Blue Angels Announce 2015 Team Members

July 23, 2014

The Blue Angels have announced the officers selected for the 2015. The squadron selected an executive officer, three F/A-18 demonstration pilots, an events coordination officer, two C-130 demonstration pilots, a flight surgeon, and a supply officer to join the 2015 team.

Many highly-qualified Navy and Marine Corps officers submit applications to join the Blue Angels each year.

“We remain committed to selecting the most talented and qualified individuals to join the Blue Angels,” said Cmdr. Tom Frosch, flight leader and commanding officer for the team. “Once again, a significant number of extremely talented, experienced Sailors and Marines applied this year, and we are proud of those we have chosen to join the 2015 team. They are excellent representatives of the skilled service members defending our freedom around the world.”

The Blue Angels select finalists to interview at the Blue Angels’ home base at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., during the week of the Pensacola Beach Air Show. The team makes selections at the conclusion of the interview week.

“All of our finalists this year are incredible examples of some of the finest officers in the Navy and Marine Corps, from both the aviation community and the fleet,” said Lt. Cmdr. John Hiltz, Right Wing pilot and the applications officer for the 2014 team. “What was most important for us — regardless of anything else — was to select the most qualified individuals for the team to represent the more than 540,000 Sailors and Marines deployed around the world, around the clock. And I’m happy to say that we’ve done that.”

The newly-selected 2015 team members include:

Executive officer:
Navy Cmdr. Bob Flynn, 45, of Moorestown, N.J., is a S-3B Viking naval flight officer and is currently assigned to the Naval War College. He is a 1992 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md.

F/A-18 demonstration pilots:
Navy Lt. Matt Suyderhoud, 31, of Honolulu, is currently assigned to Training Squadron 22 (VT-22) at Naval Air Station Kingsville, Texas. He is a 2005 graduate of Saint Louis University, St. Louis, Mo.

Navy Lt. Andrew Talbott, 31, of Sedan, Kan., is currently assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 106 (VFA-106) at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, Va. He is a 2005 graduate of Kansas State University, Salina, Kan.

Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss, 30, of Durango, Colo., is currently assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 312 (VMFA-312) Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S.C. He is a 2006 graduate of Fort Lewis College, Durango, Colo.

Events coordination officer:
Marine Capt. Corrie Mays, 34, of Marstons Mills, Mass., is currently assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (All Weather) 225 (VMFA(AW)-225) at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, San Diego. She is a 2003 graduate of the University of Georgia, Athens, Ga.

C-130 demonstration pilots:
Marine Maj. Mark Hamilton, 36, of Becker, Minn., is currently assigned to Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252 (VMGR-252) at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C. He is a 2000 graduate of Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind.

Marine Capt. Katie Higgins, 27, of Annapolis, Md., is currently assigned to Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252 (VMGR-252) at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C. She is a 2008 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md.

Flight surgeon:
Navy Lt. Joe Schwartz, 34, of Arlington, Va., is currently assigned to Electronic Attack Squadron 132 (VAQ-132) at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Oak Harbor, Wash. He is a 2002 graduate of the University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Ind.

Supply officer:
Navy Lt. Gregory Bollinger, Jr., 31, of Carbondale, Ill., is currently assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 9 (VX-9) at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, Calif. He is a 2006 graduate of the University of Maryland University College, Adelphi, Md.

Expected to return for the 2015 season are:

F/A-18 demonstration pilots:
Navy Cmdr. Tom Frosch, 44, of Clinton Township, Mich.
Navy Lt. Cmdr. Nate Barton, 33, of Hummelstown, Pa.
Navy Lt. Mark Tedrow, 31, of Charleroi, Pa.
Navy Lt. Ryan Chamberlain, 29, of Bloomington, Ill.

C-130 demonstration pilots:
Marine Capt. Dusty Cook, 32, of East Bernard, Texas.

Maintenance officer:
Navy Lt. Cmdr. Declan Hartney, 44, of Limerick, Ireland.

Administration officer:
Navy Lt. j.g. Phillip Harper, 33, of Chicago.

Public affairs officer:
Navy Lt. j.g. Amber Lynn Daniel, 33, of Ramona, Calif.

The mission of the Blue Angels is to showcase the pride and professionalism of the United States Navy and Marine Corps by inspiring a culture of excellence and service to country through flight demonstrations and community outreach.

Since its inception in 1946, the Blue Angels have performed for more than 484 million fans.

Ascend Volunteers Pitch In To Help Panhandle Equine Rescue

July 22, 2014

A group of volunteers from Ascend Performance Materials went up against the heat and humidity Monday to make some much needed improvements around the Cantonment home of Panhandle Equine Rescue.

“Despite the heat, 17 men came out, tore down an old stall that was rotting and built a new one,” said PER President Diane Lowery. “They also did fencing and painting. We appreciate large corporations who help non-profits since they have the manpower and resources that can be so difficult for organizations who depend on volunteers and donations.”

