Century Shooting Death Under Investigation
A shooting that left one person dead in Century Saturday night is under investigation by the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office.
A male was shot inside a home located behind a mobile home in the 1100 block of Backwoods Road about 8:00. The victim was pronounced deceased on the scene from an apparent gunshot wound, while the [...]
Motorcyclist Injured In Collision With Pickup On Nine Mile Road
A motorcyclist was reported to be briefly pinned under a pickup truck after a Saturday crash on Nine Mile Road. The accident occurred at the Nine Mile Road intersection with Chandler Street, just east of North Palafox. The motorcyclist was transported to an area hospital with injuries that were not considered life threatening, while the [...]
Fire Destroys Cedartown Road Home
Fire destroyed an unoccupied home in Molino Friday night.
The fire in the 6800 block of Cedartown Road was reported about 6:15 p.m. The wood frame home was fully involved when the first Escambia Fire Rescue firefighters arrived on a scene.
There were no injuries reported.
The exact cause of the blaze in under investigation by the Florida [...]
Authorities Seek Credit Card Thief
Authorities are searching for a man that used a stolen credit card at multiple locations in the Bay Minette and Atmore areas on January 11.
The man is believed to be from the Bay Minette, Atmore or North Escambia, FL, area, according to the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division. He was driving what appeared [...]
Flomaton Police Seek Suspect In Early Morning Assault
The Flomaton Police Department is looking for a suspect in an assault early this morning at Flomaton Woods Apartments.
Jamie Gafford, 40, is wanted on outstanding warrants for burglary in the first degree and assault in the second degree, according to Flomaton Police Chief Brian Davis.
Police say Gafford has local connections and may be in the [...]
Jay Man Charged With Sex Crimes After Being Caught With Student On Campus
A Jay man has been charged with multiple felony sex offenses after using allegedly using a phone app to contact a local student and sneaking onto the Jay High School campus to meet the juvenile.
Curtis Joshua Cannon, age 27 of the 13000 block of Highway 89, was charged with two counts lewd and lascivious battery [...]
Cool Photos: Our NorthEscambia.com Walnut Hill Eagle
This is our “resident” NorthEscambia.com eagle, seen high in a tree outside our NorthEscambia.com office in Walnut Hill enjoying the week’s blue skies and warmer weather before flying off. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.
Shots Fired Disturbance: Gunfire Hits Century Home
Escambia County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a shots fired disturbance in the 6000 block of Jefferson Avenue Thursday afternoon. Upon arrival, they discovered that an unknown suspect had fired one round into the side of a home.
During the investigation, 29-year old Cassious Lett was detained for questioning. He was arrested for marijuana possession and on [...]
Anything But Perfidious: Escambia’s Best Spellers Take On The Bee
The 2015 Sandy Sansing Spelling Bee wrapped up Thursday night with the crowning of the very best student spellers in Escambia County.
At the high school level, winners were:
1st Place — James Henderson, 9th grade, Pensacola High/IB Program
2nd Place — Dawn Van Iderstine, 11th grade, West Florida Home School
3rd Place — Malik Blankenship, 10th grade, Booker [...]
Instagram Pot Photos Land Cantonment Woman In Jail
A Cantonment woman’s latest “selfie” was a mugshot at the county jail after a DCF investigator found Instagram photos and video of her smoking pot and rolling up marijuana cigarettes, and after she and a juvenile tested positive for drugs.
Stacy Jo Ferguson-Sharp, 31, was charged with felony child neglect and contributing to the delinquency of [...]
Other Top Stories:
Tate Varsity Cheerleaders Fall Short Of State Title
The Tate High School Varsity Cheerleaders took sixth place in the state Saturday in the Class 2A Medium Division of the 2015 FHSAA Competitive Cheerleading State Championships at the Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee. The state championship went to Winter Park with 81.88 points, and the Jupiter claimed the runner-up spot with 74.88 points. The Lady Aggies earned 69.50 points. The Lady Aggies earned their trip to stat with a first place win a week ago at the FHSAA Regionals in Marianna. Team members are Anna Barrow, Sarah Baxter, Nikki Cagle, Jasmine Crabtree, Megan Edgar, Jessica Hedden, Taylor Howey, DeAnna Jernigan, Kirstyn Johnson, Genevieve Leonard, Mia Morris, Taylor Nisewonger, Alie Phillips, Kaitlyn Riddell, Taylor Rouchon, and Brooke Vincent. Photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge. Read More →
FHP: What’s Your Game Plan For Super Bowl Sunday?
