Road Prison Welding Program Gives Inmates Skills, Success After Incarceration

August 16, 2017

When Welding Instructor Danny Cain hands certificates to Escambia County Road Prison inmates who have completed the welding program at the prison, it’s not unusual to see tears begin to run down their cheeks.

The certificates inmates earn while incarcerated are much more than just pieces of paper – for many, they represent opportunities to build a better future outside of prison.

“It gives them a sense of accomplishment, and they know they can do something if they want to,” Cain said. “And that builds character in a person – that builds morals in a person. And a lot of them get out of here and do the right thing, get out and work.”

Cain began teaching at the Escambia County Road Prison in 2010 with George Stone Technical Center, offering nationally-recognized certifications including stick welding, pipe welding, MIG and TIG welding, or metal inert gas and tungsten inert gas. He typically teaches 12-14 students at a time, all of whom choose to opt into the program during their time at the road prison.

And with a growing number of success stories, Cain said he doesn’t have any problem filling up the class.

“They see people getting out and getting jobs,” Cain said. “They see people getting out and making money, and they say, ‘That’s what I want.’”

During the 2016-17 school year, 30 inmates participated in the welding program through the county’s partnership with George Stone Technical Center. George Stone issued 45 Occupational Certificates of Participation for various welding disciplines, and 21 of the 30 inmates received American Welding Society National Certifications that are recognized through the United States. In the 2015-16 school year, 26 inmates participated in the program, with 23 receiving American Welding Society National Certifications and 66 Occupational Certificates of Participation issued.

Cain stays in frequent contact with at least 14 of his students from the past two years who are now working in the welding field, and another 10 former students are recently released and seeking employment. Of the 56 inmates who have participated in the welding program since 2015, just five have been rearrested.

Former inmates and students in the program are now working everywhere from Oklahoma City to New Orleans, using their new skillset to advance in the welding industry.

Brian Mills, who spent about five months at the road prison in 2013, said he largely credits Cain and the welding program for the opportunities and success he’s found since getting out of prison. With more than 60 felonies on his record, Mills said he did not have much hope for his future career – but receiving his welding certifications changed that.

“When I got out of prison, I didn’t have anything at all, and [Cain] lined me up a job here in Louisiana,” Mills said. “I came over here and started at the bottom, and I just purchased a brand new built house in a brand new subdivision. I’m doing very, very well.”

Having the skills to be able to secure job opportunities after their release is critical for those who have been incarcerated, Mills said. Unlike some other prison educational programs that have long waits and may require months or years to complete, Mills said it’s helpful that some of the welding certifications can be completed by those who aren’t incarcerated for lengthy periods of time.

“For the county to have that program where they’re doing a short amount of time and they’re able to get a bit of welding underneath them, it’s very helpful,” Mills said.

Road Prison Commander Charles Snow said he’s seen firsthand how the welding program can positively impact lives, also stressing the importance of having a solid set of skills to be able to reenter the workforce after incarceration. Snow said that Cain goes above and beyond to help connect his students with good jobs, whether it’s local or out of state.

“They have a job to go into, they have a profession where they can actually prepare a good wage,” Snow said. “So it’s life-changing.”

Cain said it’s the life-changing impact of the program that keeps him going every day. He often receives letters and Facebook messages from former students, and he loves hearing their stories about working, providing for their families and positively contributing to society.

“If they come in here with no skills at all and leave with a trade, I don’t see how you can beat that, really,” Cain said. “And I try to teach them to be more than a welder – I try to teach them to be a man, and step up and do the right thing. I can’t change their past, but I can change their future.”

New Barn Planned For Escambia County 4-H Facility In Molino

August 16, 2017

A new livestock barn is planned for the Escambia County 4-H Facility in Molino.

The one-story building will include associated sidewalks and parking. The barn will be about 2,600 square feet and will be constructed on a 28.7 acre parcel that is used for livestock activities that currently includes a show barn arena and several open pole barns. The site also includes a 79.5 acre parcel for 4-H activities. The facility is located at 5701 South Highway 99 just north of Chalker Road.

The project is set to go before the Escambia County Development Review Committee Wednesday afternoon for final approval.

Pictured: The show bard at the Escambia County 4-H Facility in Molino. file photo, click to enlarge.

Escambia County 4-H Shines At 4-H University

August 15, 2017

Head, Heart, Hands and Health. These are the four “H’s” that comprise 4-H.

This summer there were many 4-H activities promoting and utilizing all of the four “H’s” together and individually. One of these activities was 4-H University, which is a week-long convention for senior 4-H members (ages 14-18) hosted on the campus of the University of Florida. Over 340 youth attended this event and had the opportunity to utilize the different facilities such as dorms, Gator Dining and the Reitz Union. This year Escambia County had seven youth attend: Dillon Conti, Rashidi Joseph, Von Littlejohn, Taylor Nelson, Danielle Tinker, Michelle Tinker, and Bobby Vose.

On July 31 Escambia County 4-H members kicked off 4-H University with state competitive events, along with a spirit rally and guest speaker. Tuesday was a day of scholarship interviews and workshops. That evening, 4-H members attended the annual Share-the- Fun talent show. Wednesday was a morning of workshops and an afternoon of community service. That evening, 4-H members, participants and guests attended the formal 4-H University Awards Banquet where scholarships were awarded to seniors, 4-H trips were distributed and the 2017-2018 Florida 4-H State Council Officers were inducted. Escambia County’s own Michelle Tinker was inducted as the 2017-2018 Florida 4-H State Council Parliamentarian and she also received a trip to attend National 4-H Conference in Washington D.C. in 2017. Danielle Tinker received a 4-H scholarship and the prestigious Leader of the Legacy award, Florida 4-H’s version of a Hall of Fame.

