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One Person Injured In Old Chemstrand Crash

One Person Injured In Old Chemstrand Crash

The driver of a Chevrolet Camaro was injured in single vehicle crash Old Chemstrand Road Monday morning in Cantonment. The adult female was briefly trapped in the upside down vehicle until being extricated by members of Escambia Fire Rescue’s Cantonment Station. The driver was transported to an area hospital with injuries that were not considered life-threatening. The accident remains under investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol. Escambia County EMS and the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office also responded to the wreck. NorthEscambia.com photos by Kristi Price, click to enlarge.  Read More →

May 25, 2015 | Read the story »

Lightning Causes Damage At Davisville Home

Lightning Causes Damage At Davisville Home

There were no injuries and no major damage when lightning reportedly struck a home on Meadows Road in Davisville, just off Highway 97, Monday morning. The lighting strike reportedly damaged a fan motor in the home’s heating and cooling system, causing the smell of smoke. The Walnut Hill Station of Escambia Fire Rescue and the Atmore Fire Department  responded to the incident.  NorthEscambia.com photo, click to enlarge.  Read More →

May 25, 2015 | Read the story »

Northview Class Of 2015 Holds Baccalaureate Service (With Photo Gallery)

Northview Class Of 2015 Holds Baccalaureate Service (With Photo Gallery)

The Northview High School Class of 2014 held their Baccalaureate service Sunday afternoon at the First Baptist Church of Bratt. “Class of 2015, turning the page into a new chapter of life, the decisions you are making right now, and those that you will make as you leave for college or move out from your home and become independent, those decisions are shaping your future, and they are setting the quality of your life for the next 50 plus years. Don’t forget your Creator in these moments,” guest speaker Rev. Glenn Weber said during the student-led program. “Great joy comes from remembering your Creator, and pursuing Him first, and then chasing with great passion all those things He has placed in your heart,” Weber said. The program also included scripture, prayer and music provide by the Northview Senior Class Ensemble. Graduation for the Northview High School Class of 2015 will be at 4 p.m. Saturday, May 30 at the school. For more photos, click here. Pictured: The Northview High School Class of 2015 Baccalaureate service Sunday afternoon at the First Baptist Church of Bratt. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.  Read More →

May 25, 2015 | Read the story »

Camp Fire Kids Offer Memorial Day Appreciation

Camp Fire Kids Offer Memorial Day Appreciation

The children at the Camp Fire Century Youth Learning Center in Century gathered recently for this photo to show their appreciation for Memorial Day. Courtesy photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.  Read More →

May 25, 2015 | Read the story »


Unpaid Property Taxes Must Be Paid By Friday

All 2014 unpaid real estate taxes must be paid to avoid a tax certificate being issued, which is a first lien against the property, by Friday.  Over 11,000 accounts totaling $10 million remain unpaid, according to Tax Collector Janet Holley. Payments must be received and processed by close of business on Friday, May 29: in person at one of three branch offices; online at www.escambiataxcollector.com; or through the phone service center (850) 438-6500 ext. 3252. Late payments will be returned for additional fees. Drive thru service and drop boxes are available at all locations: Downtown, 213 Palafox Place Molino, 6440 Highway 95A, Suite A Marcus Pointe, 6451 North W Street Taxpayers may check the status of their taxes online at www.escambiataxcollector.com or call (850) 438-6500 ext. 3252 for more information.  Read More →

May 25, 2015 | Read the story »


Jackson Beats Pensacola Again

One of the reasons the Pensacola Blue Wahoos are two-games above .500 in May is that they never stop trying to score more runs. It’s what first year manager Pat Kelly said he likes about his team that’s 19-25 and in fourth place in the Southern League South Division. The Blue Wahoos are now 13-11 in May, after starting April 6-14. “The thing I really like about this team is the way we keep coming back,” Kelly said. “That’s something you didn’t see the first month.” The Blue Wahoos fell a run short Sunday, 6-5, to the Jackson Generals in front of 4,502 at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium. However, Pensacola came right back in the seventh to tie the game, 5-5, when catcher Kyle Skipworth hit a deep fly ball to right field to score first baseman Marquez Smith from third. Jackson scored its winning run in the eighth when center fielder Gabby Guerrero knocked a single to score third baseman Jody Lara. One of the stars for Pensacola has been Seth Mejias-Brean, who is hitting .333 (16-48) the past 13 games after going 3-5 with an RBI and stolen base. He also turned a great double play flagging down a bad hop, stepping on third and whipping it to first. “The toughest thing is keeping steady,” said Mejias-Brean, who’s now hitting .244 on the year. “You could be hitting the ball really well and still not get any hits. You could be hitting like crap and still go 3-for-3.” Ryan Wright ended the Pensacola Blue Wahoos 0-22 hitless streak with the bases loaded when he singled sharply to center and scored both first baseman Ray Chang and shortstop Zach Vincej to put Pensacola up, 4-0, in the second inning. Although Pensacola had failed to produce a hit until Wright’s, it did have 10 RBIs before adding two more. Wright has an eight game hitting streak, batting .314 (11-35). He has driven in five runs and doubled. Kelly chafed when about the team’s batting average with the bases loaded, calling it an “overrated stat.” “A lot of things don’t show up in the average,” he said, lobbying for a new statistic. “If you’re knocking in about 50-60 percent of runs with men on third, then you’re doing pretty good. Batting averages are evil anyway.”  Read More →

May 25, 2015 | Read the story »

Memorial Day: Showers And Thunderstorms Likely

Memorial Day: Showers And Thunderstorms Likely

Here is your official North Escambia area forecast: Memorial Day Showers and thunderstorms likely. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 85. East wind 5 to 15 mph becoming south in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 60%. Monday Night A 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 71. South wind around 5 mph. Tuesday Showers and thunderstorms likely. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 85. South wind 5 to 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. Tuesday Night A 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 70. South wind around 5 mph. Wednesday A 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 84. Calm wind becoming southeast around 5 mph in the morning. Wednesday Night A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 69. Calm wind. Thursday A 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 87. East wind around 5 mph becoming southeast in the afternoon. Thursday Night A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 69. South wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the evening. Friday A 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 88. Friday Night A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 69. Saturday A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly sunny, with a high near 90. Saturday Night Partly cloudy, with a low around 68. Sunday A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 87.  Read More →

May 25, 2015 | Read the story »

Road Construction Suspended For Memorial Day

Road Construction Suspended For Memorial Day

Road construction in the state of Florida remains suspended through today to promote safety and reduce congestion for Memorial Day, according to the Florida Department of Transportation. Motorists are reminded by FDOT to use caution while traveling through work zones around barricades and equipment on current projects. Travelers can access Florida’s 511 service from cell phones, landlines, and  at www.FL511.com to receive updates on travel in the area. Photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.  Read More →

