Molino Man Arrested For Two Counts Of Attempted Murder
A Molino man has been arrest on two counts of attempted murder for a shooting in Pensacola last December.
Johnny Walker, Jr., age 23 of Barth Road, was charged with two capital counts of attempted first degree premeditated homicide, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, reckless or negligent discharge of a weapon, firing a weapon into [...]
Kidnapping Charges Dropped In Century Shooting Death Case
A Century man remains jailed for January 31 shooting death in Century , but some of the charges against him have been dropped because prosecutors says part of the story told by witnesses was not true.
Jaran Britt Myles, 20, remains jailed without bond on charges of negligent manslaughter and aggravated assault for the shooting [...]
Learn About Century Business Challenge At Tuesday Workshop
Orientation and workshops for the upcoming Century Business Challenge begin Tuesday from the University of West Florida Haas Center and the Florida SBDC at UWF.
The business challenge is a business plan competition in which the winning company will receive a prize package valued at more than $25,000. The [...]
Hundreds Attend Walnut Hill Ruritan Auction
Hundreds of people attended the 41st Annual Walnut Hill Ruritan Club Farm Equipment Auction Saturday in Walnut Hill.
Items sold included farm equipment, lawn and garden equipment, household items and more during the event, which is held each year on the last Saturday of February. All proceeds from the auction [...]
Manna, Rotary Clubs Team Up To Create Nearly 80,000 Meals For The Hungry
The Combined Rotary Clubs of Pensacola (CROP) were joined with Manna Food Bank Saturday. The Fourth Annual Rotary Against Hunger Project resulted in 79,413 meals being packed for the hungry in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.
Over 300 volunteers took part in Saturday’s event, with each of the area’s 12 Rotary Clubs represented.
fThe Rotary Against Hunger [...]
Report: Crime Is Down In Escambia County
Crime in Escambia County was down 9.6 percent in 2014, while the number of violent crimes was down 1.2 percent, according to the latest numbers released Friday by the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office. There were 1,761 violent crimes in Escambia County in 2014, down from 2,271 in 2008, the year before Sheriff David Morgan took [...]
Gastrointestinal Infections On The Rise In Escambia County
An increased number of gastrointestinal infections have been reported in Escambia County, and the Florida Department of Health in Escambia County would like to remind the community of proper hygiene practices to prevent gastrointestinal illness.
Gastrointestinal infections can be highly contagious and are usually spread through person to person contact with an infected person, contact with [...]
Northview’s Anna Barry Named Escambia Teacher Of The Year
Anna Barry of Northview High School has been named the Escambia County Teacher of the Year.
“As a teacher, it’s great to see what you did really did impact students later in life,” Barry said. “Sometimes you have to get them to step outside their comfort zones, and in the end it can all [...]
Local Elementary School Custodian Arrested For Child Porn
Florida Department of Law Enforcement Pensacola Regional Operations Center Special Agents have arrested Samuel Dwain Yates, 43, of 4289 W. Avenida De Golf, Milton, Fla. on four counts of possession of child pornography. Yates is a custodian at the Jim Allen Elementary School in Cantonment.
Agents began investigating Yates after receiving [...]
Know Before You Burn: Burn Authorizations Often Needed
Many times, area residents need permits for outdoor burns, according to the Florida Forest Service.
One of the primary roles of the Florida Forest Service is management of the state’s burn programs. Whether burning acres of forestlands or piles for land clearing operations, residents who plan to burn often need an authorization from their local FFS [...]
Two County Bridges Set For Replacement By FDOT
The Florida Department of Transportation is set to replace two North Escambia bridges. The bridges have reached deterioration to warrant replacement by the state as part of FDOT’s Five-Year Work Plan.
The bridges are the Dortch Road bridge over Beaver Dam Creek, and the County Road 97A bridge over Boggy Creek.
The Dortch Road Bridge, near Bratt, [...]
As Poarch Creeks Push For North Escambia Gaming, Florida Focus Is On Seminoles
As the Poarch Band of Creek Indians push Gov. Rick Scott for a gaming compact and a possible casino in North Escambia [read more], most of the attention on gaming in Florida is focused on a gaming compact with the Seminoles. Dara Kam reports….
A high-stakes deal with the Seminole Tribe set to expire this summer [...]
The ‘Odd’ Neighbor: Cantonment Man Charged With Stalking
A Cantonment man described as an “odd” neighbor has been arrested for stalking a woman.
The victim told the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office that she, her husband and her young child moved into a Cantonment home just off Neal Road back in mid-December. She said that a neighbor came over the day she moved in. The [...]
