Envision Escambia: Drainage Survey Results

September 30, 2014

A new Escambia County survey reveals what county residents thing about drainage in the county. The survey was the third in an “Envision Escambia 2028″ series.

Two additional surveys — one regarding traffic calming and pedestrian safety and a second regarding residents’ satisfaction with public safety services – are now being conducted. Future surveys will ask questions about parks and recreation, libraries and natural resources.

Envision Escambia 2028: Storm Water Drainage

Question #1: First, tell us little about yourself. Where do you live?

Twenty-eight percent of respondents to our third survey live north of Nine Mile Road, with almost 22 percent living between Cantonment and the Alabama state line. Over 17 percent of those who answered the survey lived south of SR 98 and west of Navy Boulevard to Innerarity. Nearly 11 percent lived in the area bounded by Palafox on the east, New Warrington Road on the west, Fairfield Drive on the north and Pensacola Bay on the south. Residents from Perdido Key and those living south of I-10, north of Brent Lane/Bayou Boulevard and between US 29 and Escambia Bay each represented almost nine percent of respondents. Residents in the following areas each represented just over 6.5 percent of those who took the survey: east of Pine Forest/south of I-10/west of Pensacola Boulevard/north of Michigan Avenue, south of Michigan Avenue/north of Cervantes/between Palafox and US 90, and east of Palafox/south of Bayou Boulevard/between Escambia Bay on the east and Pensacola Bay on the south. Residents of Downtown Pensacola comprised 4.35 percent of respondents. Residents living south of I-10, west of Pine Forest and north of Saufley Field Road were approximately two percent of those who answered the survey. Pensacola Beach was unrepresented.

Question #2: How often do you experience standing water or ponding in your neighborhood?

Every time it rains. = 22.22 percent

Sometimes, if it has been raining frequently = 15.56 percent

Rarely, only if it’s a major storm event = 35.56 percent

Never, I do not experience standing water or ponding in my neighborhood = 20 percent

Question #3: Have you ever experienced flooding in your home as a result of a weather event?

Yes = 28.89 percent

No = 71.11 percent

Question #4: Please share with us the location of flooding and the severity of the flood damage as a result of a weather event. If you have never experienced flooding in or around your property, please select N/A.

Flooding in the driveway or lawn/yard.

  • No Damage = 0 percent
  • Minor Clean Up = 63.64 percent
  • Severe Damage = 27.27 percent
  • Total Loss = 9.09 percent
  • N/A = 0 percent

Flooding inside the garage.

  • No Damage = 9.09 percent
  • Minor Clean Up = 54.55 percent
  • Severe Damage = 36.36 percent
  • Total Loss = 0 percent
  • N/A = 0 percent

Flooding that reached inside the house or residence.

  • No Damage = 8.33 percent
  • Minor Clean Up = 25 percent
  • Severe Damage = 58.33 percent
  • Total Loss = 8.33 percent
  • N/A = 0 percent

Question #5: Storm water management refers to engaging in practices to divert and/or store rainfall to protect property during periods of inclement weather. Between 2006 and 2014, Escambia County has used $45 million of Local Option Sales Tax funds to enhance and improve storm water systems throughout the County. Between now and 2017, an additional $17 million of Local Option Sales Tax will be spent on storm water drainage.  Please select which most accurately expresses your opinions regarding these statements.

In the event of a 25-year flood, Escambia County drainage systems are designed to keep water in pipes, ponds and outfalls. An example of this type of an event was given as several days with heavy, periodic rain.

In the event of a 100-year flood, Escambia County drainage systems are designed to divert water away from homes and force it to flow down the streets to bodies of water. Examples of recent 100-year flood events were given as April 2009 and June 2012.

Given these examples, almost 42 percent of survey respondents said they felt that Escambia County drainage systems perform as designed in the event of a 25-year flood, while 58 percent said they felt it performed under design expectations. When asked about the County’s storm water drainage system performance in a 100-year flood, 21 percent of respondents said they thought it performed to design expectations and 78.5 percent said they performed under expectations.

Question #5: Escambia County cannot responsibly finance a storm water drainage system that would not see breaches in the event of a 500-year flood like the April 29-30 event.

I agree. There is a reduced cost to benefit ratio, and that it is not financially possible to guard against all disasters = 38.10 percent

I disagree. It is important to protect as many people as possible from all possible outcomes = 38.10 percent

Additional feedback included:

  • “Doesn’t matter how much money you spend if drainage lacks common sense.”
  • “It is completely possible to significantly reduce property damage through responsible and appropriate stormwater management.”
  • “You can not always predict and be prepared for all natural disasters such as the April 29-30 flooding that occurred in Pensacola. Creeks & drainage ponds overflowing was unexpected to say the least.”
  • “I agree that the April 29-30 event was unprecedented; however, continuous repetitive loss structures should be examined and expanding mitigation beyond the immediate area should be examined.”