May 25, 2015 | Read the story »

Missing Escambia County Woman Found

A Florida Silver Alert has been canceled for 82-year old Mary Bell Williams of Escambia County. She has been found. PREVIOUS STORY: Williams was last seen Saturday, May 23 leaving her home in he 7700 block of Amberidge Road. She was in a greenish-silver 2010 Chevrolet Cobalt with Florida tag Y7LMZ. Williams is a black female, approximately 5-foot 3-inches tall and 186 pounds with gray hair and brown eyes. She was last wearing a black shirt and a blue flowered skirt and may be wearing glasses. If you know the whereabouts of Mary Bell Williams or her car contact the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office at (850) 436-9620 or your local law enforcement agency. A “Silver Alert” is an alert for missing seniors similar to an “Amber Alert” issued for missing children.  Read More →

May 24, 2015 | Read the story »

‘Click It Or Ticket’ Campaign Underway

The Florida Highway Patrol, the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement agencies are in the midst of their annual  “Click It or Ticket” crackdown designed to increase seat belt use and decrease motor vehicle fatalities across the county. The campaign will run day and night through May 31. “Every day, unbuckled motorists are losing their lives in motor vehicle crashes,” said Sheriff David Morgan. During the “Memorial Day weekend and the summer vacation season, we want to make sure people are doing the one thing that can save them in a crash, buckling up.” “Florida’s seat belt use rate stands at nearly 89 percent, which represents the highest use rate in Florida history,” said Colonel David Brierton, Director of the Florida Highway Patrol. “But that means there is still 10 percent of the population that doesn’t buckle up. We must do better if we are going to save lives and teach young people about the importance of using their seat belts.” In 2013, about 59 percent of those who were killed in crashes because they weren’t wearing their seat belts were killed during the overnight hours of 6 p.m. and 5:59 a.m.  The Florida Highway Patrol reminds everyone that Florida law requires the use of seat belts by drivers, passengers in the front seat, and all children under the age of 18 in a motor vehicle.  Read More →

May 24, 2015 | Read the story »

Florida Forest Service Warns Of Wildfire Danger Time

For some it’s beaches, others think of backyard cookouts or baseball games. For wildland firefighters and the personnel of the Florida Forest Service’s Blackwater Forestry Center, however, the  days and weeks around Memorial Day typically means a big fire or two. While Florida experiences wildfires year round, spring traditionally is the height of the season across the state. In the three counties within the Blackwater response area (Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa)  that window can be narrowed down even more. “Right around Memorial Day we usually see some pretty significant fire activity,” said David Smith, operations administrator for the district. “We get rain in April and early May that will prompt new growth and add to the fuel on the ground and then we typically get a drying period of a week, maybe two weeks, that usually produces some of our more difficult fire conditions.” Current forecasts show no rain in the next week or so. In the past few days, moderate winds and low humidity have helped dry out vegetative fuels after the recent rains. That lines up with historical patterns that have helped make the time around Memorial Day busy for the FFS. During the past 10 years, Blackwater has seen an average of about 16 wildfires from May 20 to June 10 — the 21 days centered on the holiday. During the past four years, each of the season peaks has produced at least one fire larger than 50 acres that has had a significant impact on residents, roads or the public in general. Pictured: A wildfire in Bratt. NorthEscambia.com file photo, click to enlarge.  Read More →

May 24, 2015 | Read the story »

USDA Requirements For Grower Eligibility For Crop Insurance By June 1

The federal Agricultural Act of 2014 (Farm Bill) included new requirements that all producers – including fruit, vegetable, specialty crop and nursery producers – that purchase federally-subsidized crop insurance must certify compliance with the U.S. Department of Agriculture by June 1, 2015. This applies to growers even if they are not purchasing crop insurance policies until later in the year. Any growers who do not file the correct paperwork (Form AD-1026) by June 1 will be ineligible to receive the premium subsidy and may see a substantial increase in the individual crop insurance policy for the 2015-16 reinsurance year. Producers should meet with their crop insurance agent or visit their local USDA service center before the deadline to ensure compliance with the new procedure. For more information about crop insurance and the Farm Bill, go to www.rma.usda.gov.  Read More →

May 24, 2015 | Read the story »

