Cantonment Man Honored By Governor For Dedication To Teaching
A Cantonment man honored Tuesday by Gov. Rick Scott as he recognized two educators who have made outstanding contributions to their schools and students with the Governor’s Shine Award. The Shine Award is presented to Floridians who have helped children through education.
John Huber lives in Cantonment and teaches at Oakcrest Elementary School, [...]
Bid Opening Next Week For New Northview High Field House
Bids will be opened next Tuesday to choose contractor for a new field house for Northview High School.
The Escambia County School Board approved the field house back at their January 22, 2013, meeting, letting a $69,913 contract with DAG Architects in Pensacola for architectural and engineering services.
The new field house will be about 3,500 square [...]
One Year Later: Search Continues For Suspect In Pen Air Robbery
The search is continuing for a suspect just over a year after the armed robbery of the Pen Air Federal Credit Union in Century. The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office said they have investigated a few new, unspecified leads since the robbery.
The credit union on North Century Boulevard was robbed about 1 p.m. on November 27, [...]
Even With No Opponent, Greg Evers Raises $128K In Campaign Contributions
Sen. Greg Evers, R-Baker, collected $29,200 in campaign contributions during November, bringing his overall total to $128,100, according to newly filed reports on the state Division of Elections website.
Evers does not currently face opposition in Senate District 1, which includes Escambia and Santa Rosa counties and part of Okaloosa County.
Two Charged In Lottery Scheme; Store Owner Says He’s Out $70,000
Two people have been charged in connection with a lottery scheme that a Davisville store owner says has left him out of $70,000.
Deldon Ray McGhee, age 51 of Atmore, and Tracey Lynn McGhee, age 40 of Atmore, were each charged with one count of felony grand theft between $20,000 and $100,000. Both posted a $20,000 [...]
Governor Drops Congratulatory Note To Northview High
Northview High School received a short, handwritten congratulatory message from Gov. Rick Scott last week.
The “Great Job! Gov. Rick Scott” was written on a school data sheet showing the school’s improving rank in the state. Among Title I schools in Florida, Northview is now ranked number 22 of 1,648 schools school satisfactory or higher in [...]
Molino’s Joseph Snow Is Named Escambia Employee Of The Year
Joseph C. Snow of Molino has been name Escambia County’s Employee of the Year.
Snow, a road corrections officer with the Road Prison Division of the Corrections Department, began his employment with the county in 1997. He was previously selected as am Employee of the Month.
“Thank the Lord,” Snow told the Escambia County Commissioner after receiving [...]
Fire Destroys Atmore Motel
Fire destroyed the Southland Motel on Highway 31 in Atmore Saturday afternoon.
The fire raced quickly from room to room through the attic of the concrete block building. It was not immediately known how many guests were staying at the motel. About dozen people gathered outside said they were now homeless because they called the motel [...]
Photos: Molino Holds Annual Christmas Parade
The annual Molino Christmas Parade was held Saturday morning on Crabtree Church Road. After the parade, Santa Claus met with lots of good boys and girls at the Molino Ballpark.
Sponsored by the Molino Recreation Association, proceeds from the parade are used to benefit needy children in [...]
Wreck Cuts Power For Part of Cantonment
A single vehicle wreck cut power for a portion of Cantonment Saturday morning.
The accident happened on Highway 95A between Eden Lane and Morris Avenue about 9:15 p.m. Power lines were downed and a pole broken in the accident. One person was transported to a local hospital; their condition was not known.
Highway 95A was closed from [...]
Other Top Stories:
Florida Moves Toward Electronic Proof Of Insurance For Motorists
Motorists might soon be able to use their cell phones or other electronic devices to show proof of insurance when they are pulled over by police. Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet — Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam — approved without comment a request Tuesday from the state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to allow people to display electronic copies of their motor-vehicle insurance through cell phones, tablets or other electronic devices. The use of electronic copies is in state law, but the department’s administrative rule currently requires motorists to carry “3 1/2 inches × 2 1/4 inches” identification cards that list personal-injury protection benefits and property-damage liability insurance providers and policy numbers, along with the vehicle year, make and vehicle-identification number. The rule has been on the books since 1989. Read More →
Pedestrian Critical After Being Hit By Car
A pedestrian is in critical condition after being struck by a car Tuesday night on Davis Highway south of Northcross Lane. The Florida Highway Patrol said 52-year old Jeffery Kucinski of Pensacola was attempting to cross Davis Highway about 6:55 p.m. when he walked into the path of a 2002 Cadillac driven by 66-year old Christina Smith of Gulf Breeze. After being hit by the vehicle, Kucinski was thrown forward about 60 feet. He was transported to Sacred Heart Hospital in critical condition. Smith was not charged. Read More →
Citizens Property Insurance To Delay Start Of Clearinghouse
A three-week delay has been set for the rollout of a legislatively approved insurance clearinghouse that is expected to help reduce the number of homeowners’ policies in the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp. The delay is needed in part to respond to questions about the privacy of policy holders as their applications to Citizens are marketed to private insurers. “When we introduce this, we want to make absolutely sure that it’s going to be successful,” Citizens President and CEO Barry Gilway told the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee on Tuesday. “By moving this date by three weeks, it gives us the opportunity to conduct far more user-acceptance testing, and, with a much more degree of confidence when we launch this system, that it will operate as advertised.” The clearinghouse system had been scheduled to begin comparing new policies on Jan. 2, but is now expected to go into use Jan. 27, Gilway said. Through the clearinghouse, all new applications to Citizens will be shopped to private firms. If coverage is found within 15 percent of Citizens’ premium, the policy would go to the private carrier. For Citizens customers, renewals will have to go to the private market if comparable coverage is found at or below the state-backed insurer’s rates. The clearinghouse was part a sweeping insurance package (SB 1770) approved by legislators during the 2013 session. In August, the Citizens board approved a five-year contract with Bolt Solutions, Inc., to design the software for the clearinghouse. The contract, which has an option for an additional five years, could total $44.9 million over the decade. “If three weeks is not enough, please take the time that you need, I’d rather you roll it out right,” said Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth. However, committee Chairman David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, said that while the delay is understandable, the