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Work Continues To Preserve Bricks From Former Century High School

Work Continues To Preserve Bricks From Former Century High School

Plans are continuing to save bricks and a campus monument as the former Century High School is being demolished due to tornado damage. Century Mayor Freddie McCall said the Escambia County School District, owners of the building, have authorized the town to take 2,000 bricks as the building is removed, and also save the flag pole and a campus monument. The bricks will be sold, engraved and place at a monument to the school at a location yet to be determined, but likely the Alger-Sullivan Historical Park, the Nadine McCaw Park or Showalter Park. The town will  form a committee to decide how to use the bricks and memorialize the old Century High School. Closed 20 years ago, the Century High Building was constructed in the middle 1930’s. It was damaged during the EF-3 tornado that hit Century February 15 and will be torn down by the Escambia County School District. Pictured: A dedication monument dated 1936 outside the former Century High School. NorthEscambia.com photo, click to enlarge.  Read More →

May 4, 2016 | Read the story »


Win Tickets To The Tate FFA Rodeo

NorthEscambia.com is giving our readers a chance to win free tickets to the Tate FFA Alumni Foundation Rodeo this weekend at the Escambia County Equestrian Center. To enter to win, look for the Tate Rodeo poster for Wednesday on our Facebook page (click here) and share. It’s that easy. Tuesday’s ticket winner was Joe Baillie. The Tate Rodeo beings at 7:30 p.m. both Friday and Saturday.  Advance tickets are available at Farm and Nursery Mart, Hill Kelly Dodge, Farm Bureau Insurance (Nine Mile and Molino), Jimmy’s Grill, and Barnes Ace Hardware. Tickets are $8 for adults and $3 for children in advance and $10 and $5 at the gate. There is also a Special Rodeo for special needs children on Saturday at 9 a.m. A pancake breakfast will be held prior to the Special Rodeo at 8 a.m. For more information about the Rodeo, call (850) 937-2308.  Read More →

May 4, 2016 | Read the story »


Days Of Sunshine, Comfy Temps

Here is your official North Escambia area forecast: Wednesday: Sunny, with a high near 76. North wind 5 to 10 mph. Wednesday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 55. West wind around 5 mph becoming calm. Thursday: Sunny, with a high near 74. West wind 5 to 15 mph becoming north in the morning. Thursday Night: Clear, with a low around 50. Northwest wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the evening. Friday: Sunny, with a high near 75. Light and variable wind becoming north 5 to 10 mph in the morning. Friday Night: Clear, with a low around 54. North wind around 5 mph. Saturday: Sunny, with a high near 82. North wind around 5 mph. Saturday Night: Clear, with a low around 59. Southwest wind around 5 mph. Sunday: Sunny, with a high near 84. Sunday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 61. Monday: Partly sunny, with a high near 81. Monday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 65. Tuesday: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 82.  Read More →

May 4, 2016 | Read the story »


Escambia Man Gets 30 Years For Abusing Two Young Children

An Escambia County man is headed to prison for three decades for abusing two young children. James Ard, age 28 of East Ten Mile Road, entered a guilty plea to multiple child sexual abuse charges and resisting and officer without violence. Escambia County Circuit Judge Darlene Dickey sentenced Ard to 30 years in state prison. After his release from prison, Ard will be on lifetime sexual offender probation. Ard was designated a sexual predator and will be required to register as a sexual predator and comply with all statutory requirements. The case involved Ard’s sexual abuse of two young children. On October 3, 2015, the children disclosed the abuse to their mother, and she notified the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office. When they arrived on scene, deputies detained Ard in a cruiser. While deputies interviewed witnesses, Ard escaped from the back of the cruiser and fled on foot. He was located with the use of a K9.  Read More →

May 4, 2016 | Read the story »


Escambia Man Pleads To Federal Weapons Charges

Deangelo A. Rome, 25, pleaded guilty Tuesday to unlawfully possessing a firearm and ammunition as a convicted felon. The guilty plea was announced by Christopher P. Canova, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida. During his guilty plea, Rome admitted that, in February 2015, a law enforcement officer discovered a running vehicle with Rome unresponsive in the driver’s seat and located a loaded handgun in view under Rome’s seat. Later, in December 2015, law enforcement responded to a “shots fired” disturbance call. A shooting victim was located, and the residence had bullet holes through a sliding glass door. Multiple shell casings and a loaded magazine were found on the scene. A fingerprint on the loaded magazine matched that of Rome. A few days later, law enforcement responded to a call of armed individuals, who, after fleeing, were tracked to a residence with a vehicle in the driveway. A deputy saw an assault rifle in the vehicle, and ammunition was also found on the premises. During a search of the premises,  Rome was located hiding under a bed. The rifle inside the vehicle had both a palm print and DNA evidence belonging to Rome, and Rome’s fingerprint was also located on a separate box of ammunition. For each of the three firearm charges, Rome faces a maximum of 10 years in prison. The sentencing hearing is scheduled for July 18, 2016, at 2:00 p.m. at the United States Courthouse in Pensacola. The case resulted from investigations by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, the Pensacola Police Department, and the ATF Gun Crime Response Team.  Read More →

May 4, 2016 | Read the story »

Jim Allen Elementary Shines At Math Competition

Jim Allen Elementary Shines At Math Competition

Teams from Jim Allen Elementary School took part in the his past weekend’s Sunshine Math Competition at Washington High School. One of Jim Allen’s third grade teams took second place with team members -Leslee Brooks, Harlie Davidson, Kyleigh Soto and Desmond Tucker. And a Jim Allen fourth grade team took third place with team members Abigail Arnette, Damian Cullen, Grayson Jackson and Audrey Rudd. For an earlier story with complete Sunshine Math Competition results and additional photos, click here. Pictured: Jim Allen Elementary School’s Sunshine Math Teams. Photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.  Read More →

May 4, 2016 | Read the story »

Northview Track Team Members Place At Regionals; Headed To State

Northview Track Team Members Place At Regionals; Headed To State

Fourteen Northview High School athletes recently competed in the 1A Regional Track Meet in Jacksonville. The Chiefs’ Dezmine Moorer (pictured left) placed fourth in the 200 meters with a time of 23.00 to advance to the state meet this week. Also advancing to state are members of the Northview Girls 4×100 team — Myisha Syria, Celeste North, Audriene Odom and Crystal Douglas (pictured top) — who placed third with a time of 51.97. For more photos, click here. Other results were as follows: Celeste North placed 10th in the 100 hurdles with a time of 18.65 Kirsten White placed 13th in the 100 hurdles with at time of 19.54 Audriene Odom placed 7th in the 100 meter dash with a time of 13.46 Crystal Douglas placed 7th in the 200 meters with a time of 27.18 Ziara Johnson placed 11th in the 300 hurdles with a time of 56.39 Myshia Syria placed 12th in the 400 meters with a time of 1:08.30 Girl’s 4X800 –placed 12 with a time of 12:09.37 – Autumn Albriton, Kirsten White, Moriah Mcgahan, & Savanna Roux Moriah McGahan placed 15th in the 800 meters with a time of 2:44.41 Celeste North placed 12th in the high jump with the height of 4-02 Dezmine Moorer placed 5th in the 100 meters with a time of 11.49 Brandon Spencer placed 12th in the 100 meters with a time of 11.66 Brandon Korinchak placed 10th in the 800 meters with a time of 2:13.92 Brandon Korinchak placed 9th in the 1600 meters with a time of 4:56.11 Brandon Spencer placed 6th in the 200 meters with a time of 23.57 Lawrence Douglas placed 16th in the 400 meters with a time of 59.06 Boy’s 4×400 –placed 8th with a time of 3:40.75- Brandon Korinchak, Lawrence Douglas, Brandon Spencer, & Ohijie Elliott Team coaches are: Head Girl’s Coach- Natalie Nall Assistant Girl’s Coach- Michelle Peebles Head Boy’s Coach- Barbara Luker Assistant Boy’s Coach – Michael Crumm The 1A state meet is this Friday and Saturday in Bradenton.  Read More →