Question #6: When it rains, water must go somewhere. Traditional storm water management design has been focused on collecting storm water in piped networks and transporting it off site as quickly as possible, either directly to a stream or river, or to a large storm water management facility or basin. Water can also be diverted into a retention pond. Which of these methods, if any, do you feel is most effective?

Sixty-four percent of survey respondents felt that piped storm water drainage systems were either very effective or effective and almost 24 percent said piped systems were somewhat effective. Almost 48 percent thought that construction of curbs and gutters was most effective, with an additional 40 percent saying they felt curbs and gutters were at least somewhat effective. Use of drainage ditches was thought to be somewhat effective to very effective by 76 percent of those who responded to the survey, while 80 percent felt retention ponds to be somewhat effective or higher.

Question #8: On July 14, David Wagonner – an architect who helped develop the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan – spoke to residents at a joint City/County meeting on storm water drainage issues. His vision on storm water management focuses on approaches that rely less on pumping systems and more on integrating water into the infrastructure. With that in mind, what do you think are some of the best ways to improve our storm water systems? You may select more than one answer.

59.52 percent chose “Integrate water features into parks that will also serve as retention ponds.”

59.52 percent chose “Require more pervious areas in new residential and commercial developments.”

57.14 percent chose “Encourage construction of green features in neighborhoods.”

52.38 percent chose “Replace underground pipes to increase the amount of water these systems are able to carry.

26.19 percent chose “Build more retention ponds, but fence them in to protect children and others from drowning and other hazards.”

Nearly 43 percent offered other suggestions. Among them:

  • “Install drainage inforstructure (sic) before installing paved roads.”
  • “Maintaining our current drainage infrastructure so that it does not become clogged or blocked with sediment or yard waste.”
  • “We do not need any more retention ponds. The ones currently in place are effective, except in cases of exception such as the unusual flood in April 2014 or a hurricane, and retention ponds increase mosquitoes.”
  • “I think it would benefit us to hold on to our water and let it clean naturally before it flows into a large body of water.”
  • “Establish a plan to gradually shift from pipes and ponds towards a more natural stormwater plan that reduces unnecessary impervious area and keeps water closer to the location it originates.”
  • “I believe in a more nature centered approach to drainage. Less piping and more natural features such as the rain gardens idea.”

Question #9: If you selected any of the answers in the previous question, would you still support those efforts if doing so would come at an increased cost to residents and businesses either in terms of higher taxes or other public projects (such as roads, parks or public safety) not being completed?

Yes, I would support efforts to enhance integrated water infrastructure no matter what the cost = 14.29 percent

No, I would not support anything that raises my taxes or causes loss of service in other areas = 19.05 percent

The best approach would be a combination of the two = 40.48 percent

  • “Drainage should be top priority due to the increased frequency of flood events over the past few years.”
  • “Stop allowing sub divisions to be build in low lying areas (swamp lands).”
  • “I would rather see LOST money used for stormwater projects versus additional parks, libraries, or new fire stations.”
  • “A compromise would be the best approach but special projects may require temporary funding measures which I may support.”

Florida Board Of Ed Approves Record Per Student Funding

September 30, 2014

Backing a pledge made by Gov. Rick Scott, the Florida Board of Education on Monday approved a proposed 2015-16 budget that includes record per-student funding for public schools.

The proposal is an initial step in a months-long process that will end with lawmakers passing a state budget next spring. As he seeks re-election, Scott has called for the public-school funding formula to include $7,176 per student next year, the same number included in the Board of Education proposal Monday. The proposal would be a $232 per-student increase over the current year.

Board of Education Chairman Gary Chartrand said the proposal includes “historic” levels of funding.

“I think we all know this is an investment in our future,” Chartrand said. “It will pay dividends for Florida.”

If approved by the Legislature, the $7,176 per-student total would top a previous high of $7,126 reached when former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist was in office. With Crist running as a Democrat this year to try to unseat Scott, education funding has become a heavily debated issue during the campaign.

by The News Service of Florida

UF/IFAS Moves Closer In Quest For Peanut That Won’t Cause Allergic Reaction

September 30, 2014

A University of Florida scientist has moved one step closer to his goal of eliminating 99.9 percent of peanut allergens by removing 80 percent of them in whole peanuts.

