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Superheroes, Firefighters Hold Annual Toy Drive

Superheroes, Firefighters Hold Annual Toy Drive

The heroes of the Atmore Fire Department has a little superhero help Saturday for the their Annual Firefighters Christmas Toy Drive at Walmart. The firefighters, along with the likes of Batman, Superman and Captain America were even joined by the Grinch in collecting toys for needy children this Christmas. Courtesy photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.  Read More →

December 4, 2016 | Read the story »


Suspect On The Run After Shooting At Police Officer

Pensacola Police are searching for a man who shot at an officer and then ran from the scene late Friday night. The officer – Matthew Mercado – was not injured in the incident, which occurred in the area of Torres Avenue and Tunis Street. The incident occurred during a Violent Crime Suppression Operation, which had  additional officers saturating known problem areas. Since September, the city has experienced an increase in gun related crimes. Around 10:30 p.m. Friday, officers responded to Highland Drive after a male confronted a resident while armed with a handgun. The woman said the male approached her vehicle after she backed out of a driveway, and confronted her while holding the gun. Fearing for her safety, she accelerated her vehicle to escape and the man fled. Mercado found the suspect on Sixth Avenue near Tunis Street. The suspect turned toward Mercado, fired one shot and fled the area on foot. Sgt. Stephen Bauer, who is coordinating the operation for the department, said the suspect is wanted for attempted murder on the officer and aggravated assault. The suspect was described as a black male, thin build and wearing dark pants and a dark jacket with a hood. During a K-9 track for the suspect, officers smelled marijuana coming from a residence in the 3000 block of North Torres Avenue. A search of the home resulted in the seizure of six firearms – one of which was stolen – and approximately 425 grams of marijuana. One person was arrested for possession of marijuana with intent to sell and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Also during the operation, officers saw several people gambling in the area of the Fricker Center, 900 North F St. Two males were charged with possession of cocaine, possession of marijuana and gambling. The suspect in the shooting was not located. The Violent Crime Suppression Operation lasted approximately 11 hours, and will continue for the foreseeable future. Anyone having information on the attempted murder of the police officer is asked to contact the Pensacola Police Department at 435 – 1900 or Crime Stoppers at 433 – STOP. Callers can remain anonymous.  Read More →

December 4, 2016 | Read the story »


Volunteer Firefighter Assaulted, Bit On Face At Accident Scene

A volunteer firefighter, who also works as a corrections officer at the county jail, was assaulted early Saturday morning as he stopped to render aid at a traffic accident. The volunteer, Kurtis Clark, was near the accident on Mobile Highway and Fairfield Drive when it was dispatched. First on scene, Clark arrived to find a man assaulting a women. The man, later identified as 25-year old David Danyel Lawrence, allegedly bit Clark on face. Lawrence was transported to a local hospital before being arrested on charges of battery on an officer, resisting an officer, aggravated battery  on a firefighter and DUI. He remains in the Escambia County Jail with bond set at $59,500. Clark was treated for minor injuries at an urgent care facility.  Read More →

December 4, 2016 | Read the story »

Work Underway At Cantonment Sportsplex, Baseball Registration Open

Work Underway At Cantonment Sportsplex, Baseball Registration Open

Cantonment Baseball is looking forward to a great spring season. Work is underway on field improvement at the Cantonment Sportsplex, and online registration is now open. To register, click here for the Cantonment Baseball website. Pictured: Volunteers worked on baseball field improvements Saturday at the Cantonment Sportsplex. Courtesy photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.  Read More →

December 4, 2016 | Read the story »

