Sweet Math Project: Northview Students Supersize Candy

October 21, 2014

Geometry students at Northview High School recently completed a really sweet project — scaling ordinary candy packages into supersized replicas. The completed projects are currently on display in the school library. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.

Weekend Gardening: Colorful Bedding Plants Can Brighten A Winter Day

October 19, 2014

by Santa Rosa Extension Service

Decreasing day length is a signal to start preparing for winter. Soon, deciduous shrubs will drop their leaves and the landscape will appear stark and less impressive. To keep the gloomy days of winter at bay, add cool season bedding plants to the landscape.

Bedding plants are those that are commonly used in residential and commercial landscapes to provide color and interest. No other group of plants can so quickly and economically create a colorful landscape.

Most bedding plants are annuals. These short-lived plants grow from seed, bloom and die within one growing season. The transient nature of annuals means that at the end of their season when they are no longer attractive, annuals are removed and replaced with new plantings.

Many flowering plants prefer a very specific season; therefore, bedding plants are classified into two groups based on the temperatures they prefer. Cool season bedding plants do best in the cold to mild temperatures of October through early May and generally tolerate typical winter freezes without protection.

According to a University of Florida/IFAS publication, bedding plants that can be added to the North Florida landscape now include alyssum, baby’s breath, calendula, carnation, dianthus, dusty miller, foxglove, hollyhock, ornamental cabbage and kale, pansy, petunia, snapdragons and violas.

Most annual bedding plants prefer to be in a sunny location. Prepare the planting beds several weeks before planting. First, remove any weeds or other unwanted plants from the bed. Next, turn the soil to a depth of about eight inches. Spread a two- to four-inch layer of compost, rotted leaves, aged manure, composted finely ground pine bark or peat moss over the bed, and then evenly sprinkle a light application of an all purpose fertilizer. Thoroughly blend the organic matter and fertilizer into the bed, rake smooth and you’re ready to plant.

Gardeners are accustomed to (and even demand) that bedding plants be in bloom when they are purchased. Some cool season bedding plants, however, will provide far superior results if they are purchased when young and before the colorful display begins.

Bedding plants are typically planted to make a dramatic statement. To accomplish that, place multiple plants of the same kind in a bed. Bedding plants generally look best and the beds will fill in better when the rows are staggered. Lay out the first row of plants spaced properly. The second row is laid behind the first row at the appropriate spacing from it, but the plants are placed between the plants of the first row so that they form triangles with those plants.

Flower beds of colorful bedding plants add a lot to the landscape but require a fair amount of maintenance to stay looking their best. Keeping beds well weeded is critical. A two-inch layer of mulch will help considerably in keeping weeds from growing, and using preemergence herbicides (weed preventers) may help in some situations. However, always plan on having to do some hand weeding.

Suffering From Allergies? Don’t Blame The Goldenrods

October 18, 2014

The bright yellow flowers of the goldenrod are everywhere in the North Escambia area, taking the blame from allergy sufferers. But one of fall’s most colorful plants actually gets a bad rap, according to the University of Florida Extension Service.

The true culprit for all those sneezes and sniffles is ragweed, according to Environmental Horticulture Agent Alicia Lamborn.

Goldenrod plants are bright and showy, producing large, heavy pollen grains that are carried off by bees, butterflies and other pollinators rather than by the wind. Ragweed bares greenish yellow flowers in small heads which produce copious amounts of pollen, carried by the wind rather than insects.

Ragweed flowers are not showy which means these plants are often easier to recognize by their stems and leaves. Ragweed has branching purplish stems that are rough and hairy, and leaves which are smooth, but deeply divided into lobed portions.

Pictured: Goldenrods bloom alongside a dirt road in Bratt. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.

Century Correctional K-9 Unit Places 2nd, Escambia Road Prison 6th, In Southern States Manhunt Competition

October 17, 2014

The Century Correctional Institution K-9 Unit placed second in the multi-leash division in the recent Southern States Manhunt Competition, while the Escambia County Road Prison placed sixth overall. Less than five minutes separated the first six places.

The multi leash division consists of more than one K-9 being utilized to track a suspect with the teams ranked by the amount of time that it took to capture the suspect. A total of 29 K-9 teams from Florida, Alabama, Louisiana and Arkansas participated in the event hosted by the Escambia County Road Prison.