agency needs to “give it your all.” “I don’t know some of us will be so forgiving if it gets to be Jan. 27 and it’s not there,” Simmons said. Jay Neal, director of the advocacy group Florida Association for Insurance Reform, prefers Citizens takes its time setting up the system to ensure consumers are also able to judge the different companies that may be competing for their business. “When these offers come back, it’s not just important that the consumers know the policies are similar, consumers need to know other things, they need to know the relative financial strengths … they need to know if the companies are going to be around when the wind blows,” Neal said. Neal expects even with the extra time there will be “bumps” for consumers. But he remains “cautiously optimistic” the system will work. The delay comes as the state Department of Economic Opportunity’s $62.8 million “Connect” system, which overhauled the unemployment computer system, continues to cause consternation for many users. Connect was introduced on Oct. 14, a couple weeks after the federal government’s problem-plagued health-care website had its own not-so-spectacular introduction. Gilway said after the state Cabinet meeting on Tuesday that the clearinghouse system “is far more complex than Healthcare.gov.” “The property casualty product is far more sophisticated than the health care,” Gilway said. “The challenge is that every single company is different and the challenge with every company is different. Some companies use credit scores, some don’t. We’re trying to come up with a system that meets the needs of every carrier across the board, but also meets the individual needs of every carrier, because that will make them more aggressive.” Gilway added that the delay will allow Citizens to expand the number of private carriers from three to seven that will get a chance to review each policy when the system goes live. The inclusion of renewals of Citizens policies into the clearinghouse remains on schedule to begin July 1. Gilway told Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet that the state-backed insurer should be down to 925,000 policies by the start of the 2014 hurricane season and around 725,000 policies by the end of 2015. Preliminary figures as of Nov. 29 show Citizens total policy count at 1,062,817. As of Oct. 31, there were 1,223,009 policies, according to Citizens’ website. by Jim Turner, The News Service of Florida Read More →
Escambia Man Cited For Hitting School Bus
An Escambia County man was ticketed after hitting a school bus in Navarre Tuesday afternoon. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, 61-year old Joseph A. Nunnari failed to notice a 2009 Thomas Bus driven by Alison Furber of Navarre was slowing as it approached an active school zone. Nunnari struck the back of the bus with his 2007 Ford Edge. There were no injuries. Nunnari was cited for careless driving, according to the FHP. Read More →
Lawmakers Want Florida Students To Get Financially Literate
A bipartisan group of lawmakers joined with business organizations and others Tuesday to promote legislation requiring Florida students to take a half-credit course in financial literacy to graduate from high school. Supporters hope the bills will lead to students graduating from high school better prepared to manage their money. “While we now teach financial literacy as part of economics, this issue is much too important to relegate it to part of a particular course,” said Sen. Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange, sponsor of the Senate measure. Geoff Simon, senior vice president of investments with Simon and Associates of Raymond James and chair of the Florida Council on Economic Education, said recent waves of foreclosures and bankruptcies show the need for the state to place more emphasis on financial literacy. Establishing the course requirement would “reverse the cycle of failure that so many young people are having when they get out into the workforce,” Simon said. by The News Service of Florida Read More →
Santa To Visit Century, Molino Libraries For Christmas Programs
Get ready…Santa is planning visits to the Century and Molino branch libraries for a couple of a programs. Molino — Christmas Pajama Storytime Kids are invited to wear their PJ’s and enjoy a Santa visit with stories, carols, photos with Santa, hot chocolate and more on Monday December 16 from 6-7 p.m. at the Molino Branch Library. The program will be presented in conjunction with the Molino Mid-County Historical Society. Century — Christmas Program The Century Branch Library Christmas Program will be held Thursday, December 19 from 5-6 p.m. at the library, 7991 North Century Boulevard. Th event will include a Christmas story, craft, a tasty treat, a gift from an elf and a visit with Santa Claus. Pictured: Santa Claus at the Century Branch Library last year. NorthEscambia.com file photo, click to enlarge. Read More →
Crist Hauls In $3 Million; Scott Makes It Official
Charlie Crist put down his first marker. And Rick Scott made official what everybody already knew. Crist, the former Republican governor who is trying to win back his old job as a Democrat, announced Tuesday that he had raised about $3 million in November after formally entering the 2014 gubernatorial race. Meanwhile, Scott opened a campaign account to seek re-election — a long-anticipated move that cemented his candidacy and provided another avenue to rake in millions of dollars. The gubernatorial moves came as political candidates and committees rushed to meet a Tuesday deadline for filing campaign-finance reports for November. The reports reflect for the first time a new law that increased campaign contribution limits to $3,000 for statewide candidates and $1,000 for other candidates, up from a longtime $500 limit. Crist’s exact fund-raising totals had not been posted to the state Division of Elections website early Tuesday evening. But he issued a statement indicating that he had raised about $3 million through his campaign account and through a closely aligned committee known as “Charlie Crist for Florida.” In the statement, Crist acknowledged that he will not be able to raise as much money as Scott. While Scott only opened a campaign account Tuesday, a committee backing his campaign — known as the “Let’s Get to Work” committee — raised $5.87 million in November and has brought in nearly $20 million this year. “Rick Scott says he will have more money than any politician in the history of Florida politics,” Crist said in the announcement. “But he doesn’t have the people.” Campaign-finance reports popped up on the Division of Elections website throughout Tuesday and reinforced that Republicans will have a huge fund-raising edge over Democrats in key races next year. For example, Attorney General Pam Bondi reported raising $104,875 in November for her campaign account, bringing the overall total to $526,451. Meanwhile, one of her Democratic opponents, George Sheldon, reported an overall total of $51,807, and another, Perry Thurston, reported a total of $21,500. Meanwhile, Republican Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater raised $235,825 in November, giving him an overall total of $814,756. Republican Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam collected $158,604 in November, pushing his total to $1,008,693. Big money also flowed to some Republican lawmakers. For instance, Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon, collected $64,375 during November, increasing his total to nearly $200,000 for his re-election bid in Senate District 24. Down the Gulf Coast, Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, raised $54,075 during the month, giving her a total of $491,812 to fuel her campaign in District 30. Among House candidates, Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, reported raising $59,928 during the month, bringing his overall amount to $113,853. One of his challengers in House District 114, Democrat Daisy Baez, has collected an overall total of $63,388. by Jim Sanders, The News Service of Florida Read More →