Other Top Stories:
Driver Misses Curve, Hits Power Pole In Walnut Hill
There were no injuries when the driver of a vehicle missed a poorly marked 90-degree curve on Kansas Road and destroyed a power pole Sunday night in Walnut Hill. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, 24-year old Austin Reimer of Ringwood, OK, was northbound on Kansas Road in a 2014 Ford Expedition when he failed to negotiate the curve and struck the utility pole. The vehicle eventually came to rest in a grassy field. Reimer and his three passengers ages 18-22 and all from Ringwood, OK, were not injured. The accident happened just north of Arthur Brown Road about 9 p.m., causing a small number of Escambia River Electric Cooperative customers in the Kansas Road area to lose power for about two hours. The accident is under investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol. The Walnut Hill Station of Escambia Fire Rescue also responded. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge. Read More →
Warmer, Slight Rain Chances
Here is your official North Escambia area forecast: Monday A 20 percent chance of showers. Cloudy, with a high near 69. Calm wind becoming south around 5 mph in the afternoon. Monday Night A 20 percent chance of showers before midnight. Areas of fog after midnight. Otherwise, cloudy, with a low around 58. Calm wind becoming southeast around 5 mph. Tuesday A 20 percent chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 75. South wind 5 to 15 mph. Tuesday Night A 20 percent chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 63. South wind 5 to 10 mph. Wednesday A 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 74. South wind 5 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph. Wednesday Night Rain likely. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 43. South wind 5 to 10 mph becoming northwest after midnight. Chance of precipitation is 70%. Thursday A 30 percent chance of rain. Cloudy, with a high near 48. North wind around 15 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph. Thursday Night Mostly cloudy, with a low around 35. North wind 10 to 15 mph. Friday A 20 percent chance of rain. Partly sunny, with a high near 51. Friday Night Mostly cloudy, with a low around 37. Saturday A 20 percent chance of rain. Partly sunny, with a high near 59. Saturday Night A 20 percent chance of rain. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 43. Sunday A 30 percent chance of rain. Partly sunny, with a high near 59. Read More →
Ag Saves Workshop Series – Securing Your Farm’s Financial Future
Escambia County Extension and the University of Florida IFAS will host an Ag Saves Workshop Series beginning Tuesday, March 24. This four-session series of interactive workshops will focus on the basics of securing your farm’s financial future and will be offered locally at the Walnut Hill Community Center on Highway 97. In addition to learning from featured speakers, participants will receive a Farm Journal Legacy Project Workbook to help walk their family through the succession planning process. The four workshop sessions, held from 6 to 7:30 p.m., will cover the following topics: Tuesday, March 24 – Preparing for retirement and other goals Tuesday, June 23 – Trimming the fat, how to manage and reduce your debt Tuesday, July 21 – Securing your family’s and your farm’s future, part 1 Tuesday, August 18 – Securing your family’s and your farm’s future, part 2 The cost of the class is $55 per family (up to four members) and pre-registration is required by Tuesday, March 10. For more information or to register contact Libbie Johnson or Dorothy Lee at Escambia County Extension (850) 475-5230. or visit bit.ly/AgSavesSeries. Read More →
Northview Cheerleader Parent Meeting
Anyone interested in trying out for the Northview High School cheerleading team for the 2015-2016 school year should attend a parent meeting on Tuesday, March 3 at 5:30 p.m. in the Northview Media Center. Read More →
Lawmakers To Consider Expunging Juvenile Records
As Florida’s legislative session gets underway next week, some lawmakers are calling for measures to help teens move on after paying their dues in the juvenile-justice system. Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, joined children’s advocates on Thursday in Jacksonville, saying he would support efforts to give kids a “second chance.” Sen. Darren Soto, D-Orlando, is sponsoring a bill (SB 1316) that would allow the expunging of records for minors who commit nonviolent misdemeanors and go on to complete diversion programs. Senate Minority Leader Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, and Rep. Mia Jones, D-Jacksonville, are sponsoring a proposal (SB 334, HB 205) that would shorten the length of time juvenile offenses stay on the record for minors who aren’t serious or habitual offenders. The problem, said Dina Sarver, 22, a medical scribe in Port St. Lucie, is that a juvenile record can lock young people out of jobs, colleges, housing and the military — for the rest of their lives. “I appreciate the juvenile justice system,” Sarver said. “But after I’ve shown them the system can work, I’m constantly reminded of the crime I committed as a child. … I’m speaking for juveniles who have turned their lives around, proven that the juvenile-justice system is beneficial and want to get on with their lives.” Her crime was grand-theft auto, committed when Sarver was 15 years old. She said she’d become a delinquent at 12, following her parents’ divorce and her mother’s relocation — along with 10 children — from the suburbs to government-subsidized housing. Sarver started working at age 13. “I was very angry at the world,” she said. At 15, she was incarcerated. But when she had a baby the following year, Sarver said, she cleaned up her act. “I was like, OK, I need to be a better person for my son.” Kelly Otte executive director of the PACE Center for Girls in Tallahassee, has heard many such stories. “You’re 14 years old. You make a stupid decision to do something. You end up being in the juvenile justice system, and six years later it means nothing to you, what you did. You’re not even the same person,” Otte said. Today, Sarver has a degree in health-care management from Indian River State College and plans to take the LSAT exam, for law school, in June. But she had to switch her major from the nursing program, to which she’d been accepted, when her record came to light. And she was nearly expelled a month before her eventual graduation, when her record became an issue again, over a key internship. Even now, she can’t chaperone the kids at her son’s school. Currently, in Florida, most juvenile records aren’t expunged until the offender is 24, and for some crimes not until age 26. Since most job and college applications require disclosing an arrest, those with juvenile records often find the doors slammed — no matter what gains they’ve made in their lives. What’s more, according to the Children’s Campaign and the Dolores Barr Weaver Policy Center, between 70 percent and 90 percent of girls in the juvenile system have experienced sexual violence, abuse and neglect in their homes. To escape the trauma, many girls run away from home — a crime if they’re under 18. “The first thing that experts tell adult women in abusive situations to do is leave their homes to escape