Thursday morning was the competitive events award ceremony and Escambia County 4-H members received awards for their state competitions. Results of the different state contests were:

  • Dillon Conti, first place, photography contest, architecture division
  • Taylor Nelson, first place, photography contest, hat tricks and magic division
  • Von Littlejohn, red ribbon, safety demonstration category
  • Taylor Nelson, blue ribbon third place, personal well-being demonstration category
  • Danielle and Michelle Tinker, blue ribbon first place, plants and gardening team demonstration category

submitted by Escambia County 4-H

Students Head Back To Class (With Photo Gallery)

August 11, 2017

Thursday was the first day of school…so that means it’s time for our annual Back to School Photo Gallery.

We asked readers to submit their back to school photos.

For a photo gallery, click here.

We apologize, but due to a tremendous response, we were unable to publish all the photos we received, and we are unable to add additional photos to the gallery.

Pictured top: Pre-K student Jase and fifth grader Aubree from Molino Park Elementary. Pictured below: Addyson, kindergarten at Jim Allen Elementary, and Brianna, seventh grade at Ernest Ward Middle. Picture bottom: Justin, Crista and Derek Kinley, fifth grade at Bratt Elementary. Pictured above inset: Laura Kinley, senior at Northview High. Reader submitted photos for, click to enlarge.

Molino Park PTA Holds ‘Welcome Back’ Lunch For School Staffers

August 10, 2017

The Molino Park Elementary School PTA showed their appreciation to the school’s teacher’s faculty and staff with a catered back to school luncheon on Wednesday. Courtesy photos for, click to enlarge.

School Bus Safety And Traffic Laws

August 10, 2017

It’s the first day of school in Escambia County, with more than 40,000 students making their way to and from school. About 25,000 of them will be on board 300 school buses across the county.

Parents are reminded to instruct their children to be at the bus stop at least five minutes before scheduled bus arrival time, stay off of the roadway, observe and stay clear of traffic, stay out of the bus blind spots, don’t chase after the bus once it leaves the bus stop, and buckle seat belts as soon as they board.

Motorists are reminded to give themselves plenty of time to get where they’re going and to be patient in traffic. They should watch out for school buses, comply with bus-passing laws, and stay off of those cell phones.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, drivers must follow these school and school bus safety rules:

  • Adhere to the posted speed limit in designated school zones.
  • When approaching an intersection where a crossing guard is present in the crosswalk with the stop sign raised, do not cross – or turn – into the crosswalk until the guard has completely left the crosswalk.
  • Never stop a vehicle in a manner that blocks a crosswalk.
  • When you approach a stopped school bus (from behind) with lights flashing and the stop arm extended, you must stop.
  • When you approach a stopped school bus (from front) with lights flashing and the stop arm extended, you also must stop, unless:
    • you are on a divided highway and the roadways are separated by an unpaved space at least five feet in width, or
    • you are on a divided highway and the roadways are separated by a physical barrier.
  • You are required to stop at least 10 feet away from the school bus.
  • You must not resume driving until the school bus turns its lights off and withdraws its stop sign.
  • Be certain all exiting children have reached a safe place before proceeding.

Quintette Community Center Hosts Back To School Bash

August 7, 2017

The Quintette Community Center held their 3rd Annual Back to School Bash Sunday afternoon with  fun, games, food, kickball, haircuts and free back to school supplies. Photo for, click to enlarge.

Ransom Student To Compete In National Pony Event

August 7, 2017

Local equestrian Lexi Bryant has qualified for the the U.S. Pony Finals coming up this week at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY.  Bryan, 13, will be riding “Surreal”, owned by Morgan Mickel.  The Ransom Middle School student qualified at an Elite “A” show that was  held at the Escambia County Equestrian Center. Bryant and Surreal will compete against the top ponies and riders in the nation at the event. Photo for, click to enlarge.

UF/IFAS Extension Offers Right-of-Way, Forests And Invasive Species Workshop

August 4, 2017

UF/IFAS Extension in Escambia, Okaloosa and Santa Rosa counties will hold a Right-of-Way, Forestry and Invasive Species Workshop on Wednesday, August 9 from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Bear Lake Pavilion, approximately 2.5 miles east of Munson crossroad of Highway 4 and Highway 191 in the Blackwater Forest north of Milton. Cost is $10 per person and includes lunch.

Pesticide license exams will not be given during this workshop, however, this program will prepare students for aspects of the exam. CEUs will be available in the following areas: Core (2), Private Applicator (4), Demo and Research (4), Forestry (4), Natural Areas (4), and Right-of-Way (4).

Topics include: Herbicides, Herbicide Safety, Weed Management Considerations for Forestry, Chemical Side Trim, and Roadside Invaders. To pre-register or to set up an appointment to take a pesticide license exam, contact Bethany Diamond at the Santa Rosa County Extension Office: 850-675-6654.

New Website For West Florida Public Libraries

August 2, 2017

Tuesday, West Florida Public Libraries announced the launch of a newly-designed website.

The revamped site was created to provide a user-friendly experience that makes it easier than ever for citizens, businesses and visitors to access information about the library system from their computer, tablet or mobile phone.

The website was developed using the latest technology and a responsive design, making it compatible with all browsers and mobile devices. Users will also have the option to share information across all major social networking sites.

The site is organized to provide quick and direct access to all of the programs and services the library offers.

Some new features include:

  • Upcoming events and new fiction titles available on the homepage
  • An easily-fillable form for requesting a meeting room
  • Access to searches for the Kids Catalog and the full catalog on the homepag

The site will be continually updated, with new features being added regularly.

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