The Super Bowl is America’s most watched national sporting event. Today, many Super Bowl parties will feature pizza, wings, and yes…alcohol. That’s why the Florida Highway Patrol is urging football fans to choose sides before the game: are you drinking OR driving? “Impaired driving is completely preventable,” said Colonel David Brierton, director of the Florida Highway Patrol. “All it takes is a little planning ahead. We want fans to remember that it is a choice. Drink or drive—but, never do both.” FHP’s game plan for a safe Sunday: Make transportation arrangements before you begin drinking. Designate a sober driver, call a taxi, or use public transportation to get home safely. Even one drink increases the risk of a crash while driving. Do not let anyone who has been drinking get behind the wheel. If you see an impaired driver on the road, call *FHP (*347). Play a key role on Super Bowl Sunday—if you aren’t going to drink, volunteer to be a designated driver, you may just keep someone from becoming a tragic game day statistic, according to the FHP. Read More →
Rain For Super Sunday
Here is your official North Escambia area forecast: Sunday Showers. High near 66. Southeast wind 5 to 15 mph becoming south in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 80%. Sunday Night A 50 percent chance of showers. Cloudy, with a low around 45. South wind around 10 mph becoming west after midnight. Monday Mostly sunny, with a high near 49. North wind 10 to 15 mph. Monday Night Mostly clear, with a low around 31. North wind 5 to 10 mph. Tuesday Mostly sunny, with a high near 54. Northeast wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the afternoon. Tuesday Night A 30 percent chance of showers, mainly after midnight. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 39. Calm wind. Wednesday A 50 percent chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 57. East wind around 5 mph. Wednesday Night A 50 percent chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 46. Northeast wind around 5 mph. Thursday A 40 percent chance of showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 56. Thursday Night Mostly cloudy, with a low around 38. Friday Mostly sunny, with a high near 52. Friday Night Mostly clear, with a low around 36. Saturday Sunny, with a high near 57. Read More →
Lawmakers Want Review Of ‘Baker Act’
Two South Florida lawmakers have filed bills that would require a review of Florida’s “Baker Act,” which allows for the involuntary commitment of people who have mental illnesses and are considered dangers to themselves or others. The proposals, filed by Sen. Joseph Abruzzo, D-Boynton Beach, and Rep. Lori Berman, D-Lantana, will be considered during the legislative session that starts in March. Under the proposals, the Florida Department of Children and Families would create a workgroup that would study issues such as lengthening the amount of time in conducting initial assessments of people subject to the Baker Act. Also, the panel would consider issues such as using telemedicine for patient evaluation, case management and ongoing care. Telemedicine involves using the Internet and other technology to provide health-care services remotely. The workgroup, which would include a wide range of members, would be required to submit a final report by Nov. 1. In a prepared statement Monday, Abruzzo said the proposal is aimed at curbing a cycle of commitment and treatment. “There are far too many people who are caught up in a revolving door of treatment and release with no long-term plan for turning things around,” Abruzzo said. “We need to review and revise the law to offer greater options and better outcomes.” by The News Service of Florida Read More →
Tate Chaparrals Winter Guard Take First In Fairhope
The Tate High School Chaparrals winter guard team won first place in the Scholastic Regional “A” Class Saturday at Fairhope High School. Chaparrals members are Katie Dupre, Celina Dyess, Breanna Langley, Megan Leonard, Katy Luebke, Jo Jo O’Steen, Michaela Overbey, Madison Philley, Brenn Repine, Kelsey Strength, Virginia Vaughn and Savannah VonStein. Photos by Jennifer Repine for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge. Read More →
Elderly Man Dies In Single Vehicle Crash
An elderly Escambia County man died in a single vehicle crash Friday night. The Florida Highway Patrol said 94-year old Edward Marlowe was traveling east on Prieto Drive when he failed to negotiate a left curve and traveled into the front yard of a residence. His 2010 Kia Forte then struck two large oak trees. He was pronounced deceased on the scene by Escambia County EMS. Read More →
FWC Law Enforcement Report
The Florida FWC Division of Law Enforcement reported the following activity during the weekly period ending January 29 in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. ESCAMBIA COUNTY Officer Pettey received a call from a hunter who heard a shot near the boundary line of his hunting club in McDavid. The hunter explained that he had heard several shots over the last several days and suspected the person might be shooting doe deer. Officer Pettey responded to the area and observed a hunter exiting the woods. The subject had harvested an illegal buck with approximately one inch antlers. Officer Pettey seized the deer as evidence and issued a criminal citation for the violation. Officer Livesay was working in Perdido River Wildlife Manage Area (WMA), when he observed an individual exit the woods wearing hunter orange and possessing a rifle. The subject claimed he was not hunting and was just walking around. Officer Livesay informed the subject that he was going to look for his stand. The individual then admitted he was hunting and had a stand set up nearby. Officer Livesay walked with the subject to his hunting stand and discovered he had recently scattered corn (bait) in the area. After further questioning, the subject admitted to placing the corn on the ground as bait. The subject was cited for the hunting over bait and no quota permit. SANTA ROSA COUNTY Officer Hutchinson was conducting land patrol in the Blackwater State Forest when he observed a vehicle parked in close proximity to a known baited location. Officer Hutchinson trailed the suspect and observed him sitting in a tree stand overlooking the bait site. Officer Hutchinson made contact with the hunter who admitted to placing the bait on the ground and hunting deer. The subject’s hunting license was expired. The hunter was issued the appropriate citations for hunting over bait and no hunting license. This report represents some events the FWC handled over the past week;however, it does not include all actions taken by the Division of Law Enforcement. Information provided by FWC Read More →
Take A Survey: County Seeks Input On RESTORE Fund Spending