their abusers, yet doing so often puts girls on a fast track to being locked up,” Lawanda Ravoira, president and chief executive officer of the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center, said in a statement. Bean and Ravoira joined Children’s Lobby spokesman Roy Miller and Allison DeFoor, chairman of the Project on Accountable Justice, in Jacksonville on Thursday. They called for new laws that allow most juvenile records to remain confidential and to be retained only until the offender reaches 21. They also want to automatically expunge records upon completion of diversion programs or in cases where charges were dismissed or unsubstantiated. Democrats have filed the bills that would accomplish much of that during the upcoming legislative session. But DeFoor pointed to the involvement of Bean, a Senate Republican, as a sign that the bills can succeed in the GOP-dominated Legislature. “I don’t think it’s going to end up being a partisan issue,” DeFoor said. “It’s almost closer to a glitch bill than it is to a substantive change in policy.” by Margie Menzel, The News Service of Florida Read More →
Bill Puts Lottery Winnings By Sex Offenders in Escrow
Sex offenders who hit it big in the Florida Lottery would have the winnings placed into escrow, giving their victims would have an opportunity to resolve any claims, under a proposal filed Friday by state Rep. Bob Cortes, R-Altamonte Springs. The measure, which doesn’t yet have a Senate companion, would place the prize of a person convicted of sexual battery, lewd acts or other sexual misconduct into an escrow account for one year. The proposal would also put a hold on any prize of $600 or more if a winner has an outstanding debt to a state agency or owes child support. The measure comes after the Orlando Sentinel reported in December that a convicted sex offender from Lake County won a $3 million prize in a scratch-off game. Earlier this month, an Orange County judge denied a request from the Lake County man’ two male victims, aged 6 and 11 when the crime was committed in 1997, to freeze the winnings. After being informed of the winner’s police record, the lottery removed the individual’s photo from its website. Read More →
New ECAT Bus Stop Shelters Being Installed
Escambia County is installing or relocating bus benches and shelters across the county. Pictured is the new Escambia County Area Transit (ECAT) bus stop shelter at the Billy G. Ward Courthouse in Century. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge. Read More →
Undefeated Tate Lady Aggies Win Weekend Tourney; Tate Baseball Wins Again
The Tate Lady Aggies took home the Florida USA Championship trophy after going undefeated in a two-day, 28-team tournament Friday and Saturday in Panama City. The Aggies gave up only three runs all weekend, while accumulating 33 of their own runs. Tori Perkins led the way on the mound and at the plate had a grand slam against Gulliver Prep of Miami on Saturday. Rachel Wright and Hayden Lindsay also added to their home run totals. The Lady Aggies remain undefeated on the season. Tate will host district foe Niceville on Tuesday at Tate, then travel to Milton on Thursday night. Tate 4, Escambia 0 Meanwhile, the Tate Aggies remain undefeated at 4-0 on the baseball season with a 4-0 win over Escambia High School on Saturday. Mark Miller pitched a complete game shutout. Sawyer Smith was 2-3 with two RBIs, Trace Penton went 2-4, Cole Halfacre was 1-3 with two RBIs. Pictured: The Tate Lady Aggies won the Florida USA Championship in Panama City this weekend. Photo by Mike Brennan for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge. Read More →
Santa Rosa Sheriff’s Office Warns Of North End Scam
The Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office is warning citizens about a scam which has been taking place primarily in the north end of the county. According to deputies, the group poses as a construction type company stating they will pave driveways and walkways. They quote a low price and will occasionally ask for payment in advance. If they show up to do the work, they will then state the quote needs to be changed to a substantially higher amount. Investigators advise the work is generally completed poorly, and occasionally they do not complete the work even after payment has been received. These groups also tend to seek out older victims. Tips to avoid this type of scam: Check companies with the Better Business Bureau Contact local established business Seek contractor license information Obtain a written contract According to the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office, as a general rule, if it sounds too good to be true…conduct research before exchanging funds. Read More →
Former Northview Assistant Coach Ty Wise Headed To Tennessee
Former Northview High School assistant football coach Ty Wise is leaving Graceville High School and heading to Tennessee. Wise was on the Northview coaching staff for four years. As offensive coordinator, he led a Chiefs offense that accumulated over 1,000 points during the last two seasons and a Class 1A state championship win before heading to Graceville in 2013. Wise has been named the new head coach at Signal Mountain High School in Tennessee, which is located just outside Chattanooga. Pictured top: Northview assistant coach Ty Wise celebrates a state championship win for the Chiefs in Orlando’s Citrus Bowl. Pictured below: Wise plans out plays on the sidelines of a Chiefs game in Bratt. NorthEscambia.com file photos, click to enlarge. Read More →
Publix, Walmart At Odds Over Florida Grocery, Liquor Bill
A wide-ranging alcohol measure that would allow shoppers to pick up fifths of Jack Daniel’s in the same stores where they buy groceries passed its first House test over the objection of Florida’s largest grocer. Members of the House Business & Professions Subcommittee voted 9-4 to advance the measure (HB 107), which would remove an 80-year-old state law that requires liquor stores to be stand-alone facilities. The bill has drawn opposition from independent liquor stores, some county sheriffs and Lakeland-based Publix. Meanwhile, support for the measure has come from retailers including Wal-Mart and Target. Publix lobbyist Teye Reeves said the company’s business model has been to separate its liquor stores from the main grocery operations. “At the end of the day, Wal-Mart has a very specific business model and Publix does not have the same business model, and we’re concerned that it will put us at a competitive disadvantage,” Reeves said. But retailers that support the change say their customers are looking for increased convenience. “A change to Florida’s outdated separation law would remove impediments, expand consumer choice, and level the playing field for all grocery retailers across the state, all while ensuring safeguards and security remain in place,” Wal-Mart spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said in an email after the meeting. Target lobbyist Jason Unger told the committee that the company is also looking at its business model, which includes smaller “express” locations in downtowns. “As far as our expansion model, the separation law in Florida is a detriment,” Unger said. The proposal, sponsored by Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, also would make other changes in