Florida Gov’t Weekly Roundup: In With The New

Florida Gov’t Weekly Roundup: In With The New

The calendar turned this week to the last month of the year, but many in Florida seemed to be getting a jump on new beginnings. The state’s main business-recruiting agency finally hired a new president. The Florida Supreme Court ordered a new sentencing for a convicted murderer. Gov. Rick Scott could officially consider appointing a new justice to the Supreme Court. And a newly elected senator moved toward restarting one of the more divisive Republican battles of Scott’s tenure. There was one notable ending this week: Hurricane season officially drew to a close, after two hurricanes caused damage in a state that had avoided the big storms for a decade. The only start anyone in Florida wanted to see on that count was perhaps the start to a new stretch of quiet skies. NEW BOSS OF JOBS Chris Hart is taking a job advertised as paying around $175,000 to $200,000 a year. He might want to look into the possibility of combat pay. Hart, a former state lawmaker, was unanimously chosen by the Enterprise Florida Board of Directors to take over as president and CEO of the job-hunting organization. Along with the titles and the office comes a place in an ongoing fight between Scott and some conservative lawmakers who have taken aim at spending on business incentives. Hart is expected to start work with the public-private Enterprise Florida on Jan. 3. Hart’s knowledge of the Legislature, through the CareerSource Florida leadership position he’s held since 2007 and as a former two-term House member from Tampa, was considered a valuable selling point by members of an Enterprise Florida executive committee that recommended him for the new job. Enterprise Florida Vice Chairman Alan Becker, also a member of the executive committee, said Hart’s legislative knowledge “might come in handy this year.” That’s because while Scott and allies are looking for $85 million for business incentives in 2017, new House Speaker Richard Corcoran is not a fan of “corporate welfare.” “When you’re taking money out of the masses’ pockets and then giving it literally — to the Democrats’ argument — to the top 1 percent, to the detriment of everybody else, that is de facto socialism,” Corcoran, R-Land O’ Lakes, said in October during a panel discussion hosted by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a non-profit conservative think tank. Hart said his job is to establish “trust” between the House speaker and Enterprise Florida, something he said may be a little easier as he believes they have common goals. “What he’s doing, which I think — appropriately so — in his role, is he’s asking a lot of questions and interjecting a lot of his opinions, but we all do that,” Hart said of Corcoran. “He’s looking at having a prosperous Florida. We’re looking at a prosperous Florida. He wants to ensure that it’s for all Floridians.” BACK TO THE BATTLEFIELD The fight over incentives was a notable intraparty battle for Republicans in recent years. Another was a 2014 scuffle over in-state tuition for some undocumented immigrant students, an issue that pitted Scott and a different House speaker against the Senate. Now, a new senator wants to repeal the outcome of that confrontation, which led to the Legislature approving a law authorizing the lower, in-state rates for immigrants who have attended secondary school in Florida for three years before graduating from high school. Sen. Greg Steube, a Sarasota Republican who voted against the 2014 bill during his time in the House, said that in seeking a repeal during the 2017 session, he is following through on a campaign promise after hearing concerns from constituents. “It was quite frankly a big issue with a lot of people during my election, especially during the primary,” said Steube, who was appointed this week to chair the Senate Judiciary Committee. But Steube’s legislation drew a sharp rejoinder from Rep. Jeanette Nunez, the No. 2 Republican in the House and the sponsor of the bill that extended in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants. “Clearly, it seems to me that Senator Steube is still in campaign mode and has not transitioned to governing mode,” said Nunez, R-Miami. The dynamics around the issue are complicated: Corcoran and new Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, both opposed the 2014 measure. But the House and Senate presiding officers have also stocked their leadership teams with lawmakers from Miami-Dade County, where the tuition measure tends to be more popular. “In some ways, this is going to be a test of their leadership,” said Elbert Garcia, state director of Florida’s Voice, an immigrant advocacy organization. A SIGNAL ON THE DEATH PENALTY? As lawmakers and judges struggle to come to terms with the new realities of Florida’s death penalty, they are looking at capital-punishment cases before the state Supreme Court to try to decipher what the future holds. This week, justices threw out a death sentence and ordered a new penalty proceeding for a convicted triple-murderer, which some took as an indication of where things are headed. The 4-1 decision in the Polk County case of Paul Beasley Johnson — who already has twice avoided execution — is the latest in a series of death penalty rulings since the state high court struck down a new Florida law as unconstitutional because it did not require unanimous jury recommendations for the sentence to be imposed. Public defenders maintain that the Johnson decision and another recent ruling mean that scores of condemned inmates will likely be given a chance to avoid the possibility of execution through new sentencing hearings. But prosecutors, and even some defense lawyers, cautioned against overstating the significance of the decisions, saying they expect the Supreme Court to handle similar direct appeals on a case-by-case basis. Thursday’s majority opinion in the Johnson case offered insight into the Florida court’s application of a January U.S. Supreme Court ruling, in a case known as Hurst v. Florida, that struck down the state’s death-penalty sentencing system as unconstitutional because it gave too much power to judges, instead of juries. The Florida Supreme Court ruled in October that part of a new state law passed in response to the Hurst decision was unconstitutional. That part of the law did not require unanimous jury recommendations before inmates could be sentenced to death, an issue not addressed in the U.S. Supreme Court’s Hurst decision. Thursday’s ruling in the Johnson case focused on the issues of aggravators and mitigating circumstances, which was a key issue in the Hurst decision. Justices vacated Johnson’s death sentence and ordered a lower court to hold a new penalty proceeding because a jury did not weigh the aggravators and mitigating circumstances in his case. The majority included Chief Justice Jorge Labarga and justices Barbara Pariente, R. Fred Lewis and James E.C. Perry, who dissented in part. Justices Charles Canady and Peggy Quince were recused, and Justice Ricky Polston dissented. Perry will soon be replaced by a justice appointed by Scott. On Monday, the Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission sent three potential picks to Scott, including a lawyer who once worked to keep David Duke off the presidential ballot in Florida and two appellate judges who pledged to use judicial restraint. The three names — Fifth District Court of Appeal Chief Judge C. Alan Lawson, appellate Judge Wendy Berger and Orlando lawyer Dan Gerber — weren’t a surprise to anyone who’s followed the legal gossip about the open position. All three have links to the Federalist Society, a prominent conservative legal group that formed in the 1980s. HURRICANES, HURRICANES, GO AWAY There was some unquestioned good news for Florida residents hit by two hurricanes this year: There’s no more watching the skies for one of the storms, at least until the season comes back around. The 2016 warning period ended Wednesday. When Hurricane Hermine came on shore near St. Marks, a coastal community south of Tallahassee, in the early morning hours of Sept. 2, it ended a record string of 3,966 days, or 10.87 years, without a hurricane making landfall in the state most prone to being hit by tropical storms, according to a new analysis by Colorado State University. Prior to Hermine, a Category 1 storm, Florida was last hit by Hurricane Wilma, a 120-mph, Category 3 storm, which struck Southwest Florida on Oct. 24, 2005. Florida also came close this year to a direct hit by a major hurricane, as Hurricane Matthew, which was the first Category 5 storm in the Atlantic basin since 2007, came within 50 miles of Florida’s East Coast, raking the state Oct. 6 and Oct. 7 before making landfall Oct. 8 in South Carolina as a 75 mph Category 1 hurricane. Matthew did damage along Florida’s coast despite technically missing. With data reflected through October, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation said Hermine resulted in $95 million in property-damage claims. Hurricane Matthew has resulted in more than 100,000 property-damage claims, representing $606 million in value. Citizens Property Insurance, the state-backed insurer, said it has paid out $10.7 million in claims related to Hermine and Matthew, with 84 percent of the 4,000 claims closed. The impact was relatively light for the insurer, which has more than 472,000 policies representing $128 billion in exposure. But Barry Gilway, the Citizens president and CEO, said the 2016 storm season tested the insurer’s ability to handle hurricane claims. “We clearly showed that Citizens is ready as we received excellent feedback for our claims handling from our customers,” Gilway said. “That said, we will continue to look for ways to improve.” STORY OF THE WEEK: Enterprise Florida has a new leader, setting the stage for a clash in the 2017 legislative session about spending on business incentives. QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Politically, the challenge in this really kind of crude environment is to go beyond being against what’s not working and being for things that will work, that will lift people up. And I tried that and totally failed, miserably. I mean, like, belly flop — bam.”—Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, on his presidential bid. by Brandon Larrabee, The News Service of Florida  Read More →

December 4, 2016 | Read the story »