May 4, 2016 | Read the story »

Tate Aggies Beat Milton In Regional Semifinal

Tate Aggies Beat Milton In Regional Semifinal

The Tate Aggies came alive to score four in the the fourth inning and held on for a 4-2 win over the Milton Panthers Tuesday night in the Region 1-7A semifinal game. Madison Lockman pitched the the win for Tate Aggies.. He allowed one run over 4 1/3 innings. Lockman struck out three, walked none and gave up four hits. Up next for the Aggies is the Region 1-7A championship game  against St. Johns Creekside at  7 p.m. Tuesday at Tate High School.  Read More →

May 4, 2016 | Read the story »

FWC Law Enforcement Report

The Florida FWC Division of Law Enforcement reported the following activity during the weekly period ending April 28 in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. ESCAMBIA COUNTY Officers Land and Cushing patrolled both state and federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico aboard the FinCat, targeting illegal fishing activity.  The officers conducted numerous fishing inspections resulting in resource cases for possession of gag grouper during the closed season, possession of undersized triggerfish, possession of undersized amberjack, and possession of red snapper during the closed season.  All subjects were issued the appropriate paperwork for these violations. Officers Land, Roberson, Cushing and USCG Boarding Officer Dziama patrolled both state and federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico, aboard the FinCat, targeting illegal fishing activity.  The officers conducted numerous fishing inspections during the day, one of those resulting in several violations.  Prior to the officers boarding a recreational fishing vessel to conduct a fisheries inspection, the operator stated that he had some triggerfish and red snapper on board. Additionally, he stated that he knew red snapper was closed, but he didn’t know what to do with the ones he was catching. During the inspection, Officer Land discovered three undersized gray triggerfish in a cooler and a bag of red snapper fillets in the bottom of a bucket of ice with fishing gear piled on top.  The owner of this vessel was issued the appropriate citations for these violations. SANTA ROSA COUNTY Officer Hutchinson received information about a group of people camping along the Escambia River and fishing illegally. He patrolled the river by vessel and made contact with three of the suspected violators.  He conducted a vessel stop and discovered several untagged bush hooks in the vessel.  While running the subjects’ information, he discovered that one of them had four outstanding warrants out of Escambia County.  He issued two written warnings for the bush hook violations and arrested the subject who had the warrant. Officers Lewis and Ramos were on forest patrol in Blackwater River State Forest when they observed a group recreating around a campfire.  They observed the group cutting live vegetation and littering.  The officers heard a truck’s engine revving in a nearby parking area.  They observed the group around the campfire leave the area without extinguishing the campfire. The officers ran approximately a half mile toward the truck they heard.  When the parking area was in sight, Officer Lewis observed a truck spinning its tires and a “rooster tail” of sand coming up from beneath the vehicle.  He approached the truck and found a group a people around it.  He observed that the truck was immobile and dug large ruts in the parking lot.  Officer Lewis identified the truck’s driver.  The driver admitted that he was showing off and intentionally spun his truck’s tires. Meanwhile, Officer Ramos intercepted the group that was around the campfire as they were heading toward the parking area where the truck was revving its engine.  The group around the campfire was with the group with the stuck vehicle.  Officer Lewis charged the truck’s owner with destruction of state lands by motor vehicle.  Both officers issued multiple citations for forestry violations including not extinguishing the campfire, cutting live vegetation, and littering. Officer Hutchinson was patrolling in the Blackwater State Forest where he located a subject using a GPS to locate hunting dogs in the field trial area. He made contact with him and after further investigation discovered that he had six hunting dogs with him that were pursuing wildlife.  While he was talking to him, he smelled the odor of cannabis and found him in possession of cannabis cigarettes.  Officer Hutchinson charged him with hunting with dogs out of season and possession of not more than 20 grams of cannabis. Over the course of the week, Officers Manning and Allgood conducted resource and boating safety inspections in state and federal waters. They documented several violations including four misdemeanor notices to appear for possession of undersized triggerfish, undersized amberjack, and red snapper out of season. They also documented several other boating safety-related violations. While conducting resource inspections near the Pensacola Pass, Officers Allgood and Manning noticed several signs of impairment from the operator of one vessel. These signs included a strong smell of an alcoholic beverage on his breath, slurred speech, and glassy red eyes.  The operator agreed to perform several field sobriety tasks and performed poorly on them.  Officer Allgood placed the operator under arrest and transported him to the Escambia County Jail for boating under the influence (BUI).  The operator refused to give a breath sample.  This was the operator’s second arrest for BUI. 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 →

May 3, 2016 | Read the story »

Tate FFA Rodeo Friday, Saturday

The Tate FFA Alumni Foundation will presenti their 25th annual rodeo at the James C. Robinson Escambia County Equestrian Center this Friday and Saturday.  The rodeo begins at 7:30 p.m. both days. Advance tickets are available at Farm and Nursery Mart, Hill Kelly Dodge, Farm Bureau Insurance (Nine Mile and Molino), Jimmy’s Grill, and Barnes Ace Hardware. Tickets are $8 for adults and $3 for children in advance and $10 and $5 at the gate. There is also a Special Rodeo for special needs children on Saturday at 9 a.m. A pancake breakfast will be held prior to the Special Rodeo at 8 a.m. For more information about the Rodeo, call (850) 937-2308.  Read More →

May 3, 2016 | Read the story »

Sunshine Math Results; Bratt’s Van Pelt Takes First

The Escambia County Elementary Sunshine Math Competition was held Saturday at Booker T. Washington High School. Teams of third, fourth and fifth grade students competed as individuals and as teams. The individual round challenged students to answer 38 math problems in 40 minutes, while the team competitions involved 10 rounds of questions. This year’s event involved 29 elementary schools and over 630 students. Coordinating all of this involved the use of the high school’s auditorium, gymnasium and cafeteria. The results were: Individual Competition Winners: 3rd Grade: 1st Place–Beatrice Bunnell   McArthur 2nd Place–Alex Young          Pine Meadow 3rd Place–Brody Hills           Pensacola Beach 4th Grade: 1st Place–Bentley Van Pelt    Bratt 2nd Place–Davis Sherman     Cordova Park 3rd Place–Logan Weeks        Helen Caro 5th Grade: 1st Place–Soloman Burt        Brentwood 2nd Place–Roman Bassett     A.K. Suter 3rd Place–Drake Salter          N.B. Cook Team Competition Winners: 3rd Grade: 1st Place–Helen Caro Team 1——–Eli Meyer, Hadley Chardon, Connor Mathews, Colin Rhodes 2nd Place–Jim Allen   Team 1——–Leslee Brooks, Harlie Davidson, Kyleigh Soto, Desmond Tucker 3rd Place–A.K. Suter  Team 1——–Reid Bassett, Olivia Rabby, Carey Vinson, Annabelle Apel 4th Grade: 1st Place–Bellview Team 2———Kara Gilmore, Kailey Vogt, Carlos Herrington, Marissa Balkum 2nd Place–Helen Caro Team 2——Luke Nichols, Rachel Hall, D.J. Gerhardt, Kaiden Foree 3rd Place–Jim Allen Team 1——–Abigail Arnette, Damian Cullen, Grayson Jackson, Audrey Rudd 5th Grade: 1st Place–A.K. Suter Team 2—–Jade Alonzo, Sarah Noeth, Julianna Landers, Madison Brown 2nd Place–A.K. Suter Team 1—-Roman Bassett, Tori Vinson, Alyx Zapatka, Ameila Crawford 3rd Place–Pine Meadow Team 1—-Ian Delay, Max Fina, Audra Davis, Jessica Stabler Pictured top: The Bratt Elementary School Sunshine Math Team. Pictured below (top to bottom): The third, fourth and fifth grade Bratt Elementary Sunshine Math teams. Pictured inset: Superintendent Malcolm Thomas with first place fourth grade student Bentley Van Pelt of Bratt Elementary School. Photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.  Read More →