Scott: New Revenue Means Tuition Can Stay Flat
Rosy budget numbers are prompting a new push by Gov. Rick Scott to hold down tuition at state universities. In his first statement on new revenue figures released last week, Scott on Monday highlighted both his $500 million tax-cut proposal and the possibility of continuing to push for level tuition at state schools. “Additionally, we are confident that we will be able to hold the line on tuition for another year, as we encourage colleges and universities to graduate students in high-demand job areas by again investing in targeted performance funding,” Scott said. “Performance funding for higher education means we will reward those schools who graduate students with degrees that help them start a career.” Scott’s insistence on holding down the rising costs of a college education has rankled some university presidents. The governor vetoed a 3 percent tuition hike at state colleges and universities in this year’s budget and pressured universities not to take advantage of a section of state law that seemed to provide for an automatic increase tied to inflation. The House pushed for a tuition increase in negotiations for this year’s spending plan, but a spokesman for House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, said in a email Monday that it was “too early to know for sure” whether the chamber would look for another boost in the budget year beginning July 1. At a meeting Friday, state economic forecasters added $324.3 million to expected tax revenues during the current budget year, which ends June 30, and the fiscal year that begins the next day. Lawmakers were already expected to have a windfall of $845.7 million next year, even after anticipated spending in areas like education and $1 billion in reserves was taken into account. The new estimates would push that close to $1.2 billion, though a firm number likely won’t be available until after meetings this week to determine whether public schools and health-care programs will need more money. Scott also used his statement Monday to push for his election year plan to reduce taxes and fees by $500 million in some combination. “Florida’s improved economic forecast means we are in an even better position to give $500 million in taxes and fees back to Florida families,” he said. “After all, it’s their money.” Scott has not released details on his plan. Democrats have argued that the state can’t afford both the tax cuts and increased spending on schools. “Voters deserve to know just how much education funding will suffer because the Governor wants a new talking point for his reelection campaign,” Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Allison Tant said in September. by The News Service of Florida Read More →
Northview High School Releases Semester Exam Schedule
Northview High School has released their first semester exam schedule. Semester exams will be given Wednesday, December 18 through Friday, December 20. Students will be dismissed at 12:10 each day. The exam schedule is as follows: Read More →
Bill Would Provide Released Inmates With State ID Cards
A Senate panel Monday unanimously passed a bill that would require state agencies to waive their fees to provide inmates being released from prison with the identification documents necessary to get and hold jobs. The measure by Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, would require the Department of Corrections to provide every Florida-born inmate with a certified copy of his or her birth certificate and a state ID card before release. It would also require the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to waive the fees for ID cards and the Department of Health to waive fees for copies of birth certificates. “This is a very important bill,” said Bob Dillinger, the public defender for Pinellas and Pasco counties. “Without an ID, you cannot get a job.” Dillinger said the problem was exacerbated about two months ago when the U.S. Social Security Administration started requiring ID cards to provide the print-out that Dillinger’s office had used to establish an inmate’s work history. “It’s the true government Catch-22,” he said. “We’ve found some ways to work around that — but that’s a big impact on poor people. We have to get them an ID.” The bill is also backed by the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association. A more far-reaching version of the measure, which included mental health and substance abuse treatment, failed last spring. “If they get a job, they’re not likely to recidivate,” said Barney Bishop, president and CEO of the Florida Smart Justice Alliance. “Because when (you) go to a place to work, they want to know where you live, and when you go to a place to live, they want to know where you work — and you can’t do either without a state ID card.” by The News Service of Florida Read More →
Florida Ranks 15th In Protecting Kids From Tobacco; Alabama Is 49th
Fifteen years after the 1998 state tobacco settlement, Florida ranks 15th in the nation in funding programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit, according to a national report released today by a coalition of public health organizations. Alabama ranks 49th. Florida currently spends $65.6 million a year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is 31.1 percent of the $210.9 million recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Other key findings for Florida include: Florida this year will collect $1.6 billion in revenue from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 4.2 percent of it on tobacco prevention programs. The tobacco companies spend $562.6 million a year to market their products in Florida. This is 9 times what the state spends on tobacco prevention. In recent years, Florida has taken significant action to reduce tobacco use. In 2006, Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment requiring the state to spend 15 percent of its annual tobacco settlement revenue on tobacco prevention programs. This has allowed the state to conduct a well-funded, sustained tobacco prevention program. In 2009, Florida increased its cigarette tax by $1 per pack. As a result, Florida recently reported that it reduced its high school smoking rate to just 8.6 percent in 2013, far below the national rate. “Florida’s strong commitment to tobacco prevention is paying off with large declines in youth smoking that will save lives and save money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs,” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “But Florida’s fight against tobacco isn’t over. To continue making progress, Florida must sustain its investment in tobacco prevention as required by the state Constitution and further increase the state tobacco tax.” In Florida, 8.6 percent of high school students smoke, and 14,500 more kids become regular smokers each year. Tobacco annually claims 28,600 lives and costs the