Ascend donated materials, in addition to the labor needed, for Monday’s improvements. Panhandle Equine Rescue is a non-profit organization that rescues and rehabilitates abused or neglected horses.

As part of their orientation program, new hires at Ascend participate in a community volunteer project.

Northview Grad Deploys To Afghanistan As Black Hawk Medevac Pilot

July 20, 2014

A Northview High School graduate is among a group of soldiers to be deployed Tuesday from Fort Bragg to Afghanistan.

Casey B. Wilcoxon is a Black Hawk medevac pilot with Company C, 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade.

The air ambulance crews and their support personnel, who also go by the nickname All American Dustoff, are deploying for the first time since 2012, when they covered an area in eastern Afghanistan roughly the size of Virginia with their UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.

Wilcoxon completed the Initial Entry Rotary Wing Aviator Course and was graduated as a pilot from the US Army Aviation Center of Excellence at Fort Rucker, AL, last September. He has been in the Army for seven years, formerly as a UH 60 Black Hawk mechanic, having achieved the rank of Sergeant prior to being commissioned as a Warrant Officer.

This is his third time in Afghanistan, his first as a pilot.  His previous deployments were as an enlisted member of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR). He also had two deployments to Iraq with the 160th before becoming a pilot.

A 2006 graduate of Northview High School, Wilcoxon is the son of the late William B. Wilcoxon of Century and Erbie and Pamela Pritchett, also of Century and is the grandson of the late John Wilcoxon and Grace Wilcoxon of Century and James and Mildred Lambeth of Flomaton.

Editor’s note: The unit was originally set to deploy on Saturday, but the departure was delayed until Tuesday due to weather.

Pictured top: Casey Wilcoxon, right, embraces his wife, Kelley (also a Northview gradudate), and two daughters, Kami and Kali Saturday at Fort Bragg. Photo courtesy Abbi O’Leary/Fayetteville Observer for, click to enlarge. Pictured inset: Casey Wilcoxon.  Submitted photo for, click to enlarge.

New Pastor Joins Jay United Methodist Church

July 20, 2014

Jay United Methodist Church has recently welcomed Rev. Ebb Hagan and family.

He is serving his first appointment in the Alabama-West Florida area after recently graduating from Princeton Theological  Seminary in Princeton, NJ. While at Princeton, Hagan was an assistant on the Dead Sea Scrolls project and was awarded an archaeological fellowship to work a dig in Bethsaida, Galilee, Israel and  research in Jerusalem.

Hagan grew up in Evergreen, AL, and is the son of the late Larry Hagan and Rebecca Hagan of Troy and Brundidge, AL. After graduating from Washington State University and spending the better part of the  last 20 years in Seattle, Hagan is looking forward to being home.

Hagan’s wife, Emily, grew up in Inchelium, WA, which is located in northeastern Washington state. She is also a graduate of Washington State University and is currently progressing through the Master of Divinity program at Asbury Theological Seminary. Upon graduation, she hopes to use her degree to serve as a  chaplain or pastoral counselor. She is the daughter of Stefan and Linda Mallory from Inchelium.

They are joined by their three children, Gaston, 10, Mallory, 8,  and Stefan, 6.

Submitted photo.

July Gardening Tips

July 20, 2014

The heat, humidity and frequent rains of July are great for tropical plants. Gardeners, however, take a bit of a beating. Remember to keep the sunscreen, insect repellant and iced tea handy as you venture out into your garden to perform some needed summer maintenance.

A midsummer application of fertilizer is usually required, especially on annual flowers, lawns, shrub beds and vegetable gardens. This is a supplemental application, so don’t overdo it. A 15-0-15 slow-release fertilizer is a good general purpose landscape fertilizer for most plants.

Major pruning jobs should have been done earlier, but there is still some maintenance pruning that should be done. Deadhead, or clip old flowers, from summer flowering shrubs as soon as they fade to help insure an extended season of bloom. Crape myrtles, hibiscus, hydrangeas and althea are examples of shrubs that will bloom repeatedly if light, selective pruning is done.

Flowering annuals also respond well to deadheading. Snip off old flowers and flower spikes before they have an opportunity to form seed. Allowing annual flowers to set seed can shorten their blooming season considerably.

Inspect your lawn and shrub plantings frequently in order to identify pest problems as early as possible. The most severe damage from pest insects normally begins in July. Be on the lookout for chinch bugs in St. Augustine grass; spittlebugs in centipede grass; sod webworm in all lawns-especially new ones; lacebug and caterpillars on azaleas; whiteflies on gardenia and spider mites on lots of different types of shrubs.

Sod webworms often attack lawns in the summer. They eat the grass blades producing areas that look as if they have been mowed too short. Close inspection will reveal that the blades have not been cleanly cut as with a mower blade but have been chewed along their edges and tips. These caterpillars feed at night and rest during the day down among the runners and in the thatch.