May 3, 2016 | Read the story »

Fallen Law Enforcement Officers Remembered At Capitol

Hundreds of law-enforcement officers from across Florida gathered Monday at the Capitol and honored two colleagues who died in the line of duty in 2015. Family and friends of the late officers took part in the annual Law Enforcement Memorial Service, hosted by the state Fraternal Order of Police. Those who died in 2015 were Ocala police officer Jared Forsyth and Okaloosa County Deputy William Myers (pictured). Speaking at the ceremony, Okaloosa County Sheriff Larry Ashley said all law-enforcement officers feel the impact when an officer is killed, regardless of where they work. “We don’t all share the same values and beliefs or the same religion or language even,” Ashley said. “But what is it that unites us? It’s the law, which we all freely and voluntarily agree to and submit ourselves to.” So far in 2016, one law-enforcement officer has died in the line of duty. Hillsborough County Deputy John Kotfila was killed in March in a head-on collision with a wrong-way driver near Tampa. by The News Service of Florida Photo by Joseph Rhodes for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.  Read More →

May 3, 2016 | Read the story »

Race For Congress: And Then There Were 12

There are a now a dozen candidates filed to run for the Congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Jeff Miller. Robert Edward Black of Shalimar became the ninth Republican to join the race, joining two Democrats and one independent Candidate. The field of candidates, so far, looks like this: Republicans Blake, Robert Edward Bydlak, Rebekah Johansen Dosev, Cris Evers, Greg Frazier, Brian Wayne Gaetz, Matt Mills, John Wichern, Mark Zumwalt, James Democrats Kondrat’yev, Amanda Leigh Specht, Steven No Party Affiliation Schrey, Elizabeth Anne  Read More →

May 3, 2016 | Read the story »

Escambia County Seeks Volunteers For Two Boards

The Escambia County Board of County Commissioners is seeking Escambia County residents interested in volunteering to be considered for an appointment to the Value Adjustment Board or the Escambia County Planning Board. Value Adjustment Board: The VAB provides for the hearing of all petitions, complaints, appeals and disputes concerning taxable assessment of properties. The term of office is one year. The Board of County Commissioners’ VAB appointee must meet the following requirements to be eligible to serve: Must own homestead property in Escambia County. Cannot be a member or employee of any taxing authority. Cannot represent property owners in any administrative or judicial review of property taxes. Escambia residents interested in serving on the Value Adjustment Board are asked to submit a resume and letter indicating their desire to serve by 5 p.m. Friday, May 6. Resumes and letters should be submitted via email to jhwitter@myescambia.com or by mail to: Judy Witterstaeter, Program Coordinator Escambia County Board of County Commissioners P.O. Box 1591 Pensacola, FL 32502 The VAB was established in accordance with Section 194.015, Florida Statutes, which was revised on September 1, 2008. The VAB meets for approximately 30-40 minutes twice a year, usually in September and December. Planning Board: The Escambia County Board of County Commissioners is seeking Escambia County residents interested in volunteering to be considered for an at-large appointment to the Escambia County Planning Board. At-large members serve a two-year term of office and attend one meeting per month (generally the first Tuesday of the month). Meetings are generally from 8:30 a.m. to no later than 12:00 p.m.; however, occasionally may go beyond 12:00 p.m., depending upon the agenda. No travel is involved unless the Planning Board Members decide to view a particular property for informational purposes. Financial Disclosure is required. Escambia County residents interested in being considered for a possible appointment to the Escambia County Planning Board to begin serving in July 2016 are asked to submit a resume and letter indicating their desire to serve by close of business on Friday, May 6, 2016. Letters and resumes should be submitted to Kayla Meador; 3363 West Park Place; Pensacola, Florida 32505; or emailed to krmeador@myescambia.com. For more information about the Escambia County Planning Board, click here.  Read More →

May 2, 2016 | Read the story »

Supreme Court: Sentences Can’t Depend On Restitution Repayment

Giving prisoners a lighter sentence if they are able to pay restitution within a certain period of time is an unconstitutional violation of inmates’ Fourteenth Amendment due process rights, the Florida Supreme Court has ruled. The ruling overturned a 4th District Court of Appeal decision in the case of Jean Claude Noel, who was convicted of conspiracy to commit racketeering and first-degree grand theft. The charges stemmed from “an elaborate scheme to steal advance fees from victims who sought to obtain funding for their business projects,” according to court documents. Prosecutors said Noel was a “sophisticated cog” in the conspiracy. A Broward County circuit court judge ordered Noel to serve 10 years in prison, followed by 10 years of probation. In the sentencing order, the judge also wrote that Noel’s prison sentence would be reduced to eight years if he paid $20,000 in restitution — a portion of the $650,000 in restitution ordered as a condition of his probation — within 60 days. The appellate court found that the sentence was constitutional because it did exceed not the maximum statutory duration, which would have been 30 years for each of the two counts of which Noel was convicted, and because judges have broad discretion to consider defendants’ financial circumstances when determining sentences. In the 5-2 opinion, the Florida Supreme Court majority acknowledged that judges may consider defendants’ financial resources at sentencing. But, quoting from a U.S. Supreme Court opinion, the majority wrote that the “allowance for limited consideration of the defendant’s financial background does not undermine the core constitutional prohibition against imposition of a longer prison term as a substitute for a monetary penalty.” Because Noel failed to make the restitution payment, “he received a harsher prison sentence,” the Florida justices wrote. The “automatic deprivation of two years of Noel’s freedom is ‘contrary to the fundamental fairness required by the Fourteenth Amendment,’ ” the majority added. In a dissent, Justice Charles Canady objected that, “I would conclude that the trial court’s offer to mitigate Noel’s prison sentence as an incentive for Noel to disgorge a portion of his ill-gotten gains is not ’so arbitrary or unfair as to be a denial of due process.’ ” Justice Peggy Quince joined Canady in the brief dissent. by The News Service of Florida  Read More →

May 2, 2016 | Read the story »

Sheriff’s Office Donates $7,500 To Tate FFA Alumni Foundation

Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan presented a $7,500 donation to the Tate High School FFA Alumni Foundation Rodeo. The money donated from the sheriff’s office comes from State Law Enforcement Trust Fund, which is money seized during drug arrests. The 25th Annual Tate FFA Alumni Foundation Rodeo  will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, May 6 and Saturday, May 7 at 7:30 p.m. at the Escambia County Equestrian Center. Tickets are are $8 in advance for adults, $3 for children, available at locations including Jimmy’s Grill in Molino Farm and Nursery Mart and Barnes Feed Store. Admission is $8 at the gate for adults, $5 for children. Children five and under are free. Photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.  Read More →

