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Volunteer Firefighters Undergo Hands On LifeFlight Training

Volunteer Firefighters Undergo Hands On LifeFlight Training

Volunteer firefighters participated in a LifeFlight training class Monday evening at the Molino Fire Station.  A LifeFlight crew gave the participants from Molino and other area fire stations a tour of the aircraft, plus instruction on how to handle emergencies involving the helicopter, how setup a landing zone and how patients are loaded. Courtesy photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.  Read More →

June 28, 2016 | Read the story »

Felony Fugitive Arrested At Flomaton Restaurant

Felony Fugitive Arrested At Flomaton Restaurant

A dangerous fugitive was taken into custody Monday at a Flomaton restaurant. The Flomaton Police Department was assisted by the Brewton Police Department in arresting 34-year old Emmitt Jones III of Brewton. He had felony warrants for his arrest with the Brewton Police Department for burglary first degree and domestic violence second degree. Jones was located in the parking lot of Hardee’s in Flomaton. Officers from Flomaton and Brewton conducted a “high risk take down” on Jones as he was sitting in the rear seat of a vehicle, according to police. Officers had previously received information that Jones was armed. At the time of his arrest, Jones was found to be in possession of a loaded, large caliber handgun and an extra magazine, according to Flomaton Police. In addition to the Brewton warrants, Jones was also charged with being a certain person forbidden to possess a firearm by Flomaton Police. “This was a great job of communication and working together between the two departments to arrest Jones and take a gun off of our streets,” said Flomaton Police Chief Brian Davis.  Read More →

June 28, 2016 | Read the story »


FWC Law Enforcement Report

The Florida FWC Division of Law Enforcement reported the following activity during the weekly period ending June 23 in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. ESCAMBIA COUNTY Officer Cushing conducted fisheries inspections near the Pensacola Pass. During one inspection, the occupants on board claimed to have only king mackerel and mingo snapper. While on board, Officer Cushing discovered an undersized gray triggerfish. The season for gray triggerfish is closed. A citation was issued to the individual who caught the fish. Officer Cushing received a phone call from a concerned citizen who had observed an individual on the beach at Ft. Pickens carrying an oversized redfish from the beach toward the parking lot. After beaching his vessel on the bayside, he proceeded to the parking lot and observed one of the individuals described to him by the complainant. Upon initial contact, the individual slumped his head and confessed that he had the oversized redfish in his truck. Upon further inspection, the individual had a total of three oversized redfish in a cooler in his truck. Citations were issued for oversized and over‑the‑bag limit of redfish. On board the FinCat, officers patrolled in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. They approached a vessel that was fishing and asked the captain if they had any fish on board. The captain stated that they only had white snapper on board. After boarding the vessel, the officers discovered a large triggerfish. The crew claimed they forgot putting the fish on the vessel. The captain of the vessel was issued a federal citation for the violation. Officer Land conducted a derelict vessel investigation on a sailboat that had been left in a wrecked condition at Shoreline Park in Gulf Breeze. The vessel had become grounded and the interior had filled with water. The registered owners of the vessel were notified and given a deadline to remove the vessel or restore it to working order. The vessel remained untouched by the owners and continued to deteriorate. Officer Land issued a notice to appear to each of the registered owners for abandoning a derelict vessel on the waters of the state. SANTA ROSA COUNTY Lieutenant Hahr and Officers Hutchinson and Clark were on foot patrol at the steel bridge on Coldwater Creek. They observed a group of individuals on a sandbar smoking cannabis. The officers made contact and interviewed the subjects. Upon conclusion of the interviews, three of the subjects surrendered baggies of cannabis and one cannabis cigarette. A total of four citations were issued for possession of cannabis under 20 grams and one citation was issued for possession of paraphernalia. Officers Hutchinson and Clark were on foot patrol on Coldwater Creek and observed a group of males and females on the sandbar drinking alcohol. They made contact and asked if everyone was 21 or older. Four of the females stated they were not. One of the males who was 21 years old was observed sharing an alcoholic beverage with one of the underage females. Four citations were issued for possession of alcohol by persons under 21 and one citation was issued for contributing to the delinquency of a minor: giving alcohol to a person under 21. 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.  Read More →

June 28, 2016 | Read the story »


Afternoon Thunderstorms Likely

Here is your official North Escambia area forecast: Tuesday: Showers and thunderstorms likely, mainly after noon. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 90. West wind around 5 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. Tuesday Night: A 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms, mainly before 1am. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 72. Northwest wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the evening. Wednesday: A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 89. Calm wind becoming north around 5 mph. Wednesday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 68. South wind around 5 mph becoming calm. Thursday: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly sunny, with a high near 91. Calm wind becoming south around 5 mph in the afternoon. Thursday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 71. South wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the evening. Friday: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly sunny, with a high near 92. Calm wind becoming southwest around 5 mph in the afternoon. Friday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 71. Southwest wind around 5 mph. Saturday: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly sunny, with a high near 92. Saturday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 75. Sunday: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly sunny, with a high near 93. Sunday Night: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly cloudy, with a low around 75. Independence Day: A 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 93.  Read More →

June 28, 2016 | Read the story »


Summer Reading Club: Dr. Magical Balloons At The Library This Week

The Summer Reading Club continues this week at the West Florida Libraries. West Florida Public Libraries present Dr. Magical Balloons for a free summer reading club performance. Enjoy amazing balloon sculptures and original stories as he captivates and astounds readers of all ages. Dr. Magical Balloons will perform at multiple branches on the following dates: Tuesday, June 28, 2016: 11 a.m. at Big Lagoon State Park, 12301 Gulf Beach Highway, located across from Southwest Branch Library.  Show your library card for free all day park access. Wednesday, June 29, 2016: 11 a.m. at Century Branch Library, 7991 N Century Blvd 4 p.m. at Pensacola Library, 239 N. Spring St. Thursday, June 30, 2016: 11 a.m. at Molino Branch Library, 6450-A Highway 95A  Read More →

June 28, 2016 | Read the story »