Escambia County wants to know how you would like to see RESTORE funds spent on projects. “Projects can be anywhere in the county,” Kathleen Dough-Castro, Escambia County’s public information manager, said. “It’s not funding just for the beach; projects could be completed using RESTORE funds in Century, for instance.” The RESTORE Act was created to help the Gulf of Mexico’s environment and economy recover from the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster and other harmful influences. Signed into law in July 2012, the RESTORE Act (Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act) dedicates 80 percent of all Clean Water Act administrative and civil penalties related to the Deepwater Horizon spill to a Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund. The amount of money that Escambia County will receive through the RESTORE Act is unknown. The main source of funds is anticipated to be the federal lawsuit against BP. On August 15, 2014, the United States Treasury released its Interim Final Rules regarding procedures and policies to apply for funds. Once the BP trial is completed the amount of funding coming to the County will be finalized. However, the federal government and Transocean have agreed to a settlement, which will provide $10.6 million to Escambia County after the County has an approved Multi-Year Implementation Plan (MYIP), which will include a list of selected recovery projects. In order to create the MYIP, the RESTORE Act Advisory Committee (RAC) is currently in the process of developing criteria to use to assess various projects that will be brought before the committee in consideration for funding from the RESTORE Act. These projects will be presented by the project stakeholder in front of the Committee and then evaluated using this criterion. Public input is critical to ensure that the approved projects are in line with the community’s wants and needs with regard to expenditure of the RESTORE funds. The RAC recently adopted an Interim Needs Assessment, which outlines the needs of Escambia County and supports the development of the Project Selection Criteria. he RAC recently adopted an Interim Needs Assessment, which outlines the needs of Escambia County and supports the development of the Project Selection Criteria. The current draft Project Selection Criteria reflects the needs identified in the Interim Assessment. The criteria has been divided into five categories: Baseline Environmental Economic Infrastructure Bonus The comment period opens today, Wednesday, January 28 and runs through Sunday, February 8. There are three ways to submit your comments: Take an Online Survey. This survey will take approximately 15-20 minutes to complete. Email your comments to RESTORE@myescambia.com Attend at the February 2 RESTORE Act Advisory Committee meeting to present your comments directly to the Committee. Each speaker will be limited to a maximum of three minutes. Allowed time may be less depending on the number of speakers. The meeting will be held at 4 p.m. on February 2 in the BOCC chambers. Read More →
Program Connects School Counselors With Community Groups
An event Thursday and Friday in Escambia County brought together school district counselors and social workers with over 30 local non-profit service organizations. The program, sponsored by United Way, was designed to bring together those who work with students and families with the agencies that can help. Finding a way to make stronger connections between those who work with students and their families and those who can help, has been a goal of the United Way staff for a few years, according to Marlena Lewis, United Way’s partnership manager. “Getting all of these groups together in the same room is a rare opportunity for everyone to truly listen to each other and compare what can be done with what needs to be done,” Lewis said. “Our primary goal is to educate the children of Escambia County, however what our counselors and social workers often deal with is the fact that learning can’t happen when a child is under stress,” explained Superintendent Malcolm Thomas, with Escambia County School District. “As school officials learn more about outlets for assistance that can reduce the cause of that stress, they will be able to get help for the child and allow him or her to focus more easily on being a student.” The design of this event allowed time for local service organizations to explain their mission. The second part of the meeting was a chance for school district staff to tell the service providers what they wish they had available to help them do their jobs. Pictured top: Bratt Elementary School Counselor Sheila Bryan (center) discusses needs during a United Way program to connect counselors and community groups. Courtesy photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge. Read More →
Five Charged In Home Invasion
Five people have been charged in connection with a January 10th home invasion on Olive Road. According to the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, three females barged into the home and then let in two males who attacked a 60-year old male, taking his cell phone, wallet and keys before fleeing. Charged were: Haley Ann Moran 18, $50,000 bond Trina Faye Moran, 37, $70,000 bond Patrick W. Cherf, 24, $200,000 bond Ian Scott Datz, 22, $200,000 bond Ricki Rene Baxter, 18, $10,000 bond All five remained in the Escambia County Jail Friday night with the bond listed. Read More →
Florida Gov’t Weekly Roundup: Scott Hopes For An Early Spring
Groundhog Day might not be until Monday, but Gov. Rick Scott probably doesn’t need a rodent to tell him that his winter of discontent is going to last awhile longer. If Scott somehow thought that one of the most difficult periods of his governorship was about to end, the Associated Press’ annual legislative planning day this week was proof that it was likely to continue. On one hand, his three fellow Republicans on the Cabinet continued to suggest that Scott, or at least his administration, had mishandled the forced resignation of former Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey. Meanwhile, the pixels on Scott’s budget (posted online) were barely dry when legislative leaders started casting doubt on whether the governor’s proposed tax cut on cell-phone and television services would be as large as he wants. But some issues have been lingering even longer than Scott’s troubles — including how the state handles medical marijuana, something that would change under a bill filed this week by a Republican lawmaker. THE BLAME GAME What did the governor know, and when did he know it? That was the question perhaps inadvertently added to the saga of Bailey’s firing when Attorney General Pam Bondi floated the idea that maybe Scott’s staff acted without his knowledge in the way that the FDLE commissioner was pushed out last month. “Did I know that Jerry Bailey was going to be told he was fired and have his things packed up, his entire life as a career law-enforcement officer in a cardboard box, and be told to be out of the office before the end of the day? Absolutely not. Nor do I believe the governor knew it,” Bondi said to reporters and editors gathered at the Capitol for the Associated Press event. Of course, even Bondi acknowledged that she didn’t have any proof to back her opinion, and it seemed to conflict with how Scott’s office has explained the events that led to Bailey’s ouster. But it was about the nicest thing that a Cabinet member said about the controversy during Wednesday’s planning session. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam described the treatment of Bailey as “shabby.” Putnam and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater both said they had been advised in December by Scott’s staff that the governor was interested in making a change at FDLE, but expected the change to come up at a January Cabinet meeting. Instead, Scott office announced in December that Bailey had left the agency. “I wasn’t aware that it was accelerated,” said Atwater, who declined to say he was “misled.” Scott stuck to his guns. He acknowledged that his office asked Bailey “to step down.” “Gerald Bailey was given the opportunity to step down, he did,” Scott said. WHICH TAXES MAKE THE CUT? The governor was able to avoid answering too many questions about the Cabinet issues during Wednesday’s legislative planning session because he formally unveiled his nearly $77 billion spending plan for the budget year that begins in July. But legislative leaders were already raising questions about a $470.9 million tax cut that lies at the heart of the proposal. Overall, Scott is proposing $673 million in tax reductions, on everything from cell-phone bills to college textbooks. But the lion’s share of that money would go to relaxing the communications services tax applied to cell-phone, cable and satellite television services. “The benefit of the CST (communications services tax cut) is that it impacts pretty much everybody in the state. … It’s going to go to everybody,” Scott said. But House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, told the AP gathering that Scott’s plan on the communications tax was higher than what the House had in mind. And Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, said there are “plenty of ideas” about how to reduce taxes in addition to Scott’s request. “Certainly, that will be on the table,” Gardiner said. “But there will also be quite a few others.” There were few surprises in Scott’s budget plan, which he’s spent several weeks rolling out in piecemeal fashion. The proposal would reduce state spending by about 0.1 percent from the current budget year. To cover the tax cuts and a record level of per-student education spending while keeping the overall budget relatively flat, Scott’s proposal calls for deep reductions in other areas. Spending on transportation would fall by almost $235.5 million, though Scott’s office said the Florida Department of Transportation’s work plan is smaller this year and fully funded. The proposal would also cut nearly $120 million from the Department of Health and the Agency for Health Care Administration. The plan would reduce the state’s payroll by more than 1,000 full-time positions. Scott’s office said that the “vast majority” of those jobs are expected to be unfilled by the time the budget takes effect. Most of the positions would come from the Department of Health; the agency would shed 758 full-time positions. Some agencies would gain jobs. For example, the Department of Corrections, recently plagued by reports of suspicious inmate deaths, would add 163 full-time positions. Lawmakers will consider Scott’s proposal as they negotiate a budget and tax cuts during the legislative session that starts March 3. In preparation for the session, House and Senate committees will receive presentations about the proposal next week. Scott also had some apparent suggestions this week for how to spend a hefty chunk of the billions of dollars earmarked for land and water conservation efforts under a constitutional amendment approved by voters last year. The proposal, outlined on Tuesday, would devote $5 billion to the Everglades, beginning with $300 million in the upcoming year. It would include money for building water-retention reservoirs and maintaining the upland habitat of endangered Florida panthers. Lawmakers are working to determine how to carry out the constitutional amendment, which designates 33 percent of the revenue from a type of real-estate tax to conservation for the next 20 years. Scott didn’t support or publicly oppose the amendment, and his office didn’t mention it in a news release Tuesday. But the Everglades proposal, if funded through the amendment, would require about a third or a quarter of the money. OF POT AND LONG-SHOTS The Legislature wasn’t in town this week, but that didn’t keep a handful of measures from being filed or discussed. And one was certain to draw some attention, even if its chances at passage were still up in the air. Less than three months after Florida voters narrowly rejected a plan to legalize medical marijuana, Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, filed a bill that would allow patients to get pot if they suffer from diseases such as cancer, AIDS, epilepsy or multiple sclerosis. The proposal (SB 528) includes a detailed regulatory structure that would place requirements on patients, doctors, growers and retail stores. Patients could only get “medical-grade” marijuana if their physicians sign off on the need. “Many groups have been working on this initiative for quite some time, and my goal is to work openly with all of the interested parties on this issue so that we can pass responsible legislation that provides relief to those Floridians in need,” Brandes said in a prepared statement. Medical marijuana has been a heavily debated topic in Florida for more than a year, primarily because of a proposed constitutional amendment that would have legalized the substance. That amendment received support from 57.6 percent of voters during the November election, slightly short of the 60 percent needed to pass ballot initiatives. Backers of the constitutional amendment made clear they would continue trying to legalize medical pot, either through the Legislature or another ballot proposal in 2016. “This bill proves that the massive support we received in the last election — 58% of voters — plus our quick work to bring the petition back for 2016 is getting recognized by reasonable legislators like Senator Brandes,” the group United For Care, which has led efforts to pass a constitutional amendment, said in an email to supporters Monday. But another long-debated health-care proposal already seems dead before this year’s session starts. Crisafulli on Wednesday said the House has “no plans” to expand Medicaid coverage to an additional 800,000 residents during the session. “We do not plan to do anything on Medicaid expansion,” Crisafulli said during the AP planning session. “I am a never-say-never kind of guy, and certainly anything can come about that provides opportunity, but at this time we do not plan to hear Medicaid expansion.” Democrats, who have pushed the expansion for years only to see House Republicans stymie plans supported by Senate Republicans and at least tacitly supported by Scott, tried to find the silver lining. “We want a full debate” on Medicaid expansion, said House Minority Leader Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach. “You heard the speaker — he’s not a never-say-never guy.” Whatever issues lawmakers address this spring will also be faced by some new members in the House and the Senate. In elections Tuesday, Rep. Travis Hutson, R-Elkton, cruised to an easy win in a special Republican primary for a Senate seat in Northeast Florida, setting him up for a likely general election win in April. Meanwhile, Republicans Paul Renner and Cyndi Stevenson won primaries for two House seats in the region. Hutson, R-Elkton, topped the three-man field in Senate District 6 with 52.2 percent of the vote. Rep. Ronald “Doc” Renuart came in second, carrying 35.1 percent of the vote, and Dennis McDonald was a distant third with almost 12.7 percent. Hutson will face Democrat David Cox in a general election scheduled for April 7. Renner breezed to a win in the GOP primary to fill Hutson’s seat, carrying almost 70.2 percent of the vote in House District 24, which includes Flagler County as well as portions of St. Johns and Volusia counties. He’ll face Democrat Adam Morley in the special general election. Stevenson, a St. Johns County commissioner, edged out Michael Davis in Renuart’s district. Both candidates spent more than $100,000 in the GOP primary in House District 17, which also included candidate Jack Capra. Stevenson garnered 41.6 percent of the vote to 39.2 percent for Davis; Capra had 19.2 percent. Stevenson will face Judy Stevens, a candidate running without a party affiliation, in the general election. STORY OF THE WEEK: The controversy over the removal of former Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey continued for a third week, as Cabinet members continued to criticize how Bailey’s departure was handled by Gov. Rick Scott. QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Hubris appears to be the organizing principle of our executive branch.” Senate Minority Leader Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, on Gov. Rick Scott’s handling of the ouster of former Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey and a possible move by the governor to bring in a top insurance official from Louisiana. by Brandon Larrabee, The News Service of Florida Read More →