state $6.3 billion in health care bills. Alabama currently spends $275,000 a year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is 0.5 percent of the $56.7 million recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Other key findings for Alabama include: Alabama this year will collect $223.1 million in revenue from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 0.1 percent of it on tobacco prevention programs. This means Alabama is spending less than a penny of every dollar in tobacco revenue to fight tobacco use. The tobacco companies spend $196.9 million a year to market their products in Alabama. This is 716 times what the state spends on tobacco prevention. “Alabama is one of the most disappointing states when it comes to protecting kids from tobacco and needs to increase its investment in tobacco prevention,” said Myers. “Tobacco prevention is a smart investment that saves lives and saves money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs. States are being truly penny-wise and pound-foolish when they shortchange tobacco prevention programs.” In Alabama, 22.9 percent of high school students smoke, and 6,800 more kids become regular smokers each year. Tobacco annually claims 7,500 lives and costs the state $1.5 billion in health care bills. Read More →
Numerous Local Players Named To Subway All-Star Teams
Numerous North Escambia area players have been named to the rosters for the 10th Annual Subway High School All-Star Football Game. The game will be played Friday night at 7:00 at Pace High School and will feature seniors from Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties. The coaching staff for the West Team, which includes teams from Escambia County, will be led by the head coach from Pensacola High School, Mike Bennett. Coaches from the other county high schools will assist Bennett with his game plan. The East, Okaloosa and Santa Rosa Counties, will be coached by Jay Walls from Navarre High School. He will be assisted by the other head coaches from the two-county area high schools. Tickets to the game are $7 and $5 with a canned good item. The PSA is teaming with Manna Food Bank for a canned good drive and encouraging everyone to help families for Christmas by bringing a canned good item. Game rosters, subject to change, are as follows: West Team: Neino Robinson, Dalton Tullis, Brannon Freeman, Jeffrey Taylor and LaQuon Thomas from Northview; Lavontia Samuel, Rashan Johnson, Luke Nunley and Dylan Mancuso from Tate; Rocel McWilliams, Kenny Davis, Tristan Parsely,JT Bryant, Izeyic Phifer, Joey Baker, Lawrence Lee, Chris Mitchell and Daylan Abrams from West Florida; Tyrone Jones, Kevin Atwood, Napolean Powell and Anfernee Reese from Pine Forest; Xavier White, Darryl Randolph, Rodney Grice, Tyler Crutchfield, Ricky McAroy, Terry Curry and Jacob Mabry from Pensacola High; Danikeei Hollowell ,William Beasley, Denarious Britt and George Rutherford from Escambia; Cody Henry, Tylan Purifoy, Jeremy Reaves, Ke’Andre Beasley, Jason Borcz, Lou Brown and Nelson Hale from Catholic; and Jadon Jones, Tristan Long and Christian Haley from Washington. East Team: Tate Upton, Ashton Dennington and Brandon Boutwell from Jay; Dakota Campbell, DJ Thomas, Izayaih Thomas and Kody Nixon from Baker; Chase Whitehead, Garrison Floyd, Chris Nash, Thomas Forte and Marcus Penick from Choctaw; Kyle Koontz, Matt Gillis, Jaylynne Robinson and Khalil Foster from Crestview; Ellis Warren, Marquese Davenport, Carl Pfeifer, Gabe Del-Toro, Trace Ryan, Nick Quinn and Brandon Japenga, from Fort Walton; Carson Sharp, Blake Myer, Nick Dugger and Evan Ogden from Gulf Breeze; ,Curtis Busby, Drew Manning, Corliss Waitman and Michael Hicks from Milton; Michael Hicks, Blake Malter, Christian Gill, Will Robinson-Pettus, Monty Thompson, Alex Todd, Howie Walker and Chas Swem from Navarre; Tyson Kee, Austin Harris and Shayne Crawford from Pace; and Tyler Paskell and Levi Derry from Rocky Bayou. Niceville High School’s players, who were selected for the East team, will not be playing in the All-Star game due to making it to the state title game. Those players are Tyre McCants, Ashton Hooker, Marqui Daniel, Tayjon Culley, Connor McJunkin, Dane Wagne, and Mitchell Matthews. Read More →
Heisman Trophy To Be On Display In Pensacola
As the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner is announced this weekend in New York, an authentic Heisman will be on display in Pensacola. The Heisman will be on display Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. at Sandy Sansing Nissan at 5705 Pensacola Boulevard. Area residents are invited to bring their cameras and kids and strike their very best Heisman pose by one of the most famous trophies in the history of collegiate sports. First awarded in 1935, the 25-pound bronze is awarded each year to an outstanding college football player that epitomizes diligence, perseverance and hard work. Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, Auburn’s Tre Mason, Alabama’s AJ McCarron, Boston College’s Andre Williams, Northern Illinois’ Jordan Lynch and 2012 Heisman winner Johnny Manziel from Texas A&M are the finalists for the 2013 Heisman trophy, the Heisman Trust announced Monday. Read More →
Authorities Searching For Missing Woman
Authorities are asking for the public’s help in locating an Atmore woman that’s been missing for almost a week. The Escambia County (AL) Sheriff’s Office said 42-year old Marcie Brewton Morgan of Atmore last spoke to a family member on December 3 and was believed to be in the Saraland, AL, area at the tie. She is described as a Caucasian woman with an olive complexion, wavy dark brown hair, blue eyes, about 5-feet 4-inches tall, 150 pounds with a medium build. She may be driving a blue metallic 2001 Lincoln Town Car with a gray vinyl top and Alabama personalized license plate “ECB”. Foul play is not suspected in her disappearance, investigators said, but the case is under investigation. Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Marcie Brewton Morgan is asked to contact the Escambia County (AL) Sheriff’s Office at (251) 809-2154, your local law enforcement agency or 911. Read More →
No Injuries In Minor School Bus Accident
There were no injuries when a school bus driver turned into another vehicle this morning near Pine Forest High School. The Florida Highway Patrol said 49-year old Regina Lynn Barnes of Cantonment was eastbound on Longleaf Drive in a 2009 school bus when she turned too sharp, colliding with a 1999 Pontiac Grand Prix driven by 26-year old Heather Nichole Fuller of Pensacola. Damage to both vehicles was very minor, and there were no injuries. The FHP cited Barnes with making an improper left turn. Read More →
Escambia County State Legislative Delegation To Hold Public Hearing
The local legislative delegation will meet next month to discuss issues related to the upcoming Legislative session. State Representative Clay Ingram, chairman of the Escambia County State Legislative Delegation, has announced that a public hearing will be held on Tuesday, January 21, 2014, from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. at the Jean & Paul Amos Performance Studio, located at 1000 College Boulevard in Pensacola. Delegation members will consider local bills, hear presentations from government entities and take public testimony on proposals for the 2014 Legislative Session. If you would like to be placed on the agenda, contact Ingram’s Office at (850) 494-7330 no later than 5:00 p.m. on Friday, January 17. Any member of the public is welcomed to attend and participate. Local bill proposals (including all supporting materials) must be submitted to Ingram’s District Office by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, January 10. The Escambia County State Legislative Delegation includes Senator Greg Evers, Representative Clay Ingram and Representative Mike Hill. Read More →