Once an insect pest is found, evaluate the damage and determine if control is necessary. If it is, choose the least toxic option. If only a few caterpillars are found, hand picking might be the choice. Aphids and spider mites can often be controlled by spraying with an insecticidal soap solution. Chemical insecticides are sometimes required. Before choosing one be sure that the insect pest has been properly identified and that the insecticide is labeled for that purpose For vegetable gardeners that have problems with nematodes, soil borne diseases and extensive weed problems, July is a great time to try soil solarization.

Prepare the soil as you normally would for a vegetable garden including adding organic matter. Moisten the area and cover with clear plastic, not black plastic. Clear plastic will produce the highest temperatures. Be sure to weigh down the edges of the plastic so that it doesn’t blow up. Allow the soil to bake in the sun for four to six weeks. The sun will raise the soil temperature high enough to kill many soil borne problems.

Tip of the Week: The nice thing about tomatoes is that you have the option of harvesting when the fruit is green if needed. Tomatoes will ripen indoors at room temperature. To ensure even ripening, place the tomato with the stem up. The ideal time to harvest tomatoes is when they are fully colored but still firm.

In general, it is best to harvest vegetables early in the mornings while the moisture content is higher. The overall quality will quickly diminish as vegetables are exposed to hotter temperatures later in the day.

Century Camp Fire Kids Get ‘Wild & Wise’

July 17, 2014

The Camp Fire USA Century Youth Learning Center’s “Wild & Wise Day Camp”  recently paid a visit to the Turtle Point Science Center in Flomaton. The students were able to get up close and personal with several animals, including snakes. Courtesy photos for, click to enlarge.

Local Boys, Girls State Attendees Honored

July 16, 2014

A reception was held Tuesday night at the American Legion Post 90 in Atmore to honor local students that attended Alabama Boys State and Alabama Girls State last month.

Recognized were: Austin Cunningham and Tristan Portwood  from Northview High School; Scott Brantley and Nate Smith from Escambia Academy; Brooke Bell and Jacob Esser from Flomaton High School; and Christin Simpkins, Ben Hubert and Rodrick Felder from Escambia County High School.

Local students attending the Boys and  Girls State program each year are sponsored by the American Legion and American Legion Ladies Auxiliary.

Photo for, click to enlarge.

Girl, 11, Called A Hero For Saving Younger Sisters From House Fire

July 15, 2014

An 11-year old Atmore girls is being called a hero today for saving her two younger sisters from a house fire early Saturday night.

Rubye Nix was in the living room with her sisters when it’s believed lightning struck outside the home, causing sparks to fly from a window air conditioner and start a fire. She was playing  on an iPad when the fire started and she immediately went into action.

“My one-year-old sister was asleep and my four-year-old sister was on my lap. I smelled something burning and saw a small fire, so I grabbed my baby sisters and ran them out of the house,” she said Monday as her mother Toni Capers and stepfather Jerry Capers were searching through the charred ruble for anything that could be salvaged.

Jerry was home with the kids Saturday night as Toni was at work. The power went out, so he went two doors down to check and see if a neighbor had also lost electricity. It was in those few minutes that the lightning struck, sparking the fire. As Jerry returned home and saw smoke, he rushed back into the house thinking the three girls were still inside. He suffered first, second and third degree burns on his hands as he searched through the burning home for his family.

Rubye said she had learned from her parents and her school teachers about how to get out in the case of fire.

“You teach them what to do,” Toni said, “but you hope they never have to do it.”

“I was thinking, ‘okay, there’s a fire, I’m getting out’,” Rubye said.

“Nothing makes me more proud than to know that you grabbed them and ran,” mom Toni told Rubye Monday as they stood in the debris. “Because I can get through this.”

The home on Forest Avenue was a complete loss from the fire. The American Red Cross temporarily put the family up into a hotel through Tuesday night. Beyond that, the family said they don’t have a place to go.

Picturd top: Rubye Nix, 11, and her mom Toni Capers. Pictured top inset: Rubye’s stepfather Jerry Capers suffered burns on his hands after he entered the burning home looking for his three girls. Pictured bottom inset: Rubye and her mother search though the rubble looking for salvageable items Monday. Pictured below: The family’s home was destroyed by the fire. Photos by Anthony Pura/WEAR 3, for, click to enlarge.

Photo: Rainbow Over Cantonment Fire Station

July 15, 2014

Pictured: A rainbow Monday afternoon over Escambia County Fire Rescue Station 4 in Cantonment. Reader submitted photo for, click to enlarge.

Northview, Tate, West Florida, Ernest Ward FFA Members Attend State Convention

July 15, 2014

About 40 Escambia County middle and high school students attended the 86th Florida FFA Convention earlier this month in Orlando. Escambia County was represented by FFA chapters from Northview, Tate and West Florida high schools, and Ernest Ward Middle School. Pictured top: Escambia County’s FFA members at the state convention in Orlando. Photo for, click to enlarge.

Next Page »