Florida Gov’t Weekly Roundup: Health Care Funding, Special Session

For weeks now, one question has hovered over Tallahassee: How will the House and Senate resolve their differences on health-care funding and wrap up a special session — scheduled to begin June 1 — with a spending plan for state government? If the pieces didn’t necessarily fall into place this week, lawmakers and Gov. Rick Scott were at least able to get around to opening the puzzle box. Scott’s newly created health-care funding commission held its first meeting. But with hospitals giving the panel the cold shoulder and the chairman suggesting the group probably wouldn’t finish the work before the end of the special session, it appeared to be as much political theater as viable solution. More important was the federal government’s preliminary estimate of the size of a pot of money known as the Low Income Pool program — or, in the parlance of the Capitol, LIP. The nearly $2.2 billion program will now be shaved down to about $1 billion, though the state could make up the difference with some local funds and perhaps state tax money (the House’s preferred solution) or a form of Medicaid expansion (the Senate’s). However the impasse ends, the wheels of state government have continued turning in the interim. Scott signed dozens of bills this week covering everything from who can carry guns during emergency situations to the funding of pension plans for local police officers and firefighters. And the state’s de facto school-voucher program seems safe — at least for now. LIPS ARE MOVING Even before its first meeting, Scott’s Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding was not received well by the industry that has so far been the focus of its inquiry. Scott had asked the Florida Hospital Association to submit ideas for revenue sharing to the panel for consideration if the federal government decided not to renew LIP at all. On Monday, two days before the commission’s first get-together, FHA said “no thanks” (in so many words). “You have suggested that a new tax on hospital operating surpluses might be a way to sustain the existing LIP program,” hospital association executives wrote in a letter to Scott. “Such an arrangement is not a solution to the challenge we face.” Instead, the executives pointed to the Senate’s plan to use Medicaid expansion funds to help low-income Floridians purchase private insurance. Scott and House leaders have ruled out that idea. Individual hospitals weren’t much more conciliatory. Scott asked all of them to fill out surveys on their financial data. Many — though not all — essentially told the governor to look up the information himself. Many of the dozens of surveys returned by hospitals had five or fewer of the roughly 100 lines filled out with new information. Officials frequently referred Scott back to information filed with the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, which oversees much of the state’s spending on health care. “Florida Hospital regularly reports financial and hospital utilization data to the Agency for Health Care Administration, as required by state law,” wrote Joe Johnson, president and chief executive officer of Florida Hospital Carrollwood, in a letter accompanying an essentially blank response to the survey. “We believe our submissions are up to date, accurate and readily available to the public for review. In order to meet your urgent request, we respectfully refer you to consult AHCA to obtain this comprehensive information.” That didn’t sit well with some of the commission’s members when they gathered Wednesday. “As a taxpayer, if they receive tax dollars, they should be responsible for giving us the information that would help us make sure that the tax dollars are being spent wisely,” said commission member Sam Seevers, a former Destin mayor. But whether the panel can even help resolve the budget issues facing the Legislature has become something of an open question. Carlos Beruff, president of Medallion homes and chairman of the commission, indicated he thought it would be difficult for the group to gather all of the information it needs to help the state navigate those issues in time to help lawmakers. “I don’t think you’ll have all the data by the end of the special session — no, I don’t,” Beruff said. “But there’ll be more data.” Beruff would not answer directly how long he thought the panel might work. But asked specifically if it would wrap up by the end of the special session, he merely answered: “It’d be interesting to try.” The next day, though, lawmakers and Scott had their answer on how much the state would get for the LIP program: about $1 billion. “We note that this level of funding for the LIP, coupled with the options the state may elect at its discretion described in this letter, would enable Florida to retain Medicaid investment in the state at or above the current $2.16 billion level of LIP funding,” wrote Vikki Wachino, director of the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The letter did not exactly solve the argument between House and Senate leaders. For Senate President Andy Gardiner and his lieutenants, the reduction in LIP just backed up their call for a Medicaid expansion alternative. “While the letter from CMS outlines a number of policy alternatives, none of these options will allow Florida to maximize both state and federal taxpayer dollars in a more effective manner than by reducing the number of uninsured Floridians seeking basic health care in hospital emergency rooms,” Gardiner, R-Orlando, wrote in a memo to senators. “Clearly, a conservative free-market expansion of health care coverage is the most fiscally responsible approach.” But House Appropriations Chairman Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’ Lakes, indicated that he favored a plan that would use state money to make the hospitals whole. The House had pitched a similar idea near the end of the regular session, when lawmakers were unsure what the final size of the LIP program might be. “Now, the great news is that we’re able to do that with finality,” Corcoran said. THE REST OF THE STORY There’s less drama than usual this year about bill-signing season, given that Scott can’t yet use his line-item veto pen on the budget — since one does not exist — and some of the more controversial legislation never crossed the finish line in the messy conclusion of the regular legislative session. This in a session that was one of the least productive in recent memory, at least as measured in terms of bills passed. But there is still legislation for Scott to consider, and he approved 44 bills on Thursday. One (SB 290) would allow Floridians without concealed-weapons licenses to carry guns during mandatory emergency evacuations. “It’s really a no-brainer,” National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer said. “When people are forced to leave their homes, they have a right to carry their possessions with them — including their firearms to protect their property.” Scott also signed bills aimed at improving the state’s child-protection and juvenile-justice systems and bills banning job discrimination based on pregnancy and creating tax-free savings accounts for people with disabilities. The governor also approved a long-discussed bill aimed at shoring up the finances of pension funds for local police and firefighters. Friday brought more signings, including a bill that would allow children in Florida to secretly record conversations related to sexual abuse or other violent acts The signing of the measure (HB 7001) came a day after Richard McDade, a Fort Myers man who spent four years in prison on charges of sexually assaulting his stepdaughter, was acquitted by a jury in Lee County. The Florida Supreme Court in December ordered a new trial for McDade, declaring that recordings made by McDade’s stepdaughter should not have been allowed into his initial Lee County trial. State law generally bars recording of conversations unless all parties agree, and it also prevents such recordings from being used as evidence in court. NO SUIT FOR YOU School funding is likely to be a topic of discussion during the special session, but another effort by the state’s main teachers union to (in their leaders’ opinion) prevent money from being siphoned away from public schools was dealt a setback Monday. In a victory for school-choice supporters, Leon County Circuit Judge George Reynolds tossed out a constitutional challenge to a state program that helps send tens of thousands of low-income children to private schools. Reynolds ruled that plaintiffs in the case — spearheaded by the Florida Education Association — did not have legal “standing” to challenge the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program. The voucher-like program provides tax credits to companies that donate money to nonprofit entities that help pay for children to attend private schools. It includes nearly 70,000 students this year, according to the Foundation for Florida’s Future, a group founded by former Gov. Jeb Bush that is a major backer of school-choice programs. Patricia Levesque, executive director of the foundation, issued a statement after Reynolds’ ruling and blasted the union, which also led a legal fight that in 2006 blocked a voucher program pushed by Bush. “In Florida, we’re way beyond sitting back and letting the status quo roll over students’ opportunities and lives,” Levesque said in the statement. “The unions do not speak for the tens of thousands of parents and teachers embracing choices that make success possible for more and more students every year. And thank goodness for that.” But Joanne McCall, a vice president of the Florida Education Association who was a named plaintiff in the case, said the union thinks the tax-credit scholarship program, like the Bush voucher program, is unconstitutional. She said the union would decide soon whether to appeal Reynolds’ decision. “It’s time to settle the issue of the constitutionality of vouchers once and for all,” McCall said in a prepared statement. “We think this issue is of vital importance and the citizens of Florida deserve for this question to be decided.” STORY OF THE WEEK: The federal government announced a preliminary estimate of $1 billion for the state’s Low Income Pool program in the budget year that begins July 1. Questions about that program have complicated efforts by lawmakers to reach a deal on the budget. QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Take the Medicaid expansion. It not only takes care of your problem with the LIP, you’re empowering the patient. Oh, my God, isn’t that terrible? You’re giving poor people health care. Oh, that’s awful.”—Tom Brooks, of DeLand, at the first meeting of Gov. Rick Scott’s Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding. by Brandon Larrabee, The News Service of Florida  Read More →

May 24, 2015 | Read the story »

