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Ash, Miller Top Williams Station Day 5K Winners

Ash, Miller Top Williams Station Day 5K Winners

About 50 runners finished the Williams Station Day 5K Saturday morning in Atmore, including runners from the Northview High, West Florida High and Ernest Ward Middle school cross country teams. Overall male winner was Alan Ash (pictured left) with  a time of 18:14. Over female winner was Lisa Miller (pictured right) with a time of 25:07. For a NorthEscambia.com photo gallery, click here. Results were as follows: FEMALE RUNNERS MALE RUNNERS NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.  Read More →

October 26, 2014 | Read the story »

Robotics Competition Prepares Local Students For High Tech Future

Robotics Competition Prepares Local Students For High Tech Future

Young scientists from 14 area middle and high schools tested their science, math and problem-solving skills at the seventh annual Emerald Coast BEST Robotics competition Saturday at the University of West Florida. This year’s theme, Blade Runner, involved students using teamwork and innovative thinking to execute five sets of tasks to assemble and position a wind turbine into a completed state. Each team was judged on its robot performance, marketing presentation, team exhibit, technical notebook and spirit and sportsmanship. The top two overall teams and the team with the top robot advance to the regional competition December 5-7 at Auburn University. Woodlawn Beach Middle School took the overall competition and will be joined by Brown Barge Middle School to represent the Emerald Coast BEST hub at Auburn. Gulf Power has sponsored the BEST Robotics competition for the past seven years. The event teaches teamwork, problem solving, project management and pride in task completion. BEST Robotics Inc. — Boosting Engineering Science and Technology — is a non-profit, volunteer-based organization whose mission is to inspire students to pursue careers in engineering, science and technology through participation in a sports-like, science and engineering-based robotics competition. “This annual competition has continued to grow in popularity because it provides local students the opportunity to learn engineering, science and math skills in a hands-on practical setting,” said Jeff Rogers, Gulf Power spokesman. “Gulf Power is very proud to sponsor an event that has such a visible impact on local students.” Area schools have been competing in BEST since 2004, when Gulf Power sponsored eight local teams to compete in the BEST hub in Mobile, Ala. The funding of hub operations depends entirely on corporate and individual sponsorships. Materials kits to build the robots are provided to the teams by the hub. No fees are paid by students or schools participating in BEST robotics. AWARD CATEGORIES Advancing to Regionals at South’s BEST – Dec. 5-7 at Auburn University Robotics: Brown Barge Middle School BEST: Woodlawn Beach Middle School BEST Award — The BEST Award is presented to the team that best embodies the attributes associated with “Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology” in its development which include teamwork, diversity of participation, sportsmanship, creativity, ethics, positive attitude/enthusiasm, school/community involvement and exposure to and use of the engineering process. Woodlawn Beach Middle School Woodham Middle School Sims Middle School Robotics Award — Awarded to the teams whose machines finish first, second and third in the tournament bracket. Woodlawn Beach Middle School Brown Barge Middle School Capstone Academy Founders Award for Creative Design — Awarded to the team that makes best use of the engineering process in consideration of offensive and defensive capabilities in machine design; awarded in recognition of BEST founders Steve Marum and Ted Mahler. Woodlawn Beach Middle School Most Robust Machine — Awarded to the team whose machine requires the least maintenance during and between matches and is generally the sturdiest machine in the competition. Pace High School Most Photogenic Machine Brown Barge Middle School Gulf Power Blood, Sweat and Duct Tape Award Little Flower Catholic School Best T-Shirt Design West Florida High School Sims Middle School Woodlawn Beach Middle School Web Page Design Award — Awarded for the best team website; based on page functionality, creative use of the game theme, information about team members and community efforts. Woodham Middle School Best Spirit and Sportsmanship — Recognizes the vigor and enthusiasm displayed by team representatives and the outward display of sportsmanship (e.g., helping other teams in need), grace in winning and losing, and conduct and attitude considered befitting participation in sports. Seaside Neighborhood School Pace High School Sims Middle School Best Team Exhibit and Interview — The purpose of this category is to communicate through a display, and through discussion with judges, information about the team’s efforts to promote BEST in the community and schools; foster BEST spirit, camaraderie and participation and give evidence of sportsmanship. Woodlawn Beach Middle School Woodham Middle School Seaside Neighborhood School Best Marketing Presentation — Teams should view themselves as employees of a “company” that is marketing their “product” (robot) to a potential buyer (judges). This marketing team is an integral part of the engineering team that has designed a specialized robot. Sims Middle School Seacoast Collegiate High Seaside Neighborhood School Best Project Engineering Notebook — The purpose of the notebook is to document the process the team used to design, build and test their robot. Seacoast Collegiate High Sims Middle School Pace High School 2014 Teams: Avalon Middle School Brown-Barge Middle School Capstone Academy Creative Learning Academy J.M. Tate High School Little Flower Catholic School Max Bruner Jr. Middle School Pace High School Seacoast Collegiate High School Seaside Neighborhood School Sims Middle School West Florida High School Woodham Middle School Woodlawn Beach Middle School Pictured: The seventh annual Emerald Coast BEST Robotics competition Saturday at the University of West Florida. Submitted photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.  Read More →

October 26, 2014 | Read the story »


A Little Rain Possible This Week

Here is your official North Escambia area forecast: Sunday Sunny, with a high near 83. Calm wind becoming northeast around 5 mph. Sunday Night Patchy fog after 1am. Otherwise, mostly clear, with a low around 54. Calm wind. Monday Sunny, with a high near 84. Light and variable wind becoming south 5 to 10 mph in the afternoon. Monday Night Mostly clear, with a low around 57. South wind around 5 mph. Tuesday Mostly sunny, with a high near 82. Southeast wind around 5 mph. Tuesday Night A 20 percent chance of showers. Partly cloudy, with a low around 61. South wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the evening. Wednesday A 20 percent chance of showers. Mostly sunny, with a high near 82. Calm wind becoming south around 5 mph in the afternoon. Wednesday Night A 20 percent chance of showers. Partly cloudy, with a low around 60. Northwest wind around 5 mph becoming north after midnight. Thursday A 20 percent chance of showers. Mostly sunny, with a high near 79. Thursday Night A 20 percent chance of showers. Partly cloudy, with a low around 52. Friday Mostly sunny, with a high near 74. Friday Night Partly cloudy, with a low around 46. Saturday Sunny, with a high near 66.  Read More →

October 26, 2014 | Read the story »


