Florida House Seeks Online Registry For Animal Abusers

February 20, 2017

Names and mug shots of individuals convicted of animal abuse would have their names published online by the state, under a proposal filed Friday in the Florida House.

The measure, sponsored by Spring Hill Republican Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, would require the Department of Law Enforcement to post in an online registry information about people convicted of felony animal cruelty, animal fighting or sexual activities involving animals.

Each individual’s information would remain on the site for two years, unless they are convicted of another instance of animal abuse. The names would be kept on the site for five years for any secondary conviction of animal abuse.

The proposal would also require the Florida Department of State to send letters to breeders’ associations urging members not to provide animals to people on the list. The measure also includes sanctions for pet dealers that sell to individuals on the registry. Pet dealers would face a second-degree misdemeanor for selling to an individual on the list. The charge would be increased to a first-degree misdemeanor on the second sale, and a third conviction would net the pet dealer three days in jail along with a $2,500 fine.

by The News Service of Florida

Gun Season Is Over, But There’s Week Left To Deer Hunt

February 20, 2017

by Tony Young, FWC

General gun season is now over, but the local Zone D’s muzzleloader season extends deer hunting opportunity.

“What I love most about using a muzzleloader is the extra challenge it provides – you only get one shot and you better make it count,” said Howard Tiller, retired high school teacher and Chipley, Florida, native. “The late muzzleloading season gives us Zone D hunters more opportunities to hunt deer while the rut is still going on after general gun season ends. Plus, there are fewer hunters in the woods during that time, which means less pressure.”

Tiller, who was introduced to hunting by his father at a young age, said he never misses hunting Zone D’s late muzzleloading gun season. The season, which only occurs in Zone D, extends deer hunting by a week after general gun ends and runs Feb. 20-26 on private lands. It was established to give hunters the chance to hunt the rut, which runs from mid-January through February in northwest Florida.

A $5 muzzleloading gun permit is required to hunt during this season. On private land, hunters have the choice of using a muzzleloader, bow or crossbow. Of course, they’ll also need a hunting license, which costs residents $17 for an annual one – or folks might opt to purchase the five-year license for only $79.

In Zone D wildlife management areas, this post-season is referred to as the archery/muzzleloading gun season. Specific dates vary by WMA, so consult each area’s brochure. Hunters can use bows or muzzleloaders, but no crossbows – unless they possess a disabled crossbow permit. Hunters who choose to hunt with a bow must have the $5 archery permit, and those using a muzzleloader need the $5 muzzleloading gun permit.

Legal to take; bag limits

Deer and wild hogs are most commonly hunted during this season. Only legal bucks may be taken (even if you use a bow), and south of Interstate 10 in Deer Management Unit D1, one antler must have at least two points. North of I-10 in DMU D2, all bucks must have at least three points on a side or have a main beam of at least 10 inches long to be legal to take.

If you’re hunting deer, make sure you have the $5 deer permit. On private land, the daily bag limit is two. Season dates, bag limits and antler regulations for deer on WMAs can differ, so consult the area brochure before you hunt.

On private lands, wild hogs can be taken year-round with no bag or size limits. On most WMAs, there’s also no bag or size limit, and hogs are legal to take during most hunting seasons except spring turkey. On selected WMAs, specific bag and size limits do apply, so again, check the area’s brochure to make sure.

Hunting regulations

During the late muzzleloader season on private lands and archery/muzzleloading gun season on WMAs, dogs may not be used to hunt deer. However, you may use a leashed one to track a wounded deer if necessary. And it’s important to note that no turkeys may be taken during this season.

Bows and crossbows must have minimum draw weights of 35 pounds. Hand-held releases on bows are permitted. Broadheads used in taking deer must have at least two sharpened edges with a minimum width of 7/8 inch.

During this late season, the only muzzleloaders allowed are those fired by wheel lock, flintlock, percussion cap or centerfire primer (including 209 primers) that cannot be loaded from the breech. For hunting deer, muzzleloading rifles must be at least .40-caliber, and muzzleloading shotguns must be 20-gauge or larger.

