September Proclaimed Library Card Month In Escambia County

September 21, 2015

September was proclaimed “Library Card Sign-Up Month” in Escambia County, urging all residents to obtain a library card and use the services of the West Florida Public Libaries. Clifford the Big Red Dog stopped by the Escambia County Commission Meeting as the proclamation was approved and presented. Courtesy photo for, click to enlarge.

Tate Celebrates Homecoming, Bell Named Queen (With Photo Gallery)

September 19, 2015

Tate High School celebrated homecoming Friday night. Alli Bell was named 2015 Homecoming Queen for the Aggies.

For more photos, click here. photos by Keith Garrison, click to enlarge.

Teens Learn Employable Skills During Partnership Camp

September 18, 2015

During the summer, the Children’s Home Society of Florida YouthWorks Program partnered with Escambia County’s Department of Neighborhood and Human Services to provide youth with valuable skills working as “Play, Learn, Grow” summer camp support staff.

The youth worked alongside Escambia County employees and were trained on conflict resolution, dealing with difficult people in a work environment, working with diverse populations, responsibility, customer service, professionalism, teamwork and many other workforce skills. The training was conducted in several ways, including one-on-one, in a group setting and hands-on.

“The experience itself helped develop and prepare our youth for the future workforce and we, as well as the youth, are very grateful,” said Eunicia Giuchici, youth career placement coordinator for Children’s Home Society of Florida YouthWorks.

Some of the youth were offered jobs with the county next summer, while others went off to college with new employable skills, and some were hired in local jobs. All of the participants were successful on some level due to their involvement in the summer camp program.

“One youth, Kianna, has a future goal of becoming an educator for young children,” Giuchici said. “This was her first job working with at-risk children. She had some bumps along the way but was able to learn from her experience to guide her in her next job. Due to her hands-on experience at the Summer Camp, Kianna was able to secure a job as a retail associate at Goodwill Easter Seals of the Gulf Coast. She will be attending Pensacola State College next semester to begin working toward her education degree.”

She added that all youth learn in different ways and that is why teaching alternatives are important to their success.

“Whether we tell them, teach them or involve them, we are making a positive effort in the future of our youth and workforce,” Giuchici said. “We applaud the hard work of the supervisors, staff, and support personnel from Escambia County’s Department of Neighborhood and Human Services including Shurlitha Jones, Leroy Williams, Kathryn Lovely and Nellie Washington, and the continuous employment support from Goodwill Easter Seals of the Gulf Coast (Robin King and Ronald Rivera).”

Pictured: Summer camp participant Kianna was able to secure a job as a retail associate at Goodwill Easter Seals of the Gulf Coast. She will be attending Pensacola State College next semester to begin working toward her education degree. Courtesy photo for, click to enlarge.

Ernest Ward Names Students Of The Month

September 16, 2015

Ernest Ward Middle School has named students of the month for August. They are (L-R) Anna Adams, sixth grade; David Lamb, seventh grade; and Keaton Solmonson. Submitted photos for, click to enlarge.

Holy Smokes Batman! Mini-Caped Crusader Has Fire Department’s Back

September 15, 2015

When Escambia Fire Rescue’s Engine 6 rolled out of Ensley to a vehicle versus house call Sunday off 10 Mile Road, they knew they had backup coming from other fire stations. But little did they know that they would have superhero backup from the Bat Cave.

Firefighters said they looked over there was the mini-Batman walking down the street with his mom. Firefighter Peter Welch and Lt. Bryan Caro took time after their call to pose for a photo with mini-Batman.

Submitted photo for, click to enlarge.

Five Escambia County Sheriff’s Deputies Promoted

September 15, 2015

Several Escambia County Sheriff’s Office deputies were promoted to new positions Monday.

Promoted were: (pictured top) Sergeant Heath Jackson, (pictured below, in descending order) 1st Lieutenant Carl Jones, 1st Lieutenant Tom Greer, Lieutenant Kevin Pachucki and Sergeant Kevin Biggs.

Photos for, click to enlarge.

Hundreds Witness ‘Miracle’ After Coach’s Heart Attack At Northview

September 14, 2015

Hundreds of people believe they witnessed a real miracle Saturday night during youth football games at Northview High School in Bratt.

The scene was a jubilant one on the Northwest Escambia side over the field after a win over Flomaton and  a spirit line forming as their next team was about to get underway. The excitement was building; it had been a great homecoming day for the NWE Chiefs.

But that changed, literally in a heartbeat, as a NWE coach fell to the field in full cardiac arrest.

In the moments that followed, the pieces of a lifesaving puzzle quickly fell into place.  Husband and wife medics, a doctor and other football fans trained in CPR rushed to the field, literally taking turns performing chest compression on the beloved coach. There was no AED and no advanced life support immediately available on the field. Fire and EMS arrived on scene several minutes later.

