Update: Suspect Attempting To Flee With Hostage At Knifepoint Shot, Killed By Deputy

May 8, 2023

A man with 58 prior felony convictions has been identified as the suspect shot and killed by a deputy Sunday night in Escambia County.

Sheriff Chip Simmons said 53-year old Ronnie Kenneth Clark  was wanted on a failure to appear warrant on a meth-related charge and a violation of probation warrant. He had warrants in both Florida and Alabama.

A bail bondsman from Bay Minette and deputies believed Clark had a gun, which was later determined to be two objects taped together to resemble a firearm (pictured below inset), Simmons said. He also texted two people saying that he had a gun and was going to “shoot it out” with deputies, according to the sheriff.

About 5 p.m., the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office responded to the 4700-block of Helton Lane off Klondike Road for the warrant service, where Clark reportedly threatened both the deputies and the bondsman.

For hours, he held a woman hostage inside a tent on the property before attempting to leave. Simons said Clark was holding a knife to the woman’s throat, got into a a vehicle and attempted to leave. That’s when he was shot and killed by a SWAT officer.

Simmons said the woman is being treated at a local hospital for injuries. He said she was struck when the bullet either traveled through the suspect or fragmented. An update on her condition was not available.

“It’s obvious to us that we spent five hours trying to end this peacefully, and we cannot let them leave,” Simmons said during a Monday morning press conference. “In situations like this, we care about human life. We care more about a hostage than we do the hostage taker, and the deputy had an opportunity to end this…Our criminal escalated these events, and it cost him his life.”

“He threatened our deputies; he threatened the bondsman. He held a knife to the throat of a hostage, and he tried to get away. If you try to do these things, you are not long for this world, quite honestly. You play this type of stupid game, and you get what you get.”

The knife was recovered at the scene (pictured first below), the sheriff noted.

As is standard procedure, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the officer involved shooting, and the deputy has been placed on administrative leave.

Betty Ann Henderson

May 1, 2023

Mrs. Betty Ann Henderson, age 77 of Dauphin Square in Mobile Alabama, passed away Wednesday evening April 26, 2023, in a Mobile Hospital.

Mrs. Henderson was a native, and longtime resident of the Flomaton area until moving to Mobile, Alabama in 2015. She had worked as a Customer Service Representative for Matrix Employee Services inc. After her retirement, she enjoyed spending all her time with her family, and as much time with her grandchildren as possible. She was of the Pentecostal faith, and member of The Flomaton Pentecostal Holiness Church, where she enjoyed working with the youth.

She is survived by her two sons, Sean (Amber) Henderson of Semms Al. Patrick (Robyn) Henderson of Reeltown Al.: brother, David (Ann) Henderson of Long Beach Ms.: sister Lila Nell Harper of Monroeville Al : four grandchildren: Ada Henderson, Alex Henderson of Semms Al: Sophie Henderson, and Finn Henderson, of Reeltown Al.

Preceded in death by her father and mother, Melton Floyd Bethea and Louise Jacobs Bethea: Brothers Melton Bethea of Atmore, Al, and Marvin Bethea of Weatherford Tx: sister Patricia Bethea Neal of Century Fl: Husband Bobby Henderson of Flomaton Al.

Visitation will be held Monday May 01, 2023, from 1 P.M. until 2 P.M. service time at Flomaton Funeral Home Chapel.

Funeral service for Mrs. Betty Ann Henderson will be held Monday afternoon May 01, 2023 at 2P.M. from the chapel of Flomaton Funeral Home with Pastor AL Bethea officiating. Interment will follow in Flomaton Cemetery with Flomaton Funeral Home Directing.

Paula Star Pugh

April 18, 2023

Paula Star Pugh, age 48 of Walnut Hill, was charged with grand theft $10,000 to $20,000 and fraud under $20,000. Both charges are third degree felonies.

She was released on a $2,500 bond 22 minutes after surrendering at the Escambia County Jail.

According to the school’s website, Pugh is an English 2 teacher at Northview High School. None of the charges are related to her employment or the school.

Candidate Profile: Alicia Johnson

March 27, 2023

The following is a response to a candidate questionnaire sent to all four candidates for two seats on the Century Town Council. Responses have not been edited.

