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Put A Ring On It: Tate’s State Champion Softball Team Receives Rings

Put A Ring On It: Tate’s State Champion Softball Team Receives Rings

The Tate Lady Aggies won the Class 7A softball state championship last spring, and they were back in the spotlight Friday night as they received their state championship rings from Principal Rick Shackle and Escambia School Superintendent Malcolm Thomas. Photos by Jennifer Repine for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.  Read More →

August 30, 2015 | Read the story »


Teen Killed In Santa Rosa Traffic Crash

A teen was killed in a two vehicle crash about 10:40 Saturday morning in Santa Rosa County. Adrian Lewis Dunklin, Jr., 17, was traveling south on Avalon Boulevard near Santa Monica Street when his 2014 Honda cross the center line into the path of a 2008 Nissa SUV driven by 35-year old Julie Counts Richardson of Milton. A passenger in Dunklin’s vehicle, 17-year old Aubree D. Manapat Kramer of Pace, was pronounced deceased at the scene. Dunklin and a second passenger in his vehicle, 17-year old Josh J. Jones, received minor injuries and were transported to West Florida Hospital. Richardson was transported to Sacred Heart Hospital with minor injuries. The crash remains under investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol.  Read More →

August 30, 2015 | Read the story »


Ernest Ward Seeks Donations Of Legos, Tinker Toys, Building Sets

Ernest Ward Middle School is seeking donations of construction toy sets for their new Innovation Center. The school is in need of sets of Legos, Erector Sets, Tinker Toys, Lincoln Logs and similar items. Call Mrs. Stallworth at (850) 327-4283 extension 110 for more information. As part of Vision 2020 in the Escambia County School District, schools are going back to the concept of letting students explore, experiment and learn through trial and error. Libraries have become Innovation Centers where students can create, explore, discover and invent using a variety of materials, such as the construction sets.  Read More →

August 30, 2015 | Read the story »


Florida Minimum Wage Increase Proposed In The House

A House Democrat filed a bill Friday that calls for increasing the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. The bill (HB 109), filed by Rep. Victor Torres, D-Orlando, will be considered during the 2016 legislative session and mirrors a bill (SB 6) filed last month by Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami. Previous proposals to increase the minimum wage have not moved forward in the Legislature. The state’s minimum wage, which gradually increases each year, hit $8.05 in January. by The News Service of Florida  Read More →

August 30, 2015 | Read the story »

4Him’s Kirk Sullivan In Free Concert Today In Molino

4Him’s Kirk Sullivan In Free Concert Today In Molino

Kirk Sullivan of the award-winning Contemporary Christian group 4Him will be in concert this afternoon at Highland Baptist Church in Molino. 4Him made music history with a Grammy nomination, eight Dove awards, three gold albums and 25 number singles. This afternoon’s Kirk Sullivan concert at Highland Baptist, 6240 Highway 95A, begins at 4:30 p.m. Admission is free but a love offering will be accepted. The group 4Him is reuniting this fall for the 25 Years 4Him Tour.  Read More →

August 30, 2015 | Read the story »

Wahoos Lose To Jackson

Wahoos Lose To Jackson

Pensacola managed three hits Saturday and dropped the second game of the five-game series against Jackson, 4-0, at The Ballpark in Jackson. After five Blue Wahoos recorded multi-hit games and the club pounded out 11 hits in the opener, the General’s Misael Siverio gave up a season-best one hit in six innings of work and struck out five to improve to 5-11 on the year. The Pensacola loss and Mississippi victory means the Blue Wahoos lead over the Braves fell to half a game in the South Division with eight to play. Pensacola moved to 35-27 in the second half of the Southern League, while Mississippi improved to 34-27. The Blue Wahoos are trying to make the postseason for the first time since the team began in 2012. It would be the first time a Cincinnati Reds Double-A affiliate has been in the playoffs since Chattanooga in 2006 — the longest drought of any Southern League affiliate. Chattanooga lost to Huntsville in the first round. In the eighth inning, Jackson added an insurance run to go up, 4-0, when first baseman John Lara singled to left field to score DH Guillermo Pimental from third. Generals left fielder Jabari Henry hit a two-run homer, his ninth of the season, to left center field in the fifth inning that put Jackson ahead, 3-0. Jackson got its first run in the fourth when Lara doubled in shortstop Tyler Smith. After four bad starts in a row in which he failed to pitch five innings, Pensacola starter Sal Romano had a strong outing, allowing five hits in six innings, walking one and striking out two. Part of the problem was he had walked 10 batters in 12 innings. However, Romano earned the loss against Jackson and is 0-4 since moving up to Double-A Pensacola. Pensacola right fielder Jesse Winker went 1-4, hitting safely in six straight games. But he got tossed from the game in his last at bat arguing a strike out call. Winker has hit in 20 of his 25 games this month and is batting .368 (32-87) in August and .313 in the second half. The Blue Wahoos two other hits came when third baseman Mejias-Brean doubled in two at bats and second baseman Ryan Wright, who was 1-4, singled in the ninth inning.  Read More →

August 30, 2015 | Read the story »

Tropical Storm Erika Has Dissipated

As of 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Tropical Storm Erika has dissipated with winds of 35 miles per hour. However, the National Hurricane Center says people in the Bahamas, eastern and central Cuba and southern Florida should monitor the remnants of Erika. The remnants are expected to move near the coast of eastern and central Cuba today and tonight and into the southeastern Gulf of Mexico on Sunday.  Read More →

August 29, 2015 | Read the story »