May 2, 2016 | Read the story »

B’ham Beats The Wahoos

It appeared Pensacola would tie the game in the ninth with runners on second and third and one out. However, Blue Wahoos second baseman Alex Blandino flew out to Birmingham left fielder Eudy Pina who threw a strike to catcher Jeremy Dowdy to get Pensacola’s Zach Vincej out at home for a game-ending double play. Vincej singled to start the ninth inning. The Baron’s held on to win the game, 6-4, on the spectacular defensive play and clinched the five-game series, 3-1, at Regions Field. The Barons went up, 6-2, in the seventh inning when DH Josh Richmond doubled to left field to score first baseman Nicky Delmonico. However, Pensacola came right back in the eighth inning when right fielder Phillip Ervin hit a two-out, two-run home run to right center field to bring in Eric Jagielo and pull the Blue Wahoos within striking distance, 6-4. Ervin was 1-4 on the day and hit his second homer in two days. He now leads Blue Wahoos with three on the year. Last season, he hit 14 home runs total between High-A Daytona Tortugas and Double-A Pensacola to lead all Cincinnati Reds minor leaguers. Barons left-handed pitcher David Holmberg threw seven innings and gave up two earned runs on five hits and one walk, while striking out four. He won his first game this season and is 1-2.we Birmingham improved to 10-14 on the year, while Pensacola fell to 13-11 on the year. Meanwhile, Pensacola righty Nick Travieso pitched 4.1 innings, allowing five earned runs. He fell to 1-1 with a 4.50 earned-run average on the season. He allowed four hits, walked three and struck out six. Pensacola first baseman Brandon Dixon, who was 1-3, also homered to left field to lead off the seventh inning and pull the Blue Wahoos within, 5-2. Pensacola left fielder Tony Renda went 2-4 with two doubles Sunday. His line drive double to right field in the first inning scored center fielder Beau Amaral to put the Blue Wahoos ahead, 1-0. Barons catcher Jeremy Dowdy hit his second homer of the series when he hit a liner over the left field wall in the bottom of the third inning to tie the score, 1-1. Birmingham scored two more runs after that when shortstop Eddy Alvarez singled to center field to score center fielder Adam Engel to put the Barons on top, 2-1. A passed ball allowed by Pensacola catcher Joe Hudson then allowed Alvarez to score, making it 3-1. DH Josh Richmond hit a two-out single to left field in the fifth inning that drove in Engel and left fielder Eudy Pina, extending Birmingham’s lead to 5-1.  Read More →

May 2, 2016 | Read the story »

Greater Escambia Relay Raises Money For A Cure (With Gallery)

The annual Relay for Life of Greater Escambia was held Saturday the Pensacola Fairgrounds. The event began with a special lap around the track for survivors and caregivers, and the evening included a Luminaria Ceremony to to remember people  lost to cancer, to support people who are currently battling the disease, and to honor those who have won their battle. For a NorthEscambia.com photo gallery from the event, click here. There were 44 registered teams that had raised just over $64,000 for the American Cancer Society before the event.  The Relay for Life of Greater Escambia, formerly held at Tate High School, has raised well over a half million dollars for cancer research. Pictured top: Relay teams in a game of musical chair. Pictured inset: Walking the track. Pictured below: The Greater Escambia Relay for Life at the Pensacola Interstate Fairgrounds Saturday. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.  Read More →

May 1, 2016 | Read the story »

FDOT: Weekly Traffic Alerts

Drivers will encounter traffic disruptions on the following state roads in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties as crews perform construction and maintenance activities. Escambia County: U.S. 29– Intermittent and alternating lane closures within the town of Century and from Champion Drive north continue. I-10/U.S. 29 Interchange Improvements – Alternating lane closures on I-10 near U.S. 29 (Exits 10A and 10B) Sunday, May 1 through Thursday, May 5 from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. as crews perform resurfacing and shoulder work. The speed limit on I-10 will be reduced to 50 mph during this time. Interstate 10 (I-10) Widening – Intermittent and alternating lane closures, between State Road (S.R.) 291 (Davis Highway/Exit 13) and U.S. 90 (Scenic Highway/Exit 17), from 7 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. and on Scenic Highway near Whisper Way from 8:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. the week of Monday, May 2 as work continues to widen these highways. Airport Boulevard (S.R. 750) and Cervantes Street (U.S. 90) –Eastbound lane restrictions on Cervantes Street between Palafox Street and 9th Avenue from 6 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, April 30 for a 5K race.  Two-way traffic will be maintained.   Eastbound traffic at intersection of Airport Boulevard and 12th Avenue may encounter minor delays from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m.  Motorists reminded to use caution in area. Bayfront Parkway (State Road (S.R.) 196) – Road closed both east and westbound from 10 a.m. to midnight Friday, April 29 through Sunday, May 1 for a festival. Motorists are reminded to obey the posted detour route. U.S. 98 (Gregory Street) and 9th Avenue- Westbound lane closure on Gregory Street, southbound turn lane on 9th Avenue, and the northbound turn lane on 9th Avenue from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Monday, May 2 through Wednesday, May 3 as crews perform sanitary sewer inspections. U.S. 98 (Gregory Street) –Westbound lane closure between 11th Avenue and 14th Avenue from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Tuesday, May 3 through Thursday, May 4 as crews perform sanitary sewer inspections. U.S. 98 (Chase Street) - Eastbound center lane closure between 9th Avenue and 10th Avenue from 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. Wednesday, May 4 through Friday, May 5 as crews perform sanitary sewer inspection. Santa Rosa County: I-10 Widening – Alternating lane closures on I-10, between the Escambia Bay Bridge and S.R. 281 (Avalon Boulevard/Exit 22), from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday, May 1 through Thursday, May 5 as work continues to widen this section of the interstate. In addition, alternating lane closures on Avalon Boulevard near the I-10 interchange as crews perform bridge work. S.R. 399 over U.S. 98 – Overnight repairs to the S.R. 399 southbound overpass over U.S. 98 will be in place from 8 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. throughout the project. U.S. 98 will be reduced to one lane in each direction from Shoreline Drive to just east of S.R. 399 to allow westbound U.S. 98 traffic to be diverted to eastbound U.S. 98. Westbound U.S. 98 access to S.R. 399 will be closed. An on-site detour will direct traffic to turn left on Daniel Street, left on Shoreline Drive and then right on eastbound U.S. 98 to access S.R. 399 via the at grade on ramp. All activities are weather dependent and may be delayed or re-scheduled in the event of inclement weather. Drivers are reminded to use caution, especially at night, when traveling in a work zone and to watch for construction workers and equipment entering and exiting the roadway.  Read More →

May 1, 2016 | Read the story »

EREC Holds 77th Annual Meeting (With Gallery)