Election Preview: Floridians Still Figuring Out Rick Scott

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of election-related articles, including a previous story about Charlie Crist. This is not an endorsement for any one candidate or party. In many ways, Rick Scott is still an enigma. When he burst onto the scene more than four years ago, Scott was unknown to the majority of Florida voters. Any who did remember him likely had only a vague recollection of a TV pitchman opposed to President Barack Obama’s health-care law or, for those with longer memories, as the former chief executive of a company that wound up paying one of the largest fines for Medicare fraud in American history. (Four years ago, Scott’s campaign took brought him to Molino, where he sat down with NorthEscambia.com for an exclusive interview, pictured top.) It was the former that helped propel Scott into a political life for which his skills and his instincts often seem ill-suited. It was the latter that political opponents have continued to use, more than 15 years later, to tarnish Scott’s reputation and to try to convince voters that he can’t be trusted. Four years after his election, Floridians still have a mixed, at times almost-contradictory view of their governor, now running for a second term. The tea-party darling who won an election promising to slash spending but now boasts of the largest education budget in state history. The candidate who ran vowing to crack down on illegal immigration but later pushed the Legislature to approve lower, in-state tuition rates for undocumented immigrants. The outsider who has learned to play the inside game in Tallahassee well enough to get many of his legislative proposals approved. “Who are you, really, Rick Scott?” asked then-Attorney General Bill McCollum in 2010, when the two were locked in a tight Republican primary. Four years later, it’s not clear that Floridians have any better idea than they had when the question was asked. That uncertainty has produced dueling images as voters head to the polls. In the telling of Scott’s campaign and allies, he is a not-always-smooth politician focused on creating jobs while learning the intricacies of his own. To opponents, he is at heart a corporate raider looking to close one final deal before returning to the hard-edged conservatism that drove him to near-historic lows in public popularity early in his term. Which portrait voters believe could determine whether Scott wins a second term in November or becomes the first governor in 24 years to lose a bid for re-election. THE PERSONALITY OF RICK SCOTT During a speech at the Republican Party’s annual fundraising dinner in September, Scott quieted the crowd by saying that he had an announcement to make. ri”Charlie Crist is a slick politician, a smooth talker, and unfortunately, I’m not,” Scott said, to laughter and applause. In that statement, a governor not known for introspection laid out as well as anyone the differences between himself and his opponent, former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, now running as a Democrat. Crist is almost universally known as a man perfectly at ease glad-handing at campaign events and talking to anyone, from constituents to lawmakers. Even political opponents say they come away from meetings with Crist feeling good. In contrast, Scott comes across as distant and aloof. Things that come naturally to other politicians — highlighting the contributions of a member of the audience — seem almost forced coming from Scott. “He’s just not a standard, slick politician,” said House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel. “He doesn’t want to be.” The truth, friends and associates say, is a bit more nuanced. To be sure, Scott’s public persona is not necessarily a radical departure from his private personality: businesslike, intense and focused. “My experience is that Rick Scott around the dinner table is the same Rick Scott we see at Cabinet meetings,” said Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville. “He’s not running for Miss Congeniality. He’s running for chief executive.” Almost everyone who has worked with Scott says his work ethic is impressive. The governor needs little sleep, sets out detailed goals for each day and works relentlessly to achieve them — something that was apparent even during his initial run for office in 2010. “He really was wearing out the 20-somethings who worked on the campaign,” said Susie Wiles, who managed the 2010 campaign. Scott also has a sharp memory. He often easily rattles off detailed economic numbers during news conferences. Brian Burgess, who worked for Scott in the crusade against Obamacare starting in 2009 and was the governor’s first communications director through 2012, said Scott can give someone an assignment, not see them for three weeks, then ask them at their next meeting whether the task was completed. “The guy never forgets anything,” Burgess said. Some of those who have worked with Scott don’t dispute the image of him as distant. In her autobiography, “When You Get There,” former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll wrote that despite trying, she never developed a close relationship with Scott. Carroll wrote the book after resigning — she says under pressure — in 2013. “During my entire time in office, I never received a birthday card or an anniversary card or anything that showed a personal touch,” wrote Carroll, whose resignation came amid controversy about her past ties to a major player in the Internet café industry. But others say the governor can be kind and thoughtful behind the scenes. Burgess recalled a time that his son and another aide’s daughter were having a birthday party at a Tallahassee establishment. Scott’s SUV appeared, and Florida Department of Law Enforcement officers accompanied the governor into the party. Burgess had not expected Scott to attend. Wiles said the governor looks out for those he cares about. “It’s never loud or necessarily even overt, and it’s never anything he wants people to know, but his kindness is enormous,” she said. That can extend to his work with others in Tallahassee as well. Gaetz’s wife, Vicky, uses a wheelchair — and the senator said that any time the two visit Scott, a small ramp is set up to make it easier for Vicky Gaetz to get into the Governor’s Mansion, and that the governor will ask her in the course of an evening whether he can help her with something. “When we come to the Governor’s Mansion, it’s been unspoken, it’s been friendly, but there’s always been this accommodation,” Don Gaetz said. It’s the kind of thing that would be almost expected from most politicians, but with Scott, it seems almost noteworthy — a signal that the man once lampooned by the Tampa Bay Times editorial board as the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz does, indeed, have a heart. THE EDUCATION OF RICK SCOTT Mike Weinstein, who served in the House and was one of the first elected Republicans to support Scott during the 2010 GOP primary, was sitting with the governor-elect at an airport shortly after the general election. Scott was telling Weinstein, who left the Legislature in 2012, that the public would see how Scott intended to govern when he submitted his first budget proposal to lawmakers. Weinstein said he chuckled that Scott didn’t seem to realize “that his budget really didn’t matter,” because House and Senate leaders would look out for their priorities first in the negotiations over the spending plan. The discussion between Scott and Weinstein foreshadowed what would become an early theme for the governor’s administration: At first, Scott didn’t seem to grasp the difference between being the chief executive of a company and the chief executive of a state. “There were a lot of growing pains in there,” Burgess said. Scott set the tone in his inaugural address: The new governor still saw himself as an outsider. “The truth is, he who pays the piper calls the tune,” Scott said. “Now we’re going to call the tune, not government.” Still, the governor tried to reach out to the key players. A week after he took office, he met with Senate Republicans at Andrew’s 228 Restaurant in downtown Tallahassee and expressed confidence about the coming session. “I think this is going to be a lot of fun,” Scott said. “And I think it’s going to be a lot of fun because I think we’re going to get a lot of things done.” There were many adjectives later used to describe the 2011 legislative session. “Fun” was not one of them. The conclusion of session dissolved into chaos because of a feud between the House and the Senate, which didn’t adjourn until almost 4 a.m. the day after the session was scheduled to end. In between, Scott further alienated an already-suspicious press by putting velvet ropes in front of his podium at one news conference to keep reporters from following him; angered African-American lawmakers by trying to relate to them based on his growing up in public housing; and drew a letter from then-Senate Budget Chairman JD Alexander suggesting Scott might have broken the law by selling state planes — a goal Alexander supported. Scott’s focus on jobs also rankled some lawmakers who said he took it too far. The new governor used “job” or “jobs” 31 times in his first State of the State address, but ran into opposition when he tried to get rid of programs in his office dealing with drug control and adoption — which Scott said duplicated other agencies and didn’t help his focus on the economy. “I commend him for wanting ‘jobs, jobs, jobs,’ but he has (a) whole array of things for which he is responsible and … which he must support,” said then-Sen. Evelyn Lynn, R-Ormond Beach. In later years, Scott would explain his obsession with jobs in personal terms, talking about the financial struggles his family faced as a child. “Not having a job is devastating to a family,” Scott said during his 2013 State of the State address, according to the prepared remarks. “I remember when my parents couldn’t find work. I remember when my dad had his car repossessed.” Eventually, Scott got most of the policy changes he wanted from the Legislature in 2011, though they were often pared back. Pension changes Scott signed were not as sweeping as what he wanted; his corporate tax-cut request was completely reconfigured to have a dramatically smaller price tag; and Scott’s push for a crackdown on illegal immigration and a two-year budget were not adopted. THE EVOLUTION OF RICK SCOTT In later sessions, the governor would scale back his ambitions, pushing for one or two major priorities. And lawmakers would say he grew into the role, no longer seeing the Legislature as a corporate board of directors that would quickly line up behind Scott’s ideas. “The Florida Legislature is made up of 160 people with about 200 different opinions on any given issue,” Gaetz said. By 2014, Scott was able to use his bully pulpit to help push through a bill granting cheaper, in-state tuition rates to some undocumented immigrants who had been in Florida for years. He enlisted two former Republican governors — Bob Martinez and state GOP icon Jeb Bush — to push for a Senate committee vote. When the committee refused, Scott’s team summoned reporters to his office so that he could demand action. “We’ve got to give these children the same opportunities of all children,” Scott said. “Whatever country you were born in — whatever family or ZIP code — you ought to have the chance to live the dream.” Scott had not started out as a strong supporter of the bill. In fact, years earlier, he had voiced opposition to similar legislation. But the Senate eventually caved, and Scott later signed the bill into law. “That bill would not have passed the Senate if it wasn’t for Governor Scott,” said Weatherford, who first made the proposal a priority. Opponents, of course, have a more unsparing opinion of the governor. Incoming House Minority Leader Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach, summed up the lessons of the past four years this way: “When you run on tea-party principles, you can destroy a state in four years.” And Scott’s shifting opinions on the tuition bill and other issues — including education funding and his support for an unsuccessful proposal to expand Medicaid in Florida — haven’t convinced Democrats. They have no doubt that the governor is still an ideologue, but one who is doing what is necessary now to get re-elected. “The most frightening thing that we should all think about is if this guy gets re-elected, he goes back to being the true Rick Scott that he is, which cut education to the bone, destroyed our environment, wouldn’t fight for the middle class, doesn’t believe in raising the minimum wage,” Crist told reporters recently. “I mean, it would be a nightmare.” But supporters say Scott is now in the fight of his young political life precisely because he has, by and large, stuck to his principles. “The irony is that his popularity isn’t so high,” Weinstein said, “but he’s done exactly like he said he was going to do.” by Brandon Larrabee, The News Service of Florida Pictured top: Rick Scott sat down on his campaign bus in Molino for an exclusive NorthEscambia.com interview. NorthEscambia.com file photo, click to enlarge.  Read More →