Friday Night Football Finals

Here is a look at final scores from Friday night’s high school football games: FLORIDA Crestview 47, Northview 20 [More...] Tate 38, Biloxi 7 [More...] Flomaton 55, Jay 26 [More...] Escambia 16, West Florida 7 Choctaw 48, Gulf Breeze 32 Navarre 57, Catholic 14 Milton 20, Washington 14 OT Pine Forest 41, PHS 30 Pace 49, Fort Walton 28 Baker 26, Holmes County 14 ALABAMA Flomaton 55, Jay 26 [More...] W.S. Neal 42. Escambia County (Atmore) 14 T.R. Miller 17, Tallassee 14 Autauga Academy 28, Escambia Academy 18  Read More →

August 29, 2015 | Read the story »

Escambia Man Convicted Of Shooting Jogger In The Face

An Escambia County man has been convicted of shooting a jogger in the face last year. Roosevelt Bonner, Jr., was convicted by an Escambia County Jury of attempted first degree premeditated murder and aggravated battery. On August 22, 2014 the victim was jogging on Avery Street when he was approached by Bonner, who asked the victim a question. The victim did not understand what Bonner was asking so he kept jogging.  The victim is Vietnamese and does not speak English.  A few blocks down the road, Bonner approached the victim once again, pointing a gun to his face and firing one shot in the victim’s cheek.  Bonner was located by law enforcement the next day at the Kangaroo Express on Mobile Highway.  Located in the bathroom trash can was a .32 caliber handgun.  DNA testing revealed Bonner’s DNA on the pistol.  Ballistic testing matched that firearm to the casing recovered at the scene of the crime.  Three days after the shooting, the victim identified Bonner in a photo lineup. Circuit Judge Ross Goodman scheduled sentencing for October 1. Bonner has four prior felony convictions and was released from prison on April 1, 2012.  The State will request that Bonner be sentenced as a prison releasee reoffender.  Bonner faces up to life in state prison with a minimum mandatory sentence of 25 years.  Read More →

August 29, 2015 | Read the story »

Tate Opens Season With New Coach, Big Win Over Biloxi

New Tate High School football coach Jay Lindsey opened his career with the Aggies with a big 38-7 win over Biloxi. The Aggies took the lead at Pete Gindl Stadium in Cantonment with 9:41 on the clock in the first on a 33-yard pass from Sawyer Smith to Reginald Payne. With a good kick from Evan Legassey, the Aggies were up 7-0. The Aggies struck again on a 24-yard run from Jack Henry with 6:47 to go in the first quarter. Then, with 2:46 to go in the first, Tate scored on a 2-yard quarterback keeper from Smith, 21-0. By halftime, the Aggies were up 24-0 with a second quarter 37-yard field goal from Legassey. With 1:32 to go in the third, Alondo Thompkins added a 58-yard touchdown run. The Tate Aggies will be at West Florida High next Friday night at 7:30. Look for an upcoming gallery with more photos on NorthEscambia.com. NorthEscambia.com photos by Jennifer Repine, click to enlarge.  Read More →

August 29, 2015 | Read the story »

6A Bulldogs Top The 1A Northview Chiefs

The 6A Crestview Bulldogs defeated the 1A Northview Chiefs 47-20 Friday night in Crestview. Luke Ward added the first points on the night for the Chiefs on a 23-yard touchdown run. He scored again on an 80-yard run and on a 47-yard pass from quarterback Gavin Grant. The Chiefs will sit out next Friday night as their only open date of the season.  On September 11, the Northview Chiefs will host the 6A Gulf Breeze Dolphins at Tommy Weaver Memorial Stadium in Bratt. Look for an upcoming photo gallery with more pictures. NorthEscambia.com photos by Gary Amerson, click to enlarge.  Read More →

August 29, 2015 | Read the story »

Flomaton Tops Jay

In their second week of play, the Flomaton Hurricanes spoiled the regular season opener for the Jay Royals 55-26 Friday night in Flomaton. At the end of the first quarter, the Canes and Royals were tied at 13-13, but the Canes took the lead to never look back. Flomaton (2-0)  will travel to Chatom, AL, next Friday night to take on Washington County, while the Royals will host Resurrection Catholic from Pascagoula, MS. For more photos, click here. NorthEscambia.com photos by Michele Gibbs, click to enlarge.  Read More →

August 29, 2015 | Read the story »

Wahoos Beat Generals

Pensacola right-hander Daniel Wright blanked Jackson on one hit through eight innings and the Blue Wahoos stayed on top of the South Division with nine game left in the season. Wright end up lasting a season-high 8.1 innings and gave up one run on three hits as Pensacola defeated the Generals, 7-1, in the series opener Friday at The Ballpark at Jackson. Wright’s record improved to 10-10 with a 4.50 ERA this year. Pensacola moved to 35-26 in the second half of the Southern League and remained in sole possession of first place 1.5 games ahead of Mississippi with nine games to play. The Braves also defeated Biloxi, 7-1, to move to 33-27. Pensacola left fielder Jesse Winker was 2-4 with a double and two RBIs. He has hit in 19 of his 24 games this month. He is hitting .373 (31-83) in August and .316 in the second half. The Cincinnati Reds top prospect currently holds the Pensacola Triple Crown, leading the team with 13 home runs, 55 RBIs and a .280 batting average. Pensacola, which smacked 11 hits in the game, had four other players with multi-hit games, including shortstop Alex Blandino (2-5 with one RBI), center fielder Beau Amaral (2-4, two runs scored, one RBI), DH Juan Duran (2-5 with a run scored), and third baseman Seth Mejias-Brean (2-5 with a run scored).  Read More →

August 29, 2015 | Read the story »

