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.

FDLE Arrests Escambia Women On Heroin Charges

August 25, 2017

Agents with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement arrested Paola Sotolongo, 46, and Krystel Theologis, 27, for drug trafficking and possession following a heroin distribution investigation.  The investigation began in July and yesterday a search warrant was conducted at a home shared by the women, 7155 Mobile Highway in Pensacola, where both were arrested.  The State Attorney’s Office, ATF and FBI assisted in the investigation and search warrant.

During the search, investigators found prepackaged heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine along with fentanyl, marijuana and alprazolam.  Sotolongo (pictured left) was charged with trafficking in heroin and methamphetamine and possession of fentanyl and cocaine with intent to sell within 1,000 feet of a place of worship.  Theologis has been charged with possession of alprazolam with intent to sell within 1,000 feet of a place of worship, and possession of marijuana.

Both women were booked into the Escambia County Jail.  The case will be prosecuted by the State Attorney’s Office.

Dispute Continues Over Florida’s Lethal Injection Drug

August 8, 2017

A Death Row inmate scheduled to be executed this month continues to mount challenges to the state’s newly adopted lethal-injection procedure — never before used in Florida or any other state — but Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawyers are urging the Florida Supreme Court to reject the latest attempt.

Gov. Rick Scott ordered Mark James Asay to be executed on Aug. 24, essentially ending a hold on the state’s death penalty caused by a series of court rulings. Asay is scheduled to be put to death more than 19 months after Scott originally signed a death warrant in his case.

Since that January 2016 warrant, the Florida Department of Corrections has switched the formula used in the triple-drug lethal injection procedure, called a “protocol.”

In the new protocol, Florida is substituting etomidate for midazolam as the critical first drug, used to sedate prisoners before injecting them with a paralytic and then a drug used to stop prisoners’ hearts.

Asay’s lawyer, Marty McClain, failed to convince a Duval County judge that the new protocol is unconstitutional because etomidate can cause pain after being injected and can result in “myoclonus,” or involuntary movements, such as twitches or jerks.

But this weekend, McClain — who wants the state to use the old drug formula, or switch to a single-drug execution protocol — asked the Supreme Court to accept a “declaration” from anesthesiologist John Robert Sneyd regarding the hazards of using etomidate as part of the triple-drug lethal injection cocktail.

“Excitatory movements such as myoclonus may compromise electronic brain monitoring and render this method of patient monitoring ineffective for the person attempting the killing to be confident that the subject of the execution attempt is unconscious,” Sneyd wrote.

But Assistant Attorney General Charmaine Millsaps asked the Supreme Court to strike the declaration, arguing that it is procedurally barred because it was never heard by Duval County Circuit Judge Tatiana Salvador before she ruled against Asay’s challenge to the lethal-injection protocol late last month.

“This (Supreme) Court cannot consider factual matters that were not presented to the trial court. The declaration is an attempt to circumvent the trial court’s fact-finding role,” Millsaps wrote in a three-page motion filed Monday.

In a separate filing Monday afternoon, McClain also continued to accuse Bondi’s office of denying Asay the right to due process by hoodwinking his lawyers into agreeing to a delay in a review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Bondi “utilized her statutory power to bring about an execution date that diminished” Asay’s chances of having the U.S. Supreme Court review his case, McClain wrote in the 30-page brief.

McClain has argued that Bondi misrepresented the status of the case when she gave the governor a go-ahead for scheduling the execution.

After McClain filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court, known as a “writ of certiorari,” this spring, Bondi sought a 30-day extension in the case.

McClain said he interpreted Bondi’s request for a postponement, to which he agreed, to mean that the state would not seek a new execution date for Asay until after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the appeal this fall.

Without the 30-day extension, the U.S. justices could have taken up Asay’s appeal before their summer hiatus, which started on June 28 and lasts until October, McClain argued.

Instead, the court gave Bondi until July 5 to file her response to Asay’s request.

Two days before the deadline, Bondi certified to Scott that Asay was eligible for execution. After Scott signed Asay’s death warrant on July 3, setting the execution date for Aug. 24, Bondi quickly filed an objection to Asay’s appeal in the U.S. court.

Since a death warrant has been issued in Asay’s case, it would take five U.S. Supreme Court justices to order a review, instead of the four that would have been necessary to grant a petition in the absence of a pending execution date, McClain wrote in a letter to the governor last month.

But Bondi’s lawyers, in court filings, maintain that the governor has “unfettered discretion” to sign death warrants and is not obligated to wait until the federal appeals have been resolved.

Asay’s execution would be the first carried out in Florida since a January 2016 U.S. Supreme Court decision, in a case known as Hurst v. Florida, that found Florida’s death penalty sentencing system was unconstitutional because it gave too much power to judges, instead of juries.

The sentencing process has since been revised, but the death penalty has been in limbo Florida following the Hurst decision and a series of subsequent state court rulings.