Escambia River Electric Cooperative members held their 77nd Annual Meeting Saturday at Northview High School. Members enjoyed food and entertainment, vote for trustees and met in session. In 1937, the first meeting was held to organize Escambia River Electric Cooperative, Inc. at the  Oak Grove Community House. By lamplight, several prominent community leaders laid out the  blueprints for the formation and operation of EREC. After Congress passed the Rural Electrification Act of 1936, which made loans available for  the establishment of rural electric cooperatives, widespread rural electrification began. The formation of cooperatives in other parts of the country stimulated the interest of local leaders  such as C. R. Walker, E. H. Lundy, J. L. Robbins and County Agent J. G. Hudson. They continued to move forward with their plans even though they were often met with opposition and  skepticism. On March 10, 1939, Escambia River Electric Cooperative, Inc. was born when the incorporators met at the American National Bank building in Pensacola to pass the bylaws, which would establish the cooperative and make their dream a reality. The cooperative’s first month of  operation brought them 88 members. Since that time, the cooperative has grown to serve approximately 10,000 members in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties with over 1,800 miles of  energized line. Click here for a NorthEscambia.com photo gallery from the event. Pictured top: Caleb Dennis performs at the Escambia River Electric Cooperative Annual Meeting at Northview High School. Pictured inset: The meeting included activities and goodies for the kids. Pictured below: Powersouth Energy Cooperative CEO Gary Smith explains how his $2 billion company provides electricity to EREC.  NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.  Read More →

May 1, 2016 | Read the story »

Olivia Britt, Bethany Reynolds Named EREC Scholarship Winners

Saturday, Escambia River Electric Cooperative awarded two $4,000 scholarships to local high school seniors. The Escambia County winner was Bethany Reynolds from Northview High School, and the Santa Rosa County winner was Olivia Britt from Jay High School. This was EREC’s 19th year to offer the Herman D. Johnson Scholarship Awards to a graduating senior with a parent or guardian that is a member of the cooperative.. In the past,  capital credits issued by EREC that were unclaimed had to be turned over to the state. But state legislation now allows such funds to be deposited into a qualified, educational charity fund. The EREC membership voted to use these funds in the form of scholarships. Both students will receive $1,000 for each of four years providing they continue to meet the scholarship criteria. Pictured top: EREC scholarship winner Olivia Britt from Jay High School. Pictured below: EREC scholarship winner Bethany Reynolds from Northview High School. NorthEscambai.com photos, click to enlarge.  Read More →

May 1, 2016 | Read the story »

Escambia County Spring Livestock Show Results

The Gulf Coast Agriculture and Natural Resources Youth Organization’s annual Spring Livestock Show was held last weekend at the 4-H facility in Molino. The show featured animal exhibits of swine, cattle, poultry, sheep, goats and more. Saturday’s show was the culmination of livestock projects by 4-H youth and FFA members, some  lasting 100 days or longer, during which they raise their animals, monitor their health and nutrition, kept records and  (in some classes) worked to obtain a buyer. For a NorthEscambia.com photo gallery from the event, click here. The results of the 2016 livestock show, by category, are: Lightweight Swine: 1st place Amber Neal 2nd place Brady Rising 3rd place Nathan O’Neal Middleweight Swine: 1st place Beulah Academy FFA Chapter 2nd place Jonathon Stier 3rd place Hannah Thorne Heavyweight Swine: 1st place Bricen Iannone 2nd place Wesley Hardin 3rd place Kaley Lashley Super Heavyweight Swine: 1st place Savannah Bradshaw 2nd place Wyatt Allen 3rd place Andrew Bosinger Grand Champion Swine: Savannah Bradshaw Reserve Champion Swine: Wyatt Allen Showmanship (swine): Senior: 1st place Erica Water 2nd place Allison Woodfin 3rd place Danielle Tinker Intermediate: 1st place Jessica Conti 2nd place Chelsi Lashley 3rd place Kaley Lashley Junior: 1st place Wyatt Allen 2nd place Savannah Bradshaw 3rd place Shelby Lashley Lightweight Steers: 1st place Lane Booker Middleweight Steers: 1st place Blake Worley 2nd place Ethan Cunningham Heavyweight Steers: 1st place Haylee Weaver 2nd place Willow Foxworth Grand Champion Market Steer: Lane Booker Reserve Champion Market Steer: Willow Foxworth Showmanship (steer): Senior: 1st place Willow Foxworth 2nd place Haylee Weaver 3rd place Blake Worley Intermediate: 1st place Lane Booker 2nd place Ethan Cunningham Market Preview Steer 1st place, Grand Champion Preview Steer and Preview Steer Showmanship 1st place: Zachary Rutherford Market Wether Goats, 9-12 months: 1st place Benjamin Roach Grand Champion Market Wether Goats: Benjamin Roach Meat Goat (Breeding), 0-6 months: 1st place Izzy Kent Meat Goat (Breeding) over 6 months: 1st place Izzy Kent 2nd place Leah Rutherford 3rd place Reagan Roach Grand Champion Meat Goat Breeding and Reserve Champion Meat Goat Breeding: Izzy Kent Dairy Goat (Breeding), 0-6 months: 1st place Madison Fendley 2nd place Andrew Fendley Dairy Goat (Breeding), over 6 months: 1st place Madison Fendley 2nd place Andrew Fendley 3rd place Dillon Conti Grand Champion Dairy Goat Breeding: Madison Fendley Reserve Champion Dairy Goat Breeding: Andrew Fendley Showmanship (goats): Senior: 1st place Dillon ContiIntermediate: 1st place Izzy Kent 2nd place Madison Fendley 3rd place Stewart Woodfin Junior: 1st place Leah Rutherford 2nd place Andrew Fendley 3rd place Reagan Roach Beef Breeding Class I: Registered Angus: 1st place Tyler Simmons Class II: Registered Angus: 1st place Tyler Simmons 2nd place Willow Foxworth Grand Champion Registered Angus and Reserve Champion Registered Angus: Tyler Simmons Registered Balancer: 1st place Izzy Kent Grand Champion Registered Balancer: Izzy Kent Registered Charolais: 1st place Izzy Kent 2nd place Zachary Rutherford Registered Red Mott: 1st place Zachary Rutherford Grand Champion Registered Red Mott: Zachary Rutherford Registered Short Horn: 1st place Lane Booker Grand Champion Registered Short Horn: Lane Booker Grand Champion Registered: Izzy Kent Reserve Champion Registered: Lane Booker Commercial Class IX: 1st place Ethan Cunningham Commercial Class X: 1st place Leah Rutherford 2nd place Zachary Stokes 3rd place Christian Feliberty Commercial Class XI: 1st place Savana McGowin 2nd place Emily Dozier 3rd place Emma Stokes Commercial Class XII: 1st place Colbie English 2nd place Travis Booker 3rd place Haylee Weaver Grand Champion Commercial: Colbie English Reserve Champion Commercial: Travis Booker Grand Supreme Champion: Colbie English Reserve Supreme Champion: Izzy Kent Showmanship (beef breeding): Senior: 1st place Zachary Rutherford 2nd place Savana McGowin 3rd place Zachary Stokes Intermediate: 1st place Izzy Kent 2nd place Lane Booker 3rd place Jessica Conti Junior: 1st place Leah Rutherford 2nd place Colbie English Rabbits (Commercial California Class): 1st place Audrey Goetter 2nd place Stewart Woodfin NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.  Read More →

May 1, 2016 | Read the story »

Hundreds Of Elementary Students Shine At Sunshine Math Competition

Hundreds of third, fourth and fifth graders from across Escambia County took part in the Sunshine Math competition Saturday morning at Washington High School. There were 57 teams in the Escambia County Council of Teachers of Mathematics competition. Complete results were not immediately available. Pictured top: A Molino Park Elementary School fourth grade Sunshine Math team hard at work Saturday morning. Pictured below: Top award winners and hundreds of students took part in the annual event. Photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.  Read More →

May 1, 2016 | Read the story »

