March 11, 2014
A Senate committee Monday moved forward with a bill that would allow online voter registration in Florida and put new restrictions on drop-off locations for absentee ballots.
The Senate Ethics and Elections Committee unanimously approved introducing the measure (SPB 7068), which will still have to return to the panel for another vote. Because of that, Democrats backed away from offering amendments that could still become flashpoints in the debate over the measure.
Much of the controversy over the provisions in the bill focused on language that would allow elections supervisors to provide secure boxes to receive absentee ballots, but only at early-voting locations and supervisor of elections’ offices.
The language is a response to a Nov. 25 directive by Secretary of State Ken Detzner essentially ordering supervisors to stop providing locations other than the supervisors’ offices where voters could drop off completed absentee ballots.
But Pinellas County Supervisor Deborah Clark threatened to defy that order in a set of elections to choose a successor for the late Congressman C.W. Bill Young. Eventually, Detzner agreed not to go to court in an effort to force Clark to follow the directive.
Ethics and Elections Chairman Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, said the incident is part of a long-running quest by Clark to move toward voting by mail. He claimed Clark opens just three early-voting locations in an effort to push voters toward casting absentee ballots.
“What we have here is we have one supervisor of elections who has decided to try to do everything possible to have vote-by-mail elections. … She’s made a policy decision that affects everybody, that we’re going to have mail elections,” Latvala said. “And I just frankly think that’s wrong.”
Latvala said that, in part, he was trying to force Clark to open more early-voting locations, and complained about the possible unintended consequences of voting by mail.
The online voting-registration portion of the bill, following legislation filed by Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, was applauded by Democrats on the committee and voting-rights organizations, though some are concerned about a provision of the legislation requiring people who use the method to vote in person the first time.
By encouraging Democrats to offer their amendments when the bill comes through the committee again, the panel avoided a politically sensitive clash over the possible use of Reitz Union at the University of Florida as an early-voting location. Democrats were looking to reverse an order from Detzner barring the student union from being used as an early-voting site in municipal elections.
Latvala contended that if elections officials had asked to use the site as a “bonus pick” provided by law, instead of trying to use it under a provision that allows officials to designate a community center as a site for early ballots, it would have been approved.
“I think there would have been a different answer if it had been asked that way. … No one asked that question with respect to the Reitz Union,” he said.
But UF students who showed up at the meeting still said the rules should be changed.
“There’s no reason why the student union should be used as the bonus location when it could easily be an already-set location,” said Jose Miranda, 21, a senior at the university.
March 10, 2014
The work of the IHMC Robotics team from Escambia County with the Atlas humanoid robot is featured in an episode of a new monthly CNN program, “The Art of Movement.”
To see the video, click here, or look at the bottom of this story.
The segment features interviews with IHMC scientists and extensive video shot both in the IHMC Robotics Lab in Pensacola and at the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) trials at Homestead Miami Speedway in December 2013. IHMC’s own video team shot some of the footage used by CNN, especially from the DARPA trials. The episode focuses on IHMC’s work with the two-legged Atlas robot, built by Boston Dynamics and used in the DRC competition.
The teams participating in the DRC represent some of the most advanced robotics research and development organizations in the world. They are collaborating and innovating on a very short timeline to develop the hardware, software, sensors and human-machine control interfaces that will enable their robots to complete a series of challenge tasks selected by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency for their relevance to disaster response.
IHMC finished first in the initial stage of the DRC in June 2013, a computer simulation competition dubbed the Virtual Robotics Challenge. The robotics team followed that up with an overall second-place finish among 16 robotics development teams at the trials at Homestead Miami Speedway, featuring the actual robots. IHMC finished first among the seven teams using Atlas.
According to CNN’s website, “The Art of Movement is a new monthly show that highlights the most significant innovations in art, culture, science and technology that are helping shape our modern world. From the visually beautiful to the technically awe inspiring, from ocean tides to animal migration, from bionic limbs to ballet, The Art of Movement will showcase the latest cultural currents and scientific new waves redefining how we engage with the world.”
The Institute for Human & Machine Cognition (IHMC) is one of the nation’s premier research organizations with world-class scientists and engineers investigating a broad range of topics related to building technological systems aimed at amplifying and extending human cognitive, perceptual, and physical capacities. IHMC headquarters are in Pensacola with a branch research facility in Ocala.
March 10, 2014
Escambia County Commissioner Grover Robinson was in Washington last week to attend the National Association of Counties (NACO) Legislative Conference and visited with Congressman Jeff Miller to discuss implementation of the RESTORE Act.
“It is vital to ensure that RESTORE is implemented successfully and that the individuals and businesses impacted by the Deep Water Horizon spill are made whole. I appreciate Commissioner Robinson’s continued leadership on this crucial issue,” Miller said in his weekly newsletter.
Courtesy photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.
March 9, 2014
An aviation company that may expand to Escambia County will hold a job recruitment and information session later this month.
ST Aerospace maintains, overhauls and repairs aircraft. They currently employ over 1,300 people in Mobile. The company plans to construct a satellite operation inside the Pensacola International Airport Commerce Park that may produce as many as 300 jobs for the area.
A recruitment and information session for ST Aerospace will be held on Thursday, March 20, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the National Naval Aviation Museum located at 1750 Radford Boulevard aboard NAS Pensacola.