Florida’s alcohol laws. For example, it would allow beer tasting rooms at craft breweries and end the state’s prohibition on brewers being able to fill 64-ounce “growlers” for off-site consumption as they can with other size containers. But most of Wednesday’s discussion focused on ending the regulation that requires stand-alone liquor stores. Opponents claim the measure could put small independent liquor stores out of business and would make alcohol more accessible to minors. “When a minor walks into a liquor store, they stand out like a sore thumb,” said Charles Bailes, chief executive officer of ABC Fine Wine & Spirits. “The barrier is necessary to keep alcohol out of the hands of teens, not because they purchase it but because they steal it.” Steube said the measure is an effort to reduce regulations, and he disagreed with the contentions that eliminating the barrier will harm small businesses or make it easier for minors to get their hands on liquor. “If you look at the facts and the data and the research, guess where kids get their alcohol from? Friends and families,” Steube said. While voting for the overall bill, Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen, R-Fort Myers, said lawmakers need to balance free-market principles with public safety. “This is not the Berlin Wall, this wall does not need to come down,” Fitzenhagen said. “It’s much safer for our kids to have a separate entrance when they are contemplating risky behavior. And as the mother of two teenagers, I know they do.” Steube’s measure must still go through the Government Operations Appropriations Subcommittee and the Regulatory Affairs Committee before it can reach the House floor. The annual legislative session starts March 3. by Jim Turner, The News Service of Florida Read More →
Photos: Color Run 5K
Hundreds of people took part in the Pensacola Color Vibe 5K Saturday at Maritime Park. A portion of the proceeds from the event benefited the American Diabetes Association. Submitted photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge. Read More →
Florida Gov’t Weekly Roundup: As The Session Begins
The tickets to Associated Industries of Florida’s annual legislative session-eve party are pinned to the bulletin board. Suits and sweaters are back from the dry cleaners. And Tallahassee’s fickle pre-spring weather promises to turn balmy just in time to bring March in like a lamb. By Tuesday, when the 60-day legislative session officially begins, lobbyists and lawmakers will have returned from far-flung places and traded in their fishing rods for Gucci loafers. Same as it ever was, the 2015 session will commence with the pomp, circumstance and civility that’s made the opening days a ho-hum but must-do requisite for even the most jaded Capitol insiders. The caustic Dorothy Parker best captured the pre-session sentiment of those for whom the annual pageant evokes a cringe rather than cause for celebration: “They sicken of the calm who know the storm.” So with a sigh, we bid adieu to serenity, and brace ourselves for the storm. DISGRACED HOUSE SPEAKER WALKS AWAY A WINNER Years after being ousted from the speaker’s podium and resigning his House seat over corruption allegations, former House Speaker Ray Sansom walked away from the Leon County Courthouse on Friday as a winner after a Tallahassee judge granted his request to have the state pick up the tab for hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees. “I think today completely solidifies the fact that I was completely acquitted. I was found completely not guilty,” Samson, who four years ago was cleared of the charges that drove him out of office, told reporters after Circuit Court Judge Angela Dempsey issued her decision from the bench. Samson and his criminal defense attorney sued the state to try to force it to pay Sansom’s hefty legal bills under a common-law principle that public officials who successfully defend themselves against charges related to public duties are entitled to have legal costs covered. But the state argued that the manner in which prosecutor Willie Meggs decided to drop the case, which concerned a 2007 budget item that was supposed to pay for an emergency operations center in Sansom’s Panhandle district, essentially amounted to a settlement of the case rather than a successful defense. Meggs agreed to drop the case after being assured that Sansom and a political contributor, Jay Odom, would pay $206,000 to help reimburse the state for design costs of the project, which was never built. Sansom’s attorneys note that Odom actually paid the money and contend that Samson was not really a party to the agreement. Dempsey’s ruling came on the same day that Sansom took the stand, the first time he had ever testified in open court about the case that left a man who was briefly one of the most powerful figures in the state out of office and, for a time, unemployed. COURTROOM SUNSHINE STRUGGLES An appellate panel on Monday shut down a case about whether public officials’ use of blind trusts violates the state constitution’s requirement that officials fully disclose their financial interests. Meanwhile, a courtroom fight over whether Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet violated the state’s Sunshine Laws leading up to the ouster of former Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey, who was forced to resign in December, escalated. In the blind-trust case, Jim Apthorp, who served as chief of staff to former Gov. Reubin Askew, filed a lawsuit last year alleging that a 2013 law allowing state officials to put their assets into blind trusts violated a constitutional requirement spearheaded by his late boss. But a three-judge panel for the 1st District Court of Appeal tossed out the challenge, pointing to the “speculative nature” of the case. Apthorp’s case “wholly failed to allege a bona fide, actual, present practical need for a declaration that the qualified blind trust statute is unconstitutional.” In part, it said Apthorp did not allege any public official or candidate had used a blind trust in the most-recent financial disclosures. Gov. Rick Scott used a blind trust during his first term in office but ended it last year and listed his financial assets as he qualified for re-election. That disclosure showed Scott’s net worth at $132.7 million. After the disclosure, Scott put his assets in a new blind trust. With Askew leading the effort, Florida voters in 1976 overwhelmingly approved the Sunshine Amendment, which included requiring public officials to disclose their financial interests. Supporters of the 2013 law say blind trusts prevent conflicts of interest between officials’ public duties and financial interests. A blind trust gives someone else the ability to manage investments without a politician’s knowledge, but it doesn’t require the same level of detail about officials’ holdings as is required by typical financial-disclosure forms. Judge Brad Thomas, however, wrote a concurring opinion that suggested the court has questions about the constitutionality of the law. He wrote that “our conclusion on jurisdiction should not be read as an imprimatur on the statute’s constitutional validity.” The decision “should not be read to lend any support for the proposition that the statute at issue ensures ‘full and public disclosure,’ as mandated by … the Florida