Big Spring Books Sale Sunday At The Library

Friends of the West Florida Public Library, a non-profit support organization of the West Florida Public Library, is holding its Big Spring Book Sale Sunday at the downtown Main Library, 239 N. Spring Street. Thousands of hardcover, paperback, and collectible books will be available for purchase, plus a variety of DVDs, CDs, puzzles, and other items. Proceeds are used to fund programs and enhancements at WFPL branches including Century and Molino. Sunday  is the final day of the book sale with free admission and the popular $5 Bag Sale from noon to 3 p.m.  For just $5, shoppers can purchase as many books as will fit in a brown paper grocery bag. (Oversized bags from home are not permitted.) Book sale items include thousands of generous donations from the public and some library books retired from circulation, many of them now out-of-print. Novels and mysteries are sorted by author or into genres like science fiction and westerns. Other book categories include arts and entertainment, children’s, cookbooks, history, holidays, home and hobbies, literature, foreign language, military, modern living, nature and gardening, religion, science, sports, technical, and travel. Most prices range from 50 cents for paperbacks to $2 for hardcover. There are also recorded books, magazines, and other media for sale. The Collector’s Corner will feature an assortment of signed books, pre-1950s books, books by local and Florida authors, and other special books that are great for gifts. These items are priced as marked and must be checked out separately, so shoppers paying by check should bring at least two checks. Payment by cash or check is preferred. Credit cards are accepted for sales of $20 or more.  Read More →

May 1, 2016 | Read the story »

Birmingham, Pensacola Split Doubleheader

Pensacola right fielder Phillip Ervin scored three times in game two of a doubleheader, including the winning run in the seventh inning, as the Blue Wahoos split a Saturday doubleheader with the Birmingham Barons. Pensacola won the second game, 5-2, at Regions Field, after dropping its second straight game to Birmingham in the first game, 8-3. Pensacola is now 13-10 and in second place in the Southern League South Division, while Birmingham is 9-14 and in fourth place in the North Division. Ervin, who played college baseball at Samford University in Birmingham, put on a show for old friends and fans going 3-4, scoring five runs, hitting a solo home run-his second of the season-and stealing his ninth base, which is fourth best in the Southern League. He is now hitting .239 and has a .363 on-base percentage. When the Cincinnati Reds chose Ervin in the first round in 2013, he became the first baseball player ever drafted out of the private university. The 23-year-old, who is the Cincinnati Reds No. 17 prospect, was born in Mobile and lists his hometown as Leroy, Ala., a town of less than 1,000 residents about 60 miles north of Mobile. In the second game, Ervin, who stole third, scored when second baseman Zach Vincej hit a soft liner to center field in the fourth inning to put the Blue Wahoos ahead, 1-0. In the fifth inning, Ervin smacked a solo home run deep to left field to give Pensacola a 2-0 lead. But Birmingham tied the score, 2-2, in the bottom of the sixth inning when left fielder Eudy Pina singled to shortstop, which scored center fielder Adam Engel. Pina then scored the second run on a ground out by third baseman Trey Michalczewski. The Baron’s Engel made up for an error in the seventh inning on Ervin’s hit to center field by throwing out Pensacola’s Eric Jagielo at home plate. However, with one out first baseman Brandon Dixon then hit a two-run double to left to score both Ervin, with what turned out to be the winning run, and left fielder Tony Renda to give the Blue Wahoos a 4-2 lead. Dixon stole third base and scored on a wild pitch with two to put Pensacola up, 5-2, which was the final margin of victory. Blue Wahoos pitcher Rookie Davis continued his hot start this season. He pitched five scoreless innings, giving up two hits and striking out one and lowered his earned-run average to 0.78. Pensacola reliever Alejandro Chacin earned his first Double-A victory (1-0) pitching the last 1.1 innings. In his eighth appearance on the year, he gave up two hits and struck out four. He has now struck out 14 hitters in 9.1 innings this year. In the first game, Birmingham scored the final six runs to win, 8-3, over Pensacola. Pensacola first baseman Donald Lutz knocked in all three of Pensacola’s runs in the first game of the doubleheader and got on base all three times. Lutz, who’s batting .164 this season, blasted a two-out, two-run home run to center field in top of the second inning. His first dinger of the season came in his 55th at bat this season. Lutz’s homer scored Ervin, who singled to lead off the inning. Lutz also tripled in the fourth inning with two out to again drive in Ervin, who was hit by a pitch, and put Pensacola ahead, 3-2. It would be the Blue Wahoos last run of the shortened seven-inning game. Birmingham catcher Jeremy Dowdy led the Baron’s doubling in two runs with the bases loaded in the fourth inning to put Birmingham ahead, 4-2, for good. Dowdy also hit his first homer of the season in the sixth inning that brought in second baseman Joey DeMichele, giving the Baron’s its second consecutive victory in the five-game series. For the game, Dowdy was 2-3 with a double, home run, run scored and four RBIs.  Read More →

May 1, 2016 | Read the story »

Man Found To Be Stabbed After Cantonment Wreck

A man that had been stabbed wrecked his vehicle near International Paper in Cantonment early Saturday morning. The man reportedly suffered multiple stab wounds during at an altercation at an address on Highway 95A near El Camino Drive before fleeing in a vehicle. He crashed near Tree Street, just south of Muscogee Road, about 1:15 a.m. The man was transported to an area hospital. His condition was not available. Further details, including the man’s name, have not yet been released. The incident remains under investigation by the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office. NorthEscambia.com file photo.  Read More →

April 30, 2016 | Read the story »

Molino Mom Sentenced For Husband’s Murder

A Molino mom that once claimed a “stand your ground” defense in the murder of her husband 2013 is now headed to state prison. Rebecca A. Rogers, 45, was sentenced Friday by Judge Thomas Dannheisser to two years in prison, to be followed by \13 years probation. She will receive credit for 42 days that she already served in the county jail. She faced a maximum of 15 years in prison, with sentencing guidelines calling for about nine years behind bars. Rogers pleaded no contest to manslaughter for  shooting her husband, 42-year old Jason Lee Rogers in August 2013.  Her attorneys previously made a motion to dismiss the case, saying Rogers acted within the parameters of Florida’s self-defense “stand your ground” law. That motion was denied at the local level and by the Florida First District Court of Appeals. The ruling from the appeals court last June did not allow her to claim she acted under the “stand you ground” law, but it specifically did not prohibit Rogers from claiming self-defense at trial. Friday’s sentencing hearing lasted over five hours as Dannheisser reviewed evidence and heard testimony from Rogers and her family. “I am so sorry that this happened,” Rogers told the judge. “I regret that this happened and I regret that I shot Jason that night.” She said she still loves Jason Rogers and apologized for the pain and suffering caused by her actions. “I am sorry for taking their son, their brother. For taking my children’s father and my grandson’s ‘Grappie’,” she said. Dannheisser reviewed the 911 recording from the night of the murder, during which Rogers said, “He came after me. He was choking me and he said it was going to be he last night of my life.” Two of Roger’s four daughters testified about the abuse their mother suffered from their father. “Please don’t take her away from us your honor,” Roger’s oldest daughter Kayla Clear said. Dannheisser said the evidence did show aggression by Jason Rogers, but he said he believes that deadly force  should have been used only as a last resort. He ordered Rogers, who had been free on bond, immediately remanded into custody to begin her sentence. Rebecca Rogers shot her husband twice in the back and once in the head inside the couple’s home in the 3400 block of Highway 29 in Molino. She told a 911 dispatcher that her husband choked her and then she shot him. Deputies arrived to find Rebecca Rogers standing outside the home. They found Jason Rogers lying unconscious in the back bedroom of the home on his stomach with a gunshot to his  head. He also suffered two other gunshot wounds to the back. He died at a local hospital about two days later.  Read More →