October 26, 2014 | Read the story »

NWE Senior Chiefs Beat Jay, Head To Escambia River Championship

NWE Senior Chiefs Beat Jay, Head To Escambia River Championship

The Northwest Escambia Senior Chiefs football team beat the Jay Royals Saturday night in Jay, 46-6.  With the win, the Senior Chiefs would play for the Escambia River Conference Championship at Tommy Weaver Memorial  Stadium at Northview High School on November 1. Courtesy photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.  Read More →

October 26, 2014 | Read the story »

Florida Gov’t Weekly Roundup: Countdown To Election Day

Florida Gov’t Weekly Roundup: Countdown To Election Day

The costliest, most intriguing and — many would argue — nastiest gubernatorial campaign in Florida’s history inched closer to the finish line this week, but not before costing more money, creating more suspense and exposing Floridians to more mud. With Republicans in the Cabinet expected to ease into re-election, the Legislature expected to maintain a heavy GOP tilt and the battle for the U.S. Senate being waged elsewhere, almost all of the oxygen in Florida has been sucked up by the bare-knuckles brawl between Republican Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist, Scott’s Democratic challenger. And while the candidates had already gotten testy and personal in previous exchanges, the debate Tuesday was the most contentious yet. The two threw haymaker after haymaker during the hour-long rumble in Jacksonville. Within hours came word that Scott would once again open his personal checkbook to help out his campaign, potentially putting his investment in getting elected and re-elected at close to $100 million over two cycles. The tough debate might very well have thrilled the late Tom Slade, a hard-charging partisan who died the day before at the age of 78. Slade, a former chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, helped build a party that has given the GOP much of its advantage in the elections coming up Nov. 4. A memorial service will be held the day after the ballots are counted. Another former chairman of the party, Sen. John Thrasher of St. Augustine, saw his proposed contract to become the president of Florida State University approved by the school’s board of trustees. The state university system’s Board of Governors will also take a look at the pact — shortly after the election. First things first. FISTICUFFS ON THE FIRST COAST There were no arguments over fans and no awkward attempts to speak Spanish, but the third and final debate between Scott and Crist amplified at least one of the things that characterized the first two head-to-head events: constant reminders that the other guy was worse. Scott and Crist spent the better part of the hour ripping each other to shreds, with Scott (net worth: $132.7 million) trying to cast Crist as a plutocrat who had it easy growing up, and Crist (former Republican) savaging the GOP for harboring racists and Scott for delaying an execution. “I watched a parent that lost the only family car,” Scott said. “I watched a father struggle to buy Christmas presents. I went through that as a child. Charlie never went through that. Charlie grew up with plenty of money. He’s never had to worry about money. … But what I’m going to fight for every day is what I’ve done the last three years and nine months, I’m going to fight for families like mine growing up.” Crist, who listed his net worth at $1.25 million last year — about 1 percent of Scott’s — portrayed himself as an advocate for middle-class Floridians and said his family had humble beginnings. “Listen, when I was a little kid, we lived in a small apartment in Atlanta when my dad was going to medical school and he used to delivered newspapers to make ends meet,” Crist said. “So you don’t know me and you can’t tell my story. And I’m not going to tell yours.” Beyond discussing whose life would make a better movie on the Hallmark Channel, the two traded shots on a variety of other issues. Crist elaborated on his previous accusations that GOP leaders were hostile toward President Barack Obama because of his race. Crist noted that he drew flak from GOP officials because of his now-infamous embrace of Obama as governor and for taking federal stimulus money in the midst of an economic meltdown. “And it was pretty clear to me. It wasn’t just because I was willing to work across the aisle with a Democrat to get the recovery funds to come to Florida,” Crist said. “It was also pretty apparent to me because it was the first African-American president.” That brought a sharp response from Scott. “You’re a divider. You’re a mudslinger,” said the governor, who along with Crist has spent tens of millions of dollars blanketing the state with negative ads. Another exchange focused on Scott’s decision to delay an execution that was scheduled on the same day that Attorney General Pam Bondi had a fundraiser. “Did you know it was for a political fundraiser?” Crist asked Scott at one point. “Charlie, she apologized. She apologized. What would you like her to do?” Scott responded. Scott didn’t answer Crist’s question during the debate, but had earlier said he didn’t know that the reason for the postponement was a fundraiser. One potential reason for the sharp tone: The race remains incredibly close. According to a Quinnipiac University poll released this week, Scott and Crist each have the support of 42 percent of likely voters. Libertarian Adrian Wyllie is at 7 percent. “This election will be won by the candidate whose organization is the best at turnout,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the poll. “They’re dead even.” Meanwhile, Scott’s campaign reported that the candidate who painted himself as the hero of a Horatio Alger novel would put some of his own money into the effort. It didn’t confirm early claims by the Crowley Political Report that Republican Party sources said Scott would put about $20 million into the campaign. If so, that would bring Scott’s total spending on winning the Governor’s Mansion to about $93 million since 2010. FAREWELL TO SLADE In the middle of the kind of campaign season that helped him win his place in Florida history, Tom Slade — a hard-drinking, seafaring tactician who steered Republicans to political dominance in Florida — died Monday in Orange Park from complications associated with heart failure. The colorful Slade, a mix of Southern charm and tough-talking, hard-nosed strategist, took over as chairman of the Republican Party of Florida in 1993, when Democrats controlled the Cabinet, the governor’s mansion and the Florida House, and the state Senate was evenly divided. By the end of his tenure after the 1998 elections, Republicans had taken over both the legislative and executive branches and secured a GOP-heavy congressional delegation as well. “Tom Slade was one of the best of a class of old-school intuitive politicians, the mold for which has long since been broken,” said J.M. “Mac” Stipanovich, a GOP consultant who was among a handful of insiders who strategized with Slade in Tallahassee in the 1990s. “He was a Southern gentleman. He was a ruthless fighter. He was a charming victor. He did not take defeat kindly.” Slade’s footprint on Florida politics can still be felt today, said former Republican Party of Florida executive director David Johnson, who worked for the former chairman. “The main thing I remember about Tom was, he could be the ultimate in political bosses when he needed to be, but he had the kindest heart and was so nice and fun to deal with and fun to work for,” Johnson said. “There’s people in politics that you work for and you respect but there are other people that are fun. Tom was always fun. He stepped out of a novel of politics of an older time.” THRASHER INCHES ALONG The long-anticipated naming of Thrasher as head of FSU, meanwhile, inched along. University trustees on Monday unanimously approved a proposed five-year contract with a base value of as much as $2.15 million. University officials said Monday that Thrasher wasn’t difficult to work with in approving the deal, which would keep him below the top pay level among the state’s university leaders but would exceed the base pay of former Florida State President Eric Barron. “I think the compensation package is probably on the low end of what a university president would expect nowadays,” said trustee Gary Tyson, a professor of computer science. “Low end” is, obviously, a comparative figure. The five-year contract would include a $430,000-a-year base salary. Also, Thrasher would be required to reside in the fully staffed, university-owned President’s House; would receive $900 a month for car costs or an automobile fitted with an FSU license plate for his official use; would get a 15 percent annual contribution into a retirement plan; would get his annual dues covered for The Governors Club and University Center Club in Tallahassee; and would be eligible for an annual performance bonus of $100,000 for meeting goals. The trustees also intend to grant Thrasher, who received his undergraduate and law degrees from the Tallahassee school, a tenured faculty appointment as a professor in the College of Law. STORY OF THE WEEK: Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist hold their harshest debate yet, two weeks before voters go to the polls to pick one of them to lead the state for the next four years. QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “The family recognizes Tom would request all Republicans to return their absentee ballots, vote early, or make their plan to arrive promptly at the polls and cast their vote on November 4th.”—The obituary for Tom Slade, a former Republican Party of Florida chairman who died Monday at the age of 78. by Brandon Larrabee, The News Service of Florida  Read More →