Last Minute, Healthy Super Bowl Snack Ideas
by Dorothy C. Lee, Escambia County Extension Service Get defensive about your health. These easy-to-tackle recipes are just as tasty, but lower in fat and calories than typical game-day fare. It’s a Win-Win situation. Skip the six-foot-long sub sandwich usually drenched in mayonnaise. Instead serve a soup and sandwich smorgasbord with a variety of low-fat cheeses, whole grain breads, fresh, low-sodium cold cuts, and lots and lots of fresh vegetables. Serve soups that are hearty and full of vegetables or grains. Swap calorie-laden soft drinks with 100% fruit juice or vegetable juice. Prepare mock cocktails using half juice and half seltzer water for a healthy, refreshing beverage. Set up a make-your-own sundae bar. Use low-fat, protein-rich Greek yogurt and add low-fat granola, fresh or frozen fruit like strawberries, blueberries, even dried fruit. Top off yogurt sundaes with nuts. Replace chips with vegetable sticks or fruit, or try making your own tasty pita chips. Recipe follows and it only takes a few minutes. Serve a store-bought salsa or a homemade bean dip (see recipe) with carrots, celery, red pepper strips, and cucumbers instead of high-fat dips and salty chips. If you are going to serve dessert, opt for fruit—fresh, frozen, or canned in its own juice, or there are sugar-free options. These game day decisions will help you develop a winning game plan. Garlic & Herb Pita Chips 4-6 whole wheat pitas 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning 1⁄2 teaspoon garlic powder 1⁄4 teaspoon salt Coat 2 large baking sheets with non-stick cooking spray Cut pitas into 8 wedges each and separate each wedge at the fold Place the pita wedges in an even layer on the baking sheets Brush wedges with oil and sprinkle with Italian seasoning, garlic powder and salt Bake at 350°F for 6 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. May be baked ahead of time and stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Pinto Bean Salsa Dip 1 (approximately 15-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed, or 1 1⁄2 cups cooked dried beans 1 cup shredded cheese 1⁄2 to 1 cup chunky salsa 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped onion (optional) 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 teaspoon chili powder or to taste (optional) Mash beans with a fork. Mix in cheese. Stir in enough salsa until mixture is desired consistency for dipping. Add onion and seasoning as desired. Serve cold or cook, stirring, over medium heat until the cheese melts and the mixture is well-blended and hot (about 5 minutes). Read More →
Pedestrian Struck And Killed On Highway 29 In Ensley
A pedestrian in a wheelchair was pronounced deceased after being struck by a vehicle on Highway 29, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. The accident occurred about 11:56 p.m. Thursday on Highway 29 (Pensacola Boulevard) near West Devane Street — that’s near Pensacola Pools just south of the Ensley Station of Escambia Fire Rescue. The Florida Highway Patrol said 58-year old Walter Gonzalez Coto was northbound on Highway 29 in a 2004 Audi when he struck a person in a wheelchair. The FHP said the 49-year old victim was not in any crosswalk or intersection at the time of the crash. The pedestrian was pronounced deceased on the scene. The name of the victim and other details in the crash have not yet been released by the Florida Highway Patrol pending notification of next of kin. No charges were filed in the crash. Read More →
Photos: Installation Of 54 Ton Beams Cause Delays On I-10
Drivers have dealt with nighttime delays this week on I-10 in Escambia County as crews positioned large beams for a new Scenic Highway overpass. The beams are about 102 feet long and weigh 57 tons each (114,000 pounds). Because of the massive size and weight of the beams, a 200 ton crane was required to lift and place them. Photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge. Read More →
Cat Country 98.7 Nominated For ACM Radio Station Of The Year
Escambia County’s locally owned country radio station, Cat Country 98.7, has been nominated for Radio Station of the Year by the Academy of Country Music. Winners will be announced during the 50th Annual ACM Awards Show live from Dallas on CBS on Sunday, April 19. “Our team is passionate about our community and country music, this is a great honor,” said station owner Dave Hoxeng. This is the seventh time Cat Country 98.7 has been nominated for the prestigious award in the last 11 years. Cat Country was name ACM Radio Station of the Year in 2006, 2009 and 2011. Read More →
Northview Students Place In Cooperative Education Club Events
Several Northview High School students recently place in District Cooperative Education Clubs of Florida (CECF) events: Raymond Clark – Fourth place in Automotive Technician Savanna Roux – First place in Business Communications Iyanna Davidson – Third place in Business Communications Hannah Gibson – First place in Customer Service Kortney Reid – Fourth place in Customer Service Austin Adams – Third place in Hospitality Grady Rigby – Fourth place in Hospitality Submitted photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge. Read More →
Northview Ends Season With Win Over PCA; District Tourney Begins Tuesday
The Northview Chiefs ended their regular season Thursday night with a 61-24 win over Pensacola Christian Academy. Leading scorers for the Chiesf were Cameron Newsome with 20, Micheal Jones, Jr. with 15 and Bradley Van Pelt with 15. Other scorers for Northview were Jalen Parker with 4, and Tydre Bradley, Nick Lambert and Tony Harrison with 3 each. The Northview Chiefs will begin district play at 6:00 Thursday as they host Freeport in Bratt. Read More →
Century’s New Wastewater Superintendent Resigns
Century’s newly hired wastewater superintendent has resigned, once again leaving the town searching for a certified operator. April Conatser was hired for the job back in November and held dual certifications in wastewater and water. Mayor Freddie McCall said she gave no reason for her resignation. The town currently has a part-time employee able to do the job and keep the town in compliance with state regulations, but the town “desperately” needs to find a replacement for Conatser as soon as possible, McCall said. Read More →
New Cantonment Improvement Committee Home Almost Ready