Cantonment Driver Cited In Mobile Highway Crash

The Florida Highway Patrol says a Cantonment driver was at fault in a Mobile Highway crash. According to the FHP, 19-year old Tinea Davis of Cantonment turned her 2013 Ford  Fiesta into the direct path of a 2015 Honda driven by 27-year old John Joyner of Pensacola. Joyner was ejected in the crash, which occurred at Mobile Highway and Washbash Street. Joyner was transported to Sacred Heart Hospital with serious injuries. Davis was not injured. Davis was cited with failure to yield by the FHP.  Read More →

December 3, 2016 | Read the story »

Keep The Wreath Green: Fire Destroys Mobile Home, Three Injured

A structure fire on the 1800 block of Atlanta Ave. in Pensacola represents the first red bulb on the “Keep the Wreath Green” fire safety wreath. Escambia County Emergency Communications received a phone call reporting the residential fire at 12:55 a.m. on Friday.  Crews arrived on scene at 1:02 a.m. to find a working fire covering approximately half a single-wide mobile home. Two adults and one child were transported to local hospitals in stable condition. The fire was called under control at 1:23 a.m. with the home being deemed a total loss and the Florida State Fire Marshal called to investigate. The “Keep the Wreath Green” fire safety campaign is a collaborative initiative with the city of Pensacola to promote fire safety during the month of December. During the month-long campaign, five-foot wreaths are on display at 18 county fire stations and five city fire stations, with wreaths also placed outside Escambia County’s Ernie Lee Magaha Government Building downtown, the Escambia County Public Safety Building, Pensacola City Hall and Cordova Mall near the food court entrance. Each time firefighters respond to a residential fire with damage, a green light bulb will be replaced with a red one to remind citizens of the dangers posed by fires in residential home.  Read More →

December 3, 2016 | Read the story »

Pensacola Police Cracking Down On Increasing Gun Violence

Pensacola Police will be saturating areas within city limits at various times and days in the near future in an effort to address an increase in gun violence. Since September 11, there have been at least 10 incidents reported where people heard gun shots and/or people were shot. “We’re doing this because we must remain vigilant in keeping our streets and neighborhoods safe for all of our citizens, especially during the holidays when everyone wants to be able to celebrate with family and friends,” said Pensacola Police Chief David Alexander III. “We’re asking the public to enjoy the holidays and if they see something, to please say something.” The following are recent gun crimes that currently are under investigation by the department: Around 3:20 a.m. September 11 in the area of West Maxwell and North Baylen streets. Police were called after gun shots were heard. Approximately 21 gun casings were found near the intersection; no injuries reported. Around 2:35 a.m. September 24 in the area of North Ninth Avenue and Airport Boulevard. A 32-year-old male told police he was driving southbound on Ninth Avenue when he heard several gunshots. He went to a local hospital for treatment of a gunshot in the back of his head. Between 9 and 9:10 p.m. October 7 in the 2800 block of North Ninth Avenue. Police were called after gun shots were heard. No injuries were reported. Between 5 and 5:30 p.m. October 8 in the 2400 block of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Police were called after gun shots were heard. A 37-year-old male was found on the ground on the southwest side of the 400 block of East Scott Street. He went to a local hospital for treatment of gunshot wounds. Around 7:45 a.m. October 25 in the 6800 block of North Ninth Avenue. Police were called after the body of a 47-year-old male was found outside a business. The man died from a gunshot wound. Between 8 and 8:20 a.m. November 20 in the 300 block of North G Street. A 58-year-old male told police he was walking his dogs when a man pointed a gun at him and demanded his money. When the victim began yelling for help, he said the suspect shot him before leaving the area. Between 7:20 and 7:30 p.m. November 21 in the 400 block of North DeVilliers Street. Two males ages 26 and 29 were sitting in a vehicle when they were shot and taken to a hospital for treatment. A third male inside the vehicle was not injured. Around 10 a.m. November 25 in the area Ninth Avenue and Maxwell Street.  Police were called after gun shots were heard. A 29-year-old male was found with a gunshot wound in the area of North Sixth Avenue and East Maxwell Street. The male was taken to a local hospital for treatment. Around 2 a.m. on November 27 in the area of Ninth Avenue and Baars Street. Police received multiple calls of shots being fired in the area of Ninth Avenue and Baars Street. No injuries were reported. Between 11:40 p.m. and midnight November 28 in the 1300 block of West Cervantes Street. Two 19-year-old males were taken to a local hospital for treatment after they were shot while sitting inside a vehicle. A 16-year-old male who was in the vehicle was not injured. One outreach effort during the violent crime suppression operation will involve officers on foot patrol in targeted areas to inform the public of the increased police activity and to make contact with residents in the affected neighborhoods. “We have a zero tolerance approach to violent crimes, said Sgt. Stephen Bauer, who is coordinating the operation for the department. Officers also will be making targeted traffic stops and conducting field interviews in  addition to staying in contact with the public to ensure they are successful in reaching people who need assistance from police. Anyone having information on the recent shootings is asked to contact the Pensacola Police Department at (850) 435-1900 or Crime Stoppers at (850) 433-STOP. Callers can remain anonymous.  Read More →

December 2, 2016 | Read the story »

Former Broadcaster Gehman’s Funeral To Be Simulcast In Atmore

The Pennsylvania funeral service of a former Atmore broadcaster and community leader will be simulcast Saturday at a local church. Randy Dale Gehman, age 59 of Akron, PA, passed away November 22 at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Gehman and his family members owned and operated WASG AM 550 radio in Atmore beginning in November 1981, and the family brought WYDH FM on air before selling both stations in the early 1990’s.  Gehman was the popular host of the stations’ morning show for years. He was also a broadcast engineering, moving back to his native Pennsylvania to continue that career. He was involved in numerous Atmore area community events and organizations. Gehman as a member of Poarch Band of Creek Indians and served on the Tribal Council for 13 years. Grace Fellowship in Atmore will host a video simulcast of the funeral on Saturday. The doors will open at 9:30 a.m., and the simulcast will begin at 10 a.m. For the complete obituary, click here. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Trans World Radio, (PO Box 8700 Cary, NC 27512 or www.twr.org/donate) in memory of Randy Dale Gehman.  Read More →