Asay was convicted of the 1988 killings of Robert Lee Booker and Robert McDowell in downtown Jacksonville.

by Dara Kam, The News Service of Florida

Installation Of 405 LED Street Lights Underway In Ensley

August 7, 2017

The installation of 405 LED street lights is underway in the Ensley Community Redevelopment Area, with a goal of enhancing safety and deterring crime in the community. The approximately $219,000 project is being paid for by Escambia County through Community Development Block Grant funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Recurring annual energy costs will be funded by the Ensley CRA Tax Increment Financing. Work is being completed by Gulf Power and is expected to take 8-10 weeks.

In 2014, the Escambia County Board of County Commissioners designated Ensley as a Community Redevelopment Area, or CRA, and approved the Ensley Redevelopment Plan in 2016. One of the action strategies from the plan is to implement physical improvements such as street lighting to improve pedestrian safety as well as the visual appearance of residential areas.

For a larger map of the street light project area, click here.

Nightly Traffic Shifts on Nine Mile Road At Highway 29 Overpass

July 28, 2017

East and westbound traffic on Nine Mile Road at the Highway29 overpass in Escambia County will be reduced to one lane from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. beginning Sunday, July 30. Eastbound traffic will be shifted to the inside westbound travel lane as the contractor prepares the area for construction of the support column for the new center bridge deck. Traffic control officers will be on site to help direct traffic.

Construction activities are weather dependent and may be delayed or rescheduled in the event of inclement weather. Drivers are reminded to use caution and to watch for construction workers and equipment entering and exiting the roadway.

FHP Targets Aggressive Drivers

July 17, 2017

Passenger vehicles and tractor trailers share Florida’s highways every day, but too often aggressive driving habits result in deadly crashes between the two. The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) will begin Ticketing Aggressive Cars and Trucks (TACT), a safety campaign dddhttp://www.northescambia.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/fhpstock99.jpgaimed at educating motorists about the dangers of aggressive driving around large trucks and reducing commercial motor vehicle related crashes.

Motorists should protect themselves and their passengers by learning how to share the road safely. FHP offers these tips for driving around large trucks:

  • Stay out of the No Zone: Be aware that large trucks have large blind spots (also known as “No Zones”);
  • Pass trucks with caution: Pass on the left side for maximum visibility and maintain a constant speed;
  • Do not cut trucks off: Be sure to leave plenty of room when you pull in front of a truck. Large trucks

Simply cannot stop as quickly as cars;

  • Practice patience around larger vehicles that are not traveling at the same speed as your vehicle;
  • Do not drive distracted: Anything that takes your full attention off of the road, even for a second, could

be deadly. This includes texting, changing the radio station, talking to passengers, and much more; and

Dial *FHP (*347) if you witness aggressive or dangerous driving.

Low Income Students Could Get More Aid

April 9, 2017

Although state college leaders are unhappy with a Senate budget that would boost university funding but slash support for the colleges, they are pleased with a Senate effort to expand aid for students who come from lower-income families.

The budget plan (SB 2500), which the Senate will take up Wednesday, would increase the state’s largest need-based aid program, known as Florida student assistance grants, by 81 percent, or $121 million, in the academic year that begins July 1. Senators also want to double the state’s matching grants for “first generation” college and university students to a total of $10.6 million.

The increase in need-based aid, which would also help the university system, is important to the 28 state colleges because their students will not benefit much from the Senate’s plan to expand the Bright Futures merit-scholarship program. The Senate budget would cover full tuition and fees for the top Bright Futures students, known as “academic scholars,” as well as provide $300 for textbooks for two semesters and cover summer tuition.

But out of 46,000 Bright Futures academic scholars projected in the next academic year, only 5 percent of them will be enrolled at a state college.

In contrast, state college students represented 70 percent of the 105,000 students in a public college or university who received a need-based Florida student assistance grant in the 2015-16 academic year, according to the state Department of Education.

Systemwide, state college students received an average grant of $903, ranging from $1,651 at Chipola College to $499 at Broward College. Broward had the most students receiving grants, with 17,000, followed by Miami Dade College with 16,700.

The Senate budget would expand Florida student assistance grants for public universities and colleges from the current year $114.6 million to $208 million. The grants also go for private universities and other post-secondary programs.

“We’re all over the Senate right now because we’re concerned,” said David Armstrong, president of Broward College, referring to the Senate’s proposed budget cuts, including a $55 million reduction in remedial education funding for the colleges.

But it’s a different story with the Senate’s plan to expand need-based aid.

“We have been neglecting the need-based (programs),” said Armstrong, who oversees the second-largest state college in the system, with some 66,000 students. “Kudos to the Senate. I applaud them for addressing the need-based issues.”