Florida Gov’t Weekly Roundup: Looking For A Direction

The leaders of Florida spent the week looking for directions, and maps didn’t turn out to be much help. In the case of the state’s ongoing congressional redistricting saga, lawmakers and a Leon County judge were looking for directions from the Florida Supreme Court — and there was no map to follow, because there is no congressional map at all. There also appears to be no roadmap for how to extract the state from the increasingly intricate web of lawsuits, special sessions and political battles sparked by the anti-gerrymandering “Fair Districts” standards. Meanwhile, Floridians were keeping an eye on Tropical Storm Erika, though in that case the directions and the map kept changing. At one point, the looming storm was going to plow into the eastern part of the state. Then, it was going to strike just a glancing blow to the east coast. And finally, it looked like it would bear down on the southwestern corner of Florida before moving northward across the state. By the end of the week, it appeared that the threat to people from Erika was still severe, but less so than it seemed days earlier. But bears might still need an evacuation route, as a controversial hunt for the animals looked more and more ominous. At least, for bears. WHAT NOW? The House-Senate standoff on congressional redistricting that ended a special session aimed at resolving the issue showed no signs of dying down by the end of the week, and Leon County Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis decided he wasn’t going to try to work through the thicket himself. Instead, Lewis told the two sides at a hearing, he would ask the Florida Supreme Court what to do about it. “I just don’t feel that I have any authority to do anything other than to report the situation,” Lewis said. It was, after all, the Supreme Court that struck down eight of Florida’s 27 congressional districts in July, arguing that they violated the Fair Districts amendments that voters approved in 2010. That led to a special session of the Legislature that collapsed in acrimony between the two chambers, and the unusual position Lewis found himself in. While they couldn’t agree on the reasons for it, both the House and the Senate support Lewis choosing between competing plans from the Legislature, the voting-rights groups that initially challenged the lines or perhaps a map that Lewis himself would craft. But the voting-rights organization called for the Supreme Court to step in. Lawyers for the League of Women Voters and Common Cause Florida said the 2016 congressional elections are coming up quickly, and the justices should go ahead and take over the case amid the squabbling. “Faced with the Legislature’s disregard of its mandate, this court should promptly adopt a remedial plan,” the filing said. Looking to avoid that, the Senate tried to come up with a compromise this week between its own map and the “base map” drawn by legislative aides and favored by the House. Senate Reapportionment Chairman Bill Galvano released a new draft of congressional lines that largely abandoned the upper chamber’s earlier drive to consolidate eastern Hillsborough County into one district. The map would put Sarasota County in one district — another goal of the Senate — by splitting it off from Manatee County, which would be pushed into a district with parts of Hillsborough County. As a result, Hillsborough would comprise a greater share of District 16 than it would under a plan supported by the House, potentially representing at least a partial victory for Sen. Tom Lee, a Brandon Republican who had pushed for the county’s eastern side to be consolidated. But in the process, a largely rural congressional district in the center of the state currently represented by Republican Congressman Tom Rooney would be “pulled apart at the seams,” Rooney said. Meanwhile, the incumbent’s home town of Okeechobee would shift into a reliably Democratic district that stretches northward to Orange County. “It is my hope that this map is something that my…fellow legislators, in both chambers, can support as a compromise, and that we can fulfill our obligation to adopt a congressional reapportionment plan,” wrote Galvano, R-Bradenton, in a memo to senators. On Friday, the House essentially said thanks, but no thanks. “It is unfortunate that the Senate did not accept the House’s concerns during the special session; if the Senate had offered an amendment like the map filed by Chairman Galvano (Thursday) afternoon, that map would have been given serious consideration,” wrote House Redistricting Chairma Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes. Undeterred, Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, sent a letter to House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, asking for a meeting that would also include Oliva and Galvano. But there were few signs of that, and by the close of business on Friday, the Supreme Court hadn’t broken its silence. A FAIR FIGHT? There might be a mismatch this October in the wilds of Florida. After all, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will be asked next week to set a quota of 320 bears for a controversial hunt in October. But the possibility of a hunt, the first in the state in more than 20 years, has already attracted 1,795 hunters who have purchased permits, according to the commission. The hunt is intended to help the state achieve a 20 percent reduction in the bear population in each region. The 20 percent figure includes the number of bears that die naturally, are hit and killed by cars and are captured and killed by wildlife officers due to conflicts. One of the people making the decision will be relatively new to the commission. Gov. Rick Scott named the president of a Key West real-estate development company to the panel, replacing the former chairman who announced last week he is stepping down after 12 years on the board. The appointment late Friday of Robert Spottswood by Scott came three days after Richard Corbett, whose term on the board was scheduled to expire in January 2018, submitted his resignation to Scott. Corbett, a Tampa resident who has been on the commission since February 2003 and was named chairman in June 2013, didn’t state a reason for his decision in a letter to Scott, instead praising staff and the governor’s approach to conservation. “I am confident you will continue this positive trend and select a candidate that will carry forward the energy and enthusiasm for Florida’s fish and wildlife resources, while being mindful of the strong relationship between the stewardship of these resources and their importance to our economy and quality of life in Florida,” wrote Corbett. Scott expressed confidence in Spottswood, who created Spottswood Companies. “As a sixth generation Floridian from the Keys, I know Robert cares deeply about our beautiful state and preserving Florida as the fishing capital of the world,” Scott said in the release. This is the third time that Spottswood has received an appointment from Scott, following a seat on the governor’s Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding and a spot on the 3rd District Court of Appeal Judicial Nominating Commission. Spottswood donated $10,000 on Sept. 30, 2013, to “Let’s Get to Work,” a political organization that has played a key role backing Scott. DODGING A BULLET? Late this week, Floridians were eying Erika and trying to figure out where she would make landfall and how strong she would be at the time. Forecasts of the state’s first direct hit from a hurricane in a decade appeared to be dying down, with Erika more likely to be a tropical storm or a depression during her time in Florida. Still, Gov. Rick Scott on Friday declared a state of emergency for the entire state. The executive order pointed to updated forecasts from the National Hurricane Center indicating the storm likely will “travel up the spine of Florida’s peninsula.” The declaration has a number of effects, such as triggering arrangements in which Florida can seek assistance from other states and the federal government. Also, Scott ordered Adjutant Gen. Michael Calhoun to activate the Florida National Guard for the duration of the emergency. The governor and other state officials urged Floridians on Thursday to begin preparing for a major storm. “A lot of times it’s not the storm that causes the problem,” Scott said.”It’s the aftermath because as individuals we didn’t get prepared. So, each of us has to take the responsibility to get prepared.” STORY OF THE WEEK: The House and Senate standoff over congressional redistricting spilled over into the courts after a special session on the issue collapsed last week. QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “The soft scent of mentholated dry mango swirls around the tongue, punctuated by the flavor of overripe peaches. Exhaling Harlequin produces a dense fog of sweet incense, with a soothing, soft and spicy sandalwood scent.”—An explanation of a product from Winter Garden-based Razbuton, which is seeking to become one of the fortunate five granted “dispensing organization” licenses to grow, process and distribute non-euphoric medicinal marijuana authorized by Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature last year. Smoking of the low-THC products is prohibited by the Florida law.  Read More →