Sheriff’s Office Teen Explorers Receive Awards
The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office Explorers Post 117 recently held their annual Christmas and award banquet. Numerous awards were presented, including Explorer of the Year to Morgan Smith and Crista Pope of Molino. The Explorers program, for members age 13-21, works to educate and involve young people in law enforcement operations whether or not they choose to enter a career in law enforcement. Members gain a working knowledge of police work and have the opportunity to serve their community. Explorers receive training in patrol procedure, first aid, honor guard, criminal law, crime prevention, finger-printing, arrest techniques, drug abuse prevention, firearms safety, crime scene techniques and more. For more information on the Explorers program, call (850) 436-9496. Numerous awards were presented during the recent banquet, including Explorer of the year to Morgan Smith and Crista Pope of Molino. Awards presented at the recent banquet were: Promotions 1st Lieutenant – Luis Mendoza Lieutenant – Quinton Watts Sergeant – Mi’kalah Newsome Corporal-Karen Rodriguez Corporal – Vivian Odom Community Service Award Allya Eggleton Crista Pope Elliot Williams Karen Rodiquez Luis Mendoza Mi’kalah Newsome Morgan Smith Quinton Watts Richard Greene Most Improved Award Kyle Mcarthur Vivian Odom Explorer Of The Year Award Crista Pope Morgan Smith Tenure Award Aliya Eggelton Crista Pope Luis Mendoza Mi’kalah Newsome Karen Rodriguez Morgan Smith Quinton Watts Vivian Odom Perfect Attendance Award Karen Rodriquez Kyle Mcarthur Crime Prevention Award Luis Mendoza Mi’kalah Newsome Pictured top: Escambia County Sheriff’s Office Explorer Post 117. Pictured inset: Deputy Robert Greene with Explorer Richard Green. Pictured below: The annual Explorer Christmas party and awards banquet. Submitted photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge. Read More →
Green Industries Best Management Practice Workshop Scheduled
As part of the Florida-Friendly Landscaping Program, University of Florida IFAS Extension will host a Green Industries Best Management Practices (GI-BMP) Workshop, teaching environmentally safe landscaping practices that help conserve and protect Florida’s ground and surface waters. The Workshop will be held on Wednesday, December 11, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Escambia County Extension Office, 3740 Stefani Road, Cantonment. Florida Statute 482.1562 states that all commercial fertilizer applicators must have a license from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) by January 1, 2014. To get this license, each Green Industry worker must be trained in the GI-BMPs and receive a certificate of completion from UF/IFAS and Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The workshop includes lunch and four pesticide Continuing Education Units at a cost of $30. To register online, visit http://bit.ly/1g3drsJ. For more information, please contact Carrie Stevenson, Escambia County Extension at (850) 475-5230 or email@example.com. Read More →
Fall Veggie Field Day Is Friday
The Gulf Coast Small Farms and Enterprises Fall Vegetable Field Day will take place Friday. The event will be held at the UF/IFAS West Florida Research and Education Center, 4253 Experiment Drive in Jay, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Attendees will learn about production practices including planting and harvesting recommendations, insect management, healthy food ideas and techniques. Available crops include Swiss chard, turnips, rutabagas, collards and more. To pre-register online for $20, visit fallvegetablefieldday13.eventbrite.com or register onsite for $25. For more information, contact Libbie Johnson, Escambia County Extension at (850) 475-5230 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read More →
Deepwater Horizon Funding Includes Millions For Escambia County
Florida is in line for $88 million in restoration projects along the state’s oil spill-affected Gulf Coast. The money was the latest proposed by the trustees for the Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment as part of a $627 million draft plan announced Friday for the Gulf Coast states. Five Escambia County specific projects and four regional projects impacting the county are on the list, totaling a potential $45 million investment. Escambia County specific projects include: Big Lagoon State Park Boat Ramp Improvement Project – $1,483,990 Bob Sikes Pier, Parking and Trail Restoration Project – $1,023,990 Florida Gulf Coast Marine Fisheries Hatchery/Enhancement Center Project – $18,793,500 Perdido Key Dune Restoration Project – $611,234 Perdido Key State Park Beach Boardwalk Improvement Project – $588,500 Regional projects impacting Escambia County include: Florida Artificial Reef Creation and Restoration Project – $11,463,587 Florida Oyster Cultch Placement Project – $5,370,596 Florida Seagrass Recovery Project – $2,691,867 Scallop Enhancement for Increased Recreational Fishing Opportunity in the Florida Panhandle Project – $2,890,250 Before any of the proposed projects are finalized the projects will go through a 60-day public comment period that runs through February 4. Included in the comment period are two public meetings in Florida; one in Pensacola on Tuesday, January 28, and Wednesday, January 29, in Panama City. “The Deepwater Horizon spill was a defining moment for Escambia County and we are still working to restore our critical ecosystems,” said Grover C. Robinson, IV, District 4 Commissioner and Gulf Coast Consortium Chairman. “We could not have done this without the joint efforts of the federal government, Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Governor Rick Scott.” Read More →
District 5 Comm. Barry Town Hall Meeting Monday
Escambia County District 5 Commissioner Steven Barry will hold a town meeting beginning at 5:30 p.m. Monday at the Plainview Baptist Church at 1101 West Nine Mile Road. For more information, contact Barry’s office at (850) 595-4950. Pictured top: Escambia County Public Works Director Wes Moreno (left) listens to District 5 Commissioner Steven Barry speak during a town hall meeting last August in Century. NorthEscambia.com file photo, click to enlarge. Read More →
Tate Grad Gardipee Completes Basic Military Training
Air Force Airman Jonathan T. Gardipee graduated from basic military training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, San Antonio, Texas. The airman completed an intensive, eight-week program that included training in military discipline and studies, Air Force core values, physical fitness, and basic warfare principles and skills. Airmen who complete basic training earn four credits toward an associate in applied science degree through the Community College of the Air Force. Gardipee is the son of Rhonda Gardipee of Cantonment. He is a 2012 graduate of Tate High School, Cantonment. Read More →
Northview Beats Escambia
The Northview Chiefs beat the Escambia Gators 69-59 Friday night in varsity high school basketball. Scoring for the Chiefs were: Neino Robinson 28; Tony McAroy 17; Cameron Newsome 11; Jeffery Taylor 1; Nick Lambert 5; Eric Williams 7. The Chiefs will travel to Jay next Thursday. JV Girls play at 3:30, JV Boys at 4:45; Varsity Girls at 6:00 and Varsity Boys at 7:15. Read More →