Legal shooting hours are between a half-hour before sunrise and a half-hour after sunset. You’re allowed to take deer and hogs over feeding stations on private land, but it is illegal to use such feed on WMAs.

Public hunting opportunity

Twelve of the WMAs in Zone D have a February archery/muzzleloading gun season, and if you plan to hunt any of them, you must have the $26 management area permit. Those areas are Apalachicola, Apalachicola River, Beaverdam Creek, Blackwater, Chipola River, Choctawhatchee River, Econfina Creek, Escambia River, Perdido River, Point Washington, Tate’s Hell and Yellow River.

You can get all of the licenses and permits you’ll need at any retail outlet that sells hunting and fishing supplies, by calling 888-HUNT-FLORIDA or by going online at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com.

Two Killed In I-65 Crash

February 20, 2017

Two South Alabama residents were killed in a single vehicle rollover crash Sunday afternoon on I-65 about eight miles north of Atmore.

Samuel Louis Brown, 34, and Eugene Sanders Jr., 53, were both pronounced deceased at the scene of teh crash at 62 mile marker. Brown and Sanders were passengers in a 2003 Mitsubishi SUV that overturned several times after leaving the roadway.

The driver of the Mitsubishi was transported to an area hospital.

Further details have not been released as Alabama troopers continue their investigation.

FDOT: Weekly Traffic Alerts

February 19, 2017

Drivers will encounter traffic variations on the following state roads in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties as crews perform construction and maintenance activities.

Escambia County:

·         Fairfield Drive (State Road (S.R.) 727/295) Resurfacing from Mobile Highway (S.R. 10A) to North Pace Boulevard (S.R. 292) – Traffic on Fairfield Drive will encounter lane restrictions, a shift, and temporary detour from 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18 to 6:30 a.m., Sunday, Feb. 19 as crews perform paving operations.  The westbound inside, left lane will be closed just east of Ruby Avenue and traffic shifted to the outside lane.  New Warrington Road Spur under the Fairfield Drive overpass, will be temporarily closed and traffic detoured to Mobile Highway, south to the on ramp leading back to New Warrington Road. Drivers traveling eastbound on Fairfield Drive will encounter a lane shift just west of the overpass over the New Warrington Road Spur. Traffic will be transitioned to the westbound travel lanes to bypass the overpass, transitioning back to the eastbound lanes at Ruby Avenue.  Law enforcement will be on site to assist with traffic control. In addition, intermittent and alternating lane closures continue between Mobile Highway and North Pace Boulevard between 8:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m. as crews perform paving operations.

·         I-10/ U.S. 29 Interchange Improvements Phase I- Crews will shift traffic and require the following lane and ramp closures from 8 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 19 to 6 a.m. Monday, Feb. 20:

§  Alternating lane closures on I-10 westbound near U.S. 29 (Exits 10A and 10B) and the I-10 westbound ramp to U.S. 29 north.

§  The U.S. 29 north to I-10 westbound ramp will be closed. Traffic will be detoured to make a U-turn at Broad Street to access I-10 westbound.

o   Paving operations will require the following lane and ramp closures from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. the week of Monday, Feb. 20

§  Alternating lane closures on I-10 westbound near U.S. 29 (Exits 10A and 10B) and the I-10 westbound ramp to U.S. 29 north.

§  The U.S. 29 north to I-10 westbound ramp will be closed. Traffic will be detoured to make a U-turn at Broad Street to access I-10 westbound.

·         Chase Street (S.R.30) Underground Utility work between 9th Avenue and 10th Avenue- Eastbound center and southern most lanes will be closed from 8 p.m. Monday, Feb. 20 to 6 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21 as crews perform sewer rehabilitation work.