Scientists must eliminate peanut allergens below a certain threshold for patients to be safe, said Wade Yang, an assistant professor in food science and human nutrition and member of UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

If Yang can cut the allergens from 150 milligrams of protein per peanut to below 1.5 milligrams, 95 percent of those with peanut allergies would be safe. It’s challenging to eliminate all peanut allergens, he said, because doing so may risk destroying peanuts’ texture, color, flavor and nutrition. But he said he’s using novel methods like pulsed light to reach an allergen level that will protect most people.

Yang, whose study is published online in this month’s issue of the journal Food and Bioprocess Technology, cautioned that he has done peanut allergen experiments only in a laboratory setting so far. He hopes to eventually conduct clinical trials on animals and humans.

Dr. Shih-Wen Huang, professor emeritus in the Department of Pediatrics and Head of the Pediatric Allergy Clinic at UF Health, is familiar with the UF/IFAS research. Huang outlined more steps in the peanut allergen research.

“I am pleased to see their work is progressing well,” Huang said. “However, more challenges are waiting until the final products are accepted from the public, especially the patients with peanut allergies.”

Two years ago, Yang was using his technique on peanut extract. He’s now testing it on the peanut itself. In his 2012 study, he removed up to 90 percent of the allergic potential from peanut protein extracts.

“This process proves that pulsed light can inactivate the peanut allergenic proteins and indicates that pulsed light has a great potential in peanut allergen mitigation,” Yang said.

About 1.9 million people, or 0.06 percent of U.S. residents, are allergic to peanuts, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health.

Reactions can range from skin rashes to anaphylaxis, which can be fatal. Currently, the best way for those allergic to peanuts to stay safe is to avoid them, according to the NIH. Many people carry epinephrine injectors that help offset their allergy symptoms until they reach a hospital.

Pictured: Wade Yang, left, an assistant professor in food science and human nutrition at UF/IFAS, used pulsed light to remove 80 percent of the allergens from a whole peanut. By doing so, he moves closer to his goal of eliminating 99.9 percent of allergens in peanuts. Courtesy photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

One Charged In Early Sunday Morning Shooting In Escambia County

September 29, 2014

One person was arrested after a weekend shooting in Escambia County.

The shooting happened in the parking lot of Gene’s Lounge off West Navy Boulevard about 2 a.m. Sunday.   The victim, Miequle Delorean Brock, 28, was transported to a local hospital with an apparent gunshot wound.

The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office arrested 23-year-old Darius Devon Williams for resisting arrest, possession of a weapon and dealing in stolen property.  His bond was  set at $101,000. Additional charges related to the shooting area expected to be filed.

Northview Homecoming Parade Entry Deadline Is Tuesday; Homecoming Meal Available

September 29, 2014

The sixth annual Northview High School Homecoming Parade is Friday, and the deadline for entries is tomorrow.

The parade will line up at noon and travel from Bratt Elementary School to Northview High.  Entries are being accepted now; there is no cost to enter. For a printable entry form, click here. Entries are due by Tuesday.

Contact Perry Byars at (850) 327-6681 ext. 248 for more information.

A homecoming meal will available Friday from 10 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. from the football concession stand to support the Tommy Weaver Scholarship Fund. The $7 meal will include a BBQ pork sandwich, chips, dessert and drink. Call in large orders by Wednesday to Perry Byars at (850) 327-6681 ext. 248 if 10 or more meals are desired. Meal prepared by Archie’s Catering Services.

The Northview Chief’s homecoming game will kickoff at 7 p.m. on October 3 against the Jay Royals.

Pictured: The 2013 Northview High School Homecoming Parade. NorthEscambia.com file photos, click to enlarge.

Learn More About Proposed Tax, New Santa Rosa Judicial Center At Jay Meeting

September 29, 2014

Residents in northern Santa Rosa County will have the chance Tuesday to learn more about a possible new judicial center.

On the November general election ballot voters in Santa Rosa County will have the opportunity to decide if a proposed countywide one cent local option sales tax should be adopted to fund a new judicial center and if approved, where the new facility will be located through four ballot measures.

A public meeting will he held Tuesday night at 6:00 at the Jay Community Center at 5259 Booker Street.

The current Santa Rosa County Courthouse is located in downtown Milton. Built in 1927, the building size is no longer sufficient for all the necessary courthouse functions and the design of the building creates security issues for the public and staff. The parking, heating and cooling system, and telephone and computer network infrastructure are also no longer adequate for daily operations. Officials say a  new facility that can serve the county today, and up to 75 years in the future, is needed.

