS; Tate JV Tops Pace

April 30, 2019

Northview 12, Pensacola High 1

The Northview Chiefs beat Pensacola High School 12-1 Monday night at PHS.

The Chiefs tied things up in the top of the second when Bricen Love grounded out to score on run. The Chiefs pulled away in a three-run third inning. Jackson Moore was hit by a pitch, driving in a run, and Northview scored a couple of runs when Adam Aliff singled on a 1-1 count.

Northview added five runs in the sixth inning. Nick Venable, Seth Killam and Bryce Korinchak each drove in runs.

Venable started on the mound for Northview, lasting four innings, allowing on run on six hits and striking out seven. Bryant pitched three innings with two hits, no runs and striking out three.

Aliff went 4-4 for Northview with two RBIs to lead the Chiefs at the plate.

Tate 2, Pace 1 (JV)

The junior varsity Tate Aggies beat Pace 2-1 Monday afternoon. Three freshmen pitchers held the Patriots to one run. Josh Turner hit a game-tying home run in the bottom of the seventh before Grant Gill hit the walk off single to score Zak LiCastro.

File photo.

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