Molino’s Cunningham Shows Champion Steer At Fair

October 30, 2014

Austin Cunningham of Molino showed his champion steer last week at the Pensacola Interstate Fair, winning several awards. He was awarded Reserve Grand Champion, FFA Grand Champion, and Grand Champion for a homegrown steer. The Northview High School senior also received second in Senior Showmanship. Cunningham sold his 1,250 pound steer “Heisenberg” to Dave Howell Tires for $5.50 per pound, or $6,875. Submitted photos for, click to enlarge.

Tate Fall Comedy ‘Saturday The 14th’ On Stage Through Saturday

October 29, 2014

Get ready for “Saturday the 14th” — a parody of the “Friday the 13th movies” nightly through Saturday at Tate High School.

It made all the headlines 30 years ago. Only one camp counselor was found alive the next morning, and she hasn’t spoken a word since. They closed Camp Slippery Floors. Everybody wanted to forget what happened that night… except Mason. Mason never forgets! Now Camp Slippery Floors in going to open again and Mason is waiting in “Saturday the 14th”.

The comedy will be presented through Saturday at 7:00 each evening in the Tate High Cafeteria. Tickets are $7 at the door.

Pictured: The Tate High School production of “Saturday the 14th”. Photos for, click to enlarge.

Escambia County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Team Tops National Competition

October 27, 2014

An Escambia County Sheriff’s Office K-9 team has been named one of the very best in the country.

The ECSO team won first place in the four-man team competition at the United States Police Canine Association Police Dog Trials this past week in Wilson, NC. Team members are Mark Smith with his K-9 Jeck, Wayne Gulsby with his K-9 Caleb  Carlos Lizarraga and his K-9 Saban, and Jason Land with his K-9 Edo. Lizarraga is employed by the Foley Police Department, but trains with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office.

Pensacola Police K-9 Handler Bruce Harris and his partner Enio finished third overall in the competition.

There were 104 K-9 teams from 15 states that took part in the event. They also had the top obedience score and were in the top five in criminal apprehension.

Pictured top: Mark Smith, Wayne Gulsby, Carlos Lizarraga, and Jason Land with their award. Pictured below: (L-R)  Land with K-9 Edo, Gulsby with K-9 Caleb and Smith with K-9 Jeck during the national police trials in Wilson, NC. Pictured bottom: K-9 Edo. Photos for, click to enlarge.

Spooky Trail Offers Students A Thrilling Literacy Adventure

October 27, 2014

Escambia Westgate teachers, staff and many volunteers created a Spooky Trail last week for the students of Escambia Westgate, and McArthur Elementary School’s Special Education students, as a fun way to teach literacy. The mile-long trail through the woods behind the schools was decorated with giant eyeballs, witch’s hats, monsters, spider webs and skeletons. Stations along the way featured a magician, a team of storytellers, a monster sing-along, and even a fortune teller.

University of West Florida Honor students volunteered along with students from Booker T. Washington High School’s Jayettes and NJROTC students from Tate High School. Many of the student volunteers are already planning to be back in January for the Winter Trail.

Hannah Mizell, UWF Honor student, said the day was extra special for her because she has autism. “I feel sort of a connection to the kids. I kind of know what they are going through. I come from a small town where this would never happen.”

“Westgate is my favorite organization the honor students volunteer with,” explained Megan Adams, co-chair of the Honors Program Service Committee. “We take the students to three service projects a month. They will be back to help this spring with the Arbor Day trail and with Westgate’s prom.”

“Madam Ziree,” the Spooky Trail’s resident Fortune Teller (AKA Mrs. Desiree Rowe, Speech and Language Pathologist) said that last year she read a story to the children about a fortune teller. “This year I decided to play the part. The teachers gave me tips about their students such as their favorite foods, the name of their pet, or who plays on the Miracle League. Their eyes got big when Madam Ziree knew something special about them.”

Overseeing the day’s events were Judge Lacey Collier and Joe Denmon. It would be hard to find two men prouder of Escambia Westgate and what is done there for the children and teens they teach. Denmon discovered Escambia Westgate years ago when he was helping his sister transport some of the students. “The story is that one day I drove that bus out here, got off the bus and never left.”

Collier is especially proud of the Center’s Snoezelen Facility, a project that has his name on it. “He has taken us into his heart,” explains Susie Watson, curriculum coordinator for Escambia Westgate.

This was the fourth year for the Spooky Trail and everyone agreed that the credit goes to Catherine Born, who was on the trail at dawn putting up decorations and setting up for the volunteers. But she won’t take the credit, she quickly boasts about everyone who helped, the art teacher, the music teacher, the volunteers, etc. She is especially thankful for the Ascend volunteers who were out on the October 10, 2014, United Way Day of Caring to clear the pathways and lay out fresh mulch.