Impact Of Supreme Court Abortion Ruling On Florida Law Unclear

Impact Of Supreme Court Abortion Ruling On Florida Law Unclear

Florida abortion providers are breathing sighs of relief following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Monday striking down a Texas law that would have greatly limited access to legal abortion in that state. The Texas law would have required doctors to have admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of the clinics where they perform abortions and clinics to meet the same standards as walk-in surgical centers. By a 5-3 vote, the justices found that neither of the provisions “offers medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon access (to abortion) that each imposes,” and that each constitutes an “undue burden” on access to the procedure, violating the U.S. Constitution. “This decision is certainly historic,” said Laura Goodhue, executive director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates. “This is the biggest case since Roe v. Wade in terms of its impact on access to a safe and legal procedure.” But in Florida, supporters of recent laws requiring more stringent standards for abortion providers say the high court ruling should have no impact. Sen. Kelli Stargel and Rep. Colleen Burton, both Lakeland Republicans, sponsored House Bill 1411, which was signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott in March. On Monday, they said the new Florida law is different from the Texas statute at issue in the Supreme Court case. Scott’s office and legislative leaders are reviewing the ruling. Among its provisions, the new Florida law requires clinics that perform first-trimester abortions to have patient-transfer agreements with nearby hospitals, or for clinic doctors to have admitting privileges nearby. Stargel noted that the law does not include Texas’ requirement that a doctor have admitting privileges within 30 miles of an abortion clinic. “We have reasonable proximity, which is what we’ve had in law for a very long time with regards to all other clinics, and we’re doing abortion clinics the same way,” she said. Although the Florida law takes effect Friday, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle on Wednesday will hear a challenge from Planned Parenthood aimed at blocking three parts of the law. That complaint, in part, targets a section of the law that seeks to prevent state agencies, local governments and Medicaid managed-care plans from contracting with organizations, like Planned Parenthood, that own, operate or are affiliated with clinics that perform elective abortions. The complaint also challenges a provision that would require the state Agency for Health Care Administration to inspect at least 50 percent of abortion-clinic patient records each year. And it challenges a change to the way the state determines trimesters of pregnancy. Burton, the House sponsor of HB 1411, said the three provisions had nothing to do with the Texas law. And while opponents contend the challenged provisions are medically unnecessary, Burton said she was only concerned with protecting women’s health and safety. Tallahassee attorney Rick Johnson, local co-counsel in another challenge to a recent abortion statute, agreed that Monday’s ruling was unlikely to alter Florida law for now. He’s involved with a challenge to a 2015 law, requiring a 24-hour wait before women can obtain an abortion. That case is now before the Florida Supreme Court. Johnson said the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of protecting access to legal abortion threatened by an “undue burden.” But in Florida, he said, stronger protections are in place — those of privacy. “We had the intermediate appellate court, the 1st (District Court of Appeal), attempt to apply the federal ‘undue burden’ standard and find that under that standard, the 24-hour waiting period was good enough,” Johnson said. “So if (Monday’s ruling) has any impact, that will be the impact — that some of those courts that were incorrectly applying Florida law will now find that even if they apply federal law, some of those ridiculous restrictions won’t pass muster.” Monday’s ruling drew a wide range of reactions from political candidates and activists. Florida Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, was dismayed by those who celebrated the ruling. “In Florida, we have championed policies and programs that promote life and provide resources for women who choose life for their babies,” Gardiner said in a statement. “Photos of people celebrating today’s ruling should disgust anyone who values the health of women and the life of their unborn children.” Goodhue said Scott and the Legislature are unlikely to back off their efforts to limit abortion in Florida. “We’ve seen an increase every year in the number of bills filed, but also in the extremist content of their nature,” she said. “So we’ve seen these attacks escalate, and we fully anticipate that we’ll have to continue this fight.” by The News Service of Florida  Read More →

June 28, 2016 | Read the story »

Wahoos Lose 12-1 To Tennessee In Rain Shortened Game

Wahoos Lose 12-1 To Tennessee In Rain Shortened Game

The Chicago Cubs still appear to have plenty of top prospects to look forward to playing for them one day, including Double-A affiliate Tennessee Smokies second baseman Ian Happ and starting pitcher Brad Markey. Happ went 3-3, including a two-run homer and Markey threw four perfect innings as the Smokies rolled to a 12-1 victory Monday over the Pensacola Blue Wahoos at Smokies Park. The game was shortened to six innings because of rain. The victory clinched the opening series, 3-2, of the second half of the season for Tennessee and dropped Pensacola’s overall record to 18-21 on the road. At Blue Wahoos Stadium, the Cincinnati Reds Double-A affiliate won all seven series going 24-11. Happ, the Cubs No. 3 prospect according to MLB.com, went 11-15, or .733 with four multi-hit games in his first five games at the Double-A level with the Smokies. The 21-year-old hit two home runs, drove in six runs and scored six times. Meanwhile, Tennessee right hander Markey, the No. 29 prospect, threw four perfect innings, striking out two. But Pensacola right fielder Sebastian Elizalde led off the fifth inning with a double to left field. Blue Wahoos center fielder Brandon Dixon followed with another single on a grounder to left that scored Elizalde to pull Pensacola within, 3-1 — the closest it would get to Tennessee. Markey threw six innings, allowing four hits and one run, while striking out two. He improved to 6-3 with a 2.34 ERA. Smokies first baseman Victor Caratini singled on a line drive to right fielder that drove in center fielder Jacob Hannemann to put Tennessee ahead, 1-0, in the first inning. Tennessee went up, 3-0, in the third inning when Happ hit a two-run homer to right field that also scored Smokies third baseman Chesney Young, who had doubled to right field. Tennessee then broke the game open in the bottom of the fifth inning sending nine hitters to the plate and scoring four times on four hits and two walks to go ahead, 7-1. The big hit came when Smokies right fielder Billy McKinney, the Cubs No. 6 prospect, drove in three runs when he tripled to right field with the bases loaded on a 1-2 count and two outs. The seventh run of the game came when Tennessee catcher Ben Carhart singled up the middle to score McKinney. The Smokies sent 10 hitters to the plate in the sixth inning, adding five more runs to go up, 12-1. Tennessee had five singles, a double and a hit batter in the inning. Elizalde was 5-15 in the series for Pensacola and is hitting .302 on the season. Pensacola second baseman Alex Blandino also hit well going 5-19. Blue Wahoos center fielder Phillip Ervin extended his hitting streak to five games Monday, going 5-17 during that span. Pensacola has the day off Tuesday and then starts a five-game home series at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday against the Chattanooga Lookouts.  Read More →

June 28, 2016 | Read the story »

Column: Is The Local Area Heading For Another Housing Bubble?