Constitution,” Thomas wrote. In a separate case, the fallout from Bailey’s FDLE ouster heated up this week as media organizations and the government-in-the-sunshine watchdogs filed an emergency motion asking the court to force Scott and the Cabinet, and their aides, to preserve electronic documents related to the issue. Monday’s motion came in a lawsuit filed earlier this month alleging that Scott and Cabinet members violated the state’s Sunshine Law by communicating through aides about the removal of Bailey in December and the appointment of new FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen. In the document filed Monday in Leon County circuit court, the plaintiffs in the case alleged that Scott and his staff got rid of public records in the past without properly storing them. It pointed to lost emails from Scott’s transition team after the 2010 election and “multiple anomalies” about preserving public records that have been an issue in an otherwise unrelated lawsuit filed by Tallahassee attorney Steven Andrews against Scott. The media organizations and other plaintiffs allege in the overall lawsuit that the Sunshine Law was violated because Scott and Cabinet members used aides as “conduits” to communicate about the Bailey ouster. Cabinet decisions are supposed to be made in public. Scott’s office has denied that discussions about Bailey violated the Sunshine Law. “It has been a longstanding convention for governor’s staff to provide information to Cabinet staff,” the governor’s office said in an email to reporters in late January. “This was the same process the Cabinet staff followed in respect to Gerald Bailey.” STORY OF THE WEEK: Tallahassee judge Angela Dempsey orders the state to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees amassed by former House Speaker Ray Sansom. QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “I will stand by this budget item for the rest of my life as being one of the best things that I’ve ever seen try to be done for my area.”—Former House Speaker Ray Sansom speaking in court about a 2007 budget item that was supposed to pay for an emergency operations center in the then-House budget chair’s district and which led to Sansom’s resignation from the speakership in 2009, and from the Legislature the following year. by Dara Kam, The News Service of Florida Read More →
Questions Raised About Proposed Florida Pot Rule
A lawyer for the Legislature is questioning the Department of Health’s proposed medical-marijuana rule, slated for a public vetting on Monday. The top lawyer for the Joint Administrative Procedures Committee raised concerns this week about a variety of issues, including a scoring system proposal to decide “dispensing organizations” that will grow, process and distribute the non-euphoric marijuana legalized last year. The proposal under scrutiny is the department’s second stab at creating a framework for types of cannabis that are low in euphoria-inducing tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and high in cannabadiol, or CBD, authorized by the Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott last year for patients who suffer from severe spasms or cancer. An administrative law judge tossed the department’s first attempt at a rule, finding fault with a proposed lottery to choose five nurseries across the state to kick off Florida’s pot industry. The latest plan, issued after a rare “negotiated rule” workshop last month, replaces the lottery with a scoring system. The weighted scorecard would rate applicants based on cultivation (30 percent), processing (30 percent), dispensing (15 percent), financials (20 percent) and medical director (5 percent). But, in a 14-page letter Thursday to the health department’s Office of Compassionate Use Director Patricia Nelson, the legislative committee’s chief attorney, Marjorie Holladay, suggested that the proposed scoring system is too vague. “It does not appear that part III of the application contains any ascertainable minimum thresholds or standards to demonstrate each item,” Holladay wrote. Under the law, five nurseries that have been in business for 30 years or longer and cultivate at least 400,000 plants would be eligible to apply for licenses in five regions. But Holladay’s letter also requested an explanation of the department’s decision to allow “dispensing organizations” to grow the product in one place, process it in another and distribute it in other locations, the same issue that prompted a request for a hearing Monday on the proposed rule. The Joint Administrative Procedures Committee plays a key role in overseeing state regulations and frequently requests more information when new rules are proposed. Two months before Administrative Law Judge W. David Watkins struck down the original proposal in November, Holladay sent health officials a similar inquiry. In Thursday’s letter, she also asked why health officials are asking applicants to provide information about their relationships with independent laboratories because nothing in the proposed rule requires testing, an expensive process that could raise the cost imposed by the rule, another issue brought up by Holladay. Florida law requires legislative approval of rules if regulatory costs for all the businesses that participate in the program exceed $200,000 in one year, or $1 million over five years. At last month’s negotiating session, the 12-member panel, hand-picked by health officials, went to great lengths to eliminate costs directly associated with the rule, instead embedding them into the application. The committee estimated that 15 nurseries would apply for the licenses, bringing the cumulative cost of the rule to just under $1 million. But the proposal does not address how much the biannual renewal fee would be, Holladay noted. “Depending on the amount of this fee, the statutory threshold for legislative ratification could be triggered, especially because there will be three renewal fees to be paid by the five dispensing organizations seeking renewal within five years after implementation of the rule,” Holladay wrote. Health officials had wanted to avoid legislative approval in order to get the product to eligible patients sooner. The law had required the department to have selected the five dispensing organizations by Jan. 1 of this year, but the legal challenge created a delay. Senate Regulated Industries Chairman Rob Bradley, whose panel is expected to take up other medical-medical marijuana legislation this session and who was instrumental in passage of the low-THC measure last year, said he wants the issue resolved. “If it’s required, it needs to be done,” Bradley, R-Fleming Island, said. by Dara Kam, The News Service of Florida Read More →
Today: 41st Annual Ruritan Farm Equipment Auction
The 41st Annual Walnut Hill Ruritan Club Farm Equipment Auction is going on as of 9:30 this morning. The auction includes not only farm equipment, but also household items like tools and small equipment, lawn and garden items, antiques and more. A $5 lot fee will be charged. Must be present to “no sale” items. Settlement must be made the day of the sale; unknown buyers must have cash, cashier’s check, major credit card, or a letter of credit from their bank. Items must within 24 hours. Concessions will be available all day from the Ruritan Club. The is at the Walnut Hill Community Center on Highway 97 just north of Ernest Ward Middle School. Pictured: Hundreds attended a previous Walnut Hill Ruritan Club farm equipment auction in Walnut Hill. NorthEscambia.com file photos, click to enlarge. Read More →