Pictured top: University of West Florida Honors program students created their own costumes and put on skits based on children’s books. This skit explained why the Old Lady Swallowed Some Leaves (a Halloween spoof of the Old Lady Who Swallowed the Fly). Pictured top inset:  Charlotte Tucker, High School ESE Reading teacher at Escambia Westgate,helps students experience green slime and slimey eyeballs. Pictured bottom inset:  Beau Bromall brings magic to the Spooky Trail. Pictured below: “Madam Ziree” played by Desiree Rowe helps a student look into her “crystal ball” to see his fortune. Pictured bottom: Judge Lacey Collier and Joe Denmon take a break to visit along The Spooky Trail. Photos by Kim Stefansson for, click to enlarge.

Ernest Ward FFA Fair Booth Wins Blue Ribbon

October 27, 2014

The Ernest Ward Middle School FFA won a blue ribbon with their booth this year at the Pensacola Interstate Fair. Photos by Jennifer Woodfin for, click to enlarge.

Photo Gallery: Hundreds Attend Williams Station Day; Dancers Dazzle Crowd

October 26, 2014

Hundreds attended the annual Williams Station Day in Atmore Saturday, including a large crowd for the day’s opening entertainment — dozens of dancers from a Byrneville group.

Williams Station Day takes its name from Atmore’s early history when in 1866 the community was a supply stop along the Mobile and Great Northern railroad.

Festival-goers were entertained by a wide variety of musical acts, and a wide variety of  arts and crafts were also available. After an opening ceremony that featured a pink balloon release to recognize Breast Cancer Awareness month in October, Heather Leonard’s Danceworks of Byrneville entertained the crowd.

For a Danceworks photo gallery, click here.

For a Williams Station Day photo gallery, click here.

For results and photos from the Williams Station Day 5K, click here.

Pictured top: Crowds attend the annual Williams Station Day in Atmore Saturday. Pictured inset: Dancers perform. Pictured below: Peanut sales benefiting the Northview High School Tribal Beat Band. photos, click to enlarge.

Robotics Competition Prepares Local Students For High Tech Future

October 26, 2014

Young scientists from 14 area middle and high schools tested their science, math and problem-solving skills at the seventh annual Emerald Coast BEST Robotics competition Saturday at the University of West Florida.

This year’s theme, Blade Runner, involved students using teamwork and innovative thinking to execute five sets of tasks to assemble and position a wind turbine into a completed state.

Each team was judged on its robot performance, marketing presentation, team exhibit, technical notebook and spirit and sportsmanship. The top two overall teams and the team with the top robot advance to the regional competition December 5-7 at Auburn University.

Woodlawn Beach Middle School took the overall competition and will be joined by Brown Barge Middle School to represent the Emerald Coast BEST hub at Auburn.

Gulf Power has sponsored the BEST Robotics competition for the past seven years. The event teaches teamwork, problem solving, project management and pride in task completion.

BEST Robotics Inc. — Boosting Engineering Science and Technology — is a non-profit, volunteer-based organization whose mission is to inspire students to pursue careers in engineering, science and technology through participation in a sports-like, science and engineering-based robotics competition.

“This annual competition has continued to grow in popularity because it provides local students the opportunity to learn engineering, science and math skills in a hands-on practical setting,” said Jeff Rogers, Gulf Power spokesman. “Gulf Power is very proud to sponsor an event that has such a visible impact on local students.”

Area schools have been competing in BEST since 2004, when Gulf Power sponsored eight local teams to compete in the BEST hub in Mobile, Ala. The funding of hub operations depends entirely on corporate and individual sponsorships. Materials kits to build the robots are provided to the teams by the hub. No fees are paid by students or schools participating in BEST robotics.


Advancing to Regionals at South’s BEST – Dec. 5-7 at Auburn University

  • Robotics: Brown Barge Middle School
  • BEST: Woodlawn Beach Middle School

BEST Award — The BEST Award is presented to the team that best embodies the attributes associated with “Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology” in its development which include teamwork, diversity of participation, sportsmanship, creativity, ethics, positive attitude/enthusiasm, school/community involvement and exposure to and use of the engineering process.

  1. Woodlawn Beach Middle School
  2. Woodham Middle School
  3. Sims Middle School

Robotics Award — Awarded to the teams whose machines finish first, second and third in the tournament bracket.

  1. Woodlawn Beach Middle School
  2. Brown Barge Middle School
  3. Capstone Academy

Founders Award for Creative Design — Awarded to the team that makes best use of the engineering process in consideration of offensive and defensive capabilities in machine design; awarded in recognition of BEST founders Steve Marum and Ted Mahler.

  • Woodlawn Beach Middle School

Most Robust Machine — Awarded to the team whose machine requires the least maintenance during and between matches and is generally the sturdiest machine in the competition.

  • Pace High School

Most Photogenic Machine

  • Brown Barge Middle School

Gulf Power Blood, Sweat and Duct Tape Award

  • Little Flower Catholic School

Best T-Shirt Design

  1. West Florida High School
  2. Sims Middle School
  3. Woodlawn Beach Middle School

Web Page Design Award — Awarded for the best team website; based on page functionality, creative use of the game theme, information about team members and community efforts.
Woodham Middle School

Best Spirit and Sportsmanship — Recognizes the vigor and enthusiasm displayed by team representatives and the outward display of sportsmanship (e.g., helping other teams in need), grace in winning and losing, and conduct and attitude considered befitting participation in sports.