Wahoos Blow Chance To Beat Jackson

He had won his last two starts and came close to a third before Pensacola Blue Wahoos starting pitcher Robert Stephenson walked Jackson Generals right fielder Jabari Blash and was pulled after throwing 107 pitches. In 4.2 innings of work, Stephenson did strike out a career-high 11 hitters. However, it was not enough by the Cincinnati Reds top prospect, to help Pensacola pull out another win against the Jackson Generals, falling 8-6, in 11 innings. Pensacola kept clawing its way back into the game in front of 5,038 at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium—the 114th sellout in 225 home games. Pensacola has now won 11 of 16 games since May 7, and stands at 19-24 on the season. Jackson went back on top, 7-6, in the 11th inning when Jabari Henry scored on catcher Marcus Littlehood’s double to the right field corner. They made it 8-6 when first baseman Dan Paolini was walked in by reliever Kevin Shackelford. Stephenson walked five batters, including three straight in the first inning that led to the only two runs he gave up. He then fanned 11 of the final 13 outs. He gave up two hits in the game both to Generals leadoff batter Tyler Smith, who doubled and singled. He was 3-5 on the night with two doubles, two runs scored and one run batted in. Stephenson appeared to protest being yanked by Pensacola manager Pat Kelly but was relieved by Blaine Howell, a Pensacola State College product. “In the first inning, I’m trying to figure out the ump’s strike zone,” Stephenson said. “Definitely, aside from the first inning, I felt really good.” Kelly was not happy with the Wahoos after the loss to the Generals. “We’ve walked 25 guys in the last three nights we’ve played,” Kelly said. “We should just be thankful we won two out of three games.” Blue Wahoos first baseman Marquez Smith tied the game in the ninth, 6-6, to send the game to extra innings when he hit a bouncer up the middle that scored center fielder Beau Amaral. Amaral led off the inning with a walk, the third leadoff walk in a row. Jackson had gone ahead with a run in the bottom of the eighth, 6-5, when pinch runner Jabari Henry scored on reliever Carlos Gonzalez’s throwing error to first base on a sac bunt by catcher Marcus Littlehood. Kelly said the Blue Wahoos simply squandered too many opportunities to win its third consecutive game, pointing to two failed sacrifice bunts during the game. In the bottom of the 11th the Blue Wahoos loaded the bases with two outs before Seth Mejias-Brean grounded out. “We kept battling and kept battling,” Kelly said. “We had opportunities in lots of innings.”  Read More →

May 24, 2015 | Read the story »

Memorial Day Closures

The following will be closed Monday in observance of the Memorial Day holiday: Escambia County Escambia County Board of County Commissioners West Florida Public Library System Escambia County Property Appraiser Escambia County Tax Collector Escambia County Supervisor of Elections Escambia County Clerk of the Court & Comptroller Perdido Landfill, excluding the administrative offices, will be open Oak Grove Convenience Center will be closed Escambia County Area Transit (ECAT): Administrative offices closed ECAT will ONLY operate the following routes on Memorial Day: 59 Express 64 Beach Jumper Beach Trolley UWF Trolleys will not operate ECUA ECUA Business Offices will be closed Residential and commercial sanitation collections will be unaffected and will follow normal schedule Cities/Town Of Century, Pensacola, Jay All city offices and departments will be closed Santa Rosa County Santa Rosa County Board of Commissioners, including the library system and animal shelter The Central Landfill is open Monday, May 26 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Santa Rosa County Clerk of the Court Santa Rosa County Property Appraiser Santa Rosa County Supervisor of Elections Santa Rosa County Tax Collector  Read More →

May 23, 2015 | Read the story »

Bratt Elementary Presents Fifth Grade Awards

Bratt Elementary School presented the following fifth grade awards Friday: Honor Roll A’s & B’s Lakyn Bodiford Cassie Davis Tessa Flowers Grayson James Anna Lee James Loftis Reid McCall Travis Nelson Dallon Rackard Adrianne Shanks Jordan Wilson Academic Achievement A’s Anna Adams John Bashore Shelby Cotita Zane Gurganus Sarah Hetrick Ethan Kilburn Mia Starns Progress Award Tereasia Burt Miyhanna Davidson Ah’Zavion Gregory Rachael Sanders Jordan Stanley Rebekah Stilwell Kiara Wesley Outstanding Attendance John Bashore Lakyn Bodiford Ashton Cloud Miyhanna Davidson Sarius Davis Jacob Daw Jonathan Gibbs Ah’zavion Gregory Sarah Hetrick Grayson James Drake Jordan Ethan Kilburn Dallon Rackard Tymiriana Wesley Mekhi White Perfect Attendance Anna Adams Outstanding Citizenship Award Anna Adams Tereasia Burt Sarah Hetrick Mia Starns Kiara Wesley Sons of American Revolution Anna Adams John Bashore Tereasia Burt Sarah Hetrick Dallon Rackard Mia Starns P.E. Award Tereasia Burt Shelby Cotita Jordan Stanley Music Award Da’Merion Findley Adrianne Shanks Jordan Stanley Mia Starns Art Award John Bashore Cassie Davis A.J. Hasty Angel Merchant Bailey Stuckey Battle of the Books Team Members Shelby Cotita Miyhanna Davidson Andrew Denton James Loftis Kaleigh Macks Sunshine Math Team Members Anna Adams John Bashore Shelby Cotita Cassie Davis Zane Gurganus Sarah Hetrick Mia Starns Spelling Bee Anna Adams Century Lions Club Kiara Wesley Cox Jordan Wilson Walnut Hill Ruritan John Bashore Shining Star Anna Adams Student of the Year Sarius Davis  Read More →

May 23, 2015 | Read the story »

FWC Law Enforcement Report

The Florida FWC Division of Law Enforcement reported the following activity during the weekly period ending May 21 in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. ESCAMBIA COUNTY Officer Hutchinson and Investigator Brown were patrolling the Escambia River Wildlife Management Area when they observed three kayakers paddling in a lake along the river.  They made contact with the kayakers and discovered that none of them had PFDs and one of them had been fishing without a license.  A records check revealed an outstanding warrant on one of the kayakers.  After placing him in custody, the officers found the subject to be in possession of marijuana.  He was charged for possession of cannabis and transported to the Escambia County Jail on the warrant. Officers and investigators responded to a single vessel accident where the vessel struck the pilings of the eastbound span of the I-10 Bridge and immediately sank.  The operator spent the next 12 hours atop the cobia tower before another fisherman spotted the man and called 911.  The man was taken by air-ambulance to Sacred Heart Hospital and immediately taken into surgery. The man is in critical condition. Investigator Hughes is conducting the investigation. SANTA ROSA COUNTY The Fin Cat crew was on patrol in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico south of Pensacola.  The crew initiated a boarding on a recreational vessel with three persons onboard who were actively fishing. Prior to boarding, the subjects were asked if they “had any luck.” One of them responded that they just got there.  He was then asked if they had any fish onboard.  He reiterated that they just got there and only had bait.  During their inspection, the boarding team discovered eight undersized red snapper, a red snapper fillet, and six undersized greater amberjack, the largest measuring 24 inches in length.  All three subjects were issued federal citations. Officer Lewis was on patrol in Blackwater River State Forest when he observed a man and woman camping.  Officer Lewis observed the man in possession of a pistol.  The couple was also in possession of alcoholic beverages which are prohibited in the area they were in.  A records check revealed that the man had a domestic violence injunction against him and could not possess a firearm.  The firearm was seized and the man was arrested for possession of a firearm while currently a subject of a protection order. 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 23, 2015 | Read the story »

Northview Baccalaureate Service Set For Sunday Afternoon

The Northview High School Baccalaureate Service will be held this Sunday, May 24 at Bratt First Baptist Church on Highway 4. The service begins at 2 p.m. Guest speaker will be Glenn Weber, executive pastor of Grace Fellowship in Atmore. Everyone is invited to attend. Pictured: Northview’s 2014 Baccalaureate Service. NorthEscambia.com file photo, click to enlarge.  Read More →