Judge Orders State To Pay Sansom Legal Fees
A Leon County circuit court judge ruled Friday that state taxpayers will have to cover hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees for the defense of former House Speaker Ray Sansom, who was cleared four years ago of charges that had already driven him from office. The decision came on the same day that Sansom took the stand in a lawsuit about his legal fees — marking the first time he had ever testified in open court about the case that left the man who was briefly one of the most powerful figures in the state out of office and, for a time, unemployed. Sansom, who is currently a vice president at a charter-school management company, said he would defend the project at the center of the dispute “for the rest of my life.” Judge Angela Dempsey found in favor of Sansom and his criminal defense lawyer, who argued that the state was required to pay Sansom’s legal bills under a common-law principle that public officials who successfully defend themselves against charges related to public duties are entitled to have legal costs covered. “I think today completely solidifies the fact that I was completely acquitted. I was found completely not guilty,” Sansom told reporters outside the courtroom. During the case, the state argued that the manner in which prosecutor Willie Meggs decided to drop the 2011 criminal charges, which concerned a 2007 budget item that was supposed to pay for an emergency operations center in Sansom’s Panhandle district, essentially amounted to a settlement of the case rather than a successful defense. Dempsey rejected that argument. “Based on everything I heard and applying that to the case law that I’m required to follow, I’m going to find that what happened in this case was not any different than an acquittal,” Dempsey said. Dempsey still has to decide how much in legal fees to award Sansom, and in turn his attorney Stephen Dobson, but it is certain to cost the state several hundred thousand dollars. The plaintiffs were seeking almost $1million dollars in legal fees and interest. Meggs agreed to drop the criminal case in 2011 after being assured that Sansom and a political contributor, Jay Odom, would pay $206,000 to help reimburse the state for design costs of the project, which was never built. Sansom’s attorneys note that Odom actually paid the money and contend that Samson was not really a party to the agreement. State lawyers argued that Sansom was included in the settlement and was expected to repay Odom for his half of the money — contracting claims that the former speaker was exonerated. “There are zero cases in Florida supporting the proposition that a six-figure settlement is an exoneration,” Lisa Raleigh, a lawyer with Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office, argued Friday. But attorney Stephen Turner, who represented Sansom and Dobson, said the agreement with Odom was simply a “face-saving device” on the part of Meggs, who had just received what he has conceded was a devastating ruling in the case. “It is plainly clear that he knew he had lost and he was trying to salvage something for the state,” Turner said. During testimony Friday, the second day of the trial on the fee dispute, Sansom also gave his take on the emergency operations center that Meggs argued was really a thinly disguised effort to build a taxpayer-funded aircraft hangar for Odom. Sansom said the project arose in response to devastating storms that hit Destin in 1995. The center was designed to withstand a powerful hurricane, Samson said, and could house emergency vehicles that were previously moved from the barrier island to a mainland facility before a storm. It would also serve as a locale for training first responders. And Samson defended his decision to push for the inclusion of the project as House budget chairman in 2007. “I will stand by this budget item for the rest of my life as being one of the best things that I’ve ever seen try to be done for my area,” he said. Earlier, Dobson denied testimony by Meggs that Dobson had been involved in hammering out the deal that ended the case. He said Sansom specifically dismissed one version of the offer. “I clearly communicated it to him, and he clearly rejected any offer to pay money or to waive his fees,” Dobson said. After Dempsey’s decision, Sansom reiterated that he never agreed to anything. “He lied about an agreement,” Sansom said of Meggs. That brought a sharp rejoinder from Meggs. “If Mr. Sansom wants to say I’m a liar … I would point out to you that I am still employed and he is not,” Meggs said. “And he resigned his position because of his conduct and I have not resigned my position because of my conduct.” by Brandon Larrabee, The News Service of Florida Read More →
Baseball Wins For NHS, Tate; Softball Win For Tate
Tate 7, Washington 5 Tate 9, Washington 3 (JV) Tate 8, Washington 0 (9th) The Tate Aggies swept three from Washington Friday. The Tate varsity beat Washington 7-5, the JV topped Washington 9-3, while the freshmen shut out Washington 8-0. – Northview 12, Freeport 1 Northview 4, Freeport 0 (JV) The Northview Chiefs beat Freeport in a district game 12-1 at home in Bratt Friday night. The Chiefs (5-0, 2-0) were up 5-0 before rallying for seven in the fourth. The Chiefs will host the Atmore Blue Devils on Monday. – SOFTBALL Tate 3, Chiles 2 Tate 4, Mortimer Jordan 1 The Tate Aggies are on the road for four weekend games in Panama City. In the first game Friday night, the Lady Aggies beat Chiles 3-2. In their second game, ending just before midnight, the Lady Aggies beat Mortimer Jorday 4-1. Pictured: The Northview Chiefs earned a district win over Freeport Friday night. NorthEscambia.com photos by Ramona Preston, click to enlarge. Read More →
Tate’s Sawyer Smith Gets Offer From Mississippi State
Mississippi State has made an offer to Tate High School quarterback Sawyer Smith, the Tate Quarterback Club announced Friday. He also as an offer from Southern Mississippi. Penn State and BYI have also expressed interest in Smith. Read More →
Local High Performing Schools Receive $3.3 Million In Bonus Money
High performing schools in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties are receiving over $3.3 million in School Recognition Program funding. The financial awards are based on sustained or significantly improved student achievement. Schools may use their award for faculty or staff bonuses, to purchase educational equipment or materials, or hire temporary staff to help maintain or improve student performance. How the money will be spent will be decided by the School Advisory Council at each awarded school. Schools in Escambia County will receive $1,420,617, while schools in Santa Rosa County will receive $1,925,063. Schools eligible for recognition awards include those receiving an “A” school grade, improving at least one letter grade from the previous year, or improving more than one letter grade and sustaining the improvement the following school year. A list of local school receiving funding was not yet available. Read More →