The Florida Department of Corrections has 38 K-9 programs statewide which are used to support law enforcement agencies with felon apprehension, locating missing persons and locating and providing aid to persons in distress. In Fiscal Year 2013-2014, the Department’s K-9 tracking teams were deployed 710 times.

Pictured: From Century Correctional Institution – Major K. Carter, Officer J. Sanders, Officer K. Reaves, Officer D. Smith, Officer J. deGraaf, Sgt. B. Townson, Asst. Warden L. Marinin, Warden D. Sloan and Major D. Dunlap. Pictured below: Escambia County Road Prison officers during the competition. Submitted photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.



Young Wyatt Johnson Loses Fight Against Rare Disease

October 16, 2014

Wyatt Johnson of Century passed away late Wednesday afternoon in Atlanta. He was just two and a half.

Wyatt suffered from a rare liver disease – Langerhans cell histiocytosis – that required chemotherapy and would have eventually required a transplant.  He also had an enlarged liver, spleen and heart.

Last year, Wyatt received national attention due to Shelby Godwin of Bratt. She saw a fundraising flyer with Wyatt’s picture at CVS in Century. She was so emotionally touched by the young man that she wanted to do something to help him, and she set up a roadside orange juice stand to raise money for a young child she had never met. The then 10-year old used her own money to purchase the oranges and supplies for her little  business venture and borrowed an old fashioned juicer from a friend of her mom.

Wyatt’s family has an active GoFundMe website that was established to pay about $30,000 in transportation expenses for Wyatt and his family that were incurred to and from Atlanta where he received his specialized medical care. Donations can be made here.

Pictured: Wyatt Johnson in October of last year when a special event was held in his honor at Bratt Elementary School for him to meet Shelby Godwin (bottom photo) for the first time. NorthEscambia.com file photos, click to enlarge.

Learn More About Escambia’s Library System, Take A Survey

October 14, 2014

Escambia County is asking residents to take another in a series of surveys — this one about the West Florida Public Library System.

The system libraries serve more than 300,000 people in Escambia County. With seven libraries, the WFPL has grown and adapted to meet the changing information needs of the community since its inception in 1938 at Old Christ Church with just 3,300 books.

CLICK HERE TO TAKE A BRIEF SURVEY ABOUT ESCAMBIA COUNTY LIBRARIES.

Today the WFPL offers hundreds of thousands of books and audio-visual materials. More than 137,000 people this year already have used the computers and free Internet connections to build their technology skills, research genealogy and job search. More than 1.5 million visits are made to the libaries per year and more than 2,700 people each month attend neighborhood meetings, seminars, civic forums and other opportunities to interact and share ideas with their fellow residents at library facilities.

Residents of Escambia County can receive a free library card. The library system has checked out 578,712 items to the residents of Escambia County so far this year alone, such as books, DVDs, CDs, magazines and more, all free of charge witha library card. In addition to books, the library card allows patrons to access online encyclopedias and databases, attend numerous programs for all ages or use free wireless internet and computers. Nearly 12,000 residents each month use the Internet on more than 150 WFPL computers.

Over $6.7 million in Local Option Sales Tax has funded six new library faculties and a Bookmobile:

  • 2004 – Southwest Branch Library
  • 2007 – Century Branch Library
  • 2008 – Tryon Branch Library
  • 2012 – Main Library
  • 2012 – Molino Branch Library
  • 2014 – Westside Branch Library at Legion Field

Additionally, Local Option Sales Tax has allowed $875,000 in upgrades to preexisting library facilities:

  • Buildings – $209,807
  • Radio Frequency ID System – $455,367
  • System Software – $209,826

For more information, visit MyWFPL.com.

Escambia Schools Holding Giveaways To Promote National School Lunch Week

October 14, 2014

The Escambia County School District is hosting daily giveaways for prizes and gift cards to increase school participation this week, which is designated at National School Lunch Week. The week highlights the importance of healthy eating and physical activity for a balanced lifestyle.

“Research shows there is a direct connection between eating healthy meals at school and improved academic performance,” said Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam. “This National School Lunch Week, we’re encouraging kids to eat right so they can succeed in the classroom and on the field.”

School meals are healthier than ever, Putnam said. Each child is offered whole grains, protein, vegetables, fruit and milk every single day.

Pictured top: This drawing shows the new cafeteria that students at Ernest Ward Middle School will enjoy by next year when a newly constructed school opens. NorthEscambia.com photo, click to enlarge.