May 23, 2015 | Read the story »

Spring Football: Tate Over PFHS In OT; West Florida Beats Washington

The Tate Aggies beat the Pine Forest Eagles 20-14 in overtime Friday night. The Aggie took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter on a 69-yard TD pass from Sawyer Smith to Jake Henry, and on a 70-yard touchdown run from LaDarryl Paige. The Eagles answered with two runs in the second quarter to tie it up 14-14. Tate’s win came in OT with a touchdown run from junior running back Corey Moorer . The West Florida Jaguars won the varsity half of their spring game Friday night 35-0 over Washington High School. The JV Jaguars won the second half 55-0 over Washington.  Read More →

May 23, 2015 | Read the story »

Wahoos Top Generals

The Pensacola Blue Wahoos spotted Tim Adleman three runs and the tall righty handled the rest. Adleman improved to 2-3 with a 1.41 ERA after throwing seven scoreless innings and now has given up one earned run in his last 25 innings. Pensacola won its second straight game against the Jackson Generals, 3-0, in front of a sellout crowd of 5,038 at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium. “Everybody around me did a great job tonight,” Adleman said. “Three is enough. That’s the job as a starter to go out there and whether you’re given one or three or nine just keeping the other team off the board.” Adleman benefited from four double plays in seven of the innings he pitched and in the other three he struck a batter out. Pensacola now leads the Southern League with 54 double plays. “I was just keeping it interesting. Trying to keep people on the edge of their seats,” he said jokingly. Pensacola has now won 11 of 15 games since May 7, and improved its record to 19-23 on the season. Shortstop Zach Vincej hit a homer deep to left field in the second inning for a 2-0 Pensacola lead. It was Vincej’s second homer in three at bats over the first two games with Jackson. It’s the second most home runs for Vincej in a season in his four-year minor league career. He hit three for the Low A Dayton Dragons in 2013. Catcher Kyle Skipworth then launched a 390-foot, solo shot to the left center gap, which put the Blue Wahoos on top, 3-0. In the first inning, Blue Wahoos third baseman Seth Mejias-Brean dropped a two-out, line drive into center that scored second baseman Ryan Wright from third for a 1-0 lead. It was Mejias-Brean’s 12th consecutive game that he reached base safely. Vincej, who has two homers and 5 RBIs on the season, said the team is finally starting to gel. “Everybody is starting to click now. We’re starting to mold as a team, which is great,” he said. Pensacola manager Pat Kelly gave credit to the infield, and especially third baseman Juan Perez. Perez started three of the four double plays and handled nine grounders perfectly. The Generals leadoff hitter Tyler Smith did smash a hard sinking line drive off his glove and into left field in the eighth but it was ruled a hit. “Perez was tremendous at third tonight,” Kelly said. “He looked like a natural tonight. He has a lot of flexibility and can play all nine positions.”  Read More →

May 23, 2015 | Read the story »

Two Incidents Prompt School Lockdowns

Two different incidents Friday sent two Escambia County Schools into lockdown. At Pine Forest High School, the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office took an expelled student that showed up on campus into custody after he allegedly tried to assault a student with a pocket knife. He is now charged with trespassing. There were no injuries reported, and no weapon was located. Workman Middle School also went into lockdown mode Friday after a 16-year old student punched administrator. A teacher that tried to help was also injured. The student ran, prompting the lockdown. The student later surrendered to Pensacola Police.  Read More →

May 22, 2015 | Read the story »

Escambia Man Gets 25 Years For Molesting Child

An Escambia County man was sentenced Wednesday to 25 years in state prison for  lewd or lascivious molestation of a victim under 12. He was convicted by a jury last month. he incident occurred while the victim was spending the night at a relative’s house. The victim immediately disclosed the incident.  Read More →

May 22, 2015 | Read the story »

Operation Works To Clean Up Cottage Hill

The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office held a  Clean Sweep operation Thursday morning in the Cottage Hill area. The focus of “Operation Clean Sweep” was to work with the Cottage Hill Neighborhood Watch group, residents, churches and business owners to control and prevent the damaging effects of criminal activity, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Volunteers also worked throughout the day to clean trash and debris from alongside neighborhoods streets. During Thursday’s event, the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office issued 16 traffic citations, and a dozen sex offender addresses were verified. There were 10 code violations cited, and 20 tons of debris was removed. There were no arrests reported. The event was hosted by the Cottage Hill Neighborhood Watch. The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office plans their next Clean Sweep for June 18 in the Maxwell Street area. NorthEscambia.com file photos.  Read More →

May 22, 2015 | Read the story »

Scott Signs Bills On Carrying Guns, Bolstering Child Protection

.Gov. Rick Scott signed 44 bills into law Thursday, including a measure that will allow Floridians without concealed-weapons licenses to carry guns during mandatory emergency evacuations. He also signed bills aimed at improving the state’s child-protection and juvenile-justice systems, banning job discrimination based on pregnancy and creating tax-free savings accounts for people with disabilities. The new gun law (SB 290) went into effect as soon as Scott signed it. Backers say the measure will allow people to bring their weapons when forced to leave home because of hurricanes and other disasters. “It’s really a no-brainer,” National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer said. “When people are forced to leave their homes, they have a right to carry their possessions with them — including their firearms to protect their property.” A similar measure died in the Senate last year amid concerns by the Florida Sheriffs Association and senators on both sides of the aisle. Some were apprehensive about increasing the number of armed people on the streets without concealed-weapons licenses during emergencies. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, addressed those concerns this year by limiting the amount of time people can carry guns without concealed-weapons licenses to 48 hours, which can be extended by the governor. Meanwhile, the child-protection law (SB 7078) began as what’s known as a glitch bill, expanding aspects of a sweeping reform measure that passed last year. The new law will increase reporting of medical neglect and will expand the role of the state’s Critical Incident Rapid Response Team, which the secretary of the Department of Children and Families can dispatch to investigate child deaths. It will also require services to be “evidence-based and trauma-informed” — a recommendation of the Florida Institute for Child Welfare, which was created as part of last year’s law. Children’s services must be based on the idea that abused kids can recover from trauma by addressing the painful experiences they’ve endured, such as violent or addicted parents. Additionally, an amendment to the bill caused battles in the House and Senate. That provision, which passed, will require employees and volunteers of certain membership organizations — such as the Boys and Girls Clubs, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts — to meet background screening requirements through the Department of Children and Families. “Florida’s children now have greater protection against the evildoers in our society,” said Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Chairwoman Eleanor Sobel, a Hollywood Democrat who sponsored the bill and the controversial amendment. The governor also signed a bill (SB 378) that will increase the number of times law-enforcement officers may issue civil citations to non-violent juvenile offenders. Sponsored by Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, the measure will eliminate part of state law that limits juvenile-diversion programs to first-time misdemeanor offenders. That would allow civil-citation and other diversion programs to be used in second or subsequent offenses. The bill will allow officers the choice of issuing simple warnings or informing children’s parents or guardians about misdemeanor offenses. Under the measure, juveniles could be assigned up to 50 hours of community service or required to participate in intervention programs, such as family counseling and substance-abuse and mental-health treatment. Rep. Gwyn Clarke-Reed, a Deerfield Beach Democrat who sponsored the House version of the bill, said she was “delighted” Scott signed the measure into law. “This new law gives important discretion to officers on the streets, critical opportunity to youthful offenders and more productive use of taxpayers’ money,” Clarke-Reed said in a prepared statement. “We should, when we can, offer kids who find themselves in trouble a path to productivity rather than a pipeline to jail.” Over the past four years, the use of civil citations in Florida has increased from seven to 59 of the state’s 67 counties. Both the child-protection and civil-citation laws go into effect on Oct .1. Among the other bills Scott signed Thursday was a measure (SB 642) that will create the Florida ABLE program so that people with disabilities can save money in tax-free savings accounts for future services without losing their eligibility for state and federal benefits. Also, he signed a bill (SB 982) that bans discrimination based on pregnancy in employment, public lodging and food service establishments. by Margie Menzel, The News Service of Florida  Read More →