by Phyllis K. Pooley Back in 2005, the National Association of Realtors produced the report “Home Price Analysis for Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent” in which the author found the local metropolitan housing market to be in “excellent shape” with potential for significant equity gains. The report analyzed median mortgage servicing costs and median incomes ratio and found that for Escambia and Santa Rosa counties, “This ratio is at a very manageable level. It implies no widespread financial overstretching to purchase a home in the region. Any respectable gains in the local job market could translate into further home price gains.” Other significant findings in the report included that price declines in the local market were unlikely and the local market would experience a 5 percent decline only under extremely unlikely scenarios of much higher mortgage rates. Sadly, those words were not prophetic. The quarterly House Price Index generated by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis clearly shows that Pensacola shared in the pain of the housing market collapse. The index includes all transactions in an area using both sales prices and appraisals. Between the height of the market in the fourth quarter of 2006 to its lowest point in the second quarter of 2012, house prices fell 29.4 percent in the Pensacola area. In addition to clearly showing the run-up in prices that began in 2003, the index also shows that the area is just now recovering to 2005 price levels. While prices have rebounded 17.5 percent from their lowest point as of the last quarter of 2015, as illustrated by the trend line, they are still below what might be expected if the bubble had not happened. Now, just 10 years removed from the height of the housing bubble, there are whispers that another bubble is forming. Housing prices in many areas are once again rising at rates faster than average wage growth, credit conditions are loosening with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac allowing only 3 percent down payments, and housing supplies are tightening. Are we headed for a repeat of the last disaster? To answer this question, one first needs a definition of “housing bubble.” It’s typically defined as a deviation of the market price from the fundamental value of the house. Secondly, one needs to be able to tell if this deviation is occurring. This would seem to be a straightforward task. However, like many things in the economic world, there is more than one way to analyze the question, and experts don’t always agree on what these analyses show. For example, one researcher might point to home prices increasing at a higher rate than inflation, coupled with a sharp divergence between home prices and rental prices, as an indication that homes are overpriced. Another will examine the ratio between housing price and income and, having noted that it is higher than historical norms, might conclude that there is a price bubble. Still another researcher will look at mortgage-servicing costs as related to income, and argue that if these are within manageable levels, there is no bubble. The current consensus amongst experts seem to be that while housing prices are climbing, they are doing so because new houses are not being built to increase the supply. Identified as a major indicator of the prior bubble, new homes were being built at a furious pace even as prices continued to climb. Under normal economic conditions, prices tend to fall when supply grows. When that does not occur, it suggests that other forces are in play to support the higher price. While housing starts are not readily available for metro areas, a proxy for specific new home construction statistics is employment in the construction industry itself. By comparing home prices to the number of construction workers, one can see how these forces might interact. The data show construction employment at its height during the price bubble and lagging behind prices ever since. This fact suggests that experts may be correct in their view that conditions are still operating in a traditional fashion and a lack of housing supply is supporting home prices at present levels rather than the factors that generate bubbles. Building permit data from the U.S. Census Bureau tends to support this notion as well – at the height of the bubble in 2006 the Pensacola area saw 2,488 permits issued covering 3,126 housing units. By 2012, the number had dropped to 1,466 permits covering only 1,594 units – or half the planned construction. The most recent data does show housing starts and construction employment on the increase. It will be interesting to watch how these trends play out in the coming months. Phyllis K. Pooley serves as director of special projects with the University of West Florida Office of Economic Development and Engagement in Pensacola.  Read More →

June 27, 2016 | Read the story »

Greatest Show On Earth: Circus Train Passes Through Escambia County

The “Blue Unit” of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus trains passed through Escambia County Sunday morning, moving from South Florida to California. The circus has two trains, the red and the blue, that criss-cross the county. Photos by Larry Seale for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.  Read More →

June 27, 2016 | Read the story »

Tennessee Beats Pensacola 3-0

The Pensacola Blue Wahoos bats cooled down against the Tennessee Smokies starting pitcher Paul Blackburn. Blackburn shut down the Pensacola lineup allowing just two hits in six scoreless innings, walking three and striking out five as the Smokies shut out the Blue Wahoos, 3-0, Sunday at Smokies Park. Blackburn improved to 5-2 with a 2.35 ERA this year. The only Pensacola hitters to earn hits in the game were shortstop Alex Blandino (1-4), center fielder Jeff Gelalich (1-3 with walk) and Phillip Ervin (1-3 with walk). They are the top three hitters in the order and Pensacola was 3-28 for the game. Ervin singled on a bunt back to the pitcher and then stole his 22nd base of the year, which is tied for fifth in the Southern League. The Blue Wahoos are now 2-2 in the second half and 43-31 overall. Pensacola starting pitcher Jackson Stephens did work 5.1 innings but gave up three runs on seven hits and five walks, while striking out three. He dropped to 5-6 with a 3.19 earned-run average. James Farris relieved Blackburn and threw two scoreless innings and struck out four. The game was closed by Smokies closer Juan Paniagua, who walked one in one inning and earned his fourth save this season. In the third inning, Tennessee second baseman Ian Happ doubled in center fielder Jacob Hannemann to put the Smokies up, 1-0. Tennessee left fielder Trey Martin then laid down a squeeze but that scored right fielder Billy McKinney to put the Smokies ahead, 2-0. The lead extended to, 3-0, over Pensacola when Tennessee catcher Victor Caratini walked to lead off the sixth inning. Caratini then scored on shortstop Daniel Lockhart’s ground ball single to right field. Pensacola relievers Jacob Ehret, and Evan Mitchell pitched 2.2 innings of scoreless relief giving up one hit and striking out three. Tennessee pitchers combined to retire 12 Pensacola hitters in a row between the fourth and eighth innings.  Read More →

June 27, 2016 | Read the story »

Voters Receive New ID Cards

Voters in Escambia County were recently mailed a new voter information card from the office of David Stafford, Escambia County Supervisor of Elections. Voters are strongly encouraged to review their new cards carefully, particularly their party affiliation and polling location. Voters should contact the elections office immediately with any necessary updates. The new cards have green text making identification of the most current card simpler. The updated card reflects Escambia County’s State Senate District number change to District 1. Voter information cards are NOT required when voting; Florida requires approved photo and signature ID when voting in person.  Read More →

June 27, 2016 | Read the story »

First Baptist Of Bratt Honored For Operation Christmas Child Collections

Christmas is still several months away, but Christmas was on the mind of church members Sunday at the First Baptist Church of Bratt. The church has served for the past five years as a collection point for Operation Christmas Child, which provides simple, gift-filled shoe boxes that bring Christmas joy and evangelistic materials to children in countries across the globe. Sunday, Bethany Daily,  Northwest Florida area coordinator for Operation Christmas Child, gave special recognition to Tim Hawsey and Michelle McKinley at the church. Over 2,300 boxes have been collected by the First Baptist Church of Bratt since 2010. Submitted photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.  Read More →

June 27, 2016 | Read the story »

Scooter Driver Critical After Beulah Crash

The driver of a scooter was critically injured in a wreck Saturday afternoon in Beulah. Tommy Mitchell, 50, was westbound on Nine Mile Road near Beulah Road in a 2014 Chevrolet Pickup when he turned into the path of a Yamaha Scooter driver by 51-year old Brian J. Moulyet of Pensacola, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. Moulyet was airlifted by LifeFlight helicopter to Sacred Heart Hospital in critical condition. Mitchell was not injured. Mitchell was cited for an improper left turn by the FHP.  Read More →

June 26, 2016 | Read the story »

FDOT: Weekly Traffic Alerts

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)/U.S. 29 Interchange Improvements – The following traffic impacts will occur Sunday, June 26 through Thursday, June 30 from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. to allow crews to perform bridge widening work: Alternating lane closures on I-10 near U.S. 29 (exits 10A and 10B). The U.S. 29 south to I-10 eastbound ramp will be closed. Traffic will be detoured south to make a U-turn at Diamond Dairy Road. The U.S. 29 north to I-10 westbound ramp will be closed. Traffic will be detoured north to make a U-turn at Broad Street. Drivers are reminded that the speed limit on I-10 near U.S. 29 has been lowered to 50 mph. Santa Rosa County: I-10 Widening – Alternating lane closures, between the Escambia Bay Bridge and S.R. 281 (Avalon Boulevard/Exit 22), Sunday, June 26 through Thursday, June 30 from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. as crews continue widening work. In addition, alternating lane closures on Avalon Boulevard near the I-10 interchange for bridge work. Drivers are reminded that the speed limit has been lowered to 60 mph. Be alert for construction vehicles entering and exiting the roadway. State Road 87 – Construction crews are building the new northbound bridge across the Yellow River in Milton. Although the river will remain open during construction, boaters and kayakers are encouraged to use extra caution when approaching the bridge. 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 in a work zone and to watch for construction workers and equipment entering and exiting the roadway.  Read More →