August 29, 2015 | Read the story »

Ernest Ward Middle Topples Jay, 22-20

Ernest Ward Middle School opened their football season with a 22-20 win over the Jay Royals Thursday night in Walnut Hill. The EWMS Eagles will travel to T.R. Miller on September 3. For more photos, click here. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.  Read More →

August 28, 2015 | Read the story »

Extension Farm Field Day Held

An Extension Farm Filed Day was held Thursday at the University of Florida, West Florida Research & Education Center in Jay. Farmers from across Escambia and Santa Rosa counties and surrounding areas learned about numerous topics, including weed control for row crops, peanuts, cotton, soybeans and even sesame. Courtesy photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.  Read More →

August 28, 2015 | Read the story »

Northview Fans ‘Meet The Chiefs’ (With Gallery)

Northview High School’s Quarterback Club held a “Meet the Chiefs” event Thursday evening, giving fans a chance to get to know the team prior to the start of the regular season Friday night. Fans also had a chance to meet the cheerleaders and dance team. The Chiefs will travel to Crestview Friday night to take on the Bulldogs in a non-district game. For more photos, click here. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.  Read More →

August 28, 2015 | Read the story »

Central, Northview Split Volleyball Games

In high school volleyball Thursday evening, Central defeated the Northview Chiefs in varsity action, 19-25, 20-25, 15-25. In junior varsity play, the Northview Chiefs beat Central, 25-19, 21-25, 15-5. Northview will travel to W.S. Neal on Tuesday with the JV playing at 4:30 and the varsity at 5:30.  Read More →

August 28, 2015 | Read the story »

Wahoos Rally, Up 1.5 Games In South Division

All second half of the Southern League season, left fielder Jesse Winker came through with a big hit when Pensacola needed it. Winker’s last one — a double in the right field corner in the eighth inning — was the biggest and came under the most pressure. It not only cleared the loaded bases by driving in three runs to catapult the Blue Wahoos back into the lead, 9-8, over the Mississippi Braves, it put Pensacola 1.5 games up on the Braves in the race for the playoffs in the second half of the Southern League’s South Division. By the end of the eighth inning, Pensacola had scored five runs and beat Mississippi, 11-8, and received a standing ovation from its 23rd sellout of 5,038 Thursday night at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium. Pensacola improved to 34-26 in the second half and remained in sole possession of first place, while Mississippi fell to 32-27. With 10 games left in the season, this is the latest Pensacola has been in first place since July 22, 2012 in its first season. Winker said he was looking for a fastball to hit deep and at least get a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded. Instead, he ripped a line drive to reach base all five times he came to bat. Winker was 2-2 with a double, four RBIs, three runs and walked three times. The last time he got on base five times was on June 11, 2014 for the Bakersfield Blaze. “How sweet,” said Winker, who was drenched with water by his teammates after the game. “It was unbelievable with the playoff atmosphere, plus PK’s (manager Pat Kelly) birthday. It was real cool. It was a real fun game to be a part of.” Winker has hit in 18 of his 23 games this month. He is hitting .367 (29-79) in August and .312 in the second half. The Cincinnati Reds top prospect currently holds the Pensacola Triple Crown, leading the team with 13 home runs, 53 RBIs and a .278 batting average. In top of the fifth inning with Pensacola leading, 4-1, the video board flashed birthday wishes to Pensacola manager Pat Kelly, who turned 60 Thursday. One photo was him with a mustache during his minor league playing days and the other a shot from this season. He tipped his cap to the crowd and smiled. However, Mississippi scored five runs after that in the fifth. Braves right fielder KD Kang came through with a three-run homer to left to knot the game, 4-4. Kang has reached base in 29 straight road games this year, the longest streak in the Southern League this season. Then, the Braves second baseman Levi Hyams drove in two more runs on a line drive over the head of Pensacola center fielder Phillip Ervin to put Mississippi ahead, 6-4. Mississippi added two more runs to go ahead, 8-4, in the seventh inning when Pensacola shortstop Alex Blandino threw wide of first base trying to turn a double play that allowed the Braves third baseman Rio Ruiz and catcher Matt Kennelly to score. Pensacola entered the game 3-56 when trailing in the seventh inning. “It was fantastic,” Kelly said of Pensacola’s rally in the eighth inning to win the game. “We were dead in the water. I thought, ‘Man, we are really in trouble.’” But right fielder Juan Duran laced a low line drive single to centerfield with two outs and the bases loaded in the seventh inning to bring home Blandino and Winker and pull the Blue Wahoos within, 8-6. He ended up going 2-4 with a three-run home run for five RBIs on the night. Duran’s homer in the third inning was Pensacola’s 16th dinger in 24 games. After hitting just 25 home runs in the first half, the Blue Wahoos have clobbered 76 home runs on the season, which is third best in the Southern League. Winker and Kelly both expressed optimism about making the playoffs with a series against the Jackson Generals in Tennessee and then its final homestand against Mobile at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium. “We are all locked in on what we can do to win,” Winker said. “It’s something special to be a part of. I hope we go there (to Jackson) and take five.” Kelly said beating Mississippi in a five-game series for the first time this season is huge. “This puts us in a great position by winning it,” Kelly said. “It takes us to the Jackson series with some momentum. We’re going into that series in good spirits.”  Read More →