October 26, 2014 | Read the story »

Attorney General Bondi Asks Judge To Continue Blocking Gay Marriage

Same-sex couples should continue to be prevented from getting married in Florida until a legal battle plays out about the constitutionality of the state’s gay-marriage ban, Attorney General Pam Bondi said in a federal-court filing Friday. The filing came after supporters of same-sex marriage this month requested that U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle lift a stay that has at least temporarily blocked gay marriages from going forward. Bondi argued that the stay should remain in place until the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals can rule on the constitutionality of the voter-approved ban. “There is a great public interest in stability of the law. If Florida’s law is going to change in the substantial manner plaintiffs seek, it should be only after the plaintiffs’ legal claims undergo appellate review,” the filing said. Siding with same-sex couples in two combined cases, Hinkle ruled in August that the gay-marriage ban was unconstitutional, but he also placed the stay on the decision. The state subsequently filed an appeal that remains pending at the Atlanta-based appellate court. Since Hinkle’s ruling, however, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up similar cases from other states — effectively clearing the way for same-sex marriages in those states. That spurred the request to Hinkle to lift the stay in Florida. After Friday’s filing, American Civil Liberties Union of Florida attorney Daniel Tilley issued a statement saying the group hopes Hinkle will reject Bondi’s request to keep the stay in place. “It’s disappointing that Attorney General Bondi and Gov. Rick Scott have chosen to continue to swim against the tide of inevitable history and block Florida families from having the protections that come with being married,” said Tilley, who represents same-sex couples who live in Florida but were married in other states. Florida does not recognize those marriages. State circuit-court judges in South Florida have joined Hinkle in ruling that the ban, approved by voters in 2008, is unconstitutional. Bondi last week filed a document in a state appellate court arguing the Florida Supreme Court should decide the constitutional question — an issue she also raised in Friday’s federal court filing. “The United States Supreme Court having passed on an opportunity to provide a decision with national effect, the state has now moved to have the issue resolved in the Florida Supreme Court with statewide effect,” Bondi’s filing said. “It is in the public interest to at least allow Florida’s highest court an opportunity to review the issue before ordering changes to Florida’s law.” by Jim Saunders, The News Service of Florida  Read More →

October 25, 2014 | Read the story »

Friday Night Football Finals

Here’s a look at high school final schools from around the area tonight: FLORIDA Northview 35, Walton 28 [Read more...] Tate 56, Fort Walton Beach 20 [Read more...] Jay 64, Cottondale 36 West Florida 33, Arnold 7 Escambia 43, Pace 7 Milton 28, Pine Forest 26  OT Baker 35, Franklin Co. 7 PHS 40, Washington 10 Catholic 56, Gulf Breeze 35 ALABAMA Sweetwater 38, Flomaton 12 T.R. Miller 44, Excel 0 W.S. Neal 55, Southside Selma 8 Escambia County (Atmore) 42, Monroe County 30 Escambia Academy 41, Glenwood 0  Read More →

October 25, 2014 | Read the story »

Early Voting Continues, About 6,000 Vote So Far

Another 1,213 early votes were cast Thursday in Escambia County, for a three-day total of 5,956. In the North Escambia area, there have been 365 ballots cast at the Molino Community Center, 933 at the Escambia County Extension Service in Cantonment. Earl voting continues at seven locations until Saturday November 1: Molino Community Center,  6450 Highway 95A North, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Escambia County Extension Service, 3740 Stefani Road, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Genealogy Branch Library, 5740 N. 9th Avenue, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Main Library, 239 N. Spring Street, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Bellview/Saufley Early Vote Site, 4607 Saufley Field Road, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Supervisor of Elections Main Office, 213 Palafox Place, Second Floor, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Southwest Branch Library, 12248 Gulf Beach Highway, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.  Read More →

October 24, 2014 | Read the story »

Escambia Extension To Hold Certified Arborist Training

On December 12 a workshop will be held at the Escambia County Extension Office for those desiring to become certified arborists. The workshop will cover about 60 percent of the material that  is covered on the certification exam. Attendees will also have the opportunity to take the exam on Saturday, December 13. Becoming a certified arborist shows that the tree care worker or arborist has a basic knowledge of  tree care. To maintain certification, arborists must continue their learning by earning continuing  education credits (CEU). This helps them keep up to date with the latest information on tree care as well as broadening their knowledge base. This training is recommended for private and public arborists, foresters, professional landscapers, nursery professionals and tree surgeons. The workshop will be taught by Sam Hand, ISA certified arborist and forestry agent with FAMU Extension; Stan Rosenthal, Leon County Extension forestry agent; Beth Bolles, Escambia County Extension horticulture agent and Cathy Hardin, Escambia County forester with the Florida Forest Service. Preregistration for this training is required by December 8 by clicking here.  The cost is $125.00. The Friday workshop and the Saturday exam will take place 8:30-5:00 at the Escambia County Extension Office, 3740 Stefani Road, Cantonment.  To register for the exam, click here. Contact Beth Bolles at (850) 475-5230 or  bbolles@ufl.edu for more information.  Read More →

October 24, 2014 | Read the story »

Wards Named Outstanding Farm Family

The Ward family, including husband and wife Jimmy and Angela, have been named the Outstanding  Farm Family of the Year in Santa Rosa County. The Wards have a rich agricultural heritage and have been a part of the Allentown community for almost 100 years. In 1917, James B. Ward settled his family and began farming along what is now Hwy. 89. By the late 1950s four of his six sons; Joel, James, Lamar, and Charles were expanding the family farming tradition and grew corn, cotton, peanuts, soybeans, various grains, abundant vegetables, and raised cattle until the early 1990s. The Ward brothers passed on a legacy of hard work, integrity, and generosity to the next generation of family farmers. Jimmy Ward, son of Lamar Ward, is the third generation of Wards farming in Allentown. Jimmy learned a lot about farming while working with his dad and uncles and continues to farm most of the family’s land. Jimmy and his wife Angela have established their home and raised their three sons on the same land his father and grandfather farmed and raised their families. Family and community have always been important at Ward Farms. Jimmy’s three sons, Jamie, Justin, and Dustin as well as other family and friends in the community are still part of Ward Farms today. It is a great honor to have the Ward family represent Santa Rosa County agriculture in 2014. The Wards were honored during the recent 48th Annual Santa Rosa County Farm Tour, where Angela Ward accepted the award from County Commissioners Don Salter and Bob Cole. In addition, Tiffany Bates, district representative for Congressman Jeff Miller, presented the family with a Congressional Record proclamation honoring them for their accomplishments. Mary Beth Barrows, special assistant for Senator Marco Rubio, also presented commendations to the family. Around 200 local officials and area citizens participated in the 48th Annual Santa Rosa County Farm Tour. During the daylong tour they learned firsthand about agriculture and its importance to the local economy. This year’s tour highlighted our county’s important peanut industry where participants saw how peanuts are grown, harvested and delivered for processing. Stops on the tour included the Roy Ward Farm, the UF/IFAS Jay Research Farm, Chumuckla’s Living Truth Church for lunch and presentations, the Mickey Diamond Farm, Golden Peanut Company and Holland Farms. Pictured top: The Ward family. Pictured below: Farm Tour visitors. Submitted photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.  Read More →

October 24, 2014 | Read the story »