June 26, 2016 | Read the story »

Chance Of Showers Tonight

Pictured: Saturday morning’s sunrise is reflected in pool of water in Davisville. Photo by Ditto Gorme for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge. Here is your official North Escambia area forecast: Tonight: A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms before 1am. Partly cloudy, with a low around 74. Southwest wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the evening. Monday: A 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after 10am. Partly sunny, with a high near 94. Calm wind becoming south around 5 mph in the afternoon. Monday Night: A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 74. Southwest wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the evening. Tuesday: Showers and thunderstorms likely. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 89. Calm wind becoming southwest around 5 mph in the morning. Chance of precipitation is 70%. Tuesday Night: A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 73. West wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the evening. Wednesday: Showers and thunderstorms likely. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 87. Calm wind becoming northeast around 5 mph in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 60%. Wednesday Night: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 70. South wind around 5 mph becoming calm. Thursday: A 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 90. Calm wind becoming south around 5 mph in the afternoon. Thursday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 73. South wind around 5 mph becoming calm after midnight. Friday: A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly sunny, with a high near 91. Friday Night: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly cloudy, with a low around 74. Saturday: A 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 90. Saturday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 75. Sunday: A 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 92.  Read More →

June 26, 2016 | Read the story »

Do You Know The Difference Between A Heat Stroke And Heat Exhaustion?

The following graphc from the National Weather Service, explains the difference between a heat stroke and heat exhaustion, and it details how to treat each.  Read More →

June 26, 2016 | Read the story »

Northview’s Ward Attending Super Combine In Dallas

Luke Ward from Northview High School is attending the Blue-Grey National Super Combine this weekend at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys. Ward led Northview last year with 407 rushing yards, 331 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. In April, Ward represented the Alabama region as wide receiver and attended the Blue-Grey Combine held at Cramton Bowl, in Montgomery where he earned the broad jump award with the longest distance at 10’0”. He also had a 4.47 recorded time in the 40, and 4.59 in the shuttle. “It’s a real honor to be selected to participate in this. I’m excited to visit the AT&T Stadium, and I hope to represent my school well.” Ward said. If Ward performs well enough in Dallas, he will be in position to be selected to play in one of the Blue-Grey National All-American Bowls played and televised at four NFL locations in January.  Read More →

June 26, 2016 | Read the story »

Wahoos Top Smokies 6-4

Pensacola Blue Wahoos starting pitcher Rookie Davis used both his bat and his right arm to overcome the Tennessee Smokies, 6-4, Saturday at Smokies Park. He gave the Blue Wahoos the lead, 4-3, in the top of the fourth when he hit a sacrifice to left field that scored Pensacola third baseman Tyler Sparks from third. Davis also knocked a solo homer to left field In the third inning that had put his team up, 2-1. The last Pensacola pitcher to hit a home run was Ben Lively on Aug. 19, 2014. Davis has two hits in 13 at bats this season for Pensacola, and now has three RBIs total. In the fifth inning, Davis worked out of a jam with runners on second and third and two out by getting Tennessee second baseman Ian Happ out for the first and only time in the game. Davis ended up working 5.1 innings, giving up five hits, three walks and striking out one. He now has a team best 6-1 record with a 2.64 ERA. Besides Davis, both Pensacola second baseman Alex Blandino and right fielder Sebastian Elizalde also homered. Pensacola went ahead, 5-3, in the top of the seventh when Blandino yanked a solo homer to left field, his fifth of the season. Elizalde then blasted a solo homer – his third of the year – to right field to start the eighth inning, putting Pensacola ahead, 6-3. The Blue Wahoos are now second in the Southern League with 48 home runs behind the Montgomery Biscuits with 50. Happ, who scored three of Tennessee’s four runs, was 3-4 with his first Double-A home run. He hit a two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the third inning that drove in Smokies third baseman Chesney Young, who had walked. Happ also crossed the plate in the bottom of the eighth inning on a ground out by Tennessee right fielder Billy McKinney that pulled the Smokies within, 6-4, of Pensacola. Pensacola’s bullpen came through again. Carlos Gonzalez, Kevin Shackelford and Alejandro Chacin combined to allow one run on one hit and strike out three in 3.2 innings of relief. Chacin nailed down his 13 save this season, which leads the Southern League. Pensacola tied the score, 1-1, in its next at bat in the top of the second inning when third baseman Taylor Sparks singled in Elizalde, who also singled. Pensacola first baseman Eric Jagielo knocked a double with one out to left field in the top of the fourth that scored Elizalde that knotted the game, 3-3. Then, Davis drove in his second run of the game on a sacrifice fly that put Pensacola ahead for good, 4-3. Pensacola, which won the first half title, improved to 2-1 in the Southern League South Division in the second half and is tied for first with the Jacksonville Suns. Overall its record stands at 43-30.  Read More →

June 26, 2016 | Read the story »

FHP: Woman Distracted By Cell Phone Hits House

An Escambia County woman distracted by her cell phone crashed into a house, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. The FHP said 48-year old Jessic Ludvik was eastbound on Olive Road through a construction zone. She swerved partially off the roadway after being distracted by her cell phone. She hit a concrete barrier, over-corrected and hit a house with her 2015 Ford Mustang. Ludvik was cited with careless driving by the FHP.  Read More →

June 25, 2016 | Read the story »

Operation Dry Water: FWC Crackdown On Boating Under The Influence

As the summer recreational boating season gets into full swing, the FWC Law Enforcement Division is ramping up its enforcement efforts as part of a national crackdown on boating under the influence this weekend. The annual  heightened awareness and enforcement campaign, Operation Dry Water, focuses on deterring boaters from boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Law enforcement agencies nationwide will be out in force through Sunda looking for boaters who choose to boat under the influence, and then removing them from the water. Increased awareness about the dangers of boating under the influence, along with officers focused on identifying impaired operators, aim to drastically reduce the number of accidents and deaths due to impaired boating. “It is our job as law enforcement officers to identify and remove impaired boaters from the water so that everyone else can continue to have an enjoyable boating season and not become a victim of boating under the influence. Protecting the public goes to the heart of our mission,” said Maj. Richard Moore, FWC’s Boating and Waterways Section Leader. “Our agency is participating in Operation Dry Water, and joining thousands of law enforcement officers nationwide to decrease the number of accidents, injuries and deaths that come as a result of boaters who choose to drink and boat.” In Florida it is illegal to operate a vessel with a BAC level of .08 or higher. The FWC wants to remind boaters to stay safe this summer by staying sober on the water. Alcohol use is one of the leading contributing factors in recreational boater deaths. During the national weekend of heightened awareness and high-visibility enforcement, boaters can expect to see an enhanced law enforcement presence and increased messaging about this dangerous and preventable crime.  Read More →