May 22, 2015 | Read the story »

Kendal Cobb Named Miss Northview High

Senior Kendal Cobb has been named Miss Northview High School 2015. She is the daughter of Jamie and Becky Cobb. After graduating Summa Cum Laude from Northview on May 20, she plans to attend a local community college and major in nursing. Rather than a traditional pageant, Miss Northview High School was selected this year by a portfolio, poster, resume, an interview with judges, teacher recommendations and a vote of the student body. Photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.  Read More →

May 22, 2015 | Read the story »

Lower LIP Funding Sets Stage For Session Debate

Florida can anticipate about $1 billion in funding for a health-care program at the center of a state budget standoff, a high-ranking federal official wrote in a letter Thursday, giving lawmakers a better idea of what to expect when they begin a special session next month. The estimate provided in the letter from Vikki Wachino, director of the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, would mark a reduction of about $1.2 billion in the program, which is known as the Low Income Pool, during the budget year that begins July 1. Funding for LIP would then likely fall to about $600 million in later years, Wachino wrote. The letter also provides a list of options Florida could use to offset the drop in LIP, which sends money to hospitals and other medical providers that care for large numbers of low-income patients. Wachino suggested that the state boost the rates it pays hospitals for treating Medicaid patients. “We note that this ($1 billion) level of funding for the LIP, coupled with the options the state may elect at its discretion described in this letter, would enable Florida to retain Medicaid investment in the state at or above the current $2.16 billion level of LIP funding,” she wrote. The federal decision on LIP would extend the program past its current June 30 expiration date and could provide the Legislature with a way out of the budget impasse. Lawmakers are expected to begin a special session June 1 to resolve the spending plan. But cutting funding for the program could also harden some divisions at the Capitol. Senate leaders have pushed for the state to offset the loss of LIP funds by using federal Medicaid expansion money to help lower-income Floridians purchase private insurance — an idea adamantly opposed by House Republican leaders and Gov. Rick Scott. If the state has to instead offset the loss by backfilling the hole with tax revenues, that could eat into funding for other priorities, like public education and tax cuts. “I think it confirms the magnitude of the potential backfill number to make the system whole, and I think it sends a very strong message about the expiration of LIP over time,” Senate Appropriations Chairman Tom Lee, R-Brandon, said of the federal letter. Lee and Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, argued that the size of the cut in LIP backs the chamber’s insistence on expanding health-care coverage. “While the letter from CMS outlines a number of policy alternatives, none of these options will allow Florida to maximize both state and federal taxpayer dollars in a more effective manner than by reducing the number of uninsured Floridians seeking basic health care in hospital emergency rooms,” Gardiner wrote in a memo to senators. “Clearly, a conservative free-market expansion of health care coverage is the most fiscally responsible approach.” But Scott and the House have opposed expanding Medicaid in any form. The disagreement between the House and Senate on the issue in part caused the impasse that saw lawmakers adjourn the regular annual session without a budget in place. House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, told his members in a memo that the House was still reviewing Wachino’s letter and would provide a more thorough response later. “Until then, I believe the clear indication before the special session is Florida will receive a significant level of LIP funds, which will help us in our efforts to finish the budget by the July 1 deadline,” he wrote. House Appropriations Chairman Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’ Lakes, indicated late Thursday he favored a plan that would use state money to make the hospitals whole. The House had pitched a similar idea near the end of the regular session, when lawmakers were unsure what the final size of the LIP program might be. “Now, the great news is that we’re able to do that with finality,” Corcoran said. Speaking to reporters at Taylor County’s Perry Primary School, where he was visiting, Scott seemed to once again rule out the idea of a state Medicaid expansion plan. “The Senate’s plan would cost our taxpayers $5 billion over the first 10 years,” Scott said. “If you look at history, health-care programs in almost every case cost way more than what people thought in the beginning.” Scott also said he hadn’t decided whether to drop a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which includes the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, to bar the agency from considering whether the state has expanded Medicaid while weighing a decision on LIP. Attorneys for the two sides agreed Thursday to extend until June 1 a deadline for federal officials to respond to Scott’s request for an injunction in the lawsuit. In her letter, Wachino tried to emphasize that while LIP and a coverage expansion are related, whether Florida expanded Medicaid wasn’t a factor in the federal government’s decision. “Regardless of whether a state expands, uncompensated care pool funding should not pay for costs that would be covered in a Medicaid expansion,” she wrote. “Therefore, the state’s expansion decision does not affect the size of the LIP itself.” House Minority Leader Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach, applauded the agency for its decision in the face of the lawsuit. “Despite Gov. Scott’s lack of planning, hostile public relations campaign and frivolous litigation, CMS has acted in the best interests of taxpayers and the people of Florida,” Pafford said. by Brandon Larrabee, The News Service of Florida  Read More →

May 22, 2015 | Read the story »

West Florida’s Hicks Signs With Huntingdon College

Former Cantonment Cowboy and now West Florida High School senior Brandon Hicks has signed with Huntingdon College in Montgomery. Pictured: Brandon Hicks (in tie), his mother and father David and Kelli Hicks, sister Cheyenne Hicks and (standing) Coach Harry Lees and and West Florida Principal Eric Smith. Submitted photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.  Read More →

May 22, 2015 | Read the story »