  1. Seaside Neighborhood School
  2. Pace High School
  3. Sims Middle School

Best Team Exhibit and Interview — The purpose of this category is to communicate through a display, and through discussion with judges, information about the team’s efforts to promote BEST in the community and schools; foster BEST spirit, camaraderie and participation and give evidence of sportsmanship.

  1. Woodlawn Beach Middle School
  2. Woodham Middle School
  3. Seaside Neighborhood School

Best Marketing Presentation — Teams should view themselves as employees of a “company” that is marketing their “product” (robot) to a potential buyer (judges). This marketing team is an integral part of the engineering team that has designed a specialized robot.

  1. Sims Middle School
  2. Seacoast Collegiate High
  3. Seaside Neighborhood School

Best Project Engineering Notebook — The purpose of the notebook is to document the process the team used to design, build and test their robot.

  1. Seacoast Collegiate High
  2. Sims Middle School
  3. Pace High School

2014 Teams:

  • Avalon Middle School
  • Brown-Barge Middle School
  • Capstone Academy
  • Creative Learning Academy
  • J.M. Tate High School
  • Little Flower Catholic School
  • Max Bruner Jr. Middle School
  • Pace High School
  • Seacoast Collegiate High School
  • Seaside Neighborhood School
  • Sims Middle School
  • West Florida High School
  • Woodham Middle School
  • Woodlawn Beach Middle School

Pictured: The seventh annual Emerald Coast BEST Robotics competition Saturday at the University of West Florida. Submitted photos for, click to enlarge.

It’s a Tradition: Pumpkins, Pumpkins Everywhere

October 25, 2014

Looking for a pumpkin? The Allen Memorial United Methodist Church Men’s Pumpkin Patch is open once again this year under the tent at the corner of Highway 29 and Neal Road. Pumpkins of all shapes and sizes are available, with some priced as low as $1. The pumpkin patch is open daily from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. photos by Bethany Reynolds, click to enlarge.

Local Schools Receive State Five Star School Awards

October 24, 2014

Several local schools have received “Five Star  School Award” from the Florida Department of Education.

Escambia County schools honored were Jim Allen, Molino Park, Beulah, Lipscomb, McArthur, Pine Meadow, Bellview, Blue Angels, Hellen Caro, N.B. Cook, Cordova Park, , Longleaf, Pleasant Grove, Scenic Heights and A.K. Suter elementary schools; and Brown Barge Middle School.

The Five Star School Award was created by the Florida Department of Education’s Commissioner’s Community Involvement Council and is presented annually to those schools that have shown evidence of exemplary community involvement.

In order to earn Five Star School recognition, a school must show documentation that it has achieved one hundred percent of the established criteria in the categories of business partnerships, family involvement, volunteerism, student community service and school advisory councils.

Wards Named Outstanding Farm Family

October 24, 2014

The Ward family, including husband and wife Jimmy and Angela, have been named the Outstanding  Farm Family of the Year in Santa Rosa County.

The Wards have a rich agricultural heritage and have been a part of the Allentown community for almost 100 years. In 1917, James B. Ward settled his family and began farming along what is now Hwy. 89. By the late 1950s four of his six sons; Joel, James, Lamar, and Charles were expanding the family farming tradition and grew corn, cotton, peanuts, soybeans, various grains, abundant vegetables, and raised cattle until the early 1990s. The Ward brothers passed on a legacy of hard work, integrity, and generosity to the next generation of family farmers. Jimmy Ward, son of Lamar Ward, is the third generation of Wards farming in Allentown.

Jimmy learned a lot about farming while working with his dad and uncles and continues to farm most of the family’s land. Jimmy and his wife Angela have established their home and raised their three sons on the same land his father and grandfather farmed and raised their families. Family and community have always been important at Ward Farms. Jimmy’s three sons, Jamie, Justin, and Dustin as well as other family and friends in the community are still part of Ward Farms today. It is a great honor to have the Ward family represent Santa Rosa County agriculture in 2014.

The Wards were honored during the recent 48th Annual Santa Rosa County Farm Tour, where Angela Ward accepted the award from County Commissioners Don Salter and Bob Cole. In addition, Tiffany Bates, district representative for Congressman Jeff Miller, presented the family with a Congressional Record proclamation honoring them for their accomplishments. Mary Beth Barrows, special assistant for Senator Marco Rubio, also presented commendations to the family.

Around 200 local officials and area citizens participated in the 48th Annual Santa Rosa County Farm Tour. During the daylong tour they learned firsthand about agriculture and its importance to the local economy. This year’s tour highlighted our county’s important peanut industry where participants saw how peanuts are grown, harvested and delivered for processing. Stops on the tour included the Roy Ward Farm, the UF/IFAS Jay Research Farm, Chumuckla’s Living Truth Church for lunch and presentations, the Mickey Diamond Farm, Golden Peanut Company and Holland Farms.

Pictured top: The Ward family. Pictured below: Farm Tour visitors. Submitted photos for, click to enlarge.

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