Putting It On The Line – Lineworker Appreciation Day

August 26, 2016

Friday, Gulf Power and the State of Florida  recognized the contributions and dedication of lineworkers during Lineworker Appreciation Day, a day set-aside by the state Legislature in 2012.

Gulf Power paid special tribute to almost 200 employees that work on the company’s 9,000 miles of transmission and distribution lines between Pensacola and Panama City, which serves more than 450,000 customers.

Over the past few years, the Pensacola area has endured an ice storm, a 500-year flood and most recently, severely damaging tornados. While most people seek shelter during these storms, Gulf Power lineworkers venture out into the dangerous elements, putting it all on the line to restore power, and hope.

Despite numerous safety precautions, these workers face dangerous conditions on a daily basis. It’s a job that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is one of the deadliest and most dangerous in the United States.

Yet, with all the known hazards of working with electricity, lineworkers are committed to keeping the energy flowing safely to homes and businesses no matter the conditions or weather.

One of those lineworkers, Demetric Washington, has worked seven years at Gulf Power as a distribution service and line technician.

Washington started working at Gulf Power in 2009 after having worked for Solutia for 10 years as a carpet operator. His first position with the energy company was working as a utility person.

After seven long years of training and preparation, he completed the apprentice phase in May and is now working as a journeyman.

Washington points out how seriously safety is taken in his line of work.

“In the work that we do everyday, it’s very necessary to be your brother’s and sister’s keeper,” Washington said. “You could easily have an accident. I don’t ever want that on my conscious.”

In this extremely hazardous line of work, a family-oriented atmosphere seems to come with the job. It’s common to hear most lineworkers talk fondly about their teammates.

“I love the people I work with. Sometimes you’re working with them for 12 hours straight, and we have to travel together to help other utilities with major outages,” he said. “They become like extended family.”

Gulf Power crews have traveled more than 30 times since 2008 to help other utilities restore power to their customers.

Washington says he enjoys getting the call to help people, though. “When I’ve traveled to other areas in the country where people have been experiencing longer outages, and you can see on their faces how stressed out and miserable they are. I get to help those people.”

The worst damage Washington remembers seeing was the 2011 tornado in Tuscaloosa. “It basically looked like a scene out of a movie. I can remember booming up in the bucket and actually seeing the path that the tornado took. It was something I’ve never seen before in my life.”

Despite all the dangers and hardships, Washington says he wants to do this for a long time.

“The dangers of my job are always in the back of my mind, but the training I have been through the past seven years prepares me for what obstacles I may come across,” he said.

Washington’s wife Amanda, and their four children look forward to him returning home safely each and every day.

Northview Cheerleaders Hosting Mini-Cheer Clinic

August 23, 2016

The Northview High School cheerleader will host a Mini Cheer Clinic on Saturday, August 27 from 7:30 until 10 a.m. and Tuesday August 30 from 4:30 until 7 p.m. in the school gym. The price is $35 per girl ages 3-14. Each participant will receive a shirt and be invited to cheer with the Northview cheerleaders during the first quarter of the September 2  home game against Escambia Academy. NorthEscambia.com photo, click to enlarge.

Tate Showband Of The South Members Working Their Way To Hawaii

August 21, 2016

The Tate High School Showband of the South held car washes in five Cantonment area locations Saturday as they continue to raise money for a very special trip to Hawaii.

The band is headed to Hawaii in December  to take part in the 75th Anniversary Pearl Harbor Mass Band. They will join bands from around the United States and Japan in a concert commemorating the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The mass band, including the Tate Showband, will perform on the pier of the U.S.S Battleship Missouri in a worldwide live webcast “Gift of Music” concert on December 7, 2016.

The Tate High Wind Ensemble has taken part in the Pearl Harbor event at Naval Air Station Pensacola for at least 10 years, making the Pearl Harbor trip a natural fit.

The trip was announced more than a year in advance to give the Band Boosters and band members a chance to raise the funds needed for the 215 member band.

In recent years the Tate Showband took part in the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade and ventured to Washington, D.C.  The band has taken part in many major venues, including the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Tournament of Roses Parade, the Cotton Bowl, the Orange Bowl, the Fiesta Bowl parades and even a St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin, Ireland.

Pictured: Tate Showband of the South members washed cars at five different locations in the Cantonment area Saturday to raise money for an upcoming trip to Hawaii.Photos for NorthEscambia.com.  Pictured bottom: The Tate Wind Ensemble performs  during the Pearl Harbor ceremony aboard Naval Air Station Pensacola. NorthEscambia.com file photo, click to enlarge.