Scott Opening Up His Wallet To Fund Campaign

Governor Rick Scott, who reportedly spent about $73 million of his own money to get elected in 2010, will soon dip into his personal wealth in an effort to retain the Governor’s Mansion. Scott will write a check to the Republican Party of Florida to assist his re-election effort against Democratic challenger Charlie Crist, Jackie Schutz, a spokeswoman for Scott’s campaign, confirmed. The Miami Herald reported earlier  that Scott told CBS4 News reporter Jim DeFede that he “will be investing” in the campaign. DeFede’s report is scheduled to air Sunday. Schutz wouldn’t say how much the check would total. But Schutz added in an email that the governor told DeFede that the money is “a small fraction of our total campaign” and will be used to “counteract the smear campaign from Charlie’s radical left-wing guy from California.” NextGen Climate Action Committee-Florida, founded by California billionaire Tom Steyer, has spent at least $9.44 million on such things as advertising, mail pieces and grassroots efforts that target Scott because of the governor’s views on climate change. Scott was worth $132.7 million as of Dececember 13, 2013, according to his annual financial disclosure filed with the Department of State. The amount of Scott’s check may not be known until October 31, when the Republican Party is next required to file a finance report. The Crowley Political Report last week posted that Republican Party sources claimed Scott would put about $20 million into the campaign. by The News Service of Florida  Read More →

October 24, 2014 | Read the story »

Cantonment Gas Station Carjacking, Sexual Assault Suspect Arrested

[UPDATED 9:30 a.m.] A Cantonment man has been arrested in connection with the carjacking of a woman at a Cantonment gas station last month and an attempted sexual assault a short time later. Eddie Lee Atkins, age 27 of 622 Muscogee Road, has been charged with attempted sexual assault with force and carjacking without a firearm or weapon, a first degree felony. He was booked into the Escambia County Jail without bond Thursday morning. The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office said DNA evidence from both cases and the “tireless work” of sex crimes investigators led to the arrest. At approximately 8:15 a.m. on September 18, a carjacking was reported at the Raceway gas station at Highway 29 and Muscogee Road. The victim had pumped gasoline and entered the store when Atkins allegedly entered her unlocked vehicle and concealed himself in the backseat. The victim did not see Atkinst and drove away from the store with him in the vehicle. Atkins reportedly confronted the victim once the vehicle was moving. He told her that he had a knife and to keep driving or he would “stick” her. She drove around randomly and eventually drove to a neighbor’s residence. Once there she honked the car’s horn in distress to get someone’s attention. Atkins then struck her and pushed her from the vehicle, according to investigators. Atkins then left in the car, heading back towards Highway 29, deputies said. The victim was treated at the scene for minor injuries. Shortly afterward, the vehicle was located on Pine Street. A little more than 15 minutes later, the attempted sexual battery of a female jogger was reported on Rocky Avenue. The victim reported that as she was jogging when an unknown black male suspect grabbed her from behind and dragged her into awooded area. Once there he struck her in the face and attempted to remove her clothing but the victim fought back and was able to escape. Pictured below: A composite sketch of a carjacking and attempted sexual assault suspect released by the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office shortly after the crime.  Read More →

October 23, 2014 | Read the story »

Gulf Power Customers Face January Increase

Gulf Power customers will see an increase on their bill next year. The Florida Public Service Commission allows expenses such as power plant fuel to be passed along to consumers, but they are not allowed to earn a profit on fuel charges. A Gulf Power residential customer who uses 1,000 kilowatt hours a month will pay $139.29, up  from $132, according to the PSC. Fuel costs are a major component of each customer’s monthly bill. The industry commonly uses 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity for residential customers as a benchmark, though many customers use more power than that each month. Customers of two other major Florida utilities – Florida Power & Light and Tampa Electric – will see very minor decreases on their bills.  Read More →

October 23, 2014 | Read the story »

Escambia Schools Offering Free Flu Vaccine To Students

The Escambia County School District is offering the mist form of the flu vaccine for free to all students. The FluMist vaccine is a nasal spray – no needles are involved.  It’s made from the weakened live virus, stimulating the production of antibodies in the blood and the nose. Health officials say there’s no risk of getting  the flu from the vaccine. Permission forms have already been sent home at some schools, and the forms will be headed home from other schools this week. Parents must return the forms by November 5 for their child to receive the FluMist the following week.  Read More →

October 23, 2014 | Read the story »

Son Charged After Dad Reports $37K In Musical And Fishing Equipment Stolen

A Cantonment man was arrested on long list of charges after allegedly stealing tens of  thousands of dollars worth of musical and fishing equipment. Andrew Mark Hintz, 32, was charged with at least 10 counts of felony fraud for providing false information to a pawn broker, 10 felony counts of dealing in stolen property and three felony counts of larceny. Hintz allegedly took the items from his father’s home in Beulah while the father was working out of the country. Items reported stolen included numerous pieces of musical equipment, guitars, amplifiers and fishing equipment with an estimated value of $37,000. Hintz pawned over $15,000 worth of property belonging to his father, receiving a total of $3,570, according to an Escambia County Sheriff’s Office arrest report. According to the report, Hintz had permission to be in his father’s house while he was out of the country, but no permission to take and pawn the items. The victim told deputies that his son has a drug problem. Hintz remained in the Escambia County Jail early Thursday morning with bond set at $25,000.  Read More →

October 23, 2014 | Read the story »

FHP Aims To ‘Stuff The Charger’ During Food Drive

The Florida Highway Patrol is working to “Stuff the Charger” during their inaugural food drive. Through November 6, the FHP will be collecting non-perishable food at their district headquarters at 150 Stumpfield Road in Pensacola to stuff in a Charger and deliver to a local food bank in time for Thanksgiving. The following items are needed: Canned Goods: Sweet potatoes and yams, carrots, green beans, corn, spinach, sweet peas, black eyed peas, cranberry sauce, shelf-stable canned ham, canned meats, hearty soups and pie fillings Dried Goods: Stuffing, instant potatoes, gravy mix, macaroni & cheese, rice, cornbread mix, grits and  oatmeal Other Goods: Nuts, evaporated milk, broth  Read More →

October 23, 2014 | Read the story »

Poll: Scott, Crist Deadlocked As Election Day Nears

Now less than two weeks before Election Day, the fierce race between Republican Gov. Rick Scott and Democratic challenger Charlie Crist is a dead heat, according to a poll released Wednesday. The Quinnipiac University poll shows Scott and Crist deadlocked, with each receiving 42 percent of the vote and Libertarian candidate Adrian Wyllie receiving 7 percent. If Wyllie is not factored in, Scott and Crist were tied at 44 percent. “For all the money spent on this race, it now appears the winner will be the one whose organization excels at the blocking and tackling of politics — getting their voters to the polls,” Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, said in a prepared statement accompanying the results. The survey of 984 likely voters was conducted from Oct. 14 to Oct. 20, so it does not take into account the race’s third and final debate Tuesday night in Jacksonville. The poll has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points. The results are similar to a Quinnipiac Poll conducted last month that showed Scott with 44 percent of the vote, Crist at 42 percent and Wyllie at 8 percent. The new poll indicated that 90 percent of voters who said they supported a candidate are unlikely to change their minds before the Nov. 4 election. Wednesday’s results also reinforced that voters have negative views of Scott and Crist, after months of the two sides attacking each other. Brown said voters will be casting ballots for the “lesser of two evils.” “Will nice guys finish last in the Florida governor’s race? According to voters, there are no nice guys in this race, since neither Scott nor Crist are viewed favorably,” Brown said. The Connecticut-based Quinnipiac frequently conducts polls in Florida and other states for major media nationwide. They are considered among the nation’s most accurate political pollsters. by Jim Saunders, The News Service of Florida  Read More →

October 23, 2014 | Read the story »

It’s National Forest Products Week

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Florida Forest Service are celebrating the benefits of Florida’s forest industry this week during National Forest Products Week. “Florida’s forest industry produces significant economic and environmental benefits for this state,” Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam said. “The industry’s $16 billion economic impact supports 84,000 jobs, and forestry land management promotes healthy populations of native plants and animals.” Florida’s 17 million forest acres provide more than 5,000 types of consumer goods that most people use on a daily basis. Some are easily recognized, like paper goods and lumber, while others are not. By the time forest products reach consumers, they are transformed into products such as cosmetics, medicines and fabrics used to make clothing. Pharmaceuticals developed to treat cancer have also originated from chemicals extracted from trees. “To maintain a sustainable supply of forest products in our state, more than 70 million trees are planted in Florida each year,” said State Forester Jim Karels. “That means more than three trees are planted for each person in the state every year.” Florida ranks eighth in tree planting across the country. The Florida Forest Service manages more than 1 million acres of public forest land while protecting 26 million acres of homes, forestland and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire.  Read More →