ST Aerospace Representatives will be on-site to discuss available employment opportunities and answer related questions. Multiple openings are currently available for aircraft maintenance inspectors, avionics mechanics, APG mechanics, structure/sheet metal mechanics and interior mechanics. Area training providers will also be on-site to discuss available aeronautical training programs.
Detailed job descriptions and requirements for each position are available on the EmployFlorida Marketplace at www.employflorida.com.
March 9, 2014
Applications are now being accepted for the 19th Escambia County Sheriff’s Office Neighborhood Watch Academy which will be held Tuesday, March 18 in the ECSO Administration Building at 1700 West Leonard Street in Pensacola.
The one evening seminar begins with a complementary meal at 5:00 pm and ends at 9:00 pm.Should you wish to start a Neighborhood Watch group or simply make yourself less likely to be a victim of crime, this class is for you. Much of the curriculum covers basic safety and security tips for the home, anonymous reporting and crime prevention through environmental design. The classes fill quickly so if you’d like to attend the Academy, please contact David Craig in Community Services Unit at (850) 436-9281 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
March 9, 2014
The Northview Chiefs lost two to the Chipley Tigers Friday night. Chipley’s junior varsity topped Northview 9-4, and Chipley beat Northview’s varsity 7-2. Northview will be in action Monday as they host Jay in make up games from last week. The JV plays at 4:00, the varsity at 6:00. NorthEscambia.com photos by Ramona Preston, click to enlarge.
March 9, 2014
This weekend’s featured recipe from Janet Tharpe is a Homemade Egg Roll. Have fun and fill them with any of a variety of fillings to satisfy everyone in your house.
To print today’s “Just a Pinch” recipe column, you can click the image below to load a printable pdf with a recipe card.
March 8, 2014
District 5 Escambia County Commissioner Steven Barry will hold a town hall meeting beginning at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, March 10, at the Barrineau Park Community Center at 6055 Barrineau Park School Road.
For more information, contact Barry’s office at (850) 595-4950.
March 8, 2014
The Florida Commission on Ethics has unanimously dismissed an ethics complaint against Sheriff David Morgan.
John Powell, who was defeated by Morgan in the 2012 Republican primary, raised allegations that Morgan used his position as sheriff of obtain a document that was not otherwise public record, and subsequently use the document in a political advertisement.
Meeting Friday morning, the Commission considered Powell’s complaint and Morgan’s response and found that there was no probable cause to support any ethics violation by Morgan, according to a press release issued by the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office.
March 8, 2014
One of Northwest Florida’s most reliable and rewarding shrubs is the camellia. Providing dark green leaves throughout the year, gardeners are rewarded in late winter or early spring with a variety of beautifully colored and shaped flowers. Camellias tend to thrive in our acidic soil but they do require some routine maintenance.
Pick up the fallen flowers. A fungal disease known as petal blight will rapidly turn entire flowers brown. If a camellia has petal blight, remove and dispose of all blighted flowers both on the plant and on the ground. You may also consider discarding the old mulch around the shrub and apply a layer of fresh mulch. This practice sometimes helps prevent fungal spores from blowing back onto new flowers. One of the best ways to prevent this disease is to pick up and destroy fallen blooms. Flowers will continue to drop for several weeks, so it’s important to pick up blooms several times a week.
Scout for tea scale. One of the most common insect pests of camellia is a scale insect known as tea scale. Check the underside of leaves regularly for this annoying pest. These small, sessile, white, thin, sap-sucking insects can build up large numbers if you do not regularly inspect your plants and take corrective measures when scale is first found. Often your first clue will be spotty yellowing on the upper surface of the leaves. Horticultural oil can be used in the winter time if used before blooming or in spring after blooming. Do not apply horticultural oil when near-freezing temperatures may be expected. Always carefully read and follow pesticide label directions before use.
Expect some leaves to fall in the spring. Camellias are “evergreen” meaning that they have leaves on the shrub year round. However, as individual leaves age, they will fall from the shrub and are replaced with new leaves in the spring. It is not unusual for camellia to drop up to 30 percent of their leaves. As long as new leaves are developing, there is no need for concern.
Camellia can be pruned after they flower. The most important reason for pruning camellias is to improve the overall health of the plant. Many times, camellias that have not been pruned in a few years will develop dead or deteriorating twigs. Removing the dead and dying limbs will minimize the possibility of diseases such as “dieback” and will also allow the plant to re-concentrate its energies. In many instances, camellias that have been neglected for a number of years will become infested with scale insects. Pruning is an effective way to provide for better coverage of chemical sprays and increase air circulation.
Lichens are warning signs. Lichens are gray-green to green mossy growths on the stems of old, neglected camellias. The lichen is a combination of a fungus and an alga that grows symbiotically. They are not parasitic to the camellia. Affected plants usually need fertilizing, watering, and mulching for better growing conditions.
Fertilizer applications help to achieve maximum performance. Apply fertilizer in the spring after blooming but before new growth starts. With many fertilizers, small amounts at frequent intervals are better than heavy applications. Special camellia fertilizers are available at your local stores. One application in early spring after blooming should be followed by a second application in mid June to early July. Scatter the fertilizer evenly on top of the mulch and away from the main stem of the plant. Water the fertilizer into the soil. Do not fertilize after July, so the plants will have a longer time to harden off and avoid freeze damage.
by Santa Rosa Extension Service