Lottery Store Murder Suspect Enters Not Guilty Plea
The third suspect indicted for murder in connection with the November 2012 shooting death of a Davisville lottery store owner has entered a not guilty plea. Michael Brad Orso, age 28 of Atmore, was arrested just last month and was due to make his first court appearance Friday. His attorney waived the arrangement and entered the not guilty plea on his behalf. Orso, is charged with premeditated first-degree murder for allegedly assisting in planning the robbery and providing the gun used in the shooting death of store own Thomas “Tommy” Kroll during a robbery on November 6, 2012. Malcolm Troy McGhee was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison for the crime late last month. His codefendent, 21-year old Brent Lambeth, previously pleaded no contest to second degree murder. Under his plea deal, he will receive no more than 30 years in prison in exchange for his testimony against McGhee and Orso. NorthEscambia.com file photo. Read More →
$88,113 Lottery Ticket Set To Expire
A winning Fantasy 5 prize winning ticket worth $88,113.47 remains unclaimed, the Florida Lottery said Friday. The 180-day deadline to claim the top prize in Friday, December 20 at midnight. The winning Fantasy 5 numbers for the June 23 drawing were 05-07-12-24-35. The ticket was purchased at the Kangaroo Express lat 3225 West Nine Mile Road in Pensacola. Read More →
Evers Bill Would Add Utility Vehicles To ‘Move Over’ Law
Motorists would have to slow down or move over a lane when approaching a utility vehicle parked on the side of a road, under a proposal filed Friday by Sen. Greg Evers, who represents the North Escambia area. The measure would require utility crews — working on electric, natural gas, water, wastewater, cable, telephone or communications services —- to be engaged in tasks related to the purposes of the vehicles. Florida’s 11-year-old “Move Over” law requires motorists to slow down to a speed that is 20 mph less than the posted limit — when the limit is 25 mph or greater — or to move over a lane when they approach emergency vehicles parked along the sides of roads. No House companion has been filed to Evers’ bill. By The News Service of Florida Pictured top: Electric linemen work on County Road 99A at Highway 97, adjacent to Ernest Ward Middle School. NorthEscambia.com photo, click to enlarge. Read More →
Book Available Again About History Of Bratt And Surrounding Area
A local author now has more copies available of a new book about the Bratt and neighboring communities in the early part of the 20th century. “Bratt: Ramblings and Recollections on the Growth of a Florida Panhandle Farm Community” by Russell Brown contains about 150 pages of text and more than 100 photos. Brown quickly sold out of his first printing of 100 books, but now has copies available. Books will be available while supplies last at Gilley’s Store in Bratt, Dixie’s Antiques in Ensley, and The Copper Possum Antiques in Milton. Books are $25. The paperback can also be ordered from Amazon.com. Brown grew up in a rural area south of the Bratt community and often visited family and church there. All his great grandparents had come to Bratt near the turn of the century and both his parents were raised there. After completing his first small book about his great grandfather, “Traces of John M and Fannie M Brown”, he wanted to provide a continuation to the story of the families that came to this farm community in the early part of the 20th century. The first part of the book recalls the history of the settlement of north Escambia County as it evolved around the logging industry. This is followed by the growth of Bratt after 1900 as the area evolved into a farming region. The book contains 18 separate sections that discuss some of the early families, the schools, early county roads, the churches, the community’s cemetery, followed by infrastructure improvements in the days of the depression, and those locally who fought in World War II. The ending is a general discussion of the changes in the community in the last part of the 20th century. Brown will be signing and selling copies of the book in person this Saturday morning beginning at 8:00 a.m. at Gilley’s Country Store at the corner of West Highway 4 and North Highway 99 (at the Bratt Crossroads). This self-published book is limited to about 100 copies. Books are $25 each. Pictured top: From the book “Bratt”, Over 165 students, including David Hanks and Grady “Gray Jay” Wiggins in a tree, in front of the new Bratt Wardville School in 1929. Students attended grades 1-6 here before transferring to the Oak Grove School. Pictured below: Oliver and Emma Wiggins (seated center) with their 11 mostly married children and their extended family in about 1911. Courtesy images for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge. Read More →
Christmas Parades Continue (With Mega List)
Christmas parades are continuing across the area. Here’s a list of area parades, followed by a complete mega list: December 12 — Century Land To Lake Parade Century will hold a Land to Lake Lighted Boat Parade on Thursday, December 12 at 5 p.m. The parade will begin on Front Street, travel to Jefferson, Pond Street and West Highway 4, ending at Lake Stone. December 13 — Poarch Christmas Parade The Poarch Creek Christmas Parade will be Friday, December 13 at 5:30 p.m. The parade will begin on the Poarch Creek Reservation at the Wellness Center (gym) and end at the PCI Health Department Building. December 14 – Brewton Christmas Parade The Brewton Christmas Parade will be at 2 p.m. on Saturday, December 14. The parade will travel from Forrest Avenue in East Brewton, across the Mildred Street Bridge to St. Joseph Street to Belleville Avenue. December 14 — Atmore Christmas Parade The Atmore 2013 Twilight Christmas Parade will be held Saturday, December 14 beginning at 5:30 p.m. The parade will follow its traditional route from the Atmore City Hall, down Main Street, to Lindberg Avenue and ending at Escambia County High School. Over two dozen floats are entered, along with several bands and numerous other groups. Parade participants should be at the Atmore City Hall by 4 p.m. December 14 — Chumuckla Redneck Parade The Chumuckla Redneck Christmas Parade will be Saturday, December 14 at 1 p.m. The parade will begin at the Cotton Gin on Chumuckla Springs Road/Gin Road, cross Chumuckla Highway and end at Salter Road. More than 250 units are expected along the 1.5 mile parade route. December 14 — Pensacola Christmas Parade The Pensacola Christmas Parade will be held at 5 p.m. on Saturday, December 14 in downtown Pensacola. Featuring local bands. Parade begins at Spring and Garden and travels through downtown. PARADE LIST December 12th 5:00 pm – Century Land To Lake Lighted Christmas Parade December 14th 10:00 am – Destin Christmas Parade 1:00 pm – Chumuckla Redneck Christmas Parade 1:30 pm – Bay Minette Christmas Parade 2:00 pm – Bewton Christmas Parade 5:30 pm – Atmore Twilight Christmas Parade 5:30 pm – Gulf Shores/Orange Beach Annual Christmas Lighted Boat Parade 5:30 pm – Downtown Pensacola Christmas Parade 6:00 pm – Harbor Destin Boat Parade Pictured: The 2012 Molino Christmas Parade. NorthEscambia.com file photo. Read More →
Florida Gov’t Weekly Roundup: A Week On The Battlefields