Molino Park Elementary Parents: Learn More About Bullying

October 13, 2014

Molino Park Elementary School will hold a free Parent Bullying Training program this Thursday at the school.

There will be two identical sessions — one at 8 a.m. and the other at 6 p.m. The evening training will include a free spaghetti dinner sponsored by the Molino Elementary School PTA.  The program will be presented by Denise Manassa of the Community Drug & Alcohol Council.

The top three classes with the most family members in attendance at the presentation will win an ice cream party for their class.

Parents and guardians can click here for a printable reservation form to return to their child’s teacher at Molino Park Elementary.+

Fall Gardening: Time To Tackle The Chaos And Prepare For Winter

October 12, 2014

by Santa Rosa Extension

Towards the end of the growing season, many landscapes are overgrown and untidy.  Allowing plants to tower over others can mean the demise of the smaller plant.  It’s time to tackle the chaos and prepare for winter.

First and foremost, take a good look at your landscape.  If a plant has outgrown its allotted space, perhaps it was the wrong plant in the wrong place. Avoid these types of problems by becoming familiar with a plant before you plant it.  While you can try to control the size of the plant to fit its space, it will never be a happy, stress-free plant.

Information on the mature size of a plant and their site requirements can be found in several Extension publications.  The Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ (FFL) “Guide to Plant Selection and Landscape Design” is intended for homeowners who want to take the next step and design their own Florida-Friendly landscapes. Included in this book is information on landscape design strategies, a landscape planning worksheet, and the FFL plant list containing many of the UF/IFAS recommended Florida-Friendly plants for each region of the state.  It’s available online by clicking here.

Even in a well-planned landscape, though, the gardener’s controlling influence is important. The most useful methods for dealing with especially enthusiastic plants are removing, pruning, supporting or creating barriers to prevent unwanted spreading.

Removing and replacing

Autumn is an excellent time to establish shrubs and trees.  Consider removing oversized plants and replacing them with carefully chosen ones that will happily fit within your defined boundaries.  Plants that are installed late in the year will develop strong roots systems before hot weather arrives next spring.

Pruning

When it comes to pruning, it’s good to remember that it’s better to prune lightly occasionally as needed, than to allow a plant to get way overgrown and then cut it back severely. A few prudent snips here and there will help keep more vigorous plants from overwhelming their less vigorous neighbors.

Emphasis must be placed on the word “light.”  It’s important to remember that late summer pruning may stimulate an additional flush of shoot growth on species which flush several times each year. These shoots could be damaged by an early frost.

Supporting

Another technique to improve the look of an overgrown landscape is staking.  Staking or otherwise supporting plants keeps them from leaning or falling over onto others. It helps the tall plant look better, and obviously benefits the plants that would otherwise be covered. The stake should be tall enough to do the job but not be too obvious.

Stakes may simply be placed in such a way that the plant is supported by leaning up against it. On the other hand, it may be necessary to tie the plant to the stake. Typically, twine or plastic ties are used for this purpose.  Make sure you tie the lower and upper parts of the plant to the stake to provide proper support.

Other techniques for support include tying twine in a loop all the way around a plant, using a wire cage – this is best done early in the growing season to allow the plant to grow into it – tying a plant to a sturdier, nearby plant or using one of the commercially available support systems.

Barriers

Many perennials and tropical plants spread by underground structures called rhizomes.  If growth shows up outside the area you’ve allotted for that plant, promptly dig out the unwanted growth and replant it somewhere else.

Barriers extending at least one foot down into the ground around aggressive spreaders can sometimes help keep them under control. Digging, dividing and replanting clumps of aggressive spreaders annually is another good way to make sure they stay put.

Overgrown shrubs can cause a house to lose its curb appeal.  Proper, regular control measures should be employed to keep a landscape looking its best.

44th Year: Tate Showband Earns Bandmasters Superior Ratings

October 12, 2014

The tradition of excellence continued for the Tate High School Showband of the South Saturday at the Florida Bandmasters Association Music Performance Assessment at Ft. Walton Beach High School.

The band was judged by a panel of expert judges in the areas of music, general effect, marching and maneuvering, and color guard. Under the leadership of Director Mike Philley, the Tate Showband of the South received straight Superior ratings in all categories for the 44th consecutive year.

Pictured: The Tate High School Showband of the South performs Friday night on their home field. NorthEscambia.com photo by Keith Garrison, click to enlarge.

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