December 2, 2016 | Read the story »

Former PPD Chief Now A Chief Deputy At The Escambia Sheriff’s Office

Former Pensacola Police Chief Chip Simmons was sworn in Thursday as a chief deputy of operations at the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office. His job will include running the patrol, investigations and SWAT divisions. After retiring from he PPD, Simmons joined Escambia County as an assistant county administrator last year. Photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.  Read More →

December 2, 2016 | Read the story »

Santa Claus Visits Century Library (With Photo Gallery)

Santa Claus paid a special visit to the Century Branch Library Tuesday afternoon taking those special Christmas wishes. Top requests were for tablet computers, hoverboards, iPhones, and books. There was also a request for a motorcycle, and one young lady asked Santa to make it the “best Christmas ever” for her entire family. For a photo gallery, click here. Santa will be back in North Escambia on Tuesday at 6 p.m. for a special Pajama Story Time with Santa at the Molino Branch Library. Children invited to wear their comfy, cozy pajamas, brink a blanket and join the library staff for a stories, milk and cookies along with a very special visit from Santa Claus. Parents are encouraged to bring their cameras. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.  Read More →

December 2, 2016 | Read the story »

Scott Calls For Law Enforcement Salary Increase

Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday began rolling out his budget proposals for next year’s legislative session, unveiling a plan to boost pay for law-enforcement officers by 5 percent. Scott said the pay raise, for the spending year that begins July 1, would affect about 4,000 officers and cost $11.7 million. “This year, Florida’s state law enforcement officers were put to the test like never before,” Scott said, underscoring the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando and two hurricanes that hit the state. ” … Through these times of adversity, our state law enforcement fearlessly answered the call and put themselves in harm’s way — standing strong in the face of danger.” Sworn officers would be eligible for the raises if they work in agencies including the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Florida Department of Financial Services, the Florida Lottery, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, the Florida Department of Legal Affairs and the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam quickly backed Scott’s request. “Florida’s law enforcement officers put it all on the line for us, and I wholeheartedly support Governor Scott’s budget that puts them first,” Putnam said. Scott is expected to continue releasing pieces of his budget proposal until close to the beginning of the legislative session, which opens March 7. Lawmakers will consider Scott’s proposals as they negotiate a final budget. by The News Service of Florida  Read More →

December 2, 2016 | Read the story »

Victim Trapped In Two Vehicle Crash

One person was injured in a two vehicle crash Thursday night on Klondike Road at Wilde Lake Boulevard. Firefighters used the Jaws of Life to free the victim from their pickup truck. Their condition was not available. Further details have not been released as the Florida Highway Patrol continues their investigation. Reader submitted photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.  Read More →

December 2, 2016 | Read the story »

Molino Christmas Parade Is Saturday; Still Time To Enter

The 14th Annual Molino Christmas Parade is set for Saturday at 11 a.m. The parade route starts at the west end of Crabtree Church Road and ends and the Molino Ballpark were Santa ill be waiting to visit with all the good little boys and girls. To participate in the parade, preregister at Jimmy’s Grill or register the day of the parade. Registration fees are $30 for floats; $20 for vehicles, motorcycles, tractors or golf carts; and $10 each for horses. No 4-wheelers or go-carts. All proceeds go directly back to the community to help children in need. For more information, contact René at (850) 255-3330 or Jimmy’s Grill at (850) 754-0041. Donations such as toys and non-perishable foot items can be dropped off at Jimmy’s Grill. The rain date will be Sunday, December 4 at 2:30 p.m. Pictured: The 2015 Molino Christmas Parade. NorthEscambia.com file photos, click to enlarge.  Read More →

December 2, 2016 | Read the story »

Cantonment Woman Stabbed, Boyfriend Arrested

A woman is recovering after being stabbed by her boyfriend Thursday morning in Cantonment. Escambia County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Andrew Hobbs said a woman’s boyfriend took her car and then returned to her home on Jonah Avenue. As deputies were responding to her call about a disturbance about 9:30, they pulled up to hear the woman screaming that she was being stabbed. Deputies made entry into the home and took 28-year old Anthony Vincent McCormick of Cantonment  into custody. He is s being held without bond in the Escambia County Jail on a felony charge of aggravated battery using a deadly weapon. Hobbs said the victim suffered multiple cuts from a knife, which was recovered at the scene. She was transported by ambulance to an area hospital with injuries that were no considered to be life threatening. NorthEscambia.com photos by Kristi Barbour, click to enlarge.  Read More →

December 1, 2016 | Read the story »

Tornado Damage Assistance Application Deadline One Month Away

Time is running out to apply for funding from the State Housing Initiatives Partnership, or SHIP, program to assist homeowners needing repair or replacement housing assistance as a result of the February tornadoes in Escambia County. Applications must be approved prior to December 31, 2016, so applicants are encouraged to contact the appropriate agency as soon as possible. Potential applicants residing in unincorporated Escambia County, including the town of Century, should contact the Escambia County Neighborhood Enterprise Division at 850-595-3011, and those residing in the city of Pensacola limits should contact the City of Pensacola Housing Division at 850-858-0306. Income limits apply, and the property must have been owner occupied at the time of the storm and current on property taxes to receive assistance. Pictured: Tornado damage in Century. NorthEscambia.com file photo, click to enlarge.  Read More →

December 1, 2016 | Read the story »

Two Arrested In Motel Room With Drugs

A Cantonment woman is one of two people facing charges after deputies allegedly found a trafficking quantity of drugs in her Pensacola motel room. Kacie Nicole Cobb, 26, was charged with first degree felony methamphetamine trafficking and possession of drug paraphernalia. A second person occupying the room at the Red Roof Inn on Plantation Road was also charged. Dalton Ray Heckman, 25, was charged with possession of a controlled substance without a prescription and possession of drug paraphernalia. Two other individuals in the room were not immediately charged with any crime. Inside the room, deputies reported finding 33 grams of methamphetamine, hypodermic needles and other drug paraphernalia, a small quantity of heroin, a 12 gauge short barrel shotgun, a loaded Colt 45 caliber handgun, a Ruger 45 caliber revolver, and additional ammunition. Cobb remains in the Escambia County Jail with bond set at $101,000. Heckman remains jailed without bond due to an outstanding probation violation charge.  Read More →