Sunny Days: Growing Sunflowers

August 21, 2016

by the UF/IFAS Extension Service

Sunflowers not only make the garden beautiful but can also be used to bring the beauty of outdoors inside.

It may be towards the end of summer, but you can still plant sunflowers and enjoy them during the fall. In north Florida, try to complete sunflower planting by the third week in August. Depending on the variety, sunflowers will bloom about 55 to 75 days after planting – 60 days is a good average. Some sunflowers are sensitive to day length and may yield shorter plants and earlier bloom when planted in late summer. This corresponds to the reduction in daylight hours as summer progresses toward autumn.

To begin, choose cultivars that fit your landscape. There are now more sunflowers than just the seed bearing giants that many gardeners are familiar with. Just take a look at the gardening catalogs.

Sunflowers can be broadly divided into two types: those grown for production of edible seeds and those grown as ornamentals and cut flowers. Most gardeners will be interested in the ornamental sunflowers, also known as Helianthus annuus.

Sunflowers come in heights ranging from less than one foot to ten feet and also come in a wide range of flower colors. While brilliant yellow will always be popular, you can also choose from creamy white, bronze, mahogany, rusty red, burgundy and orange. Some types produce flowers with more than one color. The center disk of the sunflower also adds to the display and goes through color changes as the flower matures and seeds form.

Sunbright, Sunrich Lemon, Sunrich Orange, Soraya and Moulin Rouge are some that are recommended for Florida.

For best bouquet results, choose cultivars that are pollen-less to prevent pollen from shedding onto a tablecloth or other flowers in an arrangement.

If you want to grow sunflowers for the delicious, nutritious seeds, make sure you choose varieties bred for seed production, such as Mammoth Russian – also known as Mammoth, Russian Giant and Gray Stripe. These tall-growing sunflowers produce a single enormous flower at the top of the plant. To grow a really big seed head, apply general-purpose fertilizer when the flower head begins to appear. Just be sure to place them so that you can stake them if necessary.

Sunflowers are true to their name, they need to be grown in full sun. Prepare a sunflower bed as you would for planting most vegetables. They tolerate heat and dry conditions and almost any soil type. The pH preference is 6.5 to 7.5 and the addition of composted organic matter is beneficial.

Plant seeds about one-quarter inch deep directly into a prepared garden bed. It’s common to plant sunflowers into landscape beds, and many gardeners include a row of sunflowers in spring and fall vegetable gardens. After sowing the seeds, water the bed well and thesun water it as needed to keep the soil moist – even lightly every day if the weather is dry.

Sunflowers should be harvested in early morning before 10:00 a.m. It is best to cut the stems and place them in warm water right away for best results.

The versatility and variety of today’s sunflowers offer something for almost every garden and gardener. If you haven’t tried this plant lately, give it another look.

Extension Service To Hold Irrigation And Crop Management Field Day

August 19, 2016

Escambia County Extension Services will host an Irrigation and Crop Management Field Day on Tuesday, Sept. 13 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Sam and Scott Walker’s Farm located at the intersection of Highway 99 and Melvin Road in Oak Grove.

Topics for the Field Day include:

  • Interpretation of Soil Moisture Sensor Data
  • Showcasing On-Farm Soil Moisture Sensors
  • Mobile Irrigation Lab Demonstrations
  • Irrigation Best Management Practices
  • PeanutFARM Irrigation and Harvest decision support
  • Sesame (SesameFARM)
  • Electronic Scanning of Peanuts for Maturity Determination

To register for lunch, contact Libbie Johnson at (850) 475-5230, Kimberly Wilkins at (251) 937-7176 or John Atkins at (850) 675-3107

Peace Out: Century Health And Rehab Celebrates National Hippie Day

August 18, 2016

The residents at the Century Health and Rehabilitation Center recently celebrated “National Hippie Day”. Residents event tie-dyed their own shirts. Photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

New Fire Fighter, Criminal Justice Academies Kick Off School Year

August 16, 2016

The Escambia County Fire Fighter Academy at Pine Forest High School and Escambia County Criminal Justice Academy at Escambia High School started classes last week, providing students an opportunity to get a head start on their careers in public safety.

The Escambia County Board of County Commissioners helped fund the career academies through a donation of $50,000 to the Escambia County Public Schools Foundation in 2015, supporting the Escambia County School District’s efforts to create immersive learning environments within the high schools that focus on each specific career path. Participating students will develop knowledge in firefighting and criminal justice and have the opportunity to earn relevant industry certifications. To date, 111 students have enrolled in the Fire Fighter Academy, and 68 students have enrolled in the Criminal Justice Academy.