Baseball Wins For Tate, Northview; Softball Wins For Tate, WFHS
BASEBALL Tate 2, West Florida 1 (9 innings) The Tate Aggies beat the West Florida Jaguars 2-1 in nine-innings. It was the first varsity win for Tate pitcher Michael Sherrill. Tate’s junior varsity and freshmen teams also beat West Florida Thursday. The Aggies (2-) will play junior varsity and varsity Friday at 4:00 and 6:30. Northview 4, Washington 1 Washington 11, Northview 1 (JV) Northview defeated Washington High School 4-1 in Pensacola Thursday night., while the NHS JV lost to Washington 11-1. Northview will host Freeport in a district game at 7:00 Friday, following a JV matchup at 4:30. SOFTBALL Tate 7, Pace 1 Tori Perkins pitched a no-hitter and struck out 11on the road as the Tate Lady Aggies beat Pace 7-1. The Lady Aggies remain undefeated at 8-0. Rachel Wright hit a homer for Tate, Sam Burks had a couple of doubles, Tori Perkins hit a double and Casey McCrakin was 2-4. West Florida 11, Washington 1 The West Florida Lady Jaguars defeated Washington Thursday night 11-1. Farrah Nichols pitched four for the Jaguars, striking out six while allowing three hits. Kristen Gunter was 3-4 for West Florida, while Emily Loring at 2-4. Pictured: Northview at Washington. NorthEscambia.com photos by Ramona Preston, click to enlarge. Read More →
Winning $57K Fantasy Five Ticket Sold In North Escambia
Someone is over $57,000 richer this morning after purchasing a winning Florida Lottery Fantasy 5 ticket in Cantonment. The ticket sold at the CMP Food Mart, 400 North Highway 29, was one of four winning tickets sold for Thursday night’s drawing worth $57,384.10. Other winning tickets matching all five numbers were sold in Aventura, West Palm Beach and Parrish. The 354 tickets matching four numbers won $104.50 each. Another 10,610 tickets matching three numbers are worth $9.50 each, and 103,236 ticket holders won a free Quick Pick ticket for picking two numbers. Thursday’s winning numbers were 7-11-15-18-35. Read More →
Northwest Escambia Fooball, Cheer Names New Directors
Northwest Escambia Football and Cheer has announced new board members and officers for the upcoming 2015 season. They are: Greg Gibson – President Jarrod Peebles – Vice-President Vickie Grant – Treasurer Harmony Thomas – Secretary Kim Lambert – Cheer Coordinator Mike Weaver – Concessions Manager Matt Olson – Equipment Manager Ted Bridges – Football Operations Eric Jefferson – Football Operations Joel Broadhead – Board Member Carl Ward – Board Member Patrick Boone – Board Member Josh Edwards – Board Member Kevin Bryan – Board Member Arlo Smith – Board Member Jason Stabler – Board Member Gordon Godwin – Board Member Read More →
Stafford Announces Supervisor Of Elections College Scholarship Opportunity
Ecambia County Supervisor of Elections David Stafford has announced the 2015 Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections (FSASE) college scholarship. Three $1,200 scholarships will be awarded this summer by FSASE for the 2015 school year. The scholarship is available to juniors or seniors attending an accredited Florida university or college, with a major in: political science, public or business administration, or journalism/mass communications. Among the requirements, students must have maintained a “C” average or above the previous year, demonstrate financial need and be registered to vote. Copies of the application and full eligibility requirements may be downloaded from the Supervisor of Elections website at EscambiaVotes.com or may be picked up at the Elections Office, 213 Palafox Place, Second Floor. Completed applications must reach the Supervisor’s office by close of business on March 16. Stafford will forward one application with a written recommendation to the FSASE Scholarship Committee, which will review the submissions from all 67 Florida counties. The scholarships will be awarded by the Association and the winner will be announced at the 2015 FSASE Summer Conference in June. Students from Escambia County were scholarship winners in 2006, 2009 and 2010. Read More →
Escambia County Lighting Up The Night In Ensley Area
Escambia County is working to light up the night in portions of the Ensley area. The Operation Night Light Project is underway in the Ensley Redevelopment District. Outdoor lights are being installed to help lower crime rates, increase property values and deter activities that can negatively affect the quality of life of neighborhood residents. This stage of the project, funded by the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), consists of 94 LED Cobrahead fixtures to be installed within the Ensley Redevelopment District. Currently 24 of the 94 LED lights have been installed on the west side of the railroad tracks along Johnson Avenue and Chemstrand Road. Installation is expected to be completed around mid-March. Click the map to enlarge to see the location of each light to installed as part of the project. Read More →
Tate High Drama To Host Dessert Theater Saturday Night
The Tate High School Drama department will host an entertaining dessert buffet Saturday night at 7:30 in the school cafetorium. The performances will include all of the individual events that went to a recent district drama festival, followed by this year’s one-act entry, “High School Reunion”. While guests are being entertained, they can enjoy the goodies from buffet of fine desserts. The show and all-you-can-eat desserts are just one price – $8. Pictured: Tate Drama students. Photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge. Read More →
Blue Jacket Jamboree Set For March 7; Vendors Still Needed
The annual Blue Jacket Jamboree is returning to Northview High School on Saturday, March 7 with free admission. There are dozens of confirmed vendors ranging from Scentsy to wooden birdhouses, wooden crafts, wreaths, jewelry and more. A kids area will include lots of carnival games, pony rides, bounce house and an obstacle course. Entertainment will included Shane Harrell and the Major Moves band, Northview student Colby Flurnoy, and other local talent. Interested craft vendors should contact Linda Till at (850) 572-1076 or Pam Kleinatland at (850) 712-6267. Food vendors should contact Kleinatland or Angus Brewton at (850) 256-5831. The Blue Jacket Jamboree will be held on the campus of Northview High School from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on March 7. NorthEscambia.com file photo, click to enlarge. Read More →
Annual Walnut Hill Ruritan Farm Auction Is Saturday
The 41st Annual Walnut Hill Ruritan Club Farm Equipment Auction will be held this Saturday, February 28 beginning at 9:30 a.m. The auction includes not only farm equipment, but also household items like tools and small equipment, lawn and garden items, antiques and more. Items can be received Thursday or Friday. A $5 lot fee will be charged. Must be present to “no sale” items. Settlement must be made the day of the sale; unknown buyers must have cash, cashier’s check, major credit card, or a letter of credit from their bank. Items must within 24 hours. Concessions will be available all day from the Ruritan Club. The sale will be located at the Walnut Hill Community Center on Highway 97 just north of Ernest Ward Middle School. For more information or consignments, call (850) 327-4479 or (850) 327-4318. Pictured: Hundreds attended a previous Walnut Hill Ruritan Club farm equipment auction in Walnut Hill. NorthEscambia.com file photos, click to enlarge. Read More →