December 1, 2016 | Read the story »

Hurricane Season Ends With First Florida Strikes In Over 10 Years

Florida ended its 2016 hurricane season Wednesday, marking the first time in more than a decade that the Sunshine State was hit by a hurricane. When Hurricane Hermine came on shore near St. Marks, a coastal community south of Tallahassee, in the early morning hours of Sept. 2, it ended a record string of 3,966 days, or 10.87 years, without a hurricane making landfall in the state most prone to being hit by tropical storms, according to a new analysis by Colorado State University. Prior to Hermine, a Category 1 storm, Florida was last hit by Hurricane Wilma, a 120-mph, Category 3 storm, which struck Southwest Florida on Oct. 24, 2005. Florida also came close this year to a direct hit by a major hurricane, as Hurricane Matthew, which was the first Category 5 storm in the Atlantic basin since 2007, came within 50 miles of Florida’s East Coast, raking the state Oct. 6 and Oct. 7 before making landfall Oct. 8 in South Carolina as a 75 mph Category 1 hurricane. Matthew’s near miss extended the United States’ streak of avoiding a landfall by a major hurricane, defined as a Category 3 storm with winds of 111 mph or higher, for 11 consecutive years, the longest streak based on records dating to 1851, according to Philip Klotzbach, the Colorado State University researcher who wrote the analysis. The last major landfall was with Wilma in 2005. Although Matthew was a “close call” for Florida, the powerful storm caused extensive damage in coastal counties including Brevard, Volusia, St. Johns, Flagler and Duval. It knocked electrical power out for more than 1 million Florida homes and businesses. Gov. Rick Scott, who faced his first hurricanes since taking office in 2011, said several lessons were learned from the storms. From Hermine, which plowed through Tallahassee and blacked out 80 percent of the electric power in the state capital, Scott said it underscored the need to better coordinate utility resources to restore power. From Hurricane Matthew, which forced a number of counties to close schools for several days, Scott said the state “can work better at getting our schools opened faster.” In terms of storm damage, the 2016 hurricane season fell far short of some of Florida’s worst seasons, including 1992’s Hurricane Andrew, which caused an estimated $24 billion in insured damages in Florida and Louisiana, according to the Insurance Information Institute. With data reflected through October, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation said Hermine resulted in $95 million in property-damage claims, with Leon County accounting for about 3,500 of the 18,222 claims. Hurricane Matthew has resulted in more than 100,000 property-damage claims, representing $606 million in value. Volusia, Duval, Brevard, St. Johns and Flagler counties represented more than 70 percent of those claims. Updated damage claim reports will be filed in December, according to state insurance regulators. Citizens Property Insurance, the state-backed insurer, said it has paid out $10.7 million in claims related to Hermine and Matthew, with 84 percent of the 4,000 claims closed. The impact was relatively light for the insurer, which has more than 472,000 policies representing $128 billion in exposure. But Barry Gilway, the Citizens president and CEO, said the 2016 storm season tested the insurer’s ability to handle hurricane claims. “We clearly showed that Citizens is ready as we received excellent feedback for our claims handling from our customers,” Gilway said. “That said, we will continue to look for ways to improve.” In a new analysis of the national property-insurance industry, Fitch Ratings said damage from Matthew, which also impacted other states, including Georgia and South Carolina, is likely to fall at the “low end” of estimates in the range of $2 billion to $8 billion. The six-month hurricane season was in line with an August estimate from Colorado State University, which had predicted 15 named storms in the Atlantic basin. There were 15 storms, although the three major hurricanes and seven overall hurricanes each exceeded the estimate by one storm each. The season began with Hurricane Alex, a rare powerful January storm that remained far out in the Atlantic. The season ended with Hurricane Otto, the latest calendar year Atlantic hurricane on record to make landfall. It hit southern Nicaragua as a Category 2 storm last Thursday. by Lloyd Dunkelberger for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge. Pictured: Hurricane Matthew.  Read More →

December 1, 2016 | Read the story »

‘Keep The Wreath Green’ Fire Safety Campaign Begins (With Tips List)