·         Interstate 10 (I-10), I-110 and U.S. 98 Routine Maintenance- Crews will perform sign maintenance at the following locations.  Motorists can expect lane restrictions from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. from Monday, Feb. 20 through Friday, Feb. 24.

o   I-10 between the Escambia Bay Bridge and U.S. 29

o   U.S. 98 between N. Pace Boulevard and Fairfield Drive

o   I-110 between Burgess Road and U.S. 98

·         Perdido Key Drive (S.R. 292) Resurfacing from the Alabama State line to the ICWW (Theo Baars Bridge) – Lane closures will be in effect 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 20 through Saturday, Feb. 25 as crews perform paving operations between the Alabama State line and the ICWW (Theo Baars Bridge).  Drivers can expect delays.

·         I-10 Widening from Davis Highway (S.R. 291) to the Escambia Bay Bridge- Alternating lane closures on Scenic Highway (U.S. 90), south of the I-10 ramps, 8:30 p.m. to 6 a.m. the week of Monday, Feb. 20 as crews install a drainage pipe beneath the roadway. One lane will remain open at all times.

·         U.S. 29 (S.R. 95) Widening from I-10 to Nine Mile Road- For the next two weeks, there be alternating lane closures from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. on U.S. 29 between I-10 and 9 1/2 Mile Road and on 9 Mile Road near the U.S. 29/9 Mile Road overpass as crews perform drainage operations.

·         Nine Mile Road (S.R. 10/U.S. 90A) Widening from Pine Forest Road (S.R.297) to U.S. 29- A new detour configuration has been implemented on Nine Mile Road between Stefani and Waring roads as crews construct a box culvert under Nine Mile Road.  Alternating lane closures continue on Untreiner Avenue as crews perform jack and bore operations. The speed limit throughout the construction zone has been reduced to 35 MPH.

Santa Rosa County:

· S.R. 87 Widening from County Road 184 to north of the Yellow River Bridge- Intermittent lane closures between Hickory Hammock Road and the Yellow River Bridge from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. the week of Monday, Feb. 20 as crew perform paving operations.

·         I-10 Resurfacing from east of S.R. 87 to the Okaloosa County Line- Intermittent and alternating inside lane closures between the S.R. 87 interchange and the Okaloosa County line from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 19 through Thursday, Feb. 23  perform construction activities.  Motorists are reminded the speed limit is reduced to 60 MPH within the lane closure.

Drivers are reminded to use caution, especially at night, when traveling through the construction zone, and to pay attention for workers and equipment entering and exiting the work area.  All activities are weather dependent and may be delayed or rescheduled in the event of inclement weather

Northview Majorette Smith Is ‘Superior’ – Headed To State Next Month

February 19, 2017

Northview High School majorette captain Brianna Smith received solo superior ratings Friday afternoon in the Florida Bandmaster’s Association district competition at Escambia High School She will now head to the state assessment in March. Smith, a senior, received superior ratings at the FBA state level the past two years.

Pictured top: Smith performs during a Friday night football game last season, NorthEscambia.com photo. Pictured inset: Smith at Escambia High School on Friday. Submitted for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Tate’s Hayden Lindsay Signs With Gulf Coast State Community College

February 19, 2017

Tate High School’s Hayden Lindsay signed Friday to play softball at Gulf Coast State Community College in Panama City. Courtesy photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Alabama Congressman Byrne Announces Escambia Office Hours

February 19, 2017

Staff members from the Office of Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL) will hold office hours Wednesday in Escambia County, AL.

The staff members will be on hand to help constituents with problems they may be experiencing with federal agencies including the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Medicare, and Social Security. Staff members can also assist constituents who need help applying for or receiving a United States passport.

The schedule for Wednesday, February 22 is as follows:

  • 9:00 to 9:45 am – Atmore City Hall
  • 11:00 am – 12:00 pm – Flomaton City Hall
  • 2:00 – 2:30 pm: Brewton City Hall
  • 2:30 – 3:00 pm: East Brewton City Hall

For more information, call (251) 989-2664.