Nelson Seeks Federal Probe Of Dozier School For Boys
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., has asked the U.S. Justice Department to launch an investigation into the shuttered Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in the Jackson County town of Marianna. Nelson’s request, in a letter Tuesday, cited a report by University of South Florida researchers who have found 51 bodies buried at the former school property. He said that contrasted with an earlier state investigation that concluded 31 bodies were on the site. University researchers began exhumations after questions arose about whether boys suffered abuse and died at the school, with their bodies buried in unmarked graves. “Given new information about wards of the shuttered reform school, and a long history of mistreatment allegations surrounding the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Florida, I believe the department is uniquely positioned to provide an outside and independent review,” Nelson wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder. by The News Service of Florida Read More →
RESTORE Committee To Evaluate, Recommend Scoring For Projects
Residents and stakeholders are encouraged to attend the upcoming RESTORE Advisory Committee (RAC) meeting on March 2. The RAC will evaluate at least two scoring options for potential RESTORE projects and make a recommendation to the Escambia County Board of County Commissioners (BCC). The first option is described as a balanced approach where the environmental, economic and infrastructure categories are weighted evenly in the scoring matrix. The other scoring option has the environmental category weighted more heavily. In both cases, results from the recent public survey were taken into consideration in developing the options, with the second option being closely representative of the public input that favored giving more weight to environmental projects. Attendance provides an opportunity for the public to weigh in on the choices the RAC will consider. The RAC could select one of the above choices or decide on a hybrid of the two, but ultimately it’s anticipated that they will send only one recommendation to the BCC for final approval and adoption. Those who cannot attend the meeting in person can still comment via email to RESTORE@myescambia.com. Read More →
Escambia Democratic Executive Committee Elects Officers
The Escambia County Democratic Executive Committee unanimously elected Mike Lowery, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1395, as their new chairman. He replaces Cassandra McAway. Clorissti Johnson Mitchell, who works for Aylstock, Witkin, Kreis & Overholtz, PLC, was elected vice chair. Deb Moore was elected secretary, and Tom Brown was elected treasurer. Member of the Escambia County DEC Steering Committee will be Dianne Krumel, Bill King, Jack Cerone, Mary Ann Andrews and past DEC Chairwoman Evalyn Narramore. “Clorissti and I will focus on registering new voters, educating and organizing our base, and working hard to improve our local party status,” Lowery said in a press release. Read More →
Escambia To Receive Almost $3 Million In Grant Funds For Flood Repairs
Escambia County will receive nearly $3 million in grant funding to assist with seven flood repair projects after money became available in the Emergency Watershed Protection Program. The county had previously applied unsuccessfully to the program, but funding just came available and was announced this week. The County could also be eligible for reimbursement on design costs up to 7.5% of total construction costs, or nearly $224,000. The EWPP alleviates hazards to life and property caused by floods, fires, windstorms and other natural occurrences. The projects covered under the grant include: Crescent Lake, one and a half miles east of the intersection of Mobile Highway and Michigan Avenue; 600-feet north of Michigan Avenue. Stormwater toppled the 72-acre Crescent Lake embankment causing flooding downsteam. Flooding deposited sediment and debris to the side of Michigan Avenue, an arterial five-lane road and threatens to destroy 14 apartments. The grant will provide $674,531 to fix the breach in the Crescent Lake embankment and install a concrete emergency spillway. Workers will vegetate disturbed areas and remove debris and sediment from the downstream channel to Michigan Avenue to prevent flooding. The Gatewood Ditch, south of Gatewood Drive, 400-feet south of Johnson Avenue. Eroding into a retention pond and an adjacent apartment complex. The debris and sediment from the erosion are reducing the drainage capacity and threatening to destroy downstream drainage structures and further damage Johnson Avenue. The grant will cover $350,790 of the cost to fill the eroded area and replace 1,700 feet of concrete-lined ditch. Workers will plant vegetation on the side slopes to protect from further erosion and replace the damaged retention pond outlet, stabilizing the stormwater facility outlet. Olive Road, 1,000 feet southwest of Scenic Highway and Olive Road intersection. Erosion at the outlet of a concrete-lined waterway carved a gully adjacent to Olive Road 40-foot deep and 100-feet wide that threatens to collapse the westbound lane of Olive Road. Olive Road is a primary east-west arterial with an average daily traffic of 12,800 vehicles. The grant will provide $198,671 to install a concrete box, pipe-drop structure and a water and sediment control basin to stabilize the head of the gully and safely discharge stormwater. Glyn Brock Gully, 200 feet north of the intersection of Johnson Avenue and Olive Road. Sediment from the Gatewood ditch and storm debris has reduced capacity in the stream channel, threatening to flood eight downstream homes on Winding Lane and five homes on Cypress Point. The grant will cover $206,657 of the cost to remove sediment and debris from the stream channel and ditch and repair the eroded area with rock riprap. Addison Drive between Addison Drive and Scenic Highway/ Escambia Bay, 300 feet east of Ellyson Field Industrial Park. A gully is eroding into two homes on Addison Drive. The grant will provide $91,868 to remove sediment and debris from the landslide, grade and shape the slope and install a conveyance system to move water to the outlet. The Ten Mile Creek channel is unstable and widening, threatening to collapse Pine Forest Road Bridge and erode into nine homes and eight townhouses. The grant amount for repairs is $1,377,175. Workers will stabilize the stream channel grade, address gully erosion on the channel sides and repair outlet structures. Swamphouse Road, on the University of West Florida campus. Stream bank erosion threatens the road, utilities, the Swamphouse Restaurant and Marina. The storm tore the road in half and trees are falling into the stream channel. The grant will provide $83,440 to re-grade the side slope, plant sod and remove sediment and debris from the channel. Read More →
Escambia Deputies To Be On TV Show ‘Cops’
A ride-along with Escambia County Sheriff’s Office deputies will be featured on the next new episode of the television show “Cops”. The episode, filmed last year, will air at 7 p.m. Saturday on the Spike network. Read More →