June 25, 2016 | Read the story »

Smokies Top Wahoos 4-1

After the Pensacola Blue Wahoos kicked off the second half of the season with a win, game two of the second half ended in a hard-fought 4-1 loss to the Tennessee Smokies. In a game that saw Pensacola and Tennessee scatter eight and nine hits, respectively, the Smokies found ways to turn those hits into runs. The Blue Wahoos struck first in the top half of the first inning when Sebastian Elizalde drove in Zach Vincej on an RBI single. Tennessee took a 2-1 lead with two outs in the bottom half of the inning, as Billy McKinney singled to score Ian Happ followed by an RBI single by Ben Carhart to drive in Victor Caratini. From that point on, the Smokies would not relinquish that lead. The Smokies lead increased to 3-1 with a sac fly by Chesny Young to score Jacob Hannemann in the bottom of the seventh. In the eighth, Kelly Dugan homered to left center to provide Tennessee with a 4-1 lead. Sal Romano (1-8) took the loss in his start for the Wahoos, allowing seven hits and a pair of earned runs in his four innings of work. Romano also struck out three batters and walked one in the outing before being relieved by Evan Mitchell, who tossed a pair of hitless innings. Mitchell walked and struck out a batter in his two innings of work. Kyle McMyne finished out the contest for the Wahoos, allowing two earned runs on two hits—one of them a home run—in his two innings of work, while striking out a pair of batters. Jen-Ho Tseng (3-3) garnered the start for the Smokies, allowing the lone run on six hits in six innings of work and earning his third win of the year for Tennessee. He struck out four batters while walking three. R.J. Alvarez and Josh Conway both pitched an inning each in shutout relief. Jose Rosario closed out the contest with a shutout inning, allowing just one hit and striking out a pair while earning his second save of the season.  Read More →

June 25, 2016 | Read the story »

Florida Gov’t Weekly Roundup: To Run Or Not To Run, And Bears

There might not have been much cursing or broken clubs, but there was one way in which Florida politics this week resembled a golf game: Everyone seemed to want a mulligan. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio asked for a do-over on his pledge not to run for re-election, three months after Republican voters rejected his presidential bid that prompted the guarantee in the first place. It was a decision that rippled through a campaign season that was beginning in earnest, and candidates at several levels were left scrambling to manage the fallout before Friday’s qualifying deadline. Meanwhile, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission took a pass on reprising its controversial decision last year to authorize a bear hunt — meaning the state’s ursine community is safe for at least another year. But there was already talk of letting hunters have at the animals again in 2017. One thing that didn’t seem likely to change: the politics of gun control following the deadliest shooting spree in American history. Democrats at the state and federal level continued to press for new restrictions on the purchase of firearms after the massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, but Republicans resisted those calls and accused gun control advocates of pulling political stunts. TO RUN OR NOT TO RUN He never delivered a monologue while clutching a skull, but Rubio spent much of the last two weeks doing a convincing Hamlet impersonation, weighing whether to run for re-election despite promising that his first term in the U.S. Senate would be his last. Republican leaders — worried that none of the GOP candidates angling to succeed Rubio would be able to hold onto the seat — were more than willing to fuel his deliberations. On Wednesday, Rubio made it official. He threw his hat in the ring, a move that elbowed out Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, a longtime friend, and two other candidates by the time the week was up. And that was only after a fourth contender, Republican Congressman David Jolly, had decided last week to bow out of the race and run for his own seat again. The state’s junior senator, who had spent much of his year running for the White House and disparaging his place of work, now saw the Senate as a vital “check and balance on the excesses of a president” — even if real-estate mogul Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, is elected over his Democratic opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “The prospect of a Trump presidency is also worrisome to me. … If he is elected, we will need senators willing to encourage him in the right direction, and if necessary, stand up to him. I’ve proven a willingness to do both,” said Rubio, who told reporters last month he would be willing to speak at next month’s GOP convention, where Trump will clinch the nomination. Democrats said the move smacked of political opportunism. And they were quick to bring up some of the same issues that dogged Rubio’s presidential bid, including his sporadic-at-best attendance at Senate votes that conflicted with his White House ambitions. “Rubio lost 66 of 67 counties in March because he abandoned the people of Florida and showed himself to be nothing but an opportunistic career politician,” said Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Allison Tant. “Today’s news only confirms that further.” Still, polls indicated Rubio had a far better chance of beating Democratic Congressman Patrick Murphy, the establishment choice, or Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson, a liberal firebrand, in the November general election. And Rubio all but cleared the field, with Lopez-Cantera, Republican Congressman Ron DeSantis and businessman Todd Wilcox dropping their candidacies by the end of the week. Developer Carlos Beruff trudged on, slamming Rubio as a career politician and making it clear he intended to remain in the race. “The power brokers in Washington think they can control this race,” Beruff said in a fiery statement following Rubio’s announcement. “They think they can tell the voters of Florida who their candidates are. But the voters of Florida will not obey them.” The dominoes fell quickly, particularly in DeSantis’s district, where many of the other candidates abandoned ship after the incumbent said he would run for the U.S. House again. But at least one state lawmaker — Rep. Fred Costello, R-Ormond Beach — decided to stick it out. “Let me be clear. Congressman DeSantis and I both have outstanding conservative records,” Costello said in the statement. “This election will be based upon who the voters believe will best serve our community. Nobody is better prepared or will work harder to benefit the residents of Congressional District 6 than I. My record of Congressional District 6 community service is unmatched.” Dozens of other candidates from across the state also qualified ahead of the Friday deadline, with every member of Congress drawing at least token opposition as other races took shape or changed slightly. Democrat Andrew Korge dropped out of a high-profile battle against incumbent Republican Sen. Anitere Flores and instead waded into a Democratic primary for a nearby Miami-Dade County Senate seat. That put him in a three-way primary contest with incumbent Sen. Dwight Bullard and Ana Rivas Logan, who once served in the state House as a Republican. In Congressional District 2, a largely rural and conservative seat in Northwest Florida, Fort White businessman Jeff Moran stepped aside and endorsed his former rival, Tallahassee attorney Ken Sukhia, in the GOP primary. BEAR WITH US There’s a fresh reason bears in Florida might target your pick-a-nick basket. Namely, no one will be allowed to shoot them for a while. On a 4-3 vote Wednesday, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission shot down a staff recommendation that would have allowed a hunt in October, albeit one with fewer permits and smaller hunting grounds than the 2015 event that saw 304 bears killed over two days. But that doesn’t mean that bears are out of the woods for good. “I don’t think it means hunting goes away,” Commission Chairman Brian Yablonski said at the end of a daylong meeting in the rural Franklin County community of Eastpoint. Yablonski added that the delay will allow non-lethal efforts to take hold. Those efforts include expanding the availability of bear-proof trash containers in communities with high incidents of bear-human interactions. The state agency has about $825,000 this year — due in part to money raised from the 2015 hunt — to match with money from local governments for the non-lethal options. Opponents, including some who challenged the 2015 hunt in court and some wearing shirts that said “Bear lives matter,” told commissioners they intended to work against any killing of bears for sport, which they contend will hurt tourism in Florida. “We’ve had two shootings recently that have given Florida a huge black eye,” said Katrina Shadix of Oviedo before the commission vote. “Do we want to add another controversial bear hunt to our image?” But Newton Cook, a member of The Future of Hunting in Florida, said those who question the state agency’s scientists “are wrong” and simply seeking an excuse to call for a delay or postponement of the hunt. “Thirty states have bear hunting,” Cook said. “This is not rocket science.” ‘THE FINAL STRAW’? The chances that any shooting incident is going to change the fraught politics of guns in America are always slim, and the killings at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando have proven no different. After the incident that claimed 49 lives — in addition to shooter Omar Mateen — on June 12, both sides of the firearm debate were quickly back to their rhetorical battle stations. State Sen. Greg Evers, a Baker Republican running for Congress, riled LGBT activists by running a contest for which the prize was an AR-15 — a gun similar to the one Mateen used at Pulse. Evers announced Monday morning on Facebook that he was giving away an AR-15 to a district resident who “likes” the social media post and shares it with others. By the end of the day, Facebook had removed Evers’ gun giveaway promotion, saying it violated the social media site’s “community standards” policy that bans posts “promoting graphic violence.” But the media maelstrom surrounding the gun contest continued. Evers, who has received an “A” or “A-plus” rating from the National Rifle Association during his 15 years in the state Legislature, said he felt compelled to move forward with the gun giveaway after listening to President Barack Obama, who traveled to Orlando last week and has used the mass killing to push for stricter gun-control measures. “It wasn’t an easy decision to move forward,” Evers said. “But when Barack Obama went down there and he blamed a terrorist attack on the weapon, that was the final straw.” LGBT activists saw things differently. “I think it is tasteless, disrespectful, disgusting, political pandering at its worst,” Stratton Pollitzer, deputy director of Equality Florida, an LGBT advocacy group that has raised more than $6 million for victims of the massacre. “The idea that he wants to put the same style assault rifle that was just used for mass murder into the hands of a random stranger is grotesque.” Meanwhile, Congressional Democrats — including several from Florida — staged a daylong sit-in on the House floor in an unsuccessful effort to get Republican leaders to hold a vote on legislation barring people on government watch lists from purchasing guns. STORY OF THE WEEK: After months of maintaining he would not run for a second term, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio entered the race for his seat in hopes of preserving the Republican majority in the Senate. QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “When they ask about guns, and then they lecture you to get rid of guns, that’s politics. It’s not medicine. We take our children to the doctor because they are sick. We don’t take them there for political lectures on guns.”—Marion Hammer, a longtime Tallahassee lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, on the legal fight over a Florida law that seeks to restrict doctors from asking questions and recording information about patients’ gun ownership. by Brandon Larrabee, The News Service of Florida  Read More →