Around the stadium, the crowd began to pray.  Entire football teams dropped to their knees in prayer. There were no team divisions, no rivals, no opponents…just the voices of prayer as CPR continued.

Shannon Nolen snapped the powerful photo at the top of the page as another NWE coach, Pastor Ted Bridges, was on his knees, hands on the ambulance in prayer with the fallen coach inside.

“In the middle of all the chaos everyone prayed together with Brother Ted as he lead us over the PA system,” witness Crystal Godwin said. “There was no lines of division between race, team or family, we were all as one and the Holy Spirit could be felt moving through the stadium.”

And then there was an answer.

“Someone came and faced the crowd from the back of the ambulance and gave a thumbs up and the stadium erupted with joy! There wasn’t a dry eye in the stadium.”  CPR had worked.

“Coach….is stable which is a work of God after seeing his condition on that field,” Flomaton Youth Football League President William DeSpain said. “These 9-10 year old boys and girls did not get to play Saturday night, but they helped with a great accomplishment of answered prayer. They all won Saturday night.”

The NWE coach was airlifted to Sacred Heart Hospital, where family member said late Sunday he was expected to make a full recovery. A second member of the crowd was also airlifted to an area hospital in a second helicopter after suffering a medical problem.

Karen Jay and her husband Frank, owners of Atmore Ambulance, were off-duty and among those at the game that performed CPR on the coach.

“It truly was a miracle along with CPR that saved him,” Karen Jay said as she encouraged everyone to learn CPR. “But the Lord’s hand was on him. A whole lot of people witnessed a miracle.”

Pictured top and inset: Pastor Ted Bridges, who is also a NWE football coach, on his knees praying outside an ambulance as CPR is performed inside on another NWE coach. Flomaton football players on their knees praying for the NWE coach. Photos for, click to enlarge.

Retired Veterans Affairs Service Officer Mike Hanks Honored

September 14, 2015

Former area Veterans Affairs Service Officer Mike Hanks was honored with a retirement reception Sunday by VFW Post 7016 and the American Legion Post 90 at the American Legion Hall in Atmore.

Hanks assisted countless area veterans and the families in his 27 years of service. He has also been a familiar face at veterans-related events at area schools, usually in a very patriotic flag tie or shirt.

In 1971, in the midst of the Vietnam War, he was drafted into the U.S. Army.

During a ceremony earlier this year for National Vietnam Veterans Welcome Home Day, Hanks said he did not talk about the Vietnam War for a long time. “I didn’t figure anybody wanted to hear about it.”

He related the story of his “Freedom Flight” home following his tour, and of the business woman sitting next to him on that plane. Her reaction to being seated next to a returning solider from Vietnam and what she said to the stewardess still resonates deeply with Hanks.

“I want a different seat; I don’t want to sit by a baby killer,” she said loudly.

“That hurt me more than anything, because she couldn’t understand how much I love kids. and it hurt,” an emotional Hanks said, as other veterans in the audience  were visible moved.

“Words cannot describe how much it helps the healing process for you to have something like this for our veterans,” Hanks concluded as he thanked the organizers of the welcome home ceremony. “I’ve got news for you. I am a Vietnam veteran of the U.S. Army. Any I am proud of it, and I’m proud to be an American.”

Hanks is a 1969 graduate of Ernest Ward High School in Walnut Hill. He has been married to his wife Gayle for 45 years; they have two children and five grandchildren. photos, click to enlarge.

Barrineau Park Community Gets Together For Day Of Fun (With Gallery)

September 13, 2015

A Barrineau Park Community Gathering was hled Saturday at the community center on Barrineau Park School Road. Residents of Barrineau Park were joined by friends, family and neighbors for a day of family fun.

There were arts and crafts vendors, plants sales, a bounce house and other games for children, a cake walk, live bands and free admission to the historical museum.

The event was sponsored by the Barrineau Park Historical Society.

For more photo, click here. photos, click to enlarge.

Strength Team Delivers Strong Message

September 13, 2015

With feats like crushing  concrete and bending steel, the Strength Team brought their strong inspirational messages to Highland Baptist Church, Molino Park Elementary and Jim Allen Elementary.

At the elementary schools, the Strength Team delivered a motivational message, addressing how students can work hard toward obtaining their goals and dreams through education and hard work.

The leader and founder of The Strength Team, Mike Hagen, has dedicated over 20 years of his life to this kind of work. He has spoken to hundreds of thousands of people and performed at thousands of school and church assemblies. He has been featured on CNN, ESPN, and the popular television show “Walker Texas Ranger” with Chuck Norris.

For more photos, click here.

Pictured: The Strength Team Saturday night at Highland Baptist Church in Molino. Photos for, click to enlarge.

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