Century Town Council, Seat 4 Candidate: Alicia Johnson

  • Current occupation: Consulting
  • Previous occupations:Utility management
  • Civic, church and other community involvement? Foster Parent
  • Education: AA Liberal Arts PSC/ AA Technical License Water/ Wastewater Treatment FDEP
  • Previous offices held, previously sought:  Seat 4 (Interim) Century Town Council
  • Why are you running for Century Town Council? I am honored to use my knowledge of utility management to serve my fellow citizens. So that we may continue to see growth and prosperity in Century.
  • What are the three most important issues facing the Century Town Council?  Town infrastructure, available employment, and Town image
  • Should the town repair the ‘Freedom Road Bridge’, and, if so, how can it be funded? Yes, the freedom Road bridge should be repaired as soon as possible.
  • How does the town fund any improvements needed to the water & sewer services provided to the Century Correctional Institution? We have received legislative appropriations for repairs and rides for our water and waste water systems.
  • Do you support Home Rule? I do, I believe the charter review committee has done an amazing job updating our charter and I am looking forward to seeing these changes enacted
  • Do you support the provisions of the Sunshine Law? Should Century’s government become more transparent; and, if so, how? I do support Floridas Sunshine Law. I think that all government entities should be completely transparent.
  • How can the Town of Century solve current town government financial issues? What do you see as the biggest financial issue facing Century? In my opinion, incorrect billing has been the major financial issue that Century has faced. Recent audits have exposed the issues and staff has made strides to correct them.
  • Are there any ordinances/regulations in Century you would like to see added? No
  • Are there any additional ordinances/regulations in Century you would like to see eliminated? No
  • How can Century better work with the county and state? The current administration is doing a wonderful job communicating with our elected officials. As a result, Century has received much needed attention.
  • Are there services Century should consolidate with the county? No, after a lot of hard work, put in by Century Staff and administration, we are definitely moving in the right direction.
  • How does Century attract additional businesses and/or jobs? First and foremost, we need to prepare our infrastructure to handle incoming businesses that would create new jobs.
  • How does Century work to support/grow additional businesses? By patronizing our local businesses, eating in our local restaurants and buying goods from our local stores.
  • What changes, if any, should be made to the Town Charter? What form of government should Century have? Council-weak Mayor system which allows for an elected mayor who does not have veto power. This way the council are jointly able to make important decisions.
  • How does the town improve utility (water, sewer, gas) billing issues and ensure bills are correct going forward? By regularly auditing customers bills. Also retaining experienced personnel.
  • How does the town work to improve education and activities for children and youth? By engaging with our local schools and nonprofits
  • Summarize your term of office plan/goals for Century…My main goal is to see the current infrastructure improvement plans come to fruition. Other goals include encouraging new businesses and job creation.

Malnourished Horses, Pony Removed From Century Property During Investigation — With Additional Photos

February 7, 2023


An animal cruelty case near Century is under investigation.

The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office responded to a complaint Saturday in the 7600 block of Killam Road, between Highway 4 and Highway 4A.

According to the ECSO, the investigation involves animals including horses, a small pony and a goat.

“The owners moved away sometime last year,” said ECSO spokesperson Morgan Lewis. “They would then sometimes stop by and feed them.”

Lewis said the horses and pony both appeared to be malnourished.

According to ECSO, charges in the case are pending the outcome of the investigation.

Two horses and the pony were removed from the property, according to Panhandle Equine Rescue (PER) President Diane Lowery. One of the horses, she said, did not survive the night.

The only horse rescue in Escambia County, the non-profit Panhandle Equine Rescue 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 cases in Escambia County.

For more information on Panhandle Equine Rescue and how to donate to the organization visit www.panhandleequinerescue.org. The group is specifically seeking donations to help with the care of the surviving horse and pony.

Pictured top: A malnourished pony is fed after being removed from a property near Century. Pictured first photo below: A malnourished horse was transported to Panhandle Equine Rescue. Pictured second photo below: Volunteers fight to save the horse. It did not survive the night. Pictured bottom two photos: A second malnourished horse.  Photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

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February 1, 2023

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Patricia LaCoste Gibson

January 14, 2023

Mrs. Patricia LaCoste Gibson, age 82 passed away, Thursday, January 5, 2023, in Hammond, LA. She was a former resident of Century, FL; and has resided in Ponchatoula, LA; since 1997. She was caregiver in the health care field for many years. She was a member of Mike Vaugh Good News Fellowship Ministry in Tickfaw, LA.