August 28, 2015 | Read the story »

FDLE Arrests Man For Sex Offenses

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement, with assistance from the Pensacola State College Police Department, arrested Jorge Rafael Carias, 24, of  Milton, Wednesday on charges of using a computer to solicit a parent or guardian for sex with a child, traveling to meet a child for sex, and transmitting harmful material to a minor. This case was investigated by members of the North Florida Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force including FDLE, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations, Okaloosa and Walton County Sheriff’s Offices, and Pensacola Police Department. The investigation began in July when Carias engaged in a series of email and text messages with an undercover officer who Carias believed to be the parent of a 12-year old girl. During the email and text exchanges, Carias solicited the undercover officer to have sex with the supposed girl in exchange for cash.  He also sent a pornographic photo of himself and sexual messages to the supposed child before traveling to a local motel for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity with a child. Carias was located  at Pensacola State College and transported to the Escambia County Jail on a $60,000 bond. The case will be prosecuted by the Office of the State Attorney, 1st Judicial Circuit.  Read More →

August 27, 2015 | Read the story »

Atmore Man Indicted For Murder Of His Brother

An Atmore man has been indicted for the May murder of his brother despite a stand your ground claim. An Escambia County grand jury indicted James “Jamie” Tolin Scott on one count of reckless murder for the shooting death of Tony Tolin Scott.  Tony Scott was shot to death with a small caliber rifle at James Scott’s home on Jefferson Avenue in McCullough, a small community north of Atmore. The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office had responded multiple times to the home prior to the shooting due to fights between the brothers. James Scott remains in the Escambia County Detention Center in Brewton with bond set at $250,000.  Read More →

August 27, 2015 | Read the story »

State Board Of Education To Ask For Record Funding

The State Board of Education decided Wednesday to once again ask lawmakers for record per-student funding for public schools — with the lion’s share of the increase coming from local taxpayers. Board members unanimously approved a budget request of nearly $20.2 billion for the main funding formula for public elementary and secondary schools in the fiscal year that begins next July 1. That would set a new benchmark for total funding, up from this year’s $19.7 billion, as well as marking the highest per-student amount in state history. “Last year, you’ll remember that Gov. Scott and the Legislature provided historic levels of funding for education, and we are hopeful that for the (coming) year, the governor and the Legislature will make education a top priority once again by providing historic funding levels,” Education Commissioner Pam Stewart told the board. In a June special legislative session, lawmakers rejected Gov. Rick Scott’s call to increase per-student funding in the current budget year to more than the high-water mark of $7,126, which came in the 2007-08 school year. This year’s decision, made as the House and Senate tried to plug a hole in the health-care budget, deprived Scott of a victory on a campaign promise he had made during his successful re-election bid in 2014. The proposal approved Wednesday by the board would boost spending to $7,209.39 per student, an increase of $104.33, or 1.47 percent, over the current year. However, only $50 million of the $475.9 million hike in funding would come from the state. The other $425.9 million would come from local property taxes that make up a key part of the formula for education spending. That approach has drawn criticism from Democrats and some Republicans, who equate it to a tax increase. Defenders of the formula point out that the local tax dollars go up because the value of property is rising, not because the actual tax rate is being increased. The board’s proposal still has several stages to go through before a final number on per-student spending is set. Scott is expected to announce his budget proposal in December, and lawmakers will begin their regular session in January. A final state spending plan will likely be approved in March. At least one board member held out the possibility that the increase could grow by the time lawmakers are done. “I hope that percentage increases,” said board member Michael Olenick. Sen. Don Gaetz, a Niceville Republican who chairs the Senate’s education budget subcommittee, said it is too early to tell whether it’s likely that the Legislature will approve a record amount. “I hope it is (likely),” he said. But Gaetz, a former district superintendent, also said he believes “Tallahassee politicians and school board members need to be careful about patting themselves on the back” for funding increases that largely come from local taxpayers. At their Wednesday meeting, the state board also approved a list of legislative priorities for the 2016 session. Included were measures that would make it easier for high-performing charter schools to open new campuses, allow students in low-performing schools to receive enrollment preferences at charter schools and overhaul the Department of Education’s process for investigating teachers accused of misconduct. Among other things, the latter bill would put more teachers on the board that investigates alleged wrongdoing and would allow the education agency to get access to the findings of child-protective investigations by the Department of Children and Families.  Read More →

August 27, 2015 | Read the story »