October 23, 2014 | Read the story »

Northview Chiefs Name Players Of The Week

The Northview Chiefs have named Players of the Week from last Friday night’s 43-9 away win over Freeport. They are: OFFENSE Keondrae Lett –14 carries, 216 yards, three touchdowns and one catch for 10 yards DEFENSE Toney Harrison – eight total tackles, two tackles for a loss, one sack SPECIAL TEAMS Chasen Freeman — two good PAT, one field goal, 39 yards per punt, one punt downed inside 20 DOMINATOR Everette Garvey — for a tackle on sideline Hunter Cofield — for a block on TD run Images courtesy WEAR 3 for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.  Read More →

October 23, 2014 | Read the story »

Davis Highway Armed Robbery Under Investigation

The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the armed robbery of a business this morning just north of West Florida Hospital. The Dollar General Store on North Davis Highway was robbed by a black male armed with a handgun just before 10 a.m. The suspect fled the store before the first deputies arrived o n the scene. The suspect was described as wearing a gray “hoodie” type sweatsuit. There was no other physical description available. Anyone with information on the robbery is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (850) 433-STOP.  Read More →

October 23, 2014 | Read the story »

Northview Manufacturing Tech Program Becomes Regional Model

The Automation and Production Technology Academy at Northview High School is being used as a model for similar academies at middle and high schools across the region. Tuesday, the Northwest Florida Manufacturers Council’s Academy Task Force met at Northview to tour the manufacturing technology program to learn more about how it works. Upon completing the program, students are able to earn industry certifications that allow them to better compete for technical jobs upon graduation, or they can early college credits to continue their education. According to Steve Harrell, the Escambia County School District’s curriculum coordinator for Workforce Education, employers are looking for job candidates that not only know how to create technical designs, but also have real experience implementing and constructing those designs. “Employers are looking for the person with callouses on their hands,” said Harrell. “They want the person that knows how to design that also knows how to make it work.” Training equipment was purchased for the Northview program with a $100,000 grant that allows students to get that experience. “The students are excited and love the hands on; they are on the computers and the equipment from bell to bell,” said academy instructor Marty Lister. And now, the Northwest Florida Manufacturers Council is set to recommend training equipment for middle and high schools across the region, based upon the Northview academy, The council has about $1.5 million from the state, with a goal of creating an academy in at least one middle and high school in each county in the region that is comprised of  Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay, Franklin, Gulf, Jackson, Calhoun, Holmes, Washington, and Liberty counties. For more photos, click here. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.  Read More →

October 22, 2014 | Read the story »

Peanut Butter Drive Continues

The Escambia County Extension office, Santa Rosa County Extension office along with the University of Florida Institute of Food & Agricultural Sciences and the Florida Peanut Producer Association are collecting peanut butter now through mid-November to help take a bite out of hunger. The groups are accepting donations of unopened jars of peanut butter to be donated to local food pantries during Farm-City Week. Unopened jars of peanut butter of any brand can be dropped off until November 21 at any of the following locations: Escambia County Escambia County Extension Office, 3740 Stefani Road, Cantonment Escambia County Farm Bureau, 153 Highway 97, Molino Escambia County Public Safety, 6575 North W Street Gilmore Services, 31 East Fairfield Drive Santa Rosa County Jay Extension Office at 5259 Booker Lane, Jay Santa Rosa County Extension Office at 6263 Dogwood Drive, Milton South Santa Rosa Service Center, Master Gardener Help Desk at 5819 Gulf Breeze Parkway All Santa Rosa County Library locations Lowe’s Stores in Pace and Gulf Breeze Peanut butter collected in Escambia County last year was donated to food pantries in Molino, Bratt and Century. Pictured: The Godwins of Godwin Farms in Santa Rosa County, (L-R) Steven, Laryn, Valarie, Kylei, Rachael. Courtesy photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.  Read More →

October 22, 2014 | Read the story »

Escambia School District Cuts Energy Costs By $27.6 Million

Energy savings measures at Escambia County schools have not only saved the district money, they have now won a national award. The Escambia County School District has achieved a 22 percent energy cost savings totaling $27,660,957 in a 96 month program since forming a strategic alliance with Cenergistic, a national energy conservation company. Cenergistic presented Superintendent Mr. Malcolm Thomas with its Chairman’s Sustainability Award at the school board’s meeting Tuesday night. “Every dollar we don’t spend on energy is available to us to improve our facilities and add to our instructional programs. The challenge is that saving significant energy dollars requires the consistent execution of hundreds of energy saving actions by hundreds of staff members and educators every minute of every day,” said Superintendent Malcolm Thomas.  Read More →

October 22, 2014 | Read the story »

UWF’s Haas Center To Assume Economic Development Role For Century Chamber

The University of West Florida’s Haas Center will assume the role of economic development coordination for the Century Area Chamber of Commerce following resignation of a chamber staffer. A year ago, the chamber hired Cindy Anderson for the position, which was funded by a $40,000 contribution by the Escambia County Commission.  Anderson had spent a decade as executive director of Team Santa Rosa, a public-private partnership that was the economic development contractor for Santa Rosa County from 1992 until 2012. After leaving TEAM, Anderson was briefly retired before accepting an office manager position at an Atmore real estate firm. Now, Anderson has left the Century chamber, accepting  a position as executive director of the Northwest Florida Manufacturers Council. With another annual $40,000 contribution from the Escambia County Commission, the chamber will  term to the Haas Center to provide an economic development coordinator  and supplement pay and benefits to make it a full-time position. The Haas Center recently developed Century’s economic development strategic plan, and the Haas staffer that will take over the chamber position will work to implement the plan. “I thought it was the best of both worlds,” said Century Mayor Freddie MCall, “for us to use the county money and go ahead and contract with the Haaas center to implement this (economic development plan) for us.” Century – Heart and Soul: This was the third story is a two-week series on NorthEscambia.com  featuring Century. Pictured top: The Century Area Chamber of Commerce. Pictured inset: Cindy Anderson, for economic development coordinator for the Century Chamber, at a recent chamber meeting. NorthEscambia.com file photos, click to enlarge.  Read More →

October 22, 2014 | Read the story »

Flomaton Defeats Ernest Ward (With Photo Gallery)

The Ernest Ward Middle School Eagles, the only middle school football team in Escambia County (FL), wrapped up their season Tuesday night in Walnut Hill. The visiting Flomaton Hurricanes defeated the Eagles 22-6. For more photos, click here. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.  Read More →

October 22, 2014 | Read the story »