She valued the time she has got to spend with her children, and grandchildren. She enjoyed reading the bible and attending church.

She is preceded in death by her parents, Lawrence Cameron (Perry Lee Merchant) LaCoste, husband, Herbert Gibson, Sr; three sons, Kenneth Scott, Danny Gibson, Michael Small, one grandson, Anthony Small, one great- grandson Caden Grosskurth. five brothers, Russell LaCoste, Howard LaCoste, Melvin LaCoste, Lewis LaCoste, Ronnie LaCoste, and one sister, Elsie Alred.

She is survived by her one son, Herbert Gibson, Jr; of Bedico, LA; one daughter, Patsy Gibson, of Tickfaw, LA; four grandchildren, Herbert Gibson III, Derek Grosskurth, Tamula Grosskurth, Kuffner, Austin Small, six great grandchildren, Cayne Dwyer, Nevaeh Grosskurth, Aiden Viola, Tonya Small, Avaya Small, Carson Small, numerous nieces, nephews, other relatives, and friends.

Funeral service will be held Saturday, January 14, 2022 at 2:00 PM at Petty-Eastside Chapel Funeral Home, LLC. with Bro. Derek Grosskurth officiating.

Burial will follow at Antioch Cemetery.

Visitation will be held Saturday, January 14, 2022 from 12:00 PM until service time at 2:00 PM at Petty-Eastside Chapel Funeral Home

Monday Is A Holiday For Government Agencies (Except The Century Council Will Meet)

January 1, 2023

Today, January 2, is a New Year’s holiday for most government agencies.

Escambia County

  • Escambia County Board of County Commissioners (all department)
  • West Florida Public Libraries (all locations)
  • Escambia County Property Appraiser
  • Escambia County Tax Collector
  • Escambia County Department of Animal Welfare
  • Escambia County Supervisor of Elections
  • Escambia County Clerk of the Circuit Court & Comptroller
  • Escambia County Extension Office
  • Waste Services Administration
  • ECAT Administration Office

Town of Century

  • All Town of Century offices and departments,
  • Exception: The Century Town Council will hold a regular meeting.

Emerald Coast Utilities Authority

  • All ECUA offices are closed
  • No changes to sanitation collection schedules

U.S. Post Office

  • Lost post offices are closed
  • Mail will not be picked up or delivered

Pictured: Palafox Place on a rainy December day. Photo by Kathy Boyle for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Driver Killed When Vehicle Crashes Into Flomaton High School Building

December 23, 2022

A woman was killed early Friday morning when her vehicle hit the Flomaton High School building.

The vehicle left Highway 31 and crashed into the high school about 12 a.m.

The 21-year old driver was pronounced deceased at the scene, according to the Flomaton Police Department. A name has not been released as police continue their investigation.

There were no passengers in the vehicle, and there were no other vehicles involved.

Flomaton Police, Flomaton Fire Department, D.W. McMillan EMS, and Escambia County (AL) Sheriff’s Office responded. The Century Station of Escambia County (FL) Fire Rescue was dispatched but later canceled.

Photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Escambia Animal Shelter Offering Adoption Specials Through December

December 15, 2022

The Escambia County Department of Animal Welfare is offering a “Home for the Holidays” adoption special now through December 31.

Anyone looking to adopt will be able to take home a cat or kitten for $10, or a dog or puppy for $25. Escambia County residents are required to pay a separate $11 licensing fee at the time of adoption. Adoption fees include spay or neutering services, microchips, heartworm tests and the initial vaccinations including rabies vaccinations.

“Sending a pet home with its forever family during the holidays can be an incredible experience for the animal and the family,” said Animal Welfare Director John Robinson. “We hope you will open up your home to a pet for the holidays and beyond. If you can’t adopt right now, we encourage you to become a foster or volunteer this holiday season and help make a difference in the life of an animal.”

The Escambia County Animal Welfare and Adoption Center is located at 200 West Fairfield Drive. It is open Monday-Friday from noon to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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