April 30, 2016 | Read the story »

Murder Suspect Raymond Pruitt Captured In Alabama

Murder suspect Raymond Jerome Pruitt. was taken into custody Friday afternoon in Pike County, AL, near Troy, according to the Pike County Sheriff’s Office. He was captured after a high speed chase. Pruitt has an active arrest warrant for the robbery of A&E Food Mart and homicide of of store owner Chung Lun Chiang also known as “Alan”. Investigators say Pruitt robbed the A&E Food Mart on Pace Boulevard about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday. During the robbery, he shot and killed Chiang, 53, as he worked behind the counter. Pruitt’s crime spree began on April 5 in Montgomery when he stabbed his girlfriend and shot her with her own pistol as she tried to escape. Pruitt has since been identified as the prime suspect in five armed robberies occurring in Montgomery, Ozark, Troy, and Prattville, AL.  Read More →

April 30, 2016 | Read the story »

Wanted Felon Escapes Manhunt, Possibly To Century

Authorities are on the lookout for a Flomaton man that may have escaped to Century during a manhunt Friday afternoon. Flomaton Police responded to the home of Johnny Jermaine Johnson about 2:45 p.m. after receiving a call that he was holding a woman against her will. Officers arrived to find that Johnson had already fled out of a bedroom window. K-9 units from Fountain Correctional in Atmore and Century Correctional were called to the scene as Flomaton Police established a perimeter along with the Escambia County (AL) Sheriff’s Office. Johnson was tracked through thick woods and brush in the MLK Drive and Vanhoosen Road area, with dogs loosing his scent in the area of MLK and Bell Street.  Police received a tip that he had been picked up by a family member and transported to Century. Johnson has unrelated felony warrants for his arrest for escape and a probation violation, according to Flomaton Police Chief Bryan Davis, who issued a warning to anyone that might harboring Johnson. “Being that Johnson has multiple felony warrants for his arrest, anyone that is found to assist or hide Johnson can be charged with hindering prosecution, which is a felony,” Davis said. The female that was reportedly being held against her will was found at Johnson’s residence when officers arrived. Police said she is safe and received minor injuries. Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Johnson is asked to call the Flomaton Police Department at (850) 296-5811 or their local law enforcement agency.  Read More →

April 30, 2016 | Read the story »

Supreme Court To Hear Nine Mile Popeye’s Murder Case

The Florida Supreme Court will hear arguments Thursday in a high-profile case that forced an overhaul of the state’s death-penalty sentencing system. The case involves Timothy Lee Hurst, who was sentenced to death for the 1998 killing of fast-food worker Cynthia Harrison in Pensacola. Harrison, an assistant manager at a Nine Mile Road Popeye’s Fried Chicken restaurant where Hurst worked, was bound, gagged and stabbed more than 60 times. Her body was found in a freezer. Hurst was the plaintiff in a legal challenge that led to the U.S. Supreme Court finding in January that Florida’s death-penalty sentencing system was unconstitutional because it gave too much power to judges, instead of juries. State lawmakers and Gov. Rick Scott quickly approved changes to the system to try to resolve the constitutional issues. The arguments Thursday are expected to focus on Hurst’s contention that the Florida Supreme Court should order that he receive a life sentence, instead of facing execution. In briefs, Hurst’s attorneys have raised a series of arguments related to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, including that Hurst received the death sentence under what was an unconstitutional process. “The constitutional defect in Hurst’s death sentence is that the judge, rather than a jury, determined ‘each fact necessary to impose a sentence of death,’ ” said part of a brief filed last month, quoting the U.S. Supreme Court. But Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office has argued in court papers that the Florida Supreme Court should reject Hurst’s request for a life sentence, in part contending that any error in his death sentence was “harmless.”  Read More →

April 30, 2016 | Read the story »

Today’s Your Last Chance To See Free Smithsonian Exhibit In Molino

Today is your last chance to see “The Way We Worked,” a Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition for free in Molino. The exhibition, which celebrates the history of American workers, will be open Saturday from 10 am. until 4 p.m. at the Lillian F. King Museum located in the Molino Community Complex, 6450 Highway 95A North. The exhibit has been open since late March. For more photos from opening day, click here. “The Way We Worked” was made possible in Molino by the Florida Humanities Council. “The Way We Worked”, an exhibition created by the National Archives, is part of Museum on Main Street, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and State Humanities Councils nationwide. Support for Museum on Main Street has been provided by the United States Congress. Pictured: Scenes from the March 19 opening day of “The Way We Worked exhibit in Molino. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.  Read More →

April 30, 2016 | Read the story »