Voters will be asked if they support a one percent local option sales tax for five years. Often referred to as a “one cent”sales tax, it would increase sales tax by one percent. If approved, the sales tax will be limited to five years.

Voters will also have the opportunity to voice their preference for where a possible new judicial facility should be built. In three non-binding referendum items, voters have the option of voting yes or no for each of the three possible locations for a new facility:

  • approximately seven acres next to the current courthouse in downtown Milton
  • In excess of 15 acres on U.S. Highway 90 southwest of the Peter Prince Airport
  • 22.46 acres on Hwy. 90 in Pea Ridge.

High School Football District Standings, Schedules

September 29, 2014

Here is a look at local high school football district standings, scores from last week, and Friday night’s schedule for Florida schools:

Don’t Want A $456 Ticket? Slow Down In School Zones

September 28, 2014

Zoom through the Ernest Ward Middle or Molino Park Elementary, or any other school zone at 45 mph and it will cost you … $456 to be exact. Make it 50 miles an hour, and you’ll be talking to a judge.

School has been in session for over month now, and each day drivers continue to forget to slow down in school zones. And whether it is Ernest Ward, Molino Park or one of dozens of other schools, law enforcement is out often enforcing school zone speed limits.

If you are caught speeding in a school zone, be prepared for a big hit on your wallet, not mention your vehicle insurance rates.

Here is a list of fines if motorists are caught speeding in school zones in Escambia County:

  • 1 – 9 mph over the speed limit: $156.
  • 10 – 14 mph over the speed limit: $306.
  • 15 to 19 mph over the speed limit: $406.
  • 20 – 29 mph over the speed limit: $456.
  • 30 plus mph over the speed limit: Mandatory court appearance.

And if you fail to stop for a school bus that is loading or unloading students, that a $271 fine.

Pictured: An Escambia County Sheriff’s deputy makes a traffic stop near Ernest Ward Middle School in Walnut Hill after the driver was clocked speeding in the school zone. NorthEscambia.com  photo, click to enlarge.

Florida Gov’t Weekly Roundup: It’s Fall, But The Politics Are Only Getting Hotter

September 28, 2014

Summer officially ended Monday, and the temperature seemed to drop in Tallahassee. It wasn’t cool, per se, but at least going outside wasn’t walking into a skin-melting blast furnace.

But even as the weather cooled, two long-running dramas heated up. At Florida State University, a controversial and at times bumbling presidential search finally settled on the man many assumed would get the job all along: Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine.

http://www.northescambia.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/floridaweeklly.jpgAnd in the governor’s race, supporters of incumbent Gov. Rick Scott and Democratic candidate Charlie Crist traded charges of dirty tricks in one of the nation’s most closely-watched contests. Crist’s campaign and its Democratic allies slammed the Republican Party of Florida for allegedly spying on a fundraiser, while Scott and the state GOP accused Democratic National Committee Chairwoman and Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of crossing the line with comments that seemed to compare Republican policies to domestic abuse.

Neither story is likely to die down anytime soon. Thrasher is still technically running for re-election — his appointment doesn’t become official until it’s approved by the state university system’s Board of Governors — and the election that will end the governor’s race remains more than a month away.

PRESIDENT THRASHER (FINALLY)

In 2012, Thrasher, a former House speaker, took part in what amounted to a palace coup that would have moved up his potential presidency of the Senate. The effort failed, though, and Thrasher faced the prospect of serving out the last four years of his tenure with little to no chance of leading the chamber.

But the influential senator will still get the title of president, this time as the head of his alma mater. The Florida State University Board of Trustees voted 11-2 on Tuesday to give the job to Thrasher, who had long been seen as the front-runner for the position. In addition to the perks of the job — like free admission to football games played by his beloved Seminoles — Thrasher now faces the challenge of moving the institution forward while winning the support of large portions of the faculty and student body who opposed him.

“This is the scary choice, not the safe choice,” Faculty Senate President Gary Tyson, who sits on the board, told his fellow trustees Tuesday.

Others also expressed concerns that Thrasher wouldn’t live up to the expectations that he could increase the Legislature’s support for the school or that his political fundraising skills wouldn’t translate to the need to raise money for academia. One opponent called the search process “sketchy,” one labeled Thrasher an “overlord,” another said the trustees were announcing support for athletics over academics, and one even threatened, “We will make John Thrasher’s life here at Florida State a living hell.”