June 25, 2016 | Read the story »

Scott, Cabinet Honor Orlando Shooting Victims

At the state Capitol on Friday, Governor Rick Scott, his wife, Ann, and the three members of Florida’s Cabinet honored the victims of the June 12 attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando — the worst mass shooting in the nation’s history. Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater put yellow roses in front of 49 Florida flags — one for each of the club-goers who died after being shot by gunman Omar Mateen, who was later killed by police — lining the front lawn of the Capitol. The flags were accompanied by photographs of each person who was killed in the attack at the gay nightclub. “The memory of this horrific tragedy will never be forgotten, as well as the legacies of each of the 49 victims,” Scott said in a press release accompanied by photos of the memorial site. “While we can never completely heal from the pain of such loss, we continue to be reminded of each life taken in Orlando and their individual impact on so many. We mourn with the families and loved ones as they grieve, and ask all Floridians to continue praying for those affected by the terror attack in the coming days. This memorial will be a place to remember and honor their lives.” The flags will remain up for 49 days. Courtesy photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge. by The News Service of Florida  Read More →

June 25, 2016 | Read the story »

Election Watch: Additional Candidates Officially Qualify Thursday

This is qualifying week for candidates seeking local office. Friday at noon is the deadline to qualify for local offices. Those that qualified Thursday for local offices are listed below: Superintendent of Schools: Claudia Williams, DEM Gerald Washington, Write In County Commissioner, District 3: Lumon May, DEM ECUA, District 5: William Fink, Write In Pensacola City Council, District 1: C. J. Lewis, NPA Candidates that qualified through Wednesday were: Tax Collector: Buck Lee, Republican Deb Moore, Democrat Scott Lunsford, Republican Sheriff: Rex Blackburn, NPA Douglas DeWayne Baldwin, Sr., Republican John Johnson, Republican Ron McNesby, Republican David Morgan, Republican Supervisor of Elections: David Stafford, Republican Property Appraiser: Chris Jones, Democrat Clerk of the Circuit Court: Pam Childers, Republican Superintendent of Schools: Malcolm Thomas,  Republican County Commissioner, District 1: Jeff Bergosh, Republican Audra Carter, Democrat Jesse Casey, Republican Karen Sindel , Republican County Commissioner, District 3: Mirza Aftab Ahmad, NPA Delarian Wiggins – NPA County Commissioner, District 5: Steven Barry  - REP Daniel Smillie – REP School Board, District 1: (Nonpartisan office) Kevin Adams Willie Kirkland, Jr. School Board, District 4: (Nonpartisan office) Patty Hightower School Board, District 5: (Nonpartisan office) William Slayton Jr. ECUA, District 1: Vicki Campbell, Republican James Faxlanger, Republican Dawnmarie Kakatitieoy Kachachos-Ingwell – Write In ECUA, District 3: Clorissti Mitchell, Democrat Elvin McCorvey, Democrat John R. Johnson, NPA Kennie Lyons, Democrat Derrick Gainer, NPA Charles Thornton – DEM Tiffany Washington – NPA ECUA, District 5: James Hunt – NPA Jim Taylor, Republican Larry Walker, Republican City Council, District 1: (Nonpartisan office) P.C. Wu City Council, District 3: (Nonpartisan office) Andy Terhaar City Council, District 5: (Nonpartisan office) Gerald Wingate City Council, District 7: (Nonpartisan office) Anny Shepard Jewel Cannada-Wynn Escambia County Soil & Water Conservation, District 1: (Nonpartisan office) Betty Ann Wilson Escambia County Soil & Water Conservation, District 3: (Nonpartisan office) Anne Bennett SRIA: (Nonpartisan office) Thomas A. Campanella Century Mayor Benjamin Boutwell Felic Fussner Freddie McCall The following individuals pre-filed for office: Century Town Council, Seat 2: Annie Savage – Nonpartisan Office  Read More →

June 24, 2016 | Read the story »