The Senate and House are expected next week to approve their budget bills, setting the stage for negotiations on a final spending plan for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

The House budget plan (HB 5001) would lead to a 5 percent increase in the overall Florida student assistance grants program.

State colleges would also benefit from the expansion of another needs-based aid program in the Senate budget, which would double the state match for students who qualify as “first generation” college or university students. The Senate bill would double the state funding to $10.6 million, meaning for every dollar a college or university raises for the program, it wouldl be matched by $2 from the state.

State colleges should receive about $2.65 million in matching funds from the program, reflecting about quarter of the funds, a proportion that is consistent with what they received in the 2015-16 academic year.

The House budget does not expand the first-generation matching program, nor does it provide any expansion of the Bright Futures merit scholarships.

Ava Parker, president of Palm Beach State College, said less than 2 percent of the 46,000 students on her campus have Bright Futures scholarships and she appreciates the Senate’s effort to boost need-based aid programs.

“The Senate has a real appreciation for (the fact) that we have students who have economic challenges and they’re trying to find ways to assist with that,” Parker said. “I think the Senate is really focused on what things can we do to ensure that folks graduate faster and they understand that the college system is a piece of that puzzle.”

Having said that, though, Parker said she remains concerned about what the college leaders perceive as an imbalance in the Senate higher-education budget that would increase university funding while cutting state colleges. She said the cuts would make it harder for colleges to achieve the Legislature’s goal of graduating more students on time.

“It’s a greater understanding that if you don’t help us also participate in that (funding) equation (with the universities), it’s going to be more difficult for you to reach that goal,” Parker said.

Also, a gap remains for students who rely on need-based aid to attend state colleges or universities. Neither the Florida student assistance grant program nor the first-generation grants can be used during the summer semester.

It is further complicated by the fact that lower-income students tend to rely on a combination of scholarships and grants to pay for their educations. One of the key financial supports is the federal Pell grant program, which since 2011 also has not covered the summer semester.

Over the last year, there has been debate in Congress about making Pell grants available year-round, but that has not become a reality.

Another challenge for financial aid looms in the House, where leaders have raised objections to colleges and universities using public employees in their private foundations, which raise money for the schools.

Armstrong, Parker and other college presidents said limitations on the foundations could hurt their ability to raise money, which at the colleges is primarily used to fund scholarships.

One Percent Property Tax Discount Ends February 28

February 26, 2017

Scott Lunsford, Escambia County Tax Collector, has announced that the final discount of one percent on payment of real estate and tangible personal property tax ends Tuesday, February 28.

  • To receive the one percent discount, payments must be:
  • mailed with a February postmark;
  • left by midnight CST, February 28, in a 24-hour drop box available at all locations;
  • made online by midnight CST, February 28 at EscambiaTaxCollector.com; or
  • made in person by Tuesday, February 28.

Offices are located at:

  • Downtown – 213 Palafox Place
  • Marcus Pointe  – 6451 North W Street
  • Molino – 6440 Highway 95-A North, Suite A
  • Warrington – 4051 Barrancas Avenue, Suite A

To check the status of  taxes or to pay online, visit our web site at EscambiaTaxCollector.com. Taxpayers are encouraged to contact the tax collector’s office by phone at (850) 438-6500, ext. 3252 or email ectc@EscambiaTaxCollector.com with any questions.

IP Explosion: Remediation Efforts, Cleanup Continue

January 26, 2017

Here is the latest information following Sunday night’s explosion at International Paper in Cantonment.

Remediation Efforts

  • The Unified Command is working to deal with the impacts of the incident, including taking action to protect residents near the facility and assessing the extent of the damage and possible health and environmental effects.
  • The mill remains closed while the structural damage is assessed by International Paper. Communications with employees has been maintained.
  • The timetable for completion of remediation is yet to be determined.
  • Remediation resources will be in place until this process is complete.

Community Outreach

  • As of Wednesday afternoon, approximately 120 neighborhood households have been contacted by the outreach teams.
  • IP teams continue to go door-to-door in the immediate area to provide information on resources available for community members regarding clean-up, temporary housing and potential medical concerns.
  • The Unified Command Team is furnishing information regarding remediation timelines and providing numbers for residents to call with their questions.

Potential Health Impacts

  • As was reported yesterday, the most noticeable effects of the incident were the odor and presence of byproducts of the pulping process.
  • Prolonged skin contact with these materials could cause minor irritation. People are encouraged to avoid coming into contact with these materials. If they do, washing with soap and warm water should provide relief. The same applies to pets.

Environmental Impacts

  • Environmental monitoring and sampling is underway until cleanup is complete.
  • The material may cause impact to vegetation or aquatic life.
  • An environmental assessment is being conducted to determine what areas may be impacted. Once the assessment is completed, full-scale remediation actions will be implemented.

Residents with any questions concerning the incident should call 850-968-4208.

NorthEscambia.com photo, click to enlarge.

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