“These academies will offer students a chance to get an early start to their careers in firefighting or criminal justice, and Escambia County is excited to be a part of the future of workforce education,” Assistant County Administrator Chip Simmons said. “With a background in public safety, I would have loved the opportunity to start my training at a younger age. The public safety needs in Escambia County are going to continue to grow, and these programs will lay the foundation for our future fire fighters and law enforcement officers.”

Extension Expert Has Five Tips To Reduce Mosquitoes Around Your Home

August 14, 2016

During Florida’s wet summers, your backyard or patio area can easily become a breeding area for container mosquitoes, said Jim DeValerio, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension horticulture agent. Residents should still take measures to prevent mosquitoes from living and breeding in their home landscapes, he said.

Here are DeValerio’s five tips homeowners can use to reduce mosquitoes on their properties.

  1. Use airy, open landscaping. “Mosquitoes thrive in dense, humid environments,” said DeValerio, so landscapes with plants with heavy foliage growing close together are very attractive. “Thin out bushes and trees so that things don’t get overgrown and become a jungle,” he said.
  2. Flush, drain or cover things that may catch and hold water. While most people know that mosquitoes, such as those that can carry Zika, thrive in standing water, it’s not always easy to identify places where water can collect. For example, plants such as bromeliads can catch water in their leaves and become breeding areas, DeValerio noted. He recommends flushing out plants such as bromeliads every two to three days. Other commonly overlooked containers include holes in trees, dishes under potted plants, bird baths and sagging boat covers.
  3. Be on the lookout for all mosquitoes, not just the species capable of transmitting Zika. “Although Aedes aegypti – the Yellow Fever mosquito – and Aedes albopictus – the Asian tiger mosquito, are a concern, there are other mosquitoes that can be found in containers and can spread diseases, such as West Nile fever and encephalitis, dog heartworms and equine encephalitis” DeValerio said. ““It is never a good idea to let a mosquito bite you, no matter what kind it is.”
  4. Prevent rain barrels or cisterns from becoming containers for mosquitoes. “You can put a fiberglass window screen over the opening of a rain barrel or cistern that will prevent adult mosquitoes from laying eggs in the barrel,” DeValerio said. “You can also add mosquito dunks to the water; these are products that contain special bacteria that kill mosquito larvae,” he said. “However, with any product that controls insects, always read and follow the label. It’s the law.”
  5. Make sure that your landscape is well drained. Check that puddles aren’t forming on your landscape, and that drains and gutters aren’t clogged, DeValerio said. It’s also important to keep landscapes generally free of debris, he said, because a fallen leaf can become a container for water.

DeValerio added that it’s a myth that mosquitoes can be 100 percent controlled. “It’s all about management and taking precautions,” he said. “You need to be aware of where mosquitoes can populate and what they can transmit.”

Pictured below: Plants such as bromeliads can catch water in their leaves and become breeding areas for mosquitoes. DeValerio recommends flushing these plants out every two to three days. Photo by Phil Lounibos UF/IFAS for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

CPO Selectees Spruce Up Cantonment Horse Rescue

August 14, 2016

A group of Pensacola area Class 123 chief petty officer selectees spent their Saturday sprucing up around Panhandle Equine Rescue in Cantonment.

The CPO selectees completed many needed tasks around the facility, including painting, carpentry, mowing, trimming and much more in just a few hours.

“We appreciate our military men and women who always focus on their mission until the job is complete, never murmuring or complaining,” Panhandle Equine Rescue President Diane Lowery said.

The only horse rescue in Escambia County, PER was founded by a small group of concerned citizens with a mission to rescue, rehabilitate and provide adoption services for abused, neglected and abandoned equines. PER is authorized by the court system to investigate equine cruelty in Escambia County.

West Florida Public Libraries Announce Summer Reading Club Winners

August 12, 2016

The West Florida Library has drawn the winners for their Summer Reading Club prizes.

Winners are:

Bonus Log Level 1
0-5 years old – Pedal car firetruck – Nicholas Weidner
6-11 years old – Kindle fire – Andres Townsend
12-17 years old – Kindle Fire – Jeremiah Sorrels

Bonus Log Level 2
0-5 years old – Pedal car firetruck – Galen Schwartz
6-11 years old – 20″ Fat tire bike – Cali Zorda
12-17 years old – 26″ Fat tire bike – Maggie Brown

Bonus Log Level 3
0-5 years old – Pedal car firetruck – Evan Hadden
6-11 years old – Recumbent Bike – Amelia Hastings
6-11 years old – Fire truck ride to school (6 winners) – Garrett Wiggin, Elle Houk, Brogan Dougherty, Victoria Coleman, Gavin Bramblett, David Skutt
12-17 years old – Recumbent Bike – Nathan Griffin

Courtesy photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

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