Northview JV Cheerleaders Earn All American Status

July 27, 2017

Northview High School’s junior varsity cheerleading squad recently participated in a home cheer camp.  Abigail Nelson (pictured left) and Emily Stabler, both upcoming freshmen, tried out and were chosen as All American Cheerleaders.  They will have the opportunity to participate in the Thanksgiving Parade at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.  Photo for, click to enlarge.

Scott Pitches Law Enforcement Pay Raises

July 27, 2017

As he eyes a run for the U.S. Senate, Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday unveiled the first piece of his pending election-year budget proposal: a $30 million pay raise for state law-enforcement officers.

The initiative would provide the boost in the budget year that begins in July 2018. It would come on top of a 5 percent increase for law enforcement officers in the current budget year.

Speaking at a Florida Highway Patrol office in Jacksonville, the governor said that many law enforcement officers were grateful for the latest salary bump.

“But we cannot stop there,” Scott said. “The brave men and women who serve Florida as members of our state law-enforcement community work every day to keep Florida communities safe. And while I was proud of this important achievement, it’s clear that we must continue to build on this year’s pay raise.”

The next budget Scott proposes will be the last before he leaves office because of term limits in January 2019. At the same time, he is ramping up an expected challenge to U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, an incumbent Democrat up for re-election in 2018.

In the meantime, the governor has been sprinting across the state and highlighting politically popular measures like the recent raise for law enforcement officers.

Heads of the state’s major law-enforcement agencies, on hand for Wednesday’s announcement, said the proposed raises would help them hire and keep employees that they now sometimes lose to local police forces.

“We can’t afford to continue to train these highly qualified young men and women to go out and defend the streets and the public safety for the state of Florida, only to lose them to other states, other agencies within the very near future just because they’re not making enough money,” said Col. Gene Spaulding, director of the Florida Highway Patrol.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Rick Swearingen said the increases could help him hire the more experienced personnel that his agency seeks.

“It’s getting more and more difficult to recruit those seasoned investigators when local agencies are paying more than the state investigative agency,” Swearingen said.

Scott’s office said the state’s law-enforcement agencies would work out the details of how the $30 million would be distributed. And the Legislature would still have to approve Scott’s plan in its annual session, which begins in January.

It is likely to have at least some politically powerful allies. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, whose agency employs law-enforcement officers and who is running to succeed Scott in 2018, applauded the plan.

“Our state law-enforcement officers deserve all the support we can give them, as they’ve achieved a 46-year crime low and face unprecedented challenges, such as the current opioid crisis,” he said. “Our 240 law enforcement officers with the Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement and their peers at other state law enforcement agencies deserve a raise.”

by Brandon Larrabee, The News Service of Florida

Photo for, click to enlarge.

Wahoos Rally For Win

July 27, 2017

Pensacola Blue Wahoos Josh VanMeter wasn’t expected to play every day in the Southern League when he turned out to be “the player to be named later” in a trade between the Cincinnati Reds and San Diego Padres at the end of 2016.

However, the 22-year-old has proven indispensable to the Blue Wahoos team. He has played second base, shortstop, third base and left field and with two outs and runners in scoring position he’s the hitter Pensacola wants a t the plate.

Against the Biloxi Shuckers Wednesday, VanMeter delivered the decisive two-out, two-run double in the four-run eighth inning that gave Pensacola a, 4-1, victory in front of 4,358 at Blue Wahoos Stadium.

VanMeter said he thrives in the clutch and his hitting statistics bear that out. The .259 hitter’s average balloons to .378 with the game on the line. The new Reds pick up has driven in 23 of his 39 RBIs in that position.

“When I think of good players, I think of clutch players,” VanMeter said. “It shows I’m able to control myself, even in pressure situations.”

Blue Wahoos third baseman Nick Senzel hit a high pop up to Biloxi second baseman Blake Allemand, who instead of making the catch to end the inning and preserve the Biloxi lead, 1-0, kept the rally going when it plopped to the ground. The unexplainable error allowed Pensacola shortstop Blake Trahan to knot the game, 1-1.

Blue Wahoos first baseman Gavin LaValley then hit a bullet to left field that drove in center fielder Gabriel Guerrero with the go-ahead run, 2-1.

That’s when VanMeter stepped to the plate and delivered his double to the left center gap that scored Senzel from second base and LaValley from first to increase Pensacola’s lead to 4-1 heading into the ninth.

Pensacola manager Pat Kelly is a big fan of VanMeter, who recalled hitting a buzzer beating jumper in the Indiana high school basketball 3A Regionals to upset the tournament favorite.

“His hit gives us a three-run lead and gives (closer Zack) Weiss a little wiggle room,” Kelly said.

Blue Wahoos reliever Carlos Gonzalez also played a pivotal role in the win that improved Pensacola’s record to 16-16 in the second half and back into a first-place tie with the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp in the Southern Division. The first half champions are 56-46 overall.

In the seventh inning, the Shuckers loaded the bases on a bunt single, sharp grounder to right field and a swinging bunt single with one out off Blue Wahoos starter Jesus Reyes.

Then rain poured down and delayed the game for 33 minutes, until it resumed at 9:18 p.m. It was the second rain delay of the game with the start pushed back 30 minutes.

When the game started again, Pensacola reliever Carlos Gonzalez entered and got a pop out and strikeout to end the Biloxi scoring threat. His 1.2 innings with one strikeout improved his record in 14 relief appearances to 1-1 with a 1.90 ERA.

“That was a fantastic job,” Kelly said. “Those were five big outs for us.”

Biloxi scored in the first inning, going on top, 1-0, when leadoff batter Johnny Davis hit a grounder up the middle into center field, stole second base and reached third on an infield single by left fielder Angel Ortega deep in the hole to shortstop. Davis finally scored on Allemand’s soft line drive single to the opposite field.

Biloxi starter Jon Perrin threw six scoreless innings, allowing four hits, no walks and striking out five.

“Every team we play is that way,” Kelly said. “They run those good arms at you every night.”