Escambia County Fire Rescue, in collaboration with the Pensacola Fire Department, will launch its annual “Keep the Wreath Green” fire safety campaign on Thursday, Dec. 1. The campaign is designed to promote fire safety during the month of December, with both departments hoping to reduce the number of fires during this time. During the month-long campaign, five-foot wreaths will be on display at 18 county fire stations and five city fire stations, with wreaths also placed outside Escambia County’s Ernie Lee Magaha Government Building downtown, the Escambia County Public Safety Building, Pensacola City Hall and Cordova Mall near the food court entrance. Each time firefighters respond to a residential fire with damage, a green light bulb will be replaced with a red one to remind citizens of the dangers posed by fires in residential home. Escambia County Fire Rescue and the Pensacola Fire Department offer the following holiday safety tips, one for each day of the month: Dec. 1 - Prior to buying a live tree, test its freshness by pulling along a small branch. If the needles fall away in your hand, the tree is already too dry. Dec. 2 - Prior to buying an artificial tree, make sure the tree bears a UL label of approval, and be certain the tree is made of fire retardant materials. Dec. 3 - To keep a live tree fresh, cut 1-2 inches from the bottom to expose fresh wood and place it in water. Make sure your tree stand can hold water. Check the water level every day, and add water as needed. Do not place trees near sources of heat like radiators, space heaters or heating ducts. Dec. 4 - Use candles with care. Keep candles out of the reach of children and pets. Burn candles inside a 1-foot circle of safety, free of anything that can ignite. Use sturdy candle holders that will not tip over. Never leave a burning candle unattended. Dec. 5 - Make sure all holiday lights are UL labeled and inspect them prior to use. If possible, use LED lights since they burn cooler. Check each set of lights for broken or crushed sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Discard all damaged lights. Dec. 6 - When hanging holiday lights either on your tree or outside, make sure you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on how many strands can be connected together. Usually it is not more than three. Make sure you do not overload electrical outlets or circuits. Do not run power cords underneath rugs or carpets. Dec. 7 - When decorating, remember not to block stairways, doors or windows. Remember to always unplug lights and extinguish candles before leaving the house or going to bed. Dec. 8 - Have a plan in case you have a fire: Step one – Design an emergency plan for your home and your family. Make sure everyone understands exactly what to do and where to go in an emergency. Also, make sure you have enough smoke alarms. Dec. 9 - Have a plan in case you have a fire: Step two – Know two ways out of every room and practice them to make sure you can do it. Dec. 10 - Have a plan in case you have a fire: Step three – Make sure you crawl low under smoke and feel closed doors for heat. If you come to a door that is warm, find another way out. Dec. 11 - Have a plan in case you have a fire: Step four – If you become trapped, close doors and stuff the door cracks to keep smoke out. Try to call 911 and let them know exactly where you are, and signal for help from a window. Dec. 12 - Have a plan in case you have a fire: Step five – Pay special attention to young children, elderly people and the disabled. Be sure to include them in your plan. Dec. 13 - Have a plan in case you have a fire: Step six – Get out as fast as you can and stay out. Never go back inside. Once you’re safely outside, have someone go to a neighbor’s house and call 911. Dec. 14 - Remember, matches and lighters are tools for adults. Store them in a safe place out of reach of children. Also, teach youngsters to never touch matches or lighters and instead tell a grownup if they find them. Dec. 15 - Have a fire extinguisher readily available in your home, and make sure it is fully charged. Know how to use your fire extinguisher. Remember the PASS system: Pull the pin. Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire. Squeeze the trigger lever. Sweep the stream side-to-side at the base of the fire. Dec. 16 - Have your chimney and fireplace inspected by a professional to make sure they are clean and free of obstructions. Never burn paper or trash in the fireplace. Dec. 17 - Be sure your fireplace is covered with a metal screen or glass doors to prevent the spread of sparks and fire. Dec. 18 - Make sure to have a working smoke alarm outside of every bedroom and on every level of your house. Make sure to test them monthly and change batteries every time you change your clocks. Dec. 19 - With children out of school, people doing yard work, dry vegetation, high winds and low humidity, remember that wildfires can happen quickly. Dec. 20 - If you are enjoying the great outdoors during the holidays, don’t leave campfires or warming fires unattended – make sure they are completely out! Dec. 21 - Never leave cooking food unattended. Handles on stovetop pots should be turned away from the front, so they won’t be accidentally tipped or knocked over. Dec. 22 - Before you cook that holiday dinner, be sure that the oven and stovetop are clean, free of grease and are in good working order. Dec. 23 - Keep cooking areas clean and free of grease and other combustibles (e.g. potholders, towels, rags, drapes and food packaging), which can catch fire easily. Dec. 24 - Do not burn wrapping paper in the fireplace because of the high flammability, dangerous sparks and possibility of flash fires. Dec. 25 - Remember to be safety conscious and have a happy holiday. Dec. 26 - When purchasing a space heater, look for heaters that have safety features such as cut-off switches that turn the heater off if it accidentally tips over or overheats. Dec. 27 - Space heaters need space. Make sure they are at least 3 feet away from combustible materials such as draperies, furniture, bedding, clothing and decorations. Also teach youngsters to keep away from them. Dec. 28 - Use only UL labeled space heaters and follow the manufactured instructions. Never use stoves, ovens or other cooking appliances to warm your home. Dec. 29 - Turn space heaters off when you leave the room. Also, remember to constantly supervise children and pets when space heaters are in use. Dec. 30 - Don’t cut up and burn your tree in the fireplace. Burning evergreens give off tar and creosol, which can ignite and cause a chimney fire. Dispose of your tree by following the instructions of your local trash disposal service. Dec. 31 - Don’t drink and drive. Have a designated driver or call a friend.  Read More →

December 1, 2016 | Read the story »

Tate High Hosting Souper Bowl And Student Gallery Night

Tate High School will host its annual Souper Bowl and Student Gallery Night this Friday night from 5:30 until 7:30. During the Souper Bowl, handmade ceramic bowls will be on sale for $10 and will come with a bowl of soup or chili and the fixings, plus a drink. There will also be additional ceramic items for sale. Twenty percent of the proceeds will benefit the Pensacola Human Society, with all the rest going to the ceramics program at Tate. During the concurrent Student Gallery Night, Tate students will be selling their original artwork – including drawings, paintings, photos, prints, ceramics and more.  Organizers say it’s a great opportunity to get a unique holiday gift and perhaps a present for yourself. For more information, contact Jennifer Rodriguez at (850) 937-2300 ext. 601 for more information. Photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.  Read More →

December 1, 2016 | Read the story »

Highway 29 Closed By Nails, Screws After Pickup Truck Crash

Northbound Highway 29 was closed for about an hour Tuesday night due to a single vehicle traffic crash. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, 32-year old Christopher Armour of Pensacola was northbound on Highway at Victory Road, just south of Barrineau Park Road. He attempted to change lanes and lost control, causing his 2006 Ford F150 to spin and then overturn several times into the median about 9:50 p.m. Armour and his passenger, 21-year old Montana Ard of McDavid, were not injured. The vehicle came to rest on its roof after it flipped, causing a large quantity of screws and nails from the truck’s cargo bed to be scattered over hundreds of feet of northbound Highway 29. Highway 29 northbound was closed from Quintette Road to Barrineau Park Road, with a detour on Highway 95A for the cleanup.  A FDOT contractor used a large blower to blow the debris off the roadway by 10:45 p.m. Armour was cited for careless driving by the FHP. NorthEscambia.com photos by Kristi Barbour, click to enlarge.  Read More →

November 30, 2016 | Read the story »