Weather Cancels Subway All Star Baseball And Softball Games

The Subway High School All-Star 2014-15 Series baseball and softball games at the University of West Florida were called Thursday evening due to threatening weather. The East baseball team and West softball team were each up 1-0 as the games ended. The games will not be rescheduled due to it being at the end of the school. Team members were: WEST SOFTBALL Catholic – Keaton Covan – LF/SS Escambia – Rebecca Rudd – OF Escambia – Sara Spears – OF/1B Northview – Addy Lee – 2B Northview – Mallory Ryan – Pitcher/ 1B Northview – Angel Lathan – Catcher/ CF Pensacola – Tanogela Brown – RF Pensacola – N’Dya Tolbert – CF Pine Forest – Brooke Lauter – P/ 1B Pine Forest – Tiana Alevedo – SS/ 2B Tate – Izzy Werdann – C/3B Tate – Tori Perkins – P/1B/3B Tate – Sam Burks – OF Tate – Casey McCrackin – SS Tate – Rachel Wright – 2B/OF Tate – Lauren Brennan – OF Washington – Callan Burkett – 3B Washington – Lauren Douber – CF West Florida – Kayla Miller – 2B/SS/OF West Florida – Kristin Gunter – SS/3B/1B EAST SOFTBALL Baker – Tori Foster – CF/IF/C Baker – Alexis Mitchem – P/IF Central – Makayla Simmons – 1B/OF Central – Courtney Arnaud – C Central – Brittney Amey – SS Choctaw – Macie Gray – C Choctaw – Sydney Oliver – CF Crestview – Taylor Henderson – 2B/ SS/ RF Fort Walton – Braya Enriquez – OF/C Gulf Breeze – Gena Ramos – RF Gulf Breeze – Sydney Ezelle – SS Gulf Breeze – Paige VanTassel – 3B Jay – Dana Blackmon – P/1B Jay – Emily Dobson – 1B Laurel Hill – Ashley Hatfield – C/ OF Milton – Hannah Wakeman – 3B/P Milton – Whitney Dowell – C/SS/3B/Athlete Navarre – Shana Pearl – CF Niceville – Haley Baker – Catcher Niceville – Jaci Hodskins – OF/ IF Niceville – Graysen Gladden – CF Pace – Tristen Pearson – SS/OF Pace – Payton Carpenter – P/DH WEST BASEBALL Catholic – David Rosen – P Catholic – Brandon Lockridge – SS Catholic – Jawan Purifoy – OF Catholic – Evans Bozeman – IB- P Catholic – Harrison Carroll – RF East Hill – Joshua Farina – P/SS/3B Escambia – Anthony Stoeter – CF Escambia – Jessie Gunter – P Northview – Chase Freeman – SS Northview – Aaron McDonald – OF PCA – Spencer Wass – P/SS/C/CF PCA – Brennan Roberts – Catcher PHS – Chris Welt – P Pine Forest – Chris Byrd – 2B/P Pine Forest – Brent Bodree – Catcher Pine Forest – Nick Williams – P/1B/3B Tate – Hunter Worley – 3B/C Tate – Jacob Saulnier – 1B/OF Tate – Mark Miller – 1B/LHP Washington – Dylan Morgan – LH Pitcher Washington – Thomas Strange – Pitcher/ OF Washington – Rylan Hendricks – OF Washington – Branch Robinson – OF West Florida – Mikey Jones – P/INF West Florida – RJ Lewis – SS/P West Florida – Kyle Harrison – Catcher EAST BASEBALL Baker – Austin Hicks – P/SS/C Central – Reid Grant – OF/IF Central – Justin Abel – P/OF/1B Choctaw – Zach Jowers – SS Choctaw – Hayden Bludworth – P Choctaw – Nate Gilmore – C Crestview – Nathan Gerard – Catcher FWB – Jake Smith – P FWB – Joe Guidry – C FWB – Darren Hasch – 3B Gulf Breeze – Jacob Kubik – SS Jay – Taylor Kelley – P/LF Laurel Hill – Max Smith – OF Milton – Taylor Ford – Catcher Milton – Micah McGaha – Pitcher Milton – Bryton Melvin – 3B/ Pitcher Milton – Brenden Blevins – Outfield Navarre – Billy Unterbrink – 2B Niceville – Drew Frederic – SS Niceville – Chance Riley – P Niceville – Tyler Head – C/IF Niceville – Trevor Eubanks – P Pace – Chase Lambert – P Pace – Tyler Sharp – SS Rocky Bayou – Zackary Payne – Catcher/ OF Pictured top: Subway All-Stars from Northview High  (L-R) Addy Lee, Chasen Freeman, Angel Lathan, Aaron McDonald and Mallory Ryan. Photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.  Read More →

May 22, 2015 | Read the story »

64 Arrested In Warrant Sweep

An Escambia County Sheriff’s Office warrant sweep resulted in 64 arrests and 136 warrants being served. The sweep targeted those who had outstanding warrants for sex crimes, fraud and stolen property. For a list of those arrested, charges and mugshots, click here (pdf file).  Read More →

May 22, 2015 | Read the story »

Wahoos Beat Jackson

Zach Vincej came into Thursday’s game hitting .200 with only one run-batted in for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos. However, the shortstop went 2-4 on the night, launching a three-run line drive over the left field wall that gave him his first homer of the year and raised his average to .220. Vincej’s homer also lifted Pensacola to a six-run sixth inning and a victory, 8-5, in the opening of the five-game series with the Jackson Generals in front of 4,227 at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium. Vincej, who was coming off of seven days on the disabled list with a left wrist contusion, said it felt good to get all of the hanging curveball from Jackson reliever Jordan Shippers, who was pounding him inside with fastballs. “I’ve had a couple frustrating months myself personally,” Vincej said. “I had to remind myself it’s a long season and you just have to be resilient at the end of the day. I knew I got a good piece of it. It was a nice feeling. I’m glad everything worked out.” Pensacola manager Pat Kelly said a home run is a home run. “It was great,” said Kelly, whose team is now on a 10-4 winning streak since May 7. “Fortunately, they give you the same number of points whether it goes over by an inch or 100-feet. Zach has had a tough time. But since he’s spent time on the DL, he’s been swinging the bat well since he has come back.” Six of the Blue Wahoos eight runs – the most they’ve scored in a game this season – came from the bottom four batters in the order: third baseman Juan Perez, Vincej, DH Cam Maron and left fielder Juan Silva. “We had six RBIs and six runs scored from the bottom of the lineup,” Kelly said. “That’s huge. Now, everybody is kind of on a roll.” Jackson went ahead, 3-2, in the top of the sixth inning on five walks, four by Pensacola reliever Layne Somsen who lasted 0.1 innings and was charged with the runs. That’s when the Blue Wahoos came right back with six straight runners on base, who all scored to put Pensacola back on top, 8-3. “We’re believing in each other,” Vincej said of Pensacola, which improved to 18-23 on the season. “If they put three, we can put up three, as well. We have to keep our confidence going.”  Read More →

May 22, 2015 | Read the story »