Wahoos Move Into First Place

Cody Reed held the Mississippi Braves to one run and struck out eight in six innings of work as the Pensacola Blue Wahoos won, 3-1, Wednesday night to move into first place in the second half of South Division play in the Southern League. Wednesday night, Reed showed the 4,201 Blue Wahoos fans at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium what he’s made of. In the battle to make the playoffs, Reed retired nine Mississippi Braves in a row at one point. On the road, Reed has a 3-0 record and 0.41 earned-run average. At home? Reed was 0-2, lasting just 7.2 innings with an 11.74 ERA. Pensacola improved to 33-26 in the second half and sole possession of first place, while Mississippi fell to 32-26. Reed said he knew he lacked his usual good stuff but wasn’t about to let the Braves have a big inning. He struggled early throwing 60 pitches over the first three innings. “It wasn’t my sharpest day but I got through six innings,” said Reed, who came to Pensacola from the Kansas City organization in a trade for the Cincinnati Reds ace Johnny Cueto. “You just got to work through it. I love having that pressure of being the guy they give the ball to.” Pensacola manager Pat Kelly, who turns 60 Thursday, said Reed’s six innings was exactly what the Blue Wahoos needed Wednesday against Mississippi. Reed improved to 4-2 with a 3.03 ERA. “I had more guys in turf shoes than cleats tonight,” he said. “I love (Reed’s) stuff. He has a plus fastball with a plus slider. He really competes. He was upset he gave up one run.” Pensacola scored first in the fourth inning when left fielder Jesse Winker walked and scored on right fielder Juan Duran’s fielder choice to go up, 1-0. The Blue Wahoos added another in the next inning when Kyle Skipworth hit a shot to right field that was dropped for an error. He scored on Winker’s ground out to the first baseman for a 2-0 Pensacola lead. But back-to-back doubles by Mississippi’s Keven Ahrens and Rio Ruiz brought the Braves within one run at, 2-1. Pensacola, though, added an insurance run in the eighth inning to go up, 3-1, when shortstop Alex Blandino hit a rocket to centerfield for a double and scored on a sacrifice fly by first baseman Marquez Smith. Kelly said he’s glad to be in the hunt for a playoff spot with 11 games left in the season. The latest Pensacola has had sole possession of first place was July 22, 2012 in its first season. “If you had told me in April or May that we would be here I would have told you that you were crazy,” Kelly said. “This is great. It’s nice being here at this point. We just gotta keep going.”  Read More →

August 27, 2015 | Read the story »

Cantonment Man Charged With Stealing Car, Burglary

A Cantonment man is behind bars after allegedly using force to steal a car and then using it as transportation as he committed a burglary the following day. James Christopher Gulsby 32, punched and choked his live-in girlfriend to get the keys and take a 2010 Suzuki Kizashi car belonging to her father, according to an arrest report. The following day, the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office receive a suspicious person call on Hound Chase Way, with the individual reported to be walking around with a black plastic box and a green garden hose. They responded to find Gulsby in the backyard of a residence with a small crowbar and  pair of pliers. Deputies discovered the back door of the residence with pry marks that matched the use of a crowbar, and they reported finding a black box with tools and a green garden hose inside. Gulsby was charged with domestic battery by strangulation, criminal mischief with property damage, burglary of an unoccupied dwelling, possession of burglary tools with the intent to use, and grand theft of a motor vehicle. He booked into the Escambia County Jail without bond.  Read More →

August 26, 2015 | Read the story »

Escambia Legislative Delegation Sets Public Hearing

The Escambia County Legislative Delegation will hold a public hearing September 21, according to Sen. Greg Evers, delegation chairman. Delegation members will consider local bills, hear presentations from government entities and take public testimony on proposals for the 2016 Legislative Session. Any member of the public is welcomed to attend. Those who wish to make a presentation or provide testimony should  contact Dave Murzin at murzin.dave@flsenate.gov or cell, (850) 380-8249 to receive a Meeting Participation Form and return it to Evers’ office no later than 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 17. Local bill submissions should includeda brief summary of the proposal, a draft of the proposed bill, and a 2016 Economic Impact Statement Form, must be received by Evers office no later than 5:00 p.m. on Monday, September 14th. The public hearing will be held from 5-7 p.m. on September 21 at the Jean & Paul Amos Performance Studio, located at 1000 College Boulevard. in Pensacola. The Escambia County State Legislative Delegation includes Evers, Rep. Clay Ingram and Rep. Mike Hill.  Read More →

August 26, 2015 | Read the story »