Quick Work Saves Century Home From Kitchen Fire

The quick work of responding firefighters save a Century home Tuesday night. The kitchen fire was reported about 8:25 p.m. in the 9400 block of Old Flomaton Road. Firefighters were able to contain the blaze mostly to the kitchen. The occupants of the home were able to escape without injury. The Century, McDavid and Walnut Hill stations of Escambia Fire Rescue, the Flomaton Fire Department and the Jay Fire Department were dispatched to the fire. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.  Read More →

November 30, 2016 | Read the story »

Escambia County’s Top 10 Teachers Named

Escambia County’s Top 10 Teachers of the Year have been named. They are (in alphabetical order): Lisa Bloodworth – Workman Middle School Lacey Brown – Jim Allen Elementary School Angelia Grimes-Graeme – Hellen Caro Elementary School Jessica Kelly – Cordova Park Elementary School Ursula LaMontagne – Tate High School Emily McMillan – C.A. Weis Community School Cassie Mense – Myrtle Grove Elementary Bonny Shiflett – R.C. Lipscomb Elementary School Nichaka Tribbey – Global Learning Academy Christy Ueberroth – N.B. Cook Elementary School  Read More →

November 30, 2016 | Read the story »

Atmore Police Seek Shooting Suspect

The Atmore Police Department is seeking information in connection with a shooting late last week that left one man in critical condition. About 2:15 a.m. last Friday, Anthony Jerome Riley of Sunset Drive in Atmore was shot multiple times in the rear parking lot of “Special Occasions” at 129 South Main Street, Atmore Police said in a Tuesday afternoon news release. Witnesses described the suspect as a black male who fled the area in black Dodge Charger. The witnesses could not provide a license plate number or other information about the shooter. Riley was transported to Atmore Community Hospital and later transferred to a Mobile hospital. The Atmore Police Department said the business is licensed to hold banquets, wedding receptions and retirement parties. “The business is not allowed to have alcohol on the premises, but evidence at the scene showed alcohol was present at the time of the shooting,” police said. Anyone with information on the shooting should call the Atmore Police Department at (251) 368-9141.  Read More →

November 30, 2016 | Read the story »

Three State Supreme Court Nominees Would Add Conservative Voice

Florida Supreme Court justices Charles Canady and Ricky Polston will almost certainly have a conservative colleague to join their frequent splits from the court’s majority when Gov. Rick Scott appoints a replacement for Justice James E.C. Perry. Perry’s constitutionally mandated retirement gives Scott the opportunity to continue moving Florida’s appellate courts to the right, and the three nominees to replace Perry left no doubt this week as to how they would rule if appointed to the state’s highest court. Fifth District Court of Appeal judges C. Alan Lawson and Wendy Berger and civil lawyer Dan Gerber made the final cut Monday from six women and five men who went before the Scott-appointed Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission. The governor had asked for six nominees by mid-December, but wound up with a list of three. “While I certainly, and the commission, strive to give the governor the maximum amount of names, sometimes that just doesn’t happen in the process,” Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission Chairman Jason Unger told The News Service of Florida in a telephone interview Tuesday. “Governors usually ask for the maximum. And we try to respect that, but we are sometimes not able to vote out six names.” Lawson and Gerber were both nominated the last time there was an opening on the court in 2008, but were passed over by then-Gov. Charlie Crist, who instead tapped the man they are seeking to replace. Perry, one of two black justices on the seven-member court, frequently is part of a liberal-leaning majority in decisions that have chafed Scott and the Republican-dominated Legislature. The three high-court hopefuls, during interviews with the commission Monday, made clear that their allegiances lie with Canady, a highly respected jurist who is on President-elect Donald Trump’s list of potential U.S. Supreme Court picks. “The brilliance is there. Every Thursday you look and say, OK, let’s see what the dissenting opinions have brought this week,” said Gerber, a partner with the Rumberger, Kirk & Caldwell firm in Orlando. If selected by Scott, Gerber would be the first justice in 14 years appointed to the high court without any previous experience on the bench. He also could wind up being the next chief justice, because all of the other justices on the seven-member court have served in that role. Historically, the role of chief justice rotates to the court’s next-senior member every two years. Perry would have been in line to become chief justice July 1 but chose not to seek the position because he would have to retire several months later. Breaking with tradition, the court re-elected Chief Justice Jorge Labarga to serve a second term, making him the first to do so in more than a century. Gerber’s lack of a judicial record creates uncertainty about how he might rule, an issue raised by at least one commissioner on Monday. But Gerber’s experience litigating on behalf of clients like Publix Supermarkets and Orkin, his extensive appellate work and his criticism of the Supreme Court’s administration — in addition to his previous nomination — could make him a prime pick for Scott, an attorney and former health-care executive. A lawyer would provide insight into how “users and consumers” interact with the courts, Gerber told the nine-member nominating commission Monday. “Every now and then we need a practitioner to go on the court and bring practical experience and judgment to the court,” said Gerber, a University of Florida College of Law graduate. Gerber, 53, called the Supreme Court’s procurement process “antiquated” and “simply too loose.” “I don’t think they lend themselves to what we would consider in private free-enterprise systems,” Gerber said, pledging to “cut waste” and make the “consumer experience more efficient, more fair and more effective.” Perhaps even more important, Gerber also promoted the same “rule of law” judicial approach espoused by The Federalist Society, embraced by Scott, and mirrored by the other two nominees. The prominent conservative legal group, with about 2,000 members in Florida, adheres to the “originalist” and “textualist” philosophy maintained by the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Jason Gonzalez, Florida co-chair of the Federalist Society, said judicial conservatives believe “that judges should focus on original meaning of the text of the law, rather than taking a more ‘activist’ approach where the judge stretches or ignores the text of the law to reach a desired outcome in a case,” Gonzalez said he was encouraged that the Supreme Court interviews focused more on judicial philosophy than they may have in the past. Gonzalez served as Crist’s general counsel at the time of the last four Supreme Court vacancies. “A judge or justice’s judicial philosophy or approach to interpreting the written law is highly relevant, especially for aspiring appellate judges. Judicial philosophy differs from personal beliefs or political ideology, which should never influence how a judge applies the written law,” Gonzalez said. Scott is required to choose a justice from the sprawling region covered by the Daytona Beach-based 5th District Court of Appeal. The region stretches across the state from Brevard to Citrus counties and includes counties such as Orange, Volusia, Marion and St. Johns. Selecting Lawson or Berger — who each earned a law degree from Florida State University — would give Scott the chance to make another appellate court appointment. Berger, appointed by Scott three years ago to the 5th District Court of Appeal, was reimbursed for a hotel room by the Federalist Society when she was a moderator of a panel discussion entitled “Perspectives on the Florida Judicial Selection Process” at the group’s statewide conference in 2015, according to her application for the Supreme Court opening. The Supreme Court justices’ role is “to apply the law, to interpret the law,” Berger told the nominating commission Monday. “It’s not to make it, or force my will upon the people through a written opinion,” she said. Berger’s youth — she is 47 — provides Scott the prospect of having his legacy reflected on the court for more than two decades. Berger formerly served as then-Gov. Jeb Bush’s assistant general counsel in charge of the death penalty and clemency, and earned a reputation for meting out stiff sentences during her tenure as a circuit judge, factors which could appeal to tough-on-crime Scott. While the court spends more than half of its time dealing with death penalty cases, Scott is expected to be more focused on civil matters in trying to reshape the court. Lawson, who was promoted by social conservatives during the nomination process in 2008, has the broadest experience of the three nominees, having served as a trial lawyer, a circuit judge and, now, chief of the appellate court. “Anyone who applies for this position can say that they are committed to the ideal of judicial restraint and will faithfully follow the law if appointed. I do not know that any other applicant will have a track record to prove that commitment,” Lawson, 55, wrote in his application. by Dara Kam, The News Service of Florida  Read More →

