BOCC Approves Emergency Replacement OF Nokomis Road Bridge

February 16, 2018

Thursday night, the Escambia County Commission approved the emergency purchase of prefabricated steel bridge to replace the Nokmois Road bridge over Reedy Creek.

Due to structure deficiencies, the state ordered the Nokomis Road Bridge closed in December. The county implemented a short detour on the dirt Albritton and Jakes Roads. Due to the November 8 closure of a bridge on Arthur Brown Road and a November 14 closure of a bridge on Arthur Brown Road, the only detour options were a 31-mile, 30-35 mph average speed detour in Florida, or a lengthy detour into Alabama.

The detour solutions all present hazards to the public, according to county officials.

Since implementing this detour the county has received several calls from area residents who are concerned about meeting and passing truck traffic because of the narrow width of Jakes Road and its steep shoulders making them feel unsafe when pulling to the side when meeting  trucks and other vehicles. Rain also causes  the dirt road surface to become slippery and unstable. Vehicles, including emergency vehicles, are at risk of becoming stuck when pulling onto these shoulders.

The 31-mile detour would also present obvious delays for drivers and emergency vehicles. Even when the bridge on Arthur Brown Road reopens, the resulting detour would still be 20 miles.

County Engineer Joy Blackmon recommended that the county make the emergency bridge purchase.  Quotes and fabrication schedules have been requested from three different bridge manufacturers to determine which 50 x 36 foot bridge will be most feasible and available for replacement.

The first steel permanent replacement bridge in Escambia County recently opened on Arthur Brown Road (there were two bridges closed on Arthur Brown Road). The bridge over Freeman Springs Branch was closed November 8 and bridge replacement work began on December 6 after prep work was completed.  The new 24-foot wide steel bridge arrived in three major pieces on January 5. It was installed on January 6 and was open by January 29.

Pictured: Escambia County’s first permanent steel replacement bridge opened in late January on Arthur Brown Road. An emergency purchase of a similar steel bridge has been approved for Nokomis Road. photos, click to enlarge.

Tate’s Grissom Signs Division I Soccer Scholarship

February 9, 2018

Tate High School’s Emma Grissom signed a Division I  soccer scholarship with Florida Atlantic University on National Signing Day.  She scored almost 100 goals during her career at Tate, and has been a leader on her Gulf Coast Texans travel team for eight years.

“Emma is an outstanding individual and asset to any team. Her work ethic and versatility will ensure she makes a smooth transition to the college game,” her Texans coach, David Kemp, said.

Photo for, click to enlarge.

Tougher Texting While Driving Ban Moves In Florida House

January 10, 2018

With support from the House speaker, a proposal to make texting while driving a “primary” offense in Florida received unanimous support Tuesday from a House panel as the 2018 legislative session opened.

The House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee approved the measure (HB 33), which would allow law-enforcement officers to stop vehicles when they see motorists texting behind the wheel.

“This will prevent the actual behavior of texting behind the wheel,” said Rep. Emily Slosberg, a Boca Raton Democrat who is co-sponsoring the bill with Rep. Jackie Toledo, R-Tampa. “Because right now, it’s completely unenforceable as a secondary offense.”

Currently, motorists can only be charged with texting and driving if they are stopped for other offenses, such as speeding.

The bill, which must still go before two more panels, advanced despite concern by St. Petersburg Democrat Wengay Newton — a committee member who voted for the bill — who said the change from a secondary to primary offense could be used to racially profile African-Americans.

“I know the inference of having the safety.” Newton, who is black, said. “I get it. But at the same time, when you talk about how it affects everybody in the state … there are a lot that look like me that I want to ensure get a fair shake.”

Also, some supporters of the texting-while-driving ban would prefer lawmakers require motorists to be “hands free” from electronic devices. They also contend the House proposal could prevent law enforcement from inspecting electronic devices if drivers simply claim they were using allowed GPS rather than typing messages.

“There’s just too many loopholes in it,” said Demetrius Branca, whose 19-year-old son Anthony Branca was killed by a distracted driver just over three years ago in Tallahassee. “In my mind, distracted driving, the core of it, is no different than drunk driving. You are doing something that you know to be dangerous, and you are endangering everyone around you.”

The House bill would allow motorists to text while in stationary vehicles and would require law-enforcement officers to inform drivers they have a right to decline a search of the wireless devices. The measure also would prohibit officers from confiscating handheld devices without warrants.

The civil liberty protections were important for many lawmakers. Bills in the past to toughen texting-while-driving laws have failed to advance in the Republican-dominated Legislature.