Final preparations are underway for a new home for a the Cantonment Improvement Committee in Carver Park. A modular building will be repositioned into its permanent location in the next few days. Courtesy photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge. Read More →
Read Like Crazy: Molino Park Premieres Literacy Week Video
A couple of days ago, we brought you the story a reading flash mob at Molino Park Elementary School. Music teacher Katie Powell rewrote the words to the popular song “Call Me Maybe” and created the “Read Like Crazy” video. The final version of the video is now complete, and it’s posted below. If you don’t see the video above , it’s because your work, school or home firewall is blocking YouTube videos. Read More →
Scott’s Budget Includes $84 Million For Highway 29 And Nine Mile Road Widening Projects
Gov. Rick Scott’s “Keep Florida Working” budget announced Wednesday includes $118 million in major road projects in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. The budget includes $38 million to add lanes and reconstruct Highway 29 from north of I-10 to Nine Mile Road in Escambia County, including reconstruction of the Highway 29/Nine Mile Road intersection to increase traffic capacity. Also included is $46.1 million to add lanes and reconstruct Nine Mile Road from Beulah Road to Highway 29 in Escambia County, and $34 million to add lanes and reconstruct Highway 97 from two miles south of the Yellow River to Highway 184 in Santa Rosa County. For a complete story about Scott’s $77 billion budget, click here. Read More →
Scott Pitches $77 Billion Budget Plan, Tax Cuts
Not long after Gov. Rick Scott unveiled his nearly $77 billion state spending plan for the budget year that begins in July, lawmakers were already casting doubt on whether he would get all of a major tax cut at the heart of the proposal. There were few surprises in the plan that Scott unveiled Wednesday at an annual meeting of reporters and editors hosted by the Associated Press. Scott had already released key details, including a record per-student figure for spending on public education and cuts to taxes on cell-phone bills, television services and college textbooks. Of the $673 million in tax cuts that Scott pitched, a reduction in the communications services tax, applied to cell-phone bills and cable and satellite television, is by far the largest. It would reduce state revenues by $470.9 million and save an average Florida family about $43 a year, Scott’s office said. Speaking at the Associated Press event at the Capitol, the governor touted the reach of the proposed tax cut. “The benefit of the CST (communications services tax cut) is that it impacts pretty much everybody in the state. … It’s going to go to everybody,” Scott said. But House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, told the same gathering that Scott’s plan on the communications tax was higher than what the House had in mind. And Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, said there are “plenty of ideas” about how to reduce taxes in addition to Scott’s request. “Certainly, that will be on the table,” Gardiner said. “But there will also be quite a few others.” Overall, Scott’s budget proposal would reduce state spending by about 0.1 percent from the current budget year, but the plan would still be well above the roughly $69 billion budget that Scott signed during his first year in office. Scott, who came into office promising deep cuts in government spending, defended the growth. “Revenues are growing in our state. Our state is getting bigger. We’re now bigger than the state of New York. But if you look at this budget, like I’ve done every year, we’ve cut taxes. … We’ve paid down debt. We’re doing the right things for our taxpayers,” he said. Still, to cover the tax cuts and education spending while keeping the overall budget relatively flat, Scott’s proposal calls for deep reductions in other areas. Spending on transportation would fall by almost $235.5 million, though Scott’s office said the Florida Department of Transportation’s work plan is smaller this year and fully funded. The proposal would also cut nearly $120 million from the Department of Health and the Agency for Health Care Administration. The plan would reduce the state’s payroll by more than 1,000 full-time positions. Scott’s office said that the “vast majority” of those jobs are expected to be unfilled by the time the budget takes effect. Most of the positions would come from the Department of Health; the agency would shed 758 full-time positions. Some agencies would gain jobs. For example, the Department of Corrections, recently plagued by reports of suspicious inmate deaths, would add 163 full-time positions. Lawmakers will consider Scott’s proposal as they negotiate a budget and tax cuts during the legislative session that starts March 3. In preparation for the session, House and Senate committees will receive presentations about the proposal next week. But the overall reduction in positions drew questions from House Minority Leader Mark Pafford, a West Palm Beach Democrat who suggested some government functions could be hindered. “We’re already the leanest state in the nation, I believe, in terms of population versus government employees,” he said. “We’re the leanest. … What were (those jobs) actually doing?” Scott’s proposal also calls for $271.9 million to be swept from an array of trust funds designated for specific areas of the budget. State workers would not get a raise, but Scott pointed out that they would receive the benefits of the state’s tax cuts. And Scott would bank on the extension of an expiring pool of health-care money worth about $2 billion. “We’re hoping that we can continue to work with the federal government with regard to that,” he said. by Brandon Larrabee, The News Service of Florida Read More →
Pine Forest High Student Killed In Hwy 29 Traffic Crash; Three Other Students Injured
A Pine Forest High School student with a love for basketball was killed and three other students were injured in a two vehicle crash Wednesday afternoon on Highway 29. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, 19-year old Gregory D. Murphy, 19, was traveling north on Highway 29 about 12:15 p.m. and attempted a left turn onto Kenmore Road. He pulled his 2004 Lincoln LS into the path of a southbound 2007 Dodge Durango driven by 59-year old Blondarene B. Pritchett. A passenger in the Lincoln, 17 year old Jaques Hill, died as a result of the accident, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. He had lived in Pensacola for only about a month, moving to purse a basketball career on the Pine Forest Eagles team. Murphy received minor injuries in the crash. Passenger Daveyon A. Finkley, 17, and Ronald Kirkland, 18, were transported to Sacred Heart Hospital in serious condition. All four occupants of the Lincoln are students at Pine Forest High School. The school will have counselors on hand Thursday for students. Pritchett was transported to Sacred Heart Hospital with minor injuries. The FHP’s traffic homicide investigation is ongoing; any charges are pending the results. Photos courtesy WEAR 3 for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge. Read More →
Century Man Jailed After Search Warrant Turns Up Drugs, Weapons