NorthEscambia.com file photo, click to enlarge.

Florida Gov’t Weekly Roundup: Courting Opposition

February 19, 2017

There was already plenty of anti-judiciary invective being hurled around the Legislature in the run-up to the 2017 legislative session, and this week may have intensified the tension.

In legal battle after legal battle, the state or the Legislature suffered a loss. A special master appointed to referee the latest battle in the “water war” between Florida and Georgia essentially said Florida’s case was all wet. State laws on abortion and guns were blocked by the courts.

http://www.northescambia.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/floridaweeklly.jpgMeanwhile, a more purely political skirmish continued to grow, as Gov. Rick Scott and the House traded more shots over the future of economic incentive programs. There were no courts in the offing to resolve that fight, which will likely be decided in the old-fashioned way after the session begins March 7.

WASHED OUT

There’s little question, according to Maine lawyer Ralph Lancaster, that Georgia’s use of water that would otherwise flow into the Apalachicola River is causing problems downstream. But Lancaster, who was appointed by the U.S. Supreme Court to oversee a fight between Georgia and Florida over those flows, said this week that there was little he could do about it.

Especially since Florida’s lawsuit targeted the wrong party.

Lancaster’s recommendation, which now heads to the U.S. Supreme Court, is the result of a 2013 lawsuit filed by Florida, alleging Georgia diverts too much water from the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river system and that the diversions have damaged Apalachicola Bay and Franklin County’s seafood industry.

Georgia countered that any limits on its water use will undermine its economy, including the growth of the Atlanta area and the state’s agriculture industry in southeastern Georgia.

A key finding in Lancaster’s report was that, since the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — which controls water flow through the region in a series of dams and reservoirs — was not a party to the lawsuit, he could not devise a settlement between Florida and Georgia without the Corps’ participation.

“Because the Corps is not a party, no decree entered by this court can mandate any change in the Corps’ operations in the basin,” Lancaster wrote. “Without the ability to bind the Corps, I am not persuaded that the court can assure Florida the relief it seeks.”

That didn’t mean there was nothing to the state’s account of the damage, Lancaster wrote in a 137-page report.

Lancaster supported several key assertions by Florida including the cause of the 2012 collapse of the Apalachicola oyster industry, which normally supplies 90 percent of the oysters in Florida and 10 percent of the nation’s oysters. He rejected Georgia’s argument that it was Florida’s mismanagement of the oyster beds that led to the 2012 collapse rather than the decreased water flow that led to higher salt levels in Apalachicola Bay.

The fault rests elsewhere, Lancaster implied, pointing a finger at the Corps.

“The evidence presented at trial suggests that the Corps’ reservoir operations are a significant, and perhaps the primary, factor influencing the amount of streamflow crossing the state line during times of drought and low flows,” Lancaster wrote.

Being wrong has not been cheap. Through November, Florida had paid out more than $35 million to four law firms involved in the U.S. Supreme Court case during the last two fiscal years, according to data collected by the Florida House.

Since 2001, Florida has paid out $72 million in legal fees for the current case and previous litigation, the House data shows. If the projection of more than $40 million in legal fees for this year holds steady, the total legal tab since 2001 could well exceed $90 million.

In an interview Thursday with The News Service of Florida, House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’ Lakes, didn’t sound inclined to pay. He said a House review of the legal fees is ongoing.

Corcoran also said House legal staff members are scrutinizing the special master’s report, which was issued Tuesday. The speaker raised the prospect of the House “aggressively” pursuing refunds after looking at issues involved in the case.

Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., Florida’s representatives in the federal government were trying to save the day.

And Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson may have given himself a campaign issue to use if Scott, a Republican, challenges him in 2018.

Nelson filed a bill to require the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to increase the freshwater flow from Georgia south into the Apalachicola River and Apalachicola Bay. Republican Congressman Neal Dunn, whose Northwest Florida district includes Apalachicola Bay, called on the Corps to suspend new plans to allow more water use in Georgia until the federal agency meets with Florida officials and others to discuss the impact of the court report.