Navy Donates T-39 Training Aircraft To George Stone Technical Center

Like many retired Navy veterans that have served  decades on active duty only to return to serving their country in another role, one of the last T-39 Sabreliner jets to fly at Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola will help instruct students at George Stone Technical Center. Instead of being flown to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base “boneyard” and languishing in the Arizona desert in lay-up, the airplane will become an integral part of the new Aviation Maintenance Program at GSTC. “We are ecstatic about our partnership with the Navy and are very excited to get this jet,” said T. J. Rollins, principal at George Stone. “It was flying just a few months ago training Navy navigators, so it’s a fully-capable airplane for our new students to practice on as they work toward their certifications and licenses from the Federal Aviation Administration.” The Navy-GSTC partnership happened through a chance meeting with the Escambia County School District’s Curriculum Coordinator for Workforce Education, Steve Harrell and a maintenance technician working at NAS. “When I found out he worked on airplanes at the base, I mentioned that we were starting a new Aviation Maintenance Program at George Stone,” said Harrell. “He mentioned that they were retiring all of the T-39s and that I should ask the Navy if we could have one for our new program.” John Appicelli, assistant officer in charge for the Chief of Naval Air Training detachment at NAS helped turn the suggestion into reality. He said that it was an unusual request, but it had merit. “It took a lot of coordination between the Navy and government agencies, but we thought it was a great idea and would be well worth the effort,” said Appicelli. “We started the process in February and it took until now to work out all the details, including moving the jet to the school. As the aircraft left the base, ownership transferred to George Stone. I’m glad to see that it’s going to a good home and will continue to help launch aviation careers.” Whisler Aviation from Seward, Neb. handled the transport of the T-39 to GTSC. The wing and fuselage were separated at NAS, trucked to George Stone and reassembled at the school Oct. 20 with the help of Deep South “The aircraft industry definitely needs qualified Airframe and Powerplant Mechanics as there is a shortage of A&Ps across America,” said Greg Whisler, president of Whisler Aviation. “In addition to transporting planes, we also have a repair facility that maintains aircraft, and we are always in need of certified A&P mechanics.” The George Stone Aircraft Maintenance Program will be available for new  and current GTSC students and approval is anticipated for funding by the GI Bill and other veteran’s educational programs. According to Keith Boring, program manager for the Navy’s Credentials Program Office, active-duty and reserve Navy and Marine Corps personnel will be eligible for funding for the certification testing portion of the Aviation Maintenance Program through the Navy’s Credentialing Online Program “We don’t fund for the training portion of the program, as many active duty and reserve service members qualify as a result of their military schools and on-the-job training,” said Boring. “Navy COOL does fund, however, for airframe, powerplant and combination testing for the necessary certification exams at qualified technical schools like George Stone.” According to Harrell and Rollins, the goal of the Aviation Maintenance Program is to help develop a local workforce that can fill the future aerospace jobs coming through VT Mobile Aerospace Engineering, Airbus, and other regional employers. The GTSC Aviation Maintenance Program is currently in the process of receiving FAA approval and certification and is scheduled to start the first class at GSTC in August of 2015. by Ed Barker, Media Officer, Naval Education and Training Command for NorthEscambia.com Pictured top: A retired T-39 Sabreliner training jet fuselage is lowered onto its wing at George Stone Technical Center for use as part of their new Aviation Maintenance Program for students seeking a FAA Airframe and Powerplant certification. Pictured inset: The T-39 is loaded on a fladbed. Pictured below: Greg Whisler from Whisler Aviation and Kevin Henley from Deep South Cranes secure the nosewheel of the aircraft. Photo by Ed Barker, Naval Education and Training Command, for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.  Pictured bottom: The reassembled plane a parking lot Tuesday morning. Photo courtesy Allison Woodfin for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.  Read More →

October 22, 2014 | Read the story »

No Major Damage In Walnut Hill Kitchen Fire

A kitchen fire was out when firefighters arrived at a Walnut Hill home Tuesday evening. The fire was reported about 5:50 p.m. at a home in the 5200 block of Wiggins Lake Road. The first firefighters on scene reported light smoke in the brick home but no fire. There was no major damage and no injuries in the incident. The Walnut Hill Station of Escambia Fire Rescue responded to the reported fire. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.  Read More →

October 22, 2014 | Read the story »

State To Seek Death Penalty For Parents Charged With Toddler’s Death

State Attorney Bill Eddins said Tuesday that the State intends to seek the death penalty against against Christopher L. Redd and Jennifer Gail Perry for first degree murder in the death of their two-year old child. Pensacola Police said Redd and Perry failed to seek medical treatment for their  son after he was severely burned by boiling water. He suffered second and third degree burns over more than 40 percent of his body. The parents told police that the child, Bryson, managed to spill boiling water that was on the stove. They said Bryson acted like a typical two-year old and they did not seek medical treatment until until days later. In the meantime, they had searched burn treatments on the internet and had applied products purchased at local retailers, according to an arrest report. Additional, Perry had received prescription medication for a burn she suffered on her finger, and she said she applied the leftovers to the child. Bryson died after being taken to Baptist Hospital. Both told police they delayed medical treatment because they would not know what story to tell the hospital about the burns, and they were concerned Bryson and their two other children would be removed from the home by the Department of Children and Families.  Read More →

October 22, 2014 | Read the story »

Scott, Crist Turn Up The Heat In Final Debate

In their final — and most heated — debate before the Nov. 4 election, incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist came out swinging Tuesday night, excoriating each other’s records as the state’s chief executive and each painting his rival as out of touch with everyday Floridians. Scott and Crist, a former Republican who left office after a single term and is now seeking his old job back as a Democrat, traded jabs over the economy, racial justice and the death penalty and drew sparks over each others’ wealth. Scott, who reported his net worth as $132.7 million last year, repeatedly contrasted his deprived childhood with that of Crist, whose father is a St. Petersburg doctor. Scott, a former health care executive who made his fortune as the head of the Columbia/HCA hospital chain, repeatedly recalled how he grew up in public housing and how his parents struggled to pay for health insurance and Christmas presents. “I watched a parent that lost the only family car. I watched a father struggle to buy Christmas presents. I went through that as a child. Charlie never went through that. Charlie grew up with plenty of money. He’s never had to worry about money. He has never had to worry about being laid off. Charlie has done fine in life. But what I’m going to fight for every day is what I’ve done the last three years and nine months, I’m going to fight for families like mine growing up,” Scott said. Crist, who listed his net worth of $1.25 million last year, portrayed himself as an advocate for middle-class Floridians whose family had humble beginnings. “He talks about that I’ve done fine in life. Listen, when I was a little kid, we lived in a small apartment in Atlanta when my dad was going to medical school and he used to delivered newspapers to make ends meet. So you don’t know me and you can’t tell my story. And I’m not going to tell yours. But I know you are worth about $100 or $200 million today,” Crist said. “And you know, God bless you for that wealth, Rick. But the way you got it was pretty unsavory. And you know, the fact that you just don’t relate to people, real people in Florida today and the struggles they have, and you won’t lower utility rates, you won’t lower property insurance, it is wrong.” Tuesday’s hour-long debate, moderated by Jake Tapper of CNN and Kent Justice of WJXT, a Jacksonville television station where the match-up was held, was a marked contrast to last week’s meeting between the two rivals. That debate became the butt of national late-night comedy shows over a controversy regarding a small fan placed next to Crist’s feet beneath the podium. Scott refused to join Crist on stage for more than four minutes, and later accused Crist of breaking the debate rules. In another heated moment Tuesday, Tapper asked Crist about his accusations that GOP leaders were hostile toward President Barack Obama because of his race. Tapper asked Crist if he believed all Republicans are racists. “No. I’m saying that element exists,” Crist said, referring obliquely to emails “distributed by some members of the Republican party” that “weren’t exactly flattering” about Obama. He said he drew flak from GOP officials because of his now-infamous embrace of Obama as governor and for taking federal stimulus money when Florida, and the rest of the country, were in the midst of an economic meltdown. “It wasn’t right. The reaction that I have gotten from some in the Republican party, leadership, wasn’t tolerable to me,” Crist said. “And it was pretty clear to me. It wasn’t just because I was willing to work across the aisle with a Democrat to get the recovery funds to come to Florida. It was also pretty apparent to me because it was the first African-American president. Listen, I don’t enjoy saying that. It’s not what — you know, it’s not fun to say, but I’m going to tell the truth and those are the facts.” “You’re a divider. You’re a mudslinger. You’re a divider,” Scott retorted, accusing Crist of failing to take action when he was governor. “We are the best melting pot in the world and you want to try to divide people. I want everybody to have the same shot I had to live the American dream.” Crist blasted Scott for turning down millions of dollars for a high-speed rail project in Central Florida and for refusing to back an expansion of Medicaid, saying both would have brought thousands of jobs to the state. “I’m action and I got things done and I’ll do it again and I’ll work with anybody — Republican, Democrat or independent,” he said In another pointed exchange, the two candidates wrestled over the death penalty. Scott, who has signed a record number of death warrants in his first term in office, pushed lawmakers to pass a measure this spring that supporters said was aimed at speeding up the time between convictions and executions. The question about executions prompted an intense back-and-forth between the two governors over an execution that Scott rescheduled last year at the request of Attorney General Pam Bondi. The attorney general asked to have the execution delayed because it conflicted with a fundraiser slated for the same evening for her re-election campaign. “Now, to me, and my way of thinking, that doesn’t sound like somebody is taking that solemn duty as seriously as they should. I don’t understand that,” Crist said. Crist interrupted Scott — who said he considers the death penalty “a solemn duty” and that he “thinks of the victims” when weighing executions — and demanded to know whether he was aware that he had canceled the execution for a fundraiser. “It was — she asked me to delay it because it didn’t work on the dates that she thought it was going to be on,” Scott said. Crist did not back down. “Did you know it was for a political fundraiser?” he asked. “Charlie, she apologized. She apologized. What would you like her to do?” Scott responded. “I didn’t ask about her. Did you know it was for a political fundraiser?” Scott repeated his answer. “He doesn’t answer questions. Pleads the Fifth,” Crist finished. Questions about racial justice wound up in a tangle over restoration of civil rights, something Crist pushed in his first few months as governor after his 2006 election. Referring to Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old black teenager who was gunned down by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in Sanford, Tapper asked the candidates if they believed that African-Americans, especially young black men, get “a fair shake” in the criminal justice system. “My goal is that they do,” Scott said, trying to discuss how he handled the Martin shooting but getting interrupted by Tapper. “We have completely changed how we do juvenile justice. We’ve had a dramatic drop in the number of arrests since I got elected. We have the lowest recidivism out of our prison system because we put in reentry programs and we’ve helped try to make sure that if you get out of prison, you actually get a job … unlike under Charlie when you couldn’t get a job,” Scott said. “So, are we making progress? Yes. Is there more work to do? Absolutely.” Crist disagreed. “I don’t believe they do. I think it’s sad. I think it’s very important that everybody is treated equally and get the justice they deserve,” Crist said, boasting that he worked to restore rights to non-violent felons. “Sadly under Rick Scott, it’s gone and it’s gone for at least five years, you can’t even apply,” he said. In one of his first actions as governor, Scott pushed the Florida Cabinet to do away with the “automatic” restoration of rights and impose one of the nation’s strictest waiting-periods before ex-felons can apply. “Here’s Charlie’s plan. You commit a heinous crime, as soon as you get out of jail, you get to vote. Stalk, you get to vote as soon as you walk out. You have intentional permanent disfigurement of a child, you walk out of jail, you immediately get to vote,” Scott said. “That’s wrong, Charlie.” Again, Crist fired back. “That is fundamentally unfair. I said nonviolent criminals. You are lying again,” he said. Tuesday evening’s angry tone — exactly two weeks before Election Day and with early voting already underway — set the stage for the candidates’ final push as they swing through the state seeking support. On Wednesday, former New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani is slated to help kick off a Scott campaign bus tour in Doral. Crist is slated to remain in Jacksonville and campaign with U.S. Rep. Corinne Brown. by Dara Kam, The News Service of Florida Images courtesy CNN for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.  Read More →