You could be forgiven for looking around and wondering whether you’ve stepped back in time a year or two — or even further. The gambling discussions that have tied the Florida Legislature in knots over the last several years keep coming up. Gov. Rick Scott and Secretary of State Ken Detzner are still tangling with elections supervisors over voting procedures. And, at least in one corner of the state, Union soldiers are still the least popular people around. On most of the issues, there at least appears to be some movement. Suggestions by House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, on how to move gambling legislation forward might help prod his reluctant chamber to action. And Detzner and Pinellas County Superintendent Deborah Clark have defused their conflict over where absentee ballots can be returned in an upcoming congressional special election. As for the Civil War? In some ways, it’s still raging 150 years after it was fought for the first time. Why would it end now? PLUGGING THE ‘DRIP, DRIP, DRIP’ OF EXPANDED GAMBLING With the Senate seeming to gear up for gambling legislation next session and some House members reluctant to expand gambling, Weatherford suggested a new idea this week that could provide cover to some lawmakers: a constitutional amendment. In an interview Monday with The News Service of Florida, Weatherford said he wants to put a proposal on the 2014 ballot that would let voters decide if they should weigh in on future expansion of gambling. While the details are still being crafted, the amendment would set in stone any changes lawmakers agree to during the 2014 session and require statewide approval of any future gambling expansion. Like other constitutional amendments, the proposal would require 60 percent approval by voters to pass. Weatherford said it’s part of the “holistic look at gaming” the Legislature is undertaking that includes a swath of issues from casino-style resorts to blackjack at South Florida tracks to getting rid of greyhound racing altogether. “I have become over the years very concerned with the drip, drip, drip expansion of gaming that’s taken place in the state of Florida. I am certainly warming up to the idea of having a constitutional amendment that would require all future expansion to go before the voters. I’m very, very intrigued by that concept,” Weatherford said. Weatherford’s proposal would be linked in theory to a comprehensive gambling bill that could include a rewrite of the state’s gambling laws and regulations, the creation of a gambling commission and, possibly, a kitchen-sink of elements sought by existing race tracks and frontons as well as destination resorts coveted by out-of-state casino operators. The idea could also spark a lobbying frenzy, given the increasing difficulty of getting any expansion of gambling through if the amendment passed. “There’s no question that if everyone believed any future expansion after the 2014 session required a statewide vote, all the gaming interests would do whatever they could to try to include anything they could in the comprehensive legislation,” said lobbyist Nick Iarossi, who represents Las Vegas Sands, one of the casino operators pushing lawmakers to approve at least one convention-style hotel and casino in Broward or Miami-Dade counties. But enshrining the new laws so quickly into the constitution could be problematic. Any mistakes would leave lawmakers scrambling to get a fix through the Legislature — and hoping that voters would approve it. Senate Gaming Committee Chairman Garrett Richter, R-Naples, said he has heard of Weatherford’s constitutional amendment idea but not spoken with his House counterpart about it yet. Richter said the constitutional amendment should remain separate from the overall gambling package. “I don’t think that initiative should draw the attention away from or to the objective to come up with something responsible for the state of Florida in the gaming arena,” he said. DON’T CRITICIZE IT, LEGALIZE IT? Of course, a constitutional amendment also has to gain the approval of the Supreme Court to get on the ballot — a bar that supporters of an initiative to legalize medical marijuana are trying to clear. Justices considered on Thursday whether the proposal would make it too easy to get one’s hands on weed. “The way I read it, it would seem to be if a student’s just stressed over exams, and they go in and see a doctor, and they said, ‘I’m really stressed out.’ (The doctor says,) ‘Well, I’ve got something I can help you with,’ and prescribes marijuana. Wouldn’t that be included in this?” said Chief Justice Ricky Polston. Supporters disagreed and said some open-ended language was meant to leave the ultimate decision of what could be treated with marijuana to doctors. “The sponsors were focused on two things: the patient and how best to make that determination for a patient, which is very much focused on physician decision,” said Jon Mills, representing the amendment’s backers. “So a list (of conditions) alone would not be adequate.” Whatever happens at the court, Orlando attorney John Morgan — who has shelled out more than $1 million so that his “army of angels” could bring pot to ill Floridians — said his side would eventually win the battle. “Everybody here knows that one day medical marijuana is going to be legal in Florida,” he told reporters after the court heard oral arguments. “We all know that. … Is it going to be 2014 or ‘24? It’s going to happen.” BALLOT BOX BATTLE The relationship between Scott and local elections supervisors has been rocky at best ever since an election overhaul approved by the GOP-controlled Legislature and signed into law in 2011. Detzner was ranking elections supervisors, but later dropped the idea after the independent-minded officials complained. There was the flawed attempt to purge suspected non-citizens from the voting rolls, abandoned last year after more outrage from supervisors but revived by Detzner this year. And added to that list was a Nov. 25 directive by Detzner essentially ordering supervisors to stop providing secure boxes at early voting sites where voters could drop off completed absentee ballots. “Supervisors should not solicit return of absentee ballots at any place other than a supervisor’s office, except for the purpose of having the absentee ballots cancelled if the voter wants to vote in person,” Detzner wrote in the directive. One supervisor overseeing an important special election said, in so many words: No. Clark, the Pinellas County supervisor, said this week she didn’t plan to follow Detzner’s order in the special election to choose a successor for the late Congressman C.W. Bill Young. The primary is scheduled Jan. 14, while the general election is set for March 11. In a letter to Detzner, Clark laid out the security procedures that her office uses at the locations where voters can drop their ballots. “They are specifically directed at ensuring the sanctity and integrity of both the ballots and the election,” Clark wrote. “Given my firm belief that my use of drop-off locations for absentee ballots as set forth herein is in full compliance with the law, I plan to continue using them, including in the impending special primary election.” Eventually, Detzner agreed not to go to court in an effort to force Clark to follow the directive. “Again, as we discussed earlier, we believe that your quick work to amend your voting security procedures is essential prior to a single-county Special Election for Congressional District 13,” Detzner