Nelson and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio urged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to not finalize water-control standards for the river basin.

“While we do not agree with his final recommendation, the special master correctly points out that Florida has indeed suffered real harm due to Georgia’s unrestrained overconsumption of water,” Nelson and Rubio wrote in a letter to Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, the commanding general and chief for the Corps in Washington. “The master’s report also emphasizes the need for the Army Corps to reevaluate its position with respect to the impacts on the Apalachicola River and Bay.”

MAY IT PLEASE THE COURT? PROBABLY NOT

As the Legislature has pursued more and more culturally conservative legislation on issues like guns and abortions in recent years, critics have warned that the Republican majorities were in danger of running afoul of the courts.

This week, those warnings came true. In separate rulings this week, courts ruled against a waiting period for women seeking abortions and a law meant to keep doctors from asking patients if they have any firearms lying around the house.

The Florida Supreme Court blocked the abortion law, a 2015 measure that would have required women to wait 24 hours before undergoing the procedure. Thursday’s 4-2 decision was the second time the state high court kept the law from taking effect.

In the majority opinion, Justice Barbara Pariente wrote that enactment of the law “would lead to irreparable harm.”

“Indeed, under Florida’s pre-existing informed consent law, a woman can already take all of the time she needs to decide whether to terminate her pregnancy, both before she arrives at the clinic and after she receives the counseling information,” she wrote for the majority. “No other medical procedure, even those with greater health consequences, requires a twenty-four hour waiting period in the informed consent process.”

But, in a dissent joined by Justice Ricky Polston, Justice Charles Canady accused the majority of taking “an unreasonably narrow view of the purpose of informed consent” and argued that the plaintiffs had not presented any evidence to prove that the 24-hour waiting period imposed “a significant restriction on the right to abortion.”

Hours later, a federal appeals court sided with a coalition of individual doctors and medical groups in finding unconstitutional major portions of a controversial Florida law restricting physicians and other health-care providers from asking patients about guns.

The statute, dubbed the “docs vs. glocks” law, included a series of restrictions on doctors and health providers. For example, it sought to prevent physicians from entering information about gun ownership into medical records if the physicians know the information is not “relevant” to patients’ medical care or safety or to the safety of other people.

Also, the 2011 law said doctors should refrain from asking about gun ownership by patients or family members unless the doctors believe in “good faith” that the information is relevant to medical care or safety. And the law sought to prevent doctors from discriminating against patients or “harassing” them because of owning firearms.

In its ruling Thursday, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that the record-keeping, inquiry and anti-harassment provisions of the law are unconstitutional, but upheld the portion of the law that bars doctors from discriminating against patients who have guns.

“Florida may generally believe that doctors and medical professionals should not ask about, nor express views hostile to, firearm ownership, but it ‘may not burden the speech of others in order to tilt public debate in a preferred direction,’ ” Judge Adalberto Jordan wrote in one of two majority opinions issued by the full appellate court.

In a dissent, Judge Gerald Tjoflat argued that the state law was narrowly drawn and is an “attempt to regulate a very specific part of the relationship” between a health care provider and a patient.

“It does not prevent medical professionals from speaking publicly about firearms, nor does it prevent medical professionals from speaking privately to patients about firearms so long as the physician determined in good faith the relevancy of such discussion to the patient’s medical care, safety, or the safety of others,” he wrote.

VISIT FLORIDA, ROUND 53

Back in the political realm, Scott got some new ammunition in his battle with the House — and particularly Corcoran — over business incentives.

The governor was able to announce that Florida hit record tourism numbers in 2016.

The surge in visitors came despite reports during the past year of toxic algae blooms in Florida waterways, the spread of the mosquito-borne Zika virus, damage from a pair of hurricanes and a terrorist-related attack at an Orlando nightclub.