November 30, 2016 | Read the story »

Century To Officially Light Christmas Tree Thursday Evening

Century will hold an official Christmas tree lighting ceremony  Thursday at 5 p.m.  The short ceremony will take place in the Nadine McCaw Park located on North Century Boulevard at Hecker Street. Children from Byrneville Elementary School will perform Christmas songs during the event. Pictured: Century’s Christmas Tree in Nadine McCaw Park on North Century Boulevard as seen Tuesday night. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.  Read More →

November 30, 2016 | Read the story »

Gulf Power Seeks To Keep Group Out Of Rate Increase Case

Gulf Power is asking state regulators to block the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy from intervening in a case about the utility’s proposal to raise base rates by $106.8 million next year. The Tennessee-based Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, which has frequently clashed with Florida utilities, filed a petition  seeking to intervene in Gulf Power’s rate case before the Florida Public Service Commission. In the petition, the group pointed to a potential rate restructuring that it argued could discourage energy efficiency and the use of rooftop solar devices. But in a filing last week, Pensacola-based Gulf Power argued that the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, commonly known as SACE, has not shown that its interests or the interests of its members will be “adversely affected” by the rate case. “It is clear from SACE’s petition to intervene (including its allegations of general and specific interests and proposed issues) that SACE is attempting to significantly and improperly expand the scope of this base rate proceeding beyond whether Gulf’s proposed rates are just and reasonable. It appears SACE will use this proceeding as a platform upon which SACE can advocate ‘for energy plans, policies and systems that best serve the environment, public health and economic interests of communities in the Southeast,’ ” the utility argued, partially quoting from the group’s petition. Gulf Power, which provides electricity to about 450,000 customers in Northwest Florida, filed the rate-increase proposal in October with the Public Service Commission. If approved, the increase would take effect July 1, 2017. by The News Service of Florida  Read More →

November 30, 2016 | Read the story »

HS Basketball: Tate Boys, Northview Girls Win; Jay And Tate Girls Fall

Here’s a look at high school basketball scores from around the area Tuesday night: BOYS Tate 55, West Florida 50 The Tate Aggies picked up their first win of the young season at home Tuesday night 55-50 over West Florida. The Aggies were led by Robert Rush with 19. Up next, the Tate Aggies (1-3) will be at Pine Forest on Thursday. GIRLS Northview 44, Catholic 20 The Northview Lady Chiefs defeated the visiting Catholic High Lady Crusaders Tuesday night in Bratt, .  The Lady Chiefs will be at Chipley at 5:00 Thursday and at Baker at 5:30 on Friday. For more photos, click here. West Florida 56, Tate 19 The West Florida Lady Jaguars defeated the Tate Lady Aggies Tuesday 56-19. The Lady Aggies will host Escambia High School at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Baker 57, Jay 26 The Jay Lady Royals (2-2) lost to Baker 57-26 Tuesday night at Jay. Corrissa Mulford added 10 points to lead the Royals. The Lady Royals will host Catholic High School on  Thursday at 4 p.m. Pictured: Northview’s Lady Chiefs defeated Catholic Tuesday night. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.  Read More →

November 30, 2016 | Read the story »

No Injuries In Deputy Involved Crash In Cantonment

There were no injuries in a wreck involving an Escambia County Sheriff’s Office deputy in Cantonment Monday night. The accident happened about 7:15 p.m. at the intersection of  Highway 297A and west Kingsfield Road.  There were no serious injuries; both drivers refused medical treatment at the scene. Further details have not yet been released by the Florida Highway Patrol as they continue their investigation into the crash. NorthEscambia.com photos by Kristi Barbour, click to enlarge.  Read More →

November 29, 2016 | Read the story »

Tougher Texting While Driving Law Sought

A Broward County Democrat wants lawmakers in 2017 to toughen the state’s ban on texting while driving, though similar proposals in the past have repeatedly been rejected. Rep. Richard Stark, D-Weston, filed a bill (HB 47) on Wednesday that would allow police to pull over motorists for texting while driving. Under current law, motorists can only be cited for texting while driving if they have been pulled over for other reasons — what is known as a “secondary” offense. Also, Stark’s bill would double fines for texting while driving in designated school zones or school crossings. The bill is filed for the session that will start in March.  Read More →

November 29, 2016 | Read the story »