Scott Allocates Millions For Zika Fight

Gov. Rick Scott issued an executive order Thursday that pumps $26.2 million into the fight against the mosquito-borne Zika virus, as it appears Congress will wait until after its Fourth of July holiday recess before completing any deal addressing the disease. Scott directed state Surgeon General Celeste Philip to oversee the spread of the money to county health departments, local mosquito districts and laboratories for training, mosquito surveillance, and the purchase of Zika Prevention Kits from federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We are in the middle of hot, rainy weather which is when mosquitoes are most prevalent,” Scott said in a press release. “It is clear that allocating this funding is necessary if we are going to stay ahead of the spread of this virus.” The virus — which commonly results in a fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes — can, if caught during pregnancy, cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly and other fetal brain defects, according to the CDC. Scott added in the release that more than 40 entities have asked for more than $19 million to prepare for the virus. Scott asked President Barack Obama on June 1 to unilaterally release federal funds to fight Zika. Obama had requested Congress provide $1.9 billion in funding to fight Zika. The House, which had initially offered $622 million, approved a measure Thursday matching the Senate’s funding proposal of $1.1 billion for the Zika fight. However, some of the House provisions tied to the deal, but unrelated to fighting Zika, did not appear to be acceptable to Democrats and the White House. One travel-related Zika case has been reported in Escambia County. by The News Service of Florida  Read More →

June 24, 2016 | Read the story »

Donations Accepted For Local Firefighter Injured In Motorcycle Crash

Local residents are coming to the aid of a Molino firefighter seriously injured when the driver of a pickup truck pulled into the path of his motorcycle Wednesday afternoon. Feliciano Santana, known to friends as “Zapp”, is alive today because of his helmet and first responders who are also dear friends, according to family members. For 11 years, Santana has served area as a volunteer firefighter, currently as captain of the Molino Volunteer Fire Department. He has a shattered knee and a broken neck and is facing many surgeries. In addition to the hardship created by medical bills, he is also expected to be out of work for many months to come as he recovers. Family members are asking for prayers and financial donations. Donations of any amount can be made by clicking here. For an earlier story about the accident, click here. NorthEscambia.com file photos, click to enlarge.  Read More →

June 24, 2016 | Read the story »

Volunteers Sought For County Planning Board

The Escambia County Board of County Commissioners is seeking Escambia County residents interested in volunteering to be considered for an at-large appointment to the Escambia County Planning Board. At-large members serve a two-year term of office and attend one meeting per month (generally the first Tuesday of the month). Meetings are generally from 8:30 a.m. to no later than 12 p.m.; however, occasionally may go beyond 12 p.m. depending upon the agenda. No travel is involved unless the Planning Board members decide to view a particular property for informational purposes. Financial disclosure is required. Escambia County residents interested in being considered for a possible appointment to the Escambia County Planning Board to begin serving in August 2016 are asked to submit a resume and letter indicating their desire to serve by close of business on Tuesday, July 5, 2016.  Letters and resumes should be submitted to Kayla Meador; 3363 West Park Place; Pensacola, Florida 32505; or emailed to krmeador@myescambia.com.  Read More →

June 24, 2016 | Read the story »

Wahoos Win Second Half Opener

Three Reds youngsters made their Double-A debuts for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos Thursday night at Smokies Stadium. Reds No. 10 prospect Tyler Mahle made his debut by starting tonight’s game against the Tennessee Smokies. The hard-throwing right hander made batters look silly, striking out eight Smokies hitters in the 6-4 Pensacola victory. Mahle (5.0, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 8 SO, HR) picked up his ninth win of the season. His former Daytona Beach teammate Taylor Sparks (2-4, 2 R, HR, 4 RBI) also debuted at the Double-A level Thursday. On the first pitch of his debut, Sparks launched a two-run homer in the second inning with one on and nobody out to give the Wahoos a 4-1 lead. He joins former Wahoo and current Pensacola resident Travis Mattair on the list of Wahoos to hit homers on the first pitch of his first Double-A at-bat. Zach Vincej, who has been on fire the month of June hitting .357, gave the Blue Wahoos an early 2-0 lead in the first inning with a homerun to left center, his first of the year. In the sixth, Sparks came to the plate again. With one on and two down, the third baseman drilled his second homerun of the game, extending Pensacola’s lead to 6-3. Other Wahoos to homer in their first Double-A game include Donald Lutz (2012) and Alex Blandino (2015). The Blue Wahoos only managed five hits in the ballgame tonight. Like we’ve seen all season: they found a way to win. It’s the “Wahoo Way,” as manager Pat Kelly’s players like to call it. With nobody on and two away in the bottom of the seventh, Smokies centerfielder Jake Hanneman hit his second homer of the game off Jake Ehret, the third Wahoo to make his AA debut tonight. That cut the deficit to 6-4, and it was as close as Tennessee would get. Ehret (2 IP, 2 H, R, 3 SO) buckled down and finished off the inning. Southern League All-Star Alejandro Chacin came in to close the deal in the ninth, picking up his 12th save of the season. With the win tonight, Pensacola rides a four game win streak, tied for the longest of the season.  Read More →

June 24, 2016 | Read the story »

Election Watch: More Candidates Qualify On Wednesday

This is qualifying week for candidates seeking local office. Those that qualified Wednesday for local offices are listed below. For additional candidates that qualified on Monday, click here, and Tuesday, click here. Friday at noon is the deadline to qualify for local offices. Pensacola City Council, District 5: Gerald Wingate  - Nonpartisan Office Pensacola City Council, District 7: Anny Shepard –  Nonpartisan Office ECUA, District 1: Dawnmarie Kakatitieoy Kachachos-Ingwell – Write In ECUA, District 3: Charles Thornton – DEM Tiffany Washington – NPA ECUA, District 5: James Hunt – NPA County Commissioner, District 3: Delarian Wiggins – NPA County Commissioner, District 5: Steven Barry  - REP Daniel Smillie – REP Century Mayor: Felic Fussner – Nonpartisan Office Freddie McCall – Nonpartisan Office Century Town Council, Seat 1: Ann Brooks – Nonpartisan Office The following individuals pre-filed for office today: Century Town Council, Seat 2: Annie Savage – Nonpartisan Office Pensacola City Council, District 1: C.J.Lewis – Nonpartisan Office  Read More →

June 23, 2016 | Read the story »

Motorcyclist Injured In Molino Crash; Pickup Driver Cited

A motorcyclist was injured late Wednesday afternoon in a Molino crash. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the driver of the motorcycle, 29-year old Feliciano Santana of Molino, was northbound on Highway 95A when the driver of a pickup, 20-year old Jacob Hendrix of Molino, initiated travel into the motorcycle’s direct path. Santana was transported by Escambia County EMS to Sacred Heart Hospital in serious condition. He was wearing his helmet at the time of the crash. Hendrix was not injured. He was cited for failure to yield right of way by the FHP. Santana, better known locally as Zapp, has been a member of the Molino Volunteer Fire Department for 11 years and currently serves as a captain. A Gofundme page has been established to help him cover his medical expenses. The Molino and Cantonment stations of Escambia Fire Rescue also responded to the accident. NorthEscambia.com photos by Kristi Barbour, click to enlarge.  Read More →

June 23, 2016 | Read the story »