“I don’t understand how anyone can look at Florida’s booming tourism industry, and the more than 1.4 million jobs it supports, and vote to kill it,” Scott said in a prepared statement. “The legislation the Florida House is pushing puts more than 1.4 million jobs at risk and we cannot let that happen.”

But Corcoran told The News Service the governor needs to prove to lawmakers that tourism spending is directly tied to the increase in tourists.

“Show me how Pitbull’s video brought more millennials to the state of Florida? You just can’t do it,” Corcoran said, referring to a controversial $1 million contract Visit Florida inked with Miami hip-hop artist Armando Christian Perez, better known as Pitbull. “We’re in la la land.”

Anyone familiar with the new movie of the same name knows, of course, that (spoiler alert) both parties go their separate ways in order to find their dreams. That is a resolution not available to Scott and Corcoran.

STORY OF THE WEEK: A special master in the latest “water wars” lawsuit issued a report favoring Georgia, a major blow to efforts by Florida officials to increase the flow of water in the Apalachicola River.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “It’s almost as if we are being asked to accept the bogeyman’s argument that refugees in this state are the problem. What the bill does is, it sends red meat to the base of a political party in order to justify future elections. It’s wrong.”—State Rep. Kionne McGhee, D-Miami, on a bill seeking to withdraw Florida from a federal refugee-assistance program.

by Brandon Larrabee, The News Service of Florida

Volunteers Needed For FloridaWest Board of Directors

February 19, 2017

Volunteers are needed for the FloridaWest Economic Development Alliance Board of Directors.

The FloridaWest Economic Development Alliance was created in October 2014 when economic development was separated and moved out from under the present day Greater Pensacola Chamber. FloridaWest EDA operates as a publicly/privately-funded organization, observing all local, state and federal laws that apply to nonprofit organizations as defined in section 501(c )(6) of the Internal Revenue Code and Florida’s Government-in-the Sunshine Law, sections 286 and 288.075 of the Florida statutes.

The mission of FloridaWest EDA is to promote industry and commerce, enhance the business climate and stimulate economic prosperity, support workforce development, promote community development and encourage political action. FloridaWest EDA strives to accomplish the greatest good for the greatest number of people in Pensacola, Escambia County and Northwest Florida.

The membership of the FloridaWest EDA Board of Directors consists of not less than seven and not more than 21 members made up of members from the private sector and two members each who are appointed by the city and the county. Appointees serve as long as the appointing authority wants them to serve.

The FloridaWest EDA Board of Directors meets at the Greater Pensacola Chamber, 117 W. Garden St., the last Tuesday of every other month from 2-3:30 p.m.

Residents interested in serving on the board are asked to submit a resume and letter indicating their desire to serve by close of business Wednesday, February 22. Resumes should be submitted to Judy Witterstaeter, Program Coordinator, Board of County Commissioners, P.O. Box 1591, Pensacola, FL 32502, or emailed to jhwitter@myescambia.com.

Resumes submitted to a BCC agenda for consideration will become part of the official minutes and are subject to public records requests.

Late Rally Costs Lady Chiefs Against Escambia Gators

February 18, 2017

The Northview Lady Chiefs dropped a heartbreaker 6-3 in eight innings to the Escambia Gators Friday night in Bratt.

Northview was in control of the game for the first six innings only giving up one run until the Gators mounted a comeback with a two-run seventh inning to tie the game at three each. The Gators went on to score three more in the eighth with the Chiefs unable to answer.

Tori Herrington took the loss allowing six runs on eight hits with eight strikeouts and two walks.

Batting for the Lady Chiefs:
Jamia Newton  2-4, run, 2 singles
Tori Herrington 1-3, triple, RBI, walk
Peighton Dortch 1-3, run, triple, walk
Valen Shelly 0-4, RBI
Aubree Love 0-3, run, walk
Kendall Enfinger 0-4
Teriana Redmond 0-4
Lydia Smith  0-3
Alana Brown  0-3

Northview’s varsity will host Catholic Tuesday, February 21 at 5 p.m.

NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.

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