Slosberg said after the meeting she’d prefer a “hands free” requirement and for charges to be criminal, but she said the bill had been negotiated and needs to be viewed as “a step in the right direction.”

“We’re moving the needle,” added Toledo, who noted her stepson bragged that he knew he couldn’t be pulled over for texting while driving unless he was committing a separate offense.

“That’s when I’m thinking we need harsher legislation,” Toledo said. “We need to be clear with our children that you cannot text and drive.”

The proposal got a major boost in December when House Speaker Richard Corcoran announced his support.

The Land O’ Lakes Republican said that as the father of six children, including two teens who have driver licenses, he has become convinced by statistics showing the dangers of texting while driving, particularly for younger drivers.

The state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reported nearly 50,000 distracted-driving crashes in 2016 in Florida, including 233 deaths.

Slosberg sought a texting-while-driving ban in the 2017 session and has spent the past several months urging support from local governments. More than 20 counties and nearly 30 cities approved resolutions in support of making texting while driving a primary offense.

For Slosberg, efforts to increase traffic safety are also personal.

On Feb. 23, 1996, Slosberg and her twin sister, Dori, got into a car with friends. The driver, 19, was speeding 90 mph in a 50 mph zone when the car struck a median and crashed into a car heading east. Emily Slosberg survived the crash with a punctured lung and several broken bones. Dori was killed along with four other teenagers.

The bill does not alter existing fines — $30 plus court costs for a first non-moving violation and $60, court costs and three points on a driver’s license on a second offense within five years of the first.

By not changing the fines, the House measure is closer in line with a Senate bill (SB 90) by Sen. Keith Perry, R-Gainesville, that will go before the Senate Transportation Committee on Wednesday.

by Jim Turner, The News Service of Florida

Freezing Cold — Pets, Plants, Pipes And Other Tips

December 31, 2017

When temperatures fall into the 20’s, it is time to take necessary precautions to protect pipes, pets and plants, and check on elderly friends and neighbors.

For tonight’s latest forecast, click here.

Here are  ways to stay safe during this year’s first round of cold temperatures, courtesy of the American Red Cross:

  • Wear layers of lightweight clothing to stay warm. Gloves and a hat will help prevent losing body heat.
  • Know the signs of hypothermia – confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. If someone  has these symptoms, they should get immediate medical attention.
  • Watch for symptoms of frostbite including numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness or waxy feeling skin.
  • Bring the pets indoors. If that’s not possible, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and that they can get to unfrozen water.
  • Avoid frozen pipes – run water, even at a trickle, to help prevent them from freezing. Keep the thermostat at the same temperature day and night to help avoid freezing pipes.
  • Do not use a stove or oven to heat the home.
  • Space heaters should sit on a level, hard surface and anything flammable should be kept at least three feet away.
  • If using a fireplace, use a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
  • Turn off space heaters and make sure fireplace embers are out before leaving the room or going to bed.

And here are a few extra details and tips from ECUA on protecting pipes against the freeze:

  • Insulate pipes or faucets in unheated areas: Pipes located in unheated areas of your house, such as a garage or crawl space under the house or in the attic, are subject to freezing.  If you have time to do this before freezing temperatures arrive, wrap these pipes with insulation materials made especially for this purpose.  These materials can be found in most hardware stores or home improvement centers.
  • Disconnect and drain outdoor hoses:  Detach all hoses from faucets and allow them to drain.  This action guards against the water in the hose or pipe from freezing and bursting the faucet or pipe to which it is connected.
  • Run a trickle of water: When forecasts call for sustained and / or severe freezing temperatures, run a thin trickle of water from the faucet furthest from the water line coming to your house.  Usually this is in a room at the back of the house or outside, in the yard.  Allowing the water to circulate through your home’s plumbing helps to keep it from freezing.  Some consider this a waste of water but the cost of the water used is extremely slight compared to repairing broken pipes and the resulting water damage.
  • Remember the backflow preventer: Residents and business owners who have backflow preventers on their properties for water lines, fire lines, irrigation systems, and swimming pools need to protect their backflow preventers from freeze as well.  Extended freezes can burst the body of the backflow assembly, rendering it useless.  Wrap these pipes with insulation materials, made especially for this purpose.  These materials can be found in most hardware stores or home improvement centers.  If the device and the water line are not in use at this time (i.e., irrigation system or swimming pool lines), shut off the water supply line and drain the backflow device.