Former Police Officer Still Missing; Vehicle Found In McDavid

The search in continuing for a missing Flomaton man, a former police officer, whose vehicle was found abandoned near McDavid. John Douglas Oswalt, 35, last communicated with family members on Sunday, May 3, according to Flomaton Police Chief Bryan Davis. He was last seen in the Pensacola area that morning. His silver in color Chrysler Crossfire was found abandoned on Pine Barren Road near McDavid  about 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 5 by the Escambia County (FL) Sheriff’s Office. At that time, an Escambia County K-9 unit searched the area around the vehicle with no results. The Flomaton Police Department also attempted unsuccessfully to locate Oswalt at his home on Jackson Street in Flomaton. Search warrants have been executed for his vehicle and home. Davis said Wednesday that his office had only received two possible tips about Oswalt, with one of those reported sightings extremely unlikely. Oswalt is former Memphis (TN) police officer, according to friends and family.  He is described as a white male, about six feet tall with hazel eyes and bald head. No clothing description was known. Oswalt previously listed a home address in Cantonment. Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Oswalt should contact the Flomaton Police Department at (251) 296-5811 or their local law enforcement agency.  Read More →

May 21, 2015 | Read the story »

Century Business Challenge Idea Becomes Reality: New Daycare To Open Soon

An idea in the running for the $25,000 Century Business Challenge is already set to become a reality, regardless of the contest outcome to be announced next month. The Abundant Life Assembly of God Church will open a daycare on June 1. Director Heather Smith said she felt led to open a daycare about five years ago, but she put the idea aside. “But back in the fall, the idea just started to kind of resurface again,” she said. In December, the Century Business Challenge was announced by Quint and Rishy Studer, with $25,000 and a possible location in the Century Business Center.  The church has applied for the challenge, but decided to go ahead and open the Abundant Life Children of Hope Center on June 1. The daycare will begin with space for 29 children from 6 week old to Pre-K…allowing their mothers, or  fathers, the chance to go to work or school. “I saw the need for Century, Smith said. “We see the need. We want to be a blessing to the community.” Open enrollment is underway now. Applications can be picked up from the church on North Century Boulevard Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. Daycare hours will be 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. For more information, call (850) 256-5227. A recent economic development plan created by the University of West Florida Haas Center identified the need for a daycare in Century.  Read More →

May 21, 2015 | Read the story »

Scott: Lawmakers ‘Know My Priorities’ For Special Session

Gov. Rick Scott resumed his push Wednesday for a massive tax-cut package and a “historic” increase in school funding, downplaying a call for agency heads to prepare for a bare-bones budget. “I’m cautiously optimistic that we’ll have a good special session,” Scott said when asked about the state having to scale down to its critical needs if lawmakers fail to hammer out a budget before July 1. Though the House and Senate continue to have a sizable divide over health-care funding as they head into next month’s special session, at least some lawmakers appear to want to please the governor when it comes to tax cuts. Scott proposed a $673 million tax-cut package early this year, and the House later offered a $690 million plan. House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, said tax cuts will be “a priority” for the upcoming session. “The Finance and Tax Committee will be tasked to come up with a bill to reflect the Legislature’s new joint budget number, which has not yet been determined,” Crisafulli said in an email Wednesday. The Senate remains a little more guarded as Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, continues to work with his chamber to draft a schedule for the session that begins June 1. Senate leaders did not offer a full tax-cut package during this spring’s regular session, though Senate committees advanced individual tax-cut bills. “The question has been how to balance a desire to reduce taxes against other priorities, particularly given the uncertainty surrounding health care funding,” Katie Betta, Gardiner’s spokeswoman, said in an email Wednesday. The Senate has proposed spending $2.8 billion in federal Medicaid money to help hundreds of thousands of lower-income Floridians purchase private insurance. Senate leaders argue that could help in negotiations with the federal officials over the future of the $2.2 billion Low Income Pool, or LIP, program. LIP mostly sends money to hospitals and other health providers that care for large numbers of low-income residents. The LIP program is scheduled to expire June 30, unless federal official approve an extension. Scott has joined the House in fiercely opposing any health-care expansion funded through the federal Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare. Scott deflected questions Wednesday when asked if he’d threatened to veto a budget that fails to include his top session priorities. When pressed, Scott repeated that the House and Senate are aware of his priorities, which include higher per-student funding for public schools. His tax-cut plan is dominated by a proposed reduction in the communications-services tax on cell-phone and pay-TV bills. “I want to continue what I’ve done every session, which is to work with the House and Senate to work on the problems of our state,” Scott told reporters in Tallahassee. “They know my priorities.” Scott’s statement is less pessimistic than the outlook he offered when interviewed May 10 on FOX News. During that interview, he said the tax-cut package and proposed increase in education funding could be in jeopardy if the health-care battle kept the Legislature from completing a budget by June 30. “We won’t put more money into schools, which I wanted to do,” Scott said during the FOX News interview. “We won’t cut taxes, which I wanted to do. We’ll just leave the money there and deal with it in our next session, which starts in January.” Since then, budget leaders from the House and Senate started meeting to discuss the special session. On Friday, House and Senate leaders formally called the session, which could last from June 1 to June 20. During this spring’s regular session, the House voted 112-3 to approve its tax-cut package. The package included Scott’s call for a 3.6 percentage-point reduction in the communications-services tax, totaling about $470 million in cuts. The House proposal would have also eliminated sales taxes on college textbooks and made a series of other tax cuts, including reducing a tax on commercial-real estate leases from 6 percent to 5.8 percent and providing a three-day sales-tax holiday for back-to-school shoppers. Along with his focus on tax cuts, Scott has requested increasing per-student school funding to $7,176, a roughly $261 per-student increase from the current year. Scott’s per-student funding would be $50 higher than the previous high in the 2007-08 budget year. The State Board of Education on Wednesday sought to build support for that idea, voting unanimously to once again call on the Legislature to provide record funding. “I’d like to also remind everyone here and the legislators that we actually have a surplus this year, and let’s not forget that,” said outgoing Board of Education Chairman Gary Chartrand. “I know there’s some issues with the health care, and the Legislature’s coming together to work that out.” But Chartrand also indicated that schools should come before Scott’s other signature proposal. “There’s also tax cuts that have been proposed, and I would hope that we would fund education first before we moved in any other direction,” he said. Education Commissioner Pam Stewart highlighted the state’s recent gains in areas like high-school graduation and said that funding was “absolutely critical” to continuing the momentum. Stewart also said school districts had been forced by tight budgets in recent years to be more careful in figuring out which funding initiatives should take priority. “I think the time is the right one,” she said. “Everything is set in place for this Legislature to do the right thing by education in the state of Florida and really invest in the economic development of our state through the education system.” by Jim Turner and Brandon Larrabee, The News Service of Florida  Read More →

May 21, 2015 | Read the story »