wrote in a letter to Clark dated Tuesday. “I do not see the need for any further legal action at this time.” OLD TIMES THERE ARE NOT FORGOTTEN Meanwhile, the state parks system was taking fire over a proposal to add a Union monument to the Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park near Lake City. A public meeting at the Columbia County School District Auditorium drew a rousing rendition of “Dixie,” the waving of a large Confederate flag by an African-American opponent of the monument and at least one call for the Legislature to intervene. The chorus of the song about the land of cotton was led by H.K. Edgerton, the black man who called Union soldiers rapists and wielded the Stars and Bars like a conductor’s baton as the audience sang. Speakers blasted the proposal as disturbing hallowed ground in a rural community where most families stay for generations. “Men died there. Let their spirits rest in peace,” said Nansea Marham Miller, who is descended from a Confederate soldier who died at Olustee. “Let my grandfather rest in peace.” The park — in the Osceola National Forest, 50 miles west of Jacksonville — was the site of a four-hour battle on Feb. 20, 1864, in which Union forces were routed by Confederate troops. Last February, the Department of Environmental Protection received a proposal from the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War to add a memorial specifically for Union officers and soldiers. The agency vetted the proposal and scheduled Monday’s public hearing to discuss possible locations at the park for the memorial. Residents were not in a talking mood. House Judiciary Chairman Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, suggested getting the matter “off the table” by means of a bill that he would sponsor. “I can do a very simple proposal to the Legislature that we protect all monument sites,” Baxley said to cheers and applause. But Mike Farrell, a member of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War and a descendant of a soldier who died at Olustee, said he’s been a historical exhibitor at the park for years and proposed the new memorial as a result. “I always have the visiting public approach me and ask me where the Union monument is on the battlefield, and I often tell them, ‘There isn’t any,’ ” Farrell said. STORY OF THE WEEK: The Florida Supreme Court heard arguments about whether voters should be able to cast ballots next year on a proposed constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana. QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Putting a Union monument at Olustee would be like placing a memorial to Jane Fonda at the entrance to the Vietnam memorial.”–Leon Duke, who spoke at a public hearing on a proposal to place a monument to Union soldiers at the site of the biggest Civil War battle fought in Florida. by Brandon Larrabee, The News Service of Florida Read More →
Early Christmas: Church Donates To Replace Stolen Molino Park Elementary Tech Items
Christmas came early for Molino Park Elementary School Thursday, thanks to the generosity of Aldersgate United Methodist Church and numerous people in the Molino community. Just days before school started last August, the school was the victim of a burglary and vandalism. Tens of thousands of dollars worth of electronics were stolen from throughout the school, including Apple computers, iPads, Wii gaming systems, cameras and more. Many of the stolen items, including computers and iPads, were burned by the suspects. The Escambia County School District is self insured up to $100,000, with the school responsible for paying for 20 percent of allowed losses. Molino Park was left 26 computers short because the school district will not replace computers over seven years old. Thursday, Aldersgate presented Molino Park with a check for $2,868.89, which was in addition to an $810 donation made in September. The church and its members worked hard to raise the funds, earning the money through pulpit appears, special offerings, their monthly United Methodist men’s breakfast, three Wednesday night family dinners and through donations at the church’s Back to School Bash in September. “This money will assist us tremendously in replacing some of the technology lost,” aid Molino Park Principal Alice Woodward. “When we learned about the break-in, we wanted to do everything we could to remedy the situation so that the children of our community would not have to suffer from lack of computer equipment through no fault of their own,” said Rev. Alan Gantzhorn of Aldersgate. “Our church is committed to doing what it can to make our community a better place.” Aldersgate UMC, and Molino’s Highland Baptist Church, are both Partners in Education with Molino Park. And Molino Park has been a mission focus for the Aldersgate for the past three years. “I want to thank everyone that has contributed to our losses, partners Aldersgate and Highland, community donations, our PTA and parents,” Woodward said. “Your donations have assisted with covering part of our 20 percent as well as purchasing some iPads to replace some of the older computers that were not replaced. Your support keeps us going.” Five people — two adults and three juveniles — were arrested in connection with the burglary and vandalism. They are all awaiting trial. Pictured top and bottom: These photos show empty spots were computers were stolen from Molino Park Elementary School. Pictured inset: Aldersgate United Methodist Church Rev. Alan Gantzhorn presents a check to Molino Park Elementary School Principal Alice Woodward Thursday. Submitted and NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge. Read More →
Touart Removed From County Administrator Candidate Pool
Interim County Administrator George Touart won’t be named Escambia County’s permanent administrator. Thursday night, the county commission voted 3-2 to remove Touart from the pool of candidates being considered for the job. On a motion made by District 5 Commissioner Steven Barry, the commission voted 3-2 to remove Touart from the list of 16 candidates presented by a national search firm hired to help find a new administrator. Barry, Lumon May and Grover Robinson voted in favor of the motion, while Gene Valentino and Wilson Robertson voting against. “I’m just ready to get somebody in here that’s a permanent administrator that will move Escambia County forward,” Robinson said, after saying Touart was not ever meant to be the permanent administrator. “Somebody that will begin to unify both this board and the citizenry…I think it is important that we find that leader and bring that leader forward.” “Are y’all afraid George might make the top five?” Robertson asked his fellow commissioners. “Are y’all afraid the citizens (advisory committee) don’t have enough sense to make a decision on the top five. Why have we got to single out and exclude anybody?” The list of 15 semifinalists will now go to a citizens advisory committee and the consulting company to be narrowed down to a list of five. Those five candidates will be vetted with proper background checks and the finalist list presented to the commission at their January 9 meeting. Commissioners hope to have the new administrator in place by February. The commission’s 3-2 vote also prohibits Touart from making any senior level staffing changes without board approval during the remaining days at interim administrator. Pictured top: District 5 Commissioner Steven Barry Thursday night. Pictured bottom inset: George Touart. Read More →