FWC Shoots Down 2016 Black Bear Hunt

Florida’s growing bear population will be out of the hunting crosshairs for this year. But a one-year pause may simply help the state build a better case for a hunt in 2017. After hours of objections from animal-rights advocates and support from hunters, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission voted 4-3 late Wednesday against a staff recommendation to hold a hunt in October that could have been smaller — in terms of permits and hunting grounds — than the 2015 event in which 304 bears were killed over two days. The commission agreed to accept a recommendation for there to be no hunt this year. “I don’t think it means hunting goes away,” Commission Chairman Brian Yablonski said at the end of a daylong meeting in the rural Franklin County community of Eastpoint. Yablonski added that the delay will allow non-lethal efforts to take hold. Those efforts include expanding the availability of bear-proof trash containers in communities with high incidents of bear-human interactions. The state agency has about $825,000 this year — due in part to money raised from the 2015 hunt — to match with money from local governments for the non-lethal options. Commissioner Ron Bergeron, who cast the lone vote against the 2015 hunt, said the one-year delay to gather more data on the bear population in Florida will help the “credibility” of the state agency. “We went 20 years without a hunt, had one last year,” added Commissioner Bo Rivard, who acknowledged that the 2015 hunt wasn’t perfect. “I’m OK with hitting the pause button. Have our staff continue to work on the issue.” More than 80 people addressed the commission Wednesday, with the pro-hunt crowd outnumbered nearly 3-to-1 by people asking to postpone or prohibit future hunts. Commissioner Aliese P. “Liesa” Priddy warned the commission that it will only hear the same arguments against a hunt next year. “A hunt going forward in 2016 doesn’t mean we’re not going to stop studying the bears,” Priddy said. Opponents, including some who challenged the 2015 hunt in court and some wearing shirts that said “Bear lives matter,” told commissioners they intended to work against any killing of bears for sport, which they contend will hurt tourism in Florida. “We’ve had two shootings recently that have given Florida a huge black eye,” said Katrina Shadix of Oviedo before the commission vote. “Do we want to add another controversial bear hunt to our image?” Newton Cook, a member of The Future of Hunting in Florida, said those who question the state agency’s scientists “are wrong” and simply seeking an excuse to call for a delay or postponement of the hunt. “Thirty states have bear hunting,” Cook said. “This is not rocket science.” But critics of the hunt spent the day pushing for the commission to approve a delay so more scientific data can be collected or to possibly issue a general prohibition on all future hunts. “They need to stop this whole thing, do a complete assessment and then go ahead and determine if it’s viable to have a hunt,” said Adam Sugalski, campaign director for Stop the Florida Bear Hunt. Sugalski admitted after the meeting to being surprised by the commission’s decision. Before the event at a Franklin County school, about 15 protesters mostly from Sugalski’s group were herded into an area — taped off from the parking lot outside the school — as they called for the hunt to be canceled or postponed for at least a year. Chuck O’Neal, an Apopka Democrat running for the state House, said his Seminole County group Speak Up Wekiva is working on a pair of citizen-led state ballot initiatives that would require Fish and Wildlife Conservation commissioners to be elected rather than appointed by the governor and for statewide referendums to be held when hunts are planned for species that were once listed as threatened or endangered. “The public has spent a lot of money to bring black bears back,” said O’Neal, who appeared at the commission meeting. Thomas Eason, director of the commission’s habitat and species conservation division, said the state’s bear population has made tremendous strides since the 1970s, when there were 300 to 500 black bears in Florida and the animals were placed on the state’s list of threatened species. Bears were removed from the list in 2012. “A lot of people still seem to feel like we’re in the late ’70s, and we have these very isolated, very small bear populations,” Eason said. “We have moved well beyond that and we have expanding bear populations in both range and numbers. And that is a huge success story. And we don’t say that lightly.” The call for the hunt came as the number of bears annually killed by vehicles has steadily increased the past quarter century. There were 243 bears killed by vehicles last year, up from 241 a year earlier. In 1990, the state recorded 33 bears killed by vehicles. In 2000, the number was 109. Over the same time, the number of phone calls to the agency related to bears has grown from 99 in 2000 to 6,094 last year. The 2015 number marked a drop from the 6,688 calls in 2014. Commission officials have said the decline could be due to ongoing efforts to reduce bear-human interactions, such getting more people to use bear-proof trash containers. Critics of the hunt said the road-kill and incident numbers are due in large part to humans moving into traditional bear habitat. by Jim Turner, The News Service of Florida  Read More →

June 23, 2016 | Read the story »

Citizens Signs Off On Possible Rate Hikes

Pointing to a “crisis” in costly water-damage claims, the Citizens Property Insurance Board of Governors on Wednesday unanimously approved a proposed 6.8 percent statewide rate increase. The proposal would have varying effects for customers of the state-backed insurer, with some homeowners seeing premiums go up more than 6.8 percent and some seeing smaller increases — or even decreases. State regulators will decide whether to approve the rate changes, which would take effect in early 2017. Citizens officials primarily blame the higher rates on increases in water-damage claims and a related, politically charged issue known as “assignment of benefits.” The issue, which drew heavy attention during this year’s legislative session, involves homeowners signing over benefits to contractors, who ultimately pursue payments from insurance companies. The insurance industry argues that the assignment of benefits process has been abused, particularly with water-damage claims related to issues such as broken pipes. The industry contends that the process has driven up the costs of claims and has spurred a barrage of expensive lawsuits. “This is a crisis, and it’s a crisis not only for Citizens,” Barry Gilway, president and CEO of Citizens, said during the Board of Governors meeting Wednesday in Maitland. “It’s a crisis for the entire industry.” Despite heavy lobbying by the industry, lawmakers this year did not revamp assignment of benefits. Plaintiffs’ attorneys and contractors argue, in part, the practice helps homeowners hire contractors quickly to repair damage and also can help force insurers to properly pay claims. The proposed 6.8 percent statewide rate hike for personal-lines policies, such as homeowners’ coverage, would affect customers differently, based on factors including location and types of policies. For example, rates would go up an average of 6.3 percent for inland homeowners who have multi-peril policies, which include coverage for water damage, according to Citizens. Multi-peril policies for coastal homeowners would see an average increase of 8.6 percent. Wind-only policies for personal-lines customers also would go up an average of 8.3 percent, under the proposal. Florida has not been hit by a hurricane in more than a decade, but Citizens Chief Risk Officer John Rollins said the potential increase in wind-only rates stems from the shift of a large number of coastal properties from Citizens to private insurance carriers. He said the remaining Citizens policies provide coverage for properties that historically have not had “adequate” rates to reflect their risks. But while higher rates for wind-only coverage are an issue for many homeowners in coastal areas, the major debate in the property-insurance industry focuses on water-damage claims. Citizens and other insurers are signaling they will try again next year to get the Legislature to change laws dealing with assignment of benefits. “We have been warning about premium increases resulting from AOB (assignment of benefits) abuse for four years and, now, because of lawmakers’ inaction, consumers are paying the price,” said Michael Carlson, president of the Personal Insurance Federation of Florida, which includes Allstate, Progressive and State Farm insurance companies. by Jim Saunders, The News Service of Florida  Read More →

June 23, 2016 | Read the story »