October 22, 2014 | Read the story »

Local Teachers Share $64K In Education Grants

Over $64,000 in grants were presented to local teachers Monday night  by the Escambia County Public Schools Foundation as part of it annual Grants for Excellence Awards. “This program is especially important for Escambia County Public Schools because there are needs in the classroom that cannot be covered through existing school or district budgets,” said David Deliman, chairman of the foundation’s board of firectors. “Our Foundation’s mission is to help overcome these gaps to ensure local students have the tools and resources they need to compete in today’s competitive economy.” This year’s grants represented a wide variety of projects, all with a focus on either STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) areas or literacy initiatives. For example. students in Henrietta Adams’ classroom at Jim Allen Elementary School in Cantonment will read books about African art on a “multicultural safari” which was funded by a foundation grant. In Douglas Allen’s classroom at Tate High Schol, students will turn to physics toe explore the speed ratio of runners, and in the classroom of Nichole Childress at Jim Allen Elementary School, the old adage “a picture is worth a 1,000 words” will come to life with visual vocabulary cards. And at Ransom Middle, students let by Chet Truett will produce a newscast using iPads. The following 45 projects received up to $2,000 each for a total of $64,316.82 in grants from the Escambia County Public Schools Foundation: Henrietta Adams, Jim Allen Elementary – Amazing African Art: A Multicultural Safari Douglas Allen, Tate High – Physics of Speed-Ratio of Runners Theresa Anderson, Oakcrest Elementary – The Read-Aloud Factor Sara Barcellona, Brown-Barge Middle – Astrorockets Edward Bauer, Washington High – Accessing the Diversity & Abundance of Nearshore Species Russell L. Bertles, Workman Middle – The Theory of Music-tivity Robin Blalock, Tate High – Of Mice and Men James Bobbitt, Pensacola High – Visualizing Polynomial Graphs using Graphing Calculators Adam Bretschneider, Roy Hyatt Environmental Studies Center 3– Experience the WildCAT: A Hands-on FCATE Ecology Review Sherri Carter, Bratt Elementary – Flip Classroom to Success Nichole Childress, Jim Allen Elementary – Visual Vocabulary Cards: A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words Heidi Chism, Pine Meadow Elementary – Reptiles! Reptiles! Reptiles! Tim Deloge, Escambia High – NASA Human Exploration River Challenge Diedra Diettel, Suter Elementary – Eggstra! Eggstra! Learn All About It! Ann Dungan, Blue Angels Elementary – Bullying? Not At Our School!! Patricia Gaddis, Tate High – Video Variations and Explorations Melissa Garcia, Semmes Elementary – Differentiating Literacy and Math Education Krystal Gibson, Beulah – Genius Hour: Engaging Students by Igniting Their Passion Rachel W. Gilmore, Molino Park Elementary – Reading/Writing Round-Up Kathy Godwin, Semmes Elementary – Bringing the World to Life Anna K. Harageones, Ferry Pass Elementary – Help Young Readers & Writers Build a Robust Vocabulary Brenda Harrell, Bratt Elementary – Picture a Word John Herber, Oakcrest Elementary – The Little Planet that Could Janet K. Johnson, Pine Forest High – Promoting STEM and Social Studies Literacy Maurine Kramerich, PATS Center – Historical Sculptures and Monuments Michelle Leitner, Semmes Elementary – Learning Literacy through Listening Centers Peter N. Lupton, Pine Forest High – Getting to Know the World Around Us Matthew MacGregor, Escambia High – Citizen Science Melissa G. Marsh, Pensacola High – ELL Literacy Project Sarah Mason, Blue Angels Elementary – Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye Kevin McAuliffe, Pine Forest High – A Story with A Different Voice Vicki Murphy, Oakcrest Elementary – English Language Learning Going Digital Jean Odom, Cook Elementary – Sesame Street Puppeteers Set the Stage Nancy O’Neal, Ransom Middle – LEAP into Science Karen Potter, Ransom Middle – Practice Makes Better Readers Catherine Rudd, Scenic Heights Elementary 3– Literacy through Comic Books Caitlin Salak, Beulah Elementary – STEM Challenges for 5th Grade Mary Samaras, Cordova Park Elementary – All Dressed Up and So Much to Learn Anita Schmidt, Lipscomb Elementary – Student Advocacy: Protecting Shore Birds Lorri Seibert, Ransom Middle – Tools of Engagement Jane Smith, Longleaf Elementary – Providing Anywhere, Anytime Learning Cindy Speed, Weis Elementary – Students for STEM Melissa Thompson, Scenic Heights – Interactive Science Notebooks Chet Truett, Ransom Middle – Reporting to You LIVE! Shawn P. Walker, West Florida High – Oh Brother, Give Me Color Roberta D. Wetzel, Bailey Middle –1 Let’s Explore Courage in Life and Literature The projects funded this fall will directly impact a total of 11,237 students and 220 teachers this school year alone, organizers said.  Many of the classroom materials, software, and other items purchased with Grants for Excellence funds will continue to be used for years to come.  Read More →

October 21, 2014 | Read the story »