Need Help Using A New Computer, Phone Or Other Tech Item? The Molino Library Can Help

December 27, 2017

Need help learning how to use that new Christmas computer, smartphone or other tech item? The Molino branch of the West Florida Library is offering local basic technology helps for free.

At the Molino Branch Library, patrons can register to receive up to 30 minutes of individual technology help on Wednesdays from noon to 7 p.m. and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Find email, increase computer knowledge, improve skills with a smart phone, learn how to download e-books and more. Call (850) 435-1760 to reserve a session. file photo.

Dump Electronics, Household Hazardous Waste, Tires For Free

December 8, 2017

The Escambia County Waste Services Department will host the next Regional Roundup on Saturday, Dec. 9 from 8 a.m. until noon at the Perdidio Landfill, located at 13009 Beulah Road. Regional Roundup events provide an opportunity to properly dispose of electronics, household hazardous waste and up to four tires per vehicle, free of charge.

Residents can dispose of all types of clean, dry, recyclable electronics including computers, monitors and terminals, keyboards, mice, printers, TVs, copiers, gaming systems, remotes, fax machines, stereo systems, cell phones and telephones. Electronics that have been gutted will not be accepted. Appliances, including fans and air conditioners, are not accepted.

HHW items can cause injury if handled improperly. These items will usually have a warning or cautionary statement on their labels, such as flammable, corrosive, poisonous or toxic and include items such as swimming pool chemicals, cleaners, drain openers, paint and paint products, fuels, gases, lawn and garden chemicals, aerosol cans and automotive repair and maintenance products.

For more information about Regional Roundup events or proper disposal of waste, contact the Escambia County Waste Services Department at 850-937-2160 or

ECSO Sgt. Jackson Receives FBI Trilogy Award

December 2, 2017

Escambia County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Heath Jackson was awarded the FBI-LEEDA trilogy award for attending and completing Supervisor Leadership Institute, Command Leadership Institute, and Executive Leadership Institute training. The Trilogy Award is presented to those exceptional individuals who demonstrate a high standard of dedication to continued education. Courtesy photo for, click to enlarge.

Ernest Ward School Advisory Council To Meet

November 24, 2017

The Ernest Ward Middle School School Advisory Council will meet Tuesday, December 5 at 8 a.m. The meeting, which is open to the public, will be held in the school’s Innovation Center.

The tentative agenda for the meeting includes student acknowledgement, a report from the principal and the consideration of bylaws for the School Advisory Council.

Effie Louise English

October 10, 2017

Mrs. Effie Louise English, 85, passed away Monday, October 9, 2017, at her home.

Mrs. English was a native of Atmore, AL and life long resident of Little Rock, AL. She was a loving wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother. She was retired from Vanity Fair with 30 years of service and a member of the First United Pentecostal Church of Monroeville.

She is survived by her husband of 66 years, Jessie English of Little Rock, AL; one son, John Lee English of Atmore, AL; two daughters, Patsy (Ken) Taylor of Atmore, AL and Linda (Ronald) Baggett of Atmore, AL; one sister, Hazel Blackmon of Jay, FL; ten grandchildren and twenty great grandchildren.

Funeral services will be Thursday, October 12, 2017 at 2:00 PM at the Little Rock Church of Assemblies with Rev. David Cooper and Rev. Leo Kent officiating.

Burial will follow at Miller Cemetery.

Visitation will be Thursday, October 12, 2017 from 12 Noon until service time at 2:00 PM at the Little Rock Church of Assemblies.

Pallbearers will be John C. English, Colbie English, Jared English, Josh Baggett, Dylan Baggett and Justin Taylor.

Honorary Pallbearers will be Riley Baggett, Wyatt Baker, Layton Martin and Kaison Martin.

Cold Front Brings Great Weather

September 6, 2017

For the latest on Hurricane Irma, click here.

Here is your official North Escambia area forecast:

Tonight: Mostly clear, with a low around 59. North wind around 5 mph.

Thursday: Sunny, with a high near 81. North wind around 5 mph.

Thursday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 56. North wind around 5 mph.

Friday: Sunny, with a high near 83. North wind around 5 mph.

Friday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 60. North wind around 5 mph.

Saturday: Sunny, with a high near 85. Northeast wind 5 to 10 mph.

Saturday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 63. Northeast wind 5 to 10 mph.

Sunday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 81. Northeast wind around 10 mph.

Sunday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 63.

Monday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 82.

Monday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 62.

Tuesday: Sunny, with a high near 84.

Tuesday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 60.

Wednesday: Sunny, with a high near 85.

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