A Century man is facing multiple felony charges after a search warrant at his Henry Street turn turned up a variety of drugs and firearms. The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Division executed the search warrant on Henry Street, resulting in charges against Kinte Hassan Franklin, 37, of possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, possession of methamphetamine, possession of cocaine, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. Investigators reported Franklin was the only person inside the residence as the search was conducted. According to an arrest report, inside the home deputies found crack cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana, a .22 caliber handgun, a 20 gauge shotgun, two bags of shotgun shells and a variety of drug paraphernalia. Franklin was booked into the Escambia County Jail with bond set at $25,500. Read More →
Top Five Finalists Named For Escambia Teacher Of The Year
The top five finalists for Escambia County Teacher of the Year have been named. Anna Barry (pictured) of Northview High School is a top five finalist, as are Krystal Gibson of Beulah Elementary School, Andrew Rehwinkle of Pensacola High School, Sheila Hall of N.B. Cook Elementary and Doreen Wells of Ensley Elementary School. The Escambia County Teacher of the Year will be announced February 26 at the Golden Apple Awards Dinner, sponsored by the Escambia County Public Schools Foundation. Read More →
Woman Gets 15 Years For Trying To Kill Ex
Surina Seal was sentenced by Circuit Judge Terry D. Terrell to 15 years in state prison followed by 15 years of probation for two counts of first degree premeditated attempt murder, aggravated battery with great bodily harm, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, leaving the scene of an accident with injuries and two countys of child neglect. Seal previously pleaded no contest to the charges. On April 26, 2014, Seal was driving and saw her ex-husband riding a motorcycle with his new girlfriend. Seal chased down the two victims and hit them on the motorcycle with her car. The motorcycle broke into several pieces and the two victims were thrown from the motorcycle. Seal then got out of her car and attacked both victims before witnesses pulled her off. She then fled the scene in her car. Seal’s two minor children were in the vehicle at the time of the incident. Seal’s ex-husband had six broken bones and was in the hospital for three months, while the female victim sustained minor injuries. Read More →
Cyberthon Presents Cybersecurity Challenges For High School Students
“You got pwnd. We own you.” For most people working with information technology, seeing this message on a computer screen would cause panic. However, not for Diego Zepeda, he knew just what to do. He knew he needed to immediately access backup information and when that didn’t work, he quickly called on his team for ideas. “Brandon Thurston came up with the idea that worked and in seconds, we posted a message that our web site would be down for a maintenance period,” said Zepeda. “As soon as that message was up, we were able to access our backup information. From there, we were able to identify the two corrupted folders. We isolated those folders and had everything else back up and running.” Zepeda explained this phase of Cyberthon 2015, a competition that was locally created to test the internet security skills of two teams of local high school students, as calmly as he might give someone directions to the nearest video game store. Zepeda is a junior at Pine Forest High School and a member of their new Cybersecurity Academy. Thurston is a senior at Pine Forest, also in his first year in the academy. “Cyber warfare is about a tiny, little attacker trying to take control of the web assets of a monster-sized defender,” explained Doug Underhill, Escambia County Commissioner, District 2, and a key organizer behind the creation of Cyberthon. “The attacker, or hacker, wants to take control and force the larger defender to have to react to his every move. By creating a maintenance window, the defender maintains control and then has time to detect the source of the attack, defend against the attack, and restore their web services to their consumers.” “By constantly refreshing their team’s webpage and email, Zepeda showed us that he has already figured out the importance of continuous monitoring and found a human solution,” explained Underhill. “Their quick thinking gave Blue Team 1 their best win of the day.” The Blue teams’ participants in Cyberthon came from Pine Forest High School, Pace High School, Spanish Fort High School and Catholic High School. The members of the Red Team (aka The Bad Guys) were volunteers from a variety of IT companies and government agencies. Additional volunteers acted as mentors for the members of the Blue Teams. Cyberthon was sponsored by the local chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association. (AFSEA) and it was hosted by the Naval Flight Academy, located aboard NAS Pensacola, giving the competitors a chance to utilized the Flight Academy’s Joint Information Bureaus, rooms filled with state of the art computers, and smart technology. The Red Team’s role was to launch attacks known to IT security training specialists as MSELs, pronounced “measles”, which are activities on a Master Scenario Event List. MSELs incorporate various METs– Mission Essential Tasks. The first MSEL was a missing folder. The students said that was easy to recover and only took them a few minutes to locate and restore. With each round and each new MSEL, it got harder. Their web sites crashed, but they got them back up. They were also attacked by a DDoS – a Distributed Denial of Service (pronounced dee-doss), which is an effort to overload a site until it crashes. “We used Splunk, an application that shows everything happening in your network. It let us see the attack source and block it,” Alec Le, a Pine Forest High School, 9th grader, explained casually, like this is something he does every day. These attacks led up to the event described above when they were “pwnd” (pronounced powned), which meant their site had been taken over. Both teams figured out how to regain their control, but Team 1’s extra quick thinking impressed the Red Team as well as their instructor, Angela Irby. “They all did an awesome job this weekend; they have been learning these skills in concept and theory. Cyberthon let them tie it all together like fitting together the pieces of a puzzle. I also think they are having a lot more fun than they imagined,” said Irby. “Another positive aspect of Cyberthon is they are getting to meet people in the industry, both civilian and military, and hear some amazing speakers.” “Cybercrime is an exponentially growing threat,” FBI Special Agent John Windness, told the students. He explained the variety of cybercrimes and that it isn’t like what you see in the movies with a guy sitting alone on his computer in a basement somewhere attacking the world’s computers. “Today, hackers are incredibly professionally run organizations.” Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan, a sponsor of the event, also spoke to the students explaining that he was honored to assist in making this event happen. He also made a point of telling the students that the money his office donated to help fund the weekend-long competition came from drug seized money. “Those drug dealers, whose money we are spending here today, are not sitting here today; they are in jail.” Morgan also pointed out the volunteers in the room, people gathered there to coordinate the competition and mentor the students as they worked through the cyber attacks. “These mentors care enough about all of you to give you their time.” Underhill told the students, “I joined the Navy in 1991 and I worked in counter-intelligence. But cybersecurity is more exciting for me because it has a real impact on protecting my own family. I can’t imagine a more rewarding career path.” Zepeda sat with his friends Angelo Mayorga (PFHS, 9th grade) and Alec Le (PFHS, 9th grade) comparing notes on how they handled the various attacks. They all knew that after the“pwnd” event that those two corrupted folders were filled safely away, but still there. “Tonight I plan to try to find a way to deal with them next time,” said Zapeda. “I used to think that one person could handle defending a computer system, “ explained Mayorga, “Now I see that it takes a team.” They also talked about what they are learning and how it is affecting their perspective on how to handle their personal computer equipment. Le said, “I was always careful, but now I will be even more careful.” “I have never worried about it,” said Mayorga.” “I downloaded lots of stuff.” “Man, you have got to be more careful,” urged his cybersecurity academy classmates. They should know. All of the high school students who participated in the 2015 Cyberthon received certificates and many offers from mentors to be there to help later with recommendations for jobs or on college applications. They also received limited edition Cyberthon Challenge coins. “These coins are a military tradition, given by commanding officers to commemorate an exceptional performance,” Underhill explained to the students. “You have joined a pantheon of exceptional people this weekend. We all expect you to continue to perform at an exceptional level in school, and we challenge you to stay involved in science, technology ,engineering or math (STEM) classes and we hope you will persue a career path in a STEM field.” The 2015 Cyberthon security warriors stood in front of a room filled with local leaders, business owners, military service people, school district personnel and IT specialists who had served as their mentors and their attackers who all joined together to give the kids a standing ovation. That was the only time, all weekend, that they looked the least bit frazzled. by Kim Stefansson for NorthEscambia.com Photos by Ed Barker, NETC Public Affairs, for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge. 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Senate Bill Targets Florida Prison Safety
With Florida’s corrections system under scrutiny because of inmate deaths and alleged misconduct, a Senate committee next week will take up a wide-ranging bill aimed at improving prison safety and addressing issues such as the use of force by guards. The 29-page bill is slated to go Monday to the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, which heard testimony last week from newly appointed Corrections Secretary Julie Jones. During that testimony, Jones pointed to problems including understaffed prisons and a lack of training for guards who deal with mentally ill inmates. One of the prominent themes of the bill (SPB 7020) is trying to increase the focus on safety in prisons. Current law emphasizes the role of the Department of Corrections in maintaining the security of prisons, but the bill would put into law a similar focus on ensuring the safety of employees and prisoners. In part, it would require periodic inspections and audits to look for safety problems in prisons. As an example, audits of prison buildings would be required to “include the identification of blind spots or areas where staff or inmates may be isolated and the deployment of video monitoring systems and other monitoring technologies in such areas.” A series of events during the past year has led to investigations and widespread questions about the prison system. Much of that scrutiny started after the Miami Herald reported last summer about the death of mentally ill inmate Darren Rainey at Dade Correctional Institution. Rainey died after guards allegedly forced him to shower in scalding water as punishment. The scrutiny also has included probes of inmate deaths by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and a whistleblower lawsuit by a group of corrections investigators. The Senate bill would try to address several of the key issues that have emerged. For instance, when correctional officers are being taught about the use of force, they would be required to receive specialized training “for effectively managing in non-forceful ways mentally ill inmates who may exhibit erratic behavior.” Also, guards who have been written up twice for incidents involving inappropriate use of force would not be able to work closely with inmates who are mentally ill or on psychotropic medications. The bill also would address a frequently cited issue about prison staff being afraid of retribution from co-workers if they report wrongdoing. One part of the bill would allow staff members to make anonymous and confidential reports to the Department of Corrections’ inspector general if they witness abuse or neglect of inmates but fear retribution. In addition, the bill would require the department to establish a policy to protect inmates and employees from retaliation for reporting physical or sexual abuse or for cooperating with investigations. The policy, in part, would have to include “multiple protection measures, such as housing changes or transfers for inmate victims or abusers, removal of alleged abusive employees or alleged abusive inmates from contact with victims, and services for employees who fear retaliation for reporting abuse or for cooperating with investigations.” by Jim Saunders, The News Service of Florida Read More →
Century Offers Cash Prize For New Slogan
The Town of Century is looking for a new slogan, and they are a holding a contest with a small cash prize to find one. The town is accepting new slogan ideas through February 13, with the town council to consider a winner at their regular meeting on February 16. Century Mayor Freddie McCall is personally contributing a $50 prize for the winner. The town council has previously voted to eventually remove “Welcome to Century” signs that welcome visitors into Century from the north and south on Highway 29. The signs, dedicated two years ago, were built by Century Correctional Institution and feature a giant saw blade with the town’s most recent slogan “The Dawn of a New Century.” “Our image needs to change,” Century Mayor Freddie McCall said recently, noting that the town’s sawmill has been closed for over 50 years. “We are not a sawmill town anymore.” He said the signs would be donated to the local Alger Sullivan Historical Society for use in their museum. To submit a slogan idea for the Town of Century, click here for an entry form. The change is coming after a recommendation from Brice Harris of the University of West Florida’s Haas Center, author of the town’s new strategic plan. NorthEscambia.com photos. Read More →
Tate High Chaparrals To Present Winter Guard Show Preview Thursday
The Tate High School Chaparrals will hold a winter guard friends and family “True Colors” show preview Thursday at 8 p.m. in the school’s new gym. Their winter guard season begins Saturday in Fairhope. Chaparrals members are Katie Dupre, Celina Dyess, Breanna Langley, Megan Leonard, Katy Luebke, Jo Jo O’Steen, Michaela Overbey, Madison Philley, Brenn Repine, Kelsey Strength, Virginia Vaughn and Savannah VonStein. Pictured: The Tate High School Chaparrals ready for winter guard competition. Photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge. Read More →