Citizen’s Customers May Face Rate Hike Due To Spike In Water Claims

A “disturbing” rise in water-damage claims in South Florida is driving Citizens Property Insurance Corp. to seek an average 3.2 percent increase in rates for many homeowners, the president of the state-backed insurer said Tuesday. Without the surge in reported residential water damage over the past two years, which is causing the agency to alter its approach to such claims, Citizens would be asking for an average statewide rate decrease, Citizens President and CEO Barry Gilway said during a rate hearing before the Office of Insurance Regulation. “You can’t move away from the fundamental issue, when you take a look at Miami-Dade, and you take a look at the rest of the state, there really is no major differences in ages of home or any other characteristics,” Gilway told Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty. “So it leads you to the obvious conclusion, and the conclusion basically is there is more fraud associated with these types of claims.” As it is, Citizens customers in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe counties, which comprise a large portion of Citizens’ portfolio, are more likely to see rates increases than homeowners in other parts of the state under the rate proposals. And the reason is the water claims, Gilway said. “If the Miami-Dade average (water damage) claim were the same as the rest of the state, 99 percent of all Miami-Dade policyholders would be getting an 8 to 9 percent decrease, not an 8 to 9 percent increase,” he said. McCarty gave no hint if his office would approve the proposed rates. The new rates, if approved by the state regulators by the second week of September, would go into effect Feb. 1. The rates vary by county and depend on a property’s location, the home’s style, and the type of policy. The overall statewide average increase would be 3.2 percent, with homeowners’ multi-peril personal-line accounts going up an average of 1.3 percent and wind-only coastal accounts going up 9 percent. Multi-peril coverage for mobile-home owners would go down 5.3 percent on average. There is no proposed change to sinkhole rates. The increase in claims, primarily in Miami-Dade County, is driven by attorneys who specialize in water damage, which adds to attorney fees and adjuster costs, Gilway said. “The issue for us is, we don’t even have a chance to work with a policyholder to come up with a fair settlement,” Gilway said after the hearing. “You saw the numbers, 30 percent of all the water damage claims come in with representation. We have not even talked to the insured. And 90 percent of all the claims coming in with representation come from Miami-Dade.” In 2012, about one in 12 homeowners in Miami-Dade County with a Citizens policy made a water-damage claim, with the average cost just under $9,000. In the past 12 months, Gilway said, one in eight Miami-Dade policyholders with Citizens filed such a claim, with damage costs running on average approaching $15,000. “We’re averaging 1,000 water-damage claims a month,” said Gilway, who described the increase as “disturbing.” John Rollins, Citizens chief risk officer, said a majority of the claims come from reports of pipe failure. Citizens doesn’t cover flood and storm surge. One change being made is that only Citizens adjusters, who are being trained as to what to look for in water claims, will respond to water claims in South Florida, Gilway said. Gilway said he doesn’t anticipate the need to get the Legislature to enact new laws to address the increase in water-damage claims. But he said he’s working with Rep. Frank Artiles, a Republican from Miami who has been a critic of the agency, on rules for making water-damage claims with the state-backed agency. The proposal would establish “mandatory” appraisal rules — similar to sinkhole claims — in which both sides on a water-damage claim would get to select an appraiser and if the two sides don’t agree, the issue would go before a mediator. The move would keep attorneys out of the issue, Gilway said. The rate proposals come as Citizens has dropped from 1.5 million policies in 2012 to 589,456 policies as of July 31. Gilway said he expects the number of policies to be just above 500,000 by the end of the year. by Jim Turner, The News Service of Florida  Read More →

August 26, 2015 | Read the story »

NHS To Hold Meet The Chiefs (With Bonus Cheerleader, Dance, Band Photos)

Northview High School will hold “Meet The Chiefs” Thursday at 7 p.m. Fans will have a chance to meet the football players and cheerleaders ahead of the regular season. A meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. for parents of football players. For cheerleader, dance, band and NJROTC photos, click here. Pictured: The Northview band, cheerleaders, dance team and NJROTC from last Friday night. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.  Read More →

August 26, 2015 | Read the story »

State, Seminole Tribe Headed Into Mediation

The state and the Seminole Tribe are headed into mediation — shepherded by a lawyer whose past clients include Mick Jagger and Leona Helmsley — to resolve a possible standoff over the future of blackjack and other banked card games at most of the tribe’s Florida casinos. The tribe formally requested mediation last month after negotiations over the card games — part of a $1 billion, five-year deal — stalled this spring. While those talks appear to be back on track, the state has agreed to the Seminoles’ request, and both sides have settled on a mediator, according to documents provided by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which oversees gambling in the state. “We have not formally responded to the merits of the request for mediation; however, we have been in contact with them regarding the selection of a mediator and working toward mediation dates and location,” department spokeswoman Chelsea Eagle said in an email Tuesday. The Seminoles and officials with Gov. Rick Scott’s administration have “mutually agreed” on New York lawyer Loretta Gastwirth, Department of Business and Professional Regulation chief attorney Jason Maine wrote in an Aug. 13 email to Marvin Harris, the American Arbitration Association’s manager for alternative dispute resolution. The lawyer both sides initially agreed to, Thomas Brewer, “declined to serve” due to scheduling conflicts, according to an email sent earlier the same day from Harris to Maine. Gastwirth is a partner with the Long Island-based Meltzer, Lippe, Goldstein and Breitstone law firm. According to her bio on the firm’s website, the one-time entertainment industry lawyer’s previous clients include Mick Jagger, Luther Vandross and Leona Helmsley. Gastwirth has served as an arbitrator on the Commercial Arbitration Panel of the American Arbitration Association for a decade, according to the website. Since 2010, the Seminoles have had exclusive rights to offer banked card games, including blackjack, at five of the tribe’s seven casinos. In exchange, the tribe promised to pay the state a minimum of $1 billion over five years, an amount which it has exceeded. But the agreement regarding the cards, part of a 20-year deal called a “compact,” expired on July 31. Under the terms of the compact, however, the Seminoles have 90 days after the agreement expires to continue operating the banked card games. Both sides hope to finalize a new pact before that time period runs out, but the Seminoles insist they won’t have to stop the games even in the absence of an agreement with the state. Meanwhile, negotiations between top legislators, Gov. Rick Scott’s general counsel and the Seminoles appear to be moving forward. Senate Regulated Industries Chairman Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, said last week that he, his House counterpart and Scott’s top lawyer, Timothy Cerio, met with representatives of the tribe as late as last week. The Legislature has to authorize any agreement between the governor and the tribe, although Scott can sign a compact before the 90-day deadline runs out and lawmakers could ratify it later, according to Senate Majority Leader Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton. Galvano, then a House member, was the lead negotiator for the Legislature in 2010 and helped craft the current compact. The U.S. Department of the Interior, which oversees gambling on tribal lands, has to give final approval to any agreement reached between the state and the Seminoles. by Dara Kam, The News Service of Florida  Read More →

August 26, 2015 | Read the story »