Florida Gov’t Weekly Roundup: In Conclusion

Several things seemed to be winding down in Florida government this week. At the Capitol, two of the highest-ranking Republicans in the state finally managed to resolve their differences over a hiring decision. Neither man walked away with a complete victory, but that didn’t mean that it didn’t further the idea that one of the participants — Gov. Rick Scott — was losing a little bit of his pull. Meanwhile, the Florida Supreme Court and an administrative law judge handed down a couple of high-profile rulings, one with a potentially wide-ranging impact on the state’s businesses and another touching on a particularly hot-button social issue. There were signs that some of the fights that have shaped politics in 2016 would rage on; Democratic Congresswoman Corrine Brown notified a federal court that she would appeal its ruling in a contentious redistricting case to the U.S. Supreme Court. But resolution seemed to be the name of the game, even if it was just to clear the decks for the inevitable battles that lie ahead. PEACE IN OUR TIMES The “lame duck” whispers around Scott had already ticked up to a dull roar by the time the Legislature was done giving him few pieces of his legislative agenda during the session that ended in March. Now, it seems that Scott can’t even corral Republican members of the Cabinet to go along with him. The governor spent the week locked in a continuing showdown with Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater over the state’s next insurance commissioner. And while Atwater didn’t get his first choice for the position, neither did Scott. The difficulty arose because of a difference between the two men, who have to jointly recommend the head of the Office of Insurance Regulation to Atwater’s two colleagues on the Cabinet: Attorney General Pam Bondi and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. For their parts, Bondi and Putnam tried to stay away from the contretemps. “Just like on criminal matters, I seem to feel you listen to me,” Bondi said Tuesday. “I would hope that when you two gentlemen come to an agreement — unless I believe someone is woefully inadequate, which I hope I won’t, based on the two of you and your great experience in this field — but hopefully I’ll be able to back your candidate. But I think the two of you need to come to an agreement first.” Scott backed Jeffrey Bragg, a Palm Harbor resident and former executive director of a U.S. Department of the Treasury terrorism-risk insurance program. After an awkward silence in which his motion Tuesday to hire Bragg for $150,000 a year didn’t get a second, the governor suggested holding a meeting Friday. Meanwhile, Scott and Atwater also disagreed about how long current Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty could stay on the job. McCarty was originally scheduled to step down May 2, but announced as the split between Scott and Atwater persisted that he would be willing to remain another 45 days. Scott’s office said McCarty couldn’t do that without a specific vote by the Cabinet. In a memo, Scott lawyer William Spicola said the governor and the Cabinet accepted McCarty’s resignation during a January Cabinet meeting. “McCarty cannot unilaterally extend his appointment after he, the governor and the Cabinet all mutually agreed that his last day would be on May 2nd,” Spicola wrote. Atwater issued a statement Wednesday disagreeing. “I am disappointed that in its eagerness to replace Commissioner McCarty, the governor’s office has chosen to quibble about his resignation letter,” Atwater said in a release. “We should take full advantage of Commissioner McCarty’s gracious offer to continue to provide consistent and knowledgeable leadership during this period, thereby affording the Cabinet the opportunity for a thorough and well considered hiring process.” But things were resolved by essentially listening to advice from Vanessa Williams: Sometimes the very thing you’re looking for is the one thing you can’t see. Scott and Atwater finally agreed during a special meeting Friday to promote from within, tapping Deputy Commissioner David Altmaier for the job. As commissioner, Altmaier, who a decade ago was working as a high-school math teacher and track coach in Kentucky, will see his salary increase from $115,000 a year to $165,000 a year. Scott and Atwater also agreed that McCarty will remain with the state for 60 days beyond his planned departure date to assist in the transition — keeping him around as the hurricane season begins June 1. “The dynamics of this office are so broad,” Atwater said after Altmaier was chosen. “If something were to come early, (Altmaier) has another set of eyes and ears (in McCarty) that he can be turning to for guidance. But mainly it was for the broad, broad range of responsibilities that he’s now taking on that he can have somebody nearby.” Altmaier, who since March 2015 has overseen the agency’s Bureau of Property and Casualty Financial Oversight and Product Review, said he is aware of the “magnitude of the position” and he had no problem with two additional months working with McCarty. “I have learned an incredible amount from Commissioner McCarty during my tenure working with him, and I would welcome 60 more days of learning from him as we transition,” Altmaier said. Altmaier, who received a degree in mathematics from Western Kentucky University, briefly worked as a high school teacher before going to work for a private insurance agency in 2006. He joined the Office of Insurance Regulation in 2008, where he’s served in a number of positions, including as a reinsurance and financial specialist and as chief analyst. A BLOW FOR BUSINESS While Scott and Atwater were tussling over the state’s insurance commissioner, the Florida Supreme Court was dealing with another area of state insurance law — one limiting attorney’s fees in workers-compensation cases. In a 5-2 ruling, the court struck down the fee law, a victory for attorneys who represent injured workers — and a blow to business groups that have long argued legal fees drive up the costs of workers-compensation insurance. The fee issue will bounce back to the Legislature, where it could spark a fierce debate. Justice Barbara Pariente, writing for the court’s majority, said the 2009 law is a violation of due-process rights under the Florida Constitution and the U.S. Constitution because it prevents challenges to the “reasonableness” of attorney’s fees awarded in workers-compensation cases. The ruling stemmed from a case in which an attorney was awarded the equivalent of $1.53 an hour in successfully pursuing a claim for benefits for a worker injured in Miami. Pariente wrote that the goal of the workers-compensation system is to quickly provide benefits to get injured people back on the job at a reasonable cost to employers. “This case, and many others like it, demonstrate that despite the stated goal, oftentimes the worker experiences delay and resistance either by the employer or the (insurance) carrier,” wrote Pariente, who was joined in the majority by Chief Justice Jorge Labarga and justices R. Fred Lewis, Peggy Quince and James E.C. Perry. “Without the likelihood of an adequate attorney’s fee award, there is little disincentive for a carrier to deny benefits or to raise multiple defenses, as was done here.” But Justice Charles Canady wrote a dissent that said the law involves a “policy determination” by the Legislature that there should be a relationship between the amount of benefits obtained in workers-compensation cases and the amount of attorney’s fees awarded. The law includes a formula that links benefits and attorney’s fees. “In reaching the conclusion that the statute violates due process, the majority fails to directly address the actual policy of the statute,” wrote Canady, who was joined in dissent by Justice Ricky Polston. “Instead, the majority assumes — without any reasoned explanation — that due process requires a particular definition of ‘reasonableness’ in the award of statutory attorney’s fees. The definition assumed by the majority categorically precludes the legislative policy requiring a reasonable relationship between the amount of a fee award and the amount of the recovery obtained by the efforts of the attorney. Certainly, this legislative policy may be subject to criticism. But there is no basis in our precedents or federal law for declaring it unconstitutional.” Business groups weren’t shy about blasting the ruling. Florida Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mark Wilson said in a prepared statement the “potential impact of the high court’s ruling could threaten Florida’s improving business climate. The Florida Chamber remains laser focused on ensuring workers’ comp rates are fair, and we will lead the effort before lawmakers and in the halls of justice to ensure the voices of job creators are heard.” ‘NO TESTIMONY OR DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE’ In a less-sweeping but nevertheless politically charged case, meanwhile, an administrative law judge Thursday rejected a state agency’s arguments that a Gainesville abortion clinic should be fined for performing second-trimester abortions without a proper license. In a 25-page ruling, Judge Lawrence P. Stevenson concluded that the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration had failed to make its case against Bread & Roses Well Woman Care. AHCA filed an administrative complaint against Bread and Roses in August, contending that the clinic, which is licensed to perform only first-trimester abortions, had performed five abortions on women who were in the second trimesters of pregnancies. “AHCA presented no testimony or documentary evidence refuting the credible evidence presented by Bread & Roses that the sonograms show on their face that the pregnancies for each of the five procedures at issue were first trimester pregnancies and within the scope of Bread & Roses’ license,” Stevenson wrote. The fines would have cost the clinic $500 for each of the five procedures, or $2,500. Stevenson’s ruling Thursday is a recommended order, which, under administrative law, goes to the agency. The judge recommended that the agency dismiss the complaint against Bread & Roses. Bread & Roses has also figured in another recent abortion dispute. Last year, the clinic joined a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a state law requiring 24-hour waiting periods before women can have abortions. Last week, the Florida Supreme Court temporarily blocked the law and granted a stay of a lower court’s order allowing the law to take effect. That allows women to get abortions without a waiting period for the time being, until the constitutional challenge finds its way through the courts. The battle over abortion clinics, it seems, isn’t truly over just yet. STORY OF THE WEEK: Gov. Rick Scott and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater agree to recommend Deputy Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier to take over the Office of Insurance Regulation, settling a weeks-long feud. QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Under the original Constitution, African-Americans were considered to be three-fifths of a human being. We’ve moved beyond that point, (but) now our first African-American president only gets seven-eighths of a term.”—Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson, in a debate with Republican Congressman David Jolly, a fellow candidate for the U.S. Senate. The Senate’s GOP majority has refused to hold a hearing on Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s nominee, because of the upcoming November elections. by Brandon Larrabee, The News Service of Florida  Read More →

April 30, 2016 | Read the story »

Century Man Charged With Stealing $22.7K From Jailed Man’s Account

A Century man has been charged in connection with the withdrawal of over $20,000 from a Century man’s bank account while he was in jail. Cary Johnson, 52, is charged with grand theft and felony fraud. He remained in the Escambia County Jail Friday morning with bond set at $30,000. Investigators said Johnson was along for the ride as 27-year old Lolita  Shantel Thomas went multiple times to a local credit union and withdrew a total of $22,700 without the account holder’s permission.. The victim, according to arrest report, is former jail bunkmate of Thomas’ boyfriend. Thomas was given permission to retrieve the victim’s vehicle from the county impound lot following his arrest, but she was not given permission to withdraw funds. Thomas was caught on credit union surveillance video with Johnson cashing checks at a drive-thru window. Thomas was arrested about a month ago on similar charges and is awaiting trial. The withdrawals were made over a period of two months in 2015.  Read More →

April 29, 2016 | Read the story »