Wahoos Beat The Braves

Thanks to Tim Adleman and the Pensacola defense, the Blue Wahoos pulled back within half a game of the Southern League South Division lead behind the Mississippi Braves. Needing just one run, Adleman threw six scoreless innings and Pensacola held on for a, 1-0, victory over front-runner Mississippi in front of 4,222 Tuesday night at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium. It was Adleman’s second, 1-0, victory over Mississippi with the last coming on June 27. In the second half of the season, Adleman is 7-2 with a 1.90 ERA after playing in the Southern League All-Star game. He improved to 9-8 with a Southern League-leading 2.12 ERA. “I told you,” Pensacola manager Pat Kelly said. “We got him one and that was plenty. He wasn’t sharp today but he just battled and battled.” Meanwhile, Pensacola closer Zack Weiss entered the game with one out in the eighth inning and earned a franchise record 23 saves, surpassing the 22 Shane Dyer saved last season. “You give him the ball and you know the game is over,” Kelly said. “That’s a great feeling as a manager.” Pensacola, playing in its first playoff race in franchise history, is now 32-26 and in sole possession of second place after dropping the first two games of the five-game series to Mississippi. The Braves are 32-25 in the second half. The Mobile BayBears lost to the Biloxi Shuckers and fell to 30-27 and third place. The Blue Wahoos went ahead, 1-0, when first baseman Ray Chang scored with the bases loaded on a walk by shortstop Alex Blandino. The run stood up with great defense from the outfielders and crucial double plays. The squad has a league leading 153 double plays this season. In the fifth inning, Mississippi pinch hitter Emerson Landoni hit a broken bat blooper that Pensacola center fielder Phillip Ervin charged and then threw the baseball on a rope to catcher Kyle Skipworth at home plate to nail the Braves’ Sean Godfrey trying to score. In the eighth inning, Pensacola right fielder Juan Duran slid to catch a soft liner and it popped out of his glove. But he jumped up and threw Braves center fielder Matt Lipka out trying to reach second. In the same inning, Weiss struck out Mississippi right fielder KD Kang and Skipworth caught second baseman Levi Hyams going to second. It was a boom, boom double play. Both Adleman and Kevin Shackleford started double plays from the mound in the second and seventh innings, respectivelly. For Kelly it was a routine day at the ball park. “The key to our club is playing great defense,” Kelly said. “Our pitchers fielded their positions today. Whenever you can get two outs on one pitch, that’s huge.” Weiss said he was happy to set the Pensacola record but even happier to pitch well in a game with playoff ramifications. “It’s a pretty special experience,” the 23-year-old said. “When you’re competing for a playoff spot, every pitch is a big pitch in a series like this. The record is cool but tonight was pretty much a must win.”  Read More →

August 26, 2015 | Read the story »

Man Convicted Of Beating Century Resident Over Unpaid Drug Debt

A local man has been sentenced to jail time for beating another man with a pipe in a Century street over a drug debt. Johnnie Leethomas Carter, 34, was sentenced to 150 days in the county jail, his driver’s license was revoked for one year and he was ordered to pay $920 in fines and costs by Judge Ross Goodman for felony possession of crack cocaine and felony aggravated battery causing bodily harm. The 61-year old victim told Escambia County deputies that he was walking  in the area of Jefferson Avenue and Mincy Court in Century when he was attacked by Carter. The victim said Carter drove up, got out of his car, and struck him several times in the face with his fist before hitting him in the back of the head with a metal pipe. The victim told deputies, according to an arrest report, that Carter beat him because he had not paid up for a previous drug deal. He said he could positively identify Carter from the neighborhood and previous drug deals. The victim was transported by Escambia County EMS to Jay Hospital with a bloody nose, a profusely bleeding busted lip and a large knot and cut on the back of his head. Deputies located Carter a short time later and placed him under arrest during a  traffic stop at Jefferson Avenue and Pond Street. On Carter’s person, deputies reported finding a plastic bag containing what tested positive for crack cocaine. Deputies also seized his 2007 Lincoln MKX and $523 in cash.  Read More →

August 25, 2015 | Read the story »

Century Approves $360K Loan, New Employee Insurance, Fence, Elevator

The Century Town Council approved a $360,000 loan, a new employee insurance company, a fence and an elevator during a special meeting Monday afternoon. Drainage Project Loan The council voted to allow Mayor Freddie McCall to execute a $360,000 loan with United Bank. They money will be used to pay a contractor working on a drainage project in the north part of town.  Once the project is completed, Century will receive a grant reimbursement of the entire principal plus the interest. The loan will cost the town 1.964 percent interest plus a $350 fee. Escambia County Bank in Flomaton quoted a loan rate of 3 percent with no fee. A Fence And An Elevator The council approved recommendations of the Century Architectural Review Board to allow the First Baptist Church to construct a front porch, extending the brick steps toward the street and widening the steps for safety purposes. The church will also remove an existing handicap ramp and replace it with an “elevator” – a residential platform lift to the porch level for the handicap. The council also approved a review board recommendation to allow Felix Fussner to install a four-foot wooden picket fence along the front of his property at 402 Front Street. The council also approve a variance to allow the four-foot height due to a three-foot limit currently allowed by ordinance. The approvals of the e Century Architectural Review Board were necessary for both projects because they are located in the Alger-Sullivan Historical Society. A New Insurance Company Also at Monday’s special meeting, the council voted to  approved United Health Care as the town’s new employee insurance company. Employees will be able to chose from three plans offering deductibles of $500, $1,250 or $1,500 per year with zero coinsurance. The town will pay 99 percent of the monthly cost for employee-only plans and 78 percent of the cost for family coverage of the cheapest of the three plans (the $1,500 deductible plan). Employees will be responsible for the additional cost of the more expensive health care plans if they choose that level of coverage.  The new plans go into effect October 1. Town employees are currently covered under plans by Aetna.  The town’s overall health care insurance costs will increase by only a few percent.  Read More →

August 25, 2015 | Read the story »