Thrasher stayed away from any premature celebrations, given that the Board of Governors has to approve his candidacy — though that is largely expected to be a formality. He was also beginning to reach out to those who opposed him or ran against him for the presidency, from Tyson to FSU Provost Garnett Stokes, who has served as interim president.

EXIT FROM POLITICS

Following the suggestion of trustees, Thrasher resigned Wednesday from his role as chairman of Scott’s re-election effort. But he declined to give up his own bid for another term in the Senate, pointing to the fact that he wasn’t officially the president of FSU yet.

The decision also avoids a process that would allow local Republican leaders to choose a replacement candidate for Thrasher, as would have been the case if Thrasher stepped down immediately. Instead, a special election will be held next year to fill the seat, assuming Thrasher wins in November.

“I think I probably ought to prevail in the (November) campaign, and then if I’m successful the day after with the Board of Governors, then I can submit my resignation and allow the governor to call a special election,” Thrasher said. “That way the person, whoever it is, can be vetted by the voters. This is for a four-year term in the Florida Senate. It’s a big deal in my opinion.”

In the opinion of a few House members as well, who will be able to run in the special election but wouldn’t have been eligible under state law to run for the Senate seat in November if Thrasher had left right away.

Some legislators are already saying they would be interested in running in a special election.

“If that happens, I would certainly be considering it strongly,” said Rep. Ronald “Doc” Renuart, a three-term Republican from Ponte Vedra Beach.

Rep. Travis Hutson, R-Elkton, said he would also take a look at running.

“I would like to get with my community and make sure it’s the right thing,” said Hutson, a House freshman unopposed in his bid for re-election.

And Derek Hankerson, who drew a little less than 30 percent of the vote against Thrasher in this year’s Republican primary, said he would jump into the race as well. Hankerson filed paperwork this week to set up a campaign for the 2018 elections, which could be converted to an account for the special election once it’s announced.

‘NIXONIAN’ VS. ‘WILDLY INSULTING’

There have been times that it seemed unlikely that the race between Scott and Crist could get any nastier — but both campaigns seem to view that kind of thinking as a challenge.

This week, things took another step down and into some bizarre territory. Democrats accused GOP staffers of filming people who arrived at a fundraiser for Crist held at Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Allison Tant’s home. The allegations, reported by the Associated Press, also included charges that Republicans had taken pictures of the license plates of those in attendance.

It’s not entirely clear what Republicans were hoping to accomplish, given that a list of everyone who contributes to Crist’s campaign is a regularly updated public record.

In a media availability Friday, Tant ripped into the GOP over the incident, calling it “Nixonian” and “Orwellian” and using other, only slightly less colorful adjectives.

“In America, we get to take a stand — with our voices, with our presence and with our dollars — for whom we choose to support without any kind of dictatorial backlash for doing that,” Tant said.

Coincidentally or not (read: probably not), footage soon emerged on the political blog of the Tampa Bay Times and Miami Herald showing Wasserman Schultz saying that Scott “has given us the back of his hand.” The remarks, made about a month ago, bore a striking resemblance to Wasserman Schultz’s complaint about Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, though in that case she said Walker “has given women the back of his hand.”

Wasserman Schultz apologized for the earlier incident. Asked during her Friday availability about the remarks regarding Scott, Tant said she agreed with Wasserman Schultz’s earlier comments during the Walker brouhaha that the national chairwoman wouldn’t use those words again.

Tant addressed the comments a few minutes after her counterpart, Republican Party of Florida Chairwoman Leslie Dougher, called for Tant and Crist to condemn Wasserman Schultz’s “wildly insulting” statement.

“Her comments are especially heartless because Rick Scott’s mother was going through a divorce from an abusive husband when the governor was born. … To suggest that Rick Scott gives women the ‘back of his hand’ not only grossly mischaracterizes the governor, it treats actual domestic violence victims as pawns in a political game,” Dougher said in a statement issued Friday.

STORY OF THE WEEK: Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, was selected by the Florida State University Board of Trustees to become the school’s next president, all but assuring that he will get the job.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Mr. Scott and Mr. Crist are both looked at, meehhhh, by voters in a less than complimentary way.”– Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, on a survey showing low personal marks for both major-party candidates for governor.

by Brandon Larrabee, The News Service of Florida

Four Injured In Highway 29 Crash In Molino

September 27, 2014

Four people were injured in a two-vehicle crash Saturday afternoon on Highway 29 in Molino.

The wreck happened about 3:40 p.m. on Highway 29 just north of Molino Road when two northbound vehicles collided. None of the injuries were considered serious. Three people were transported by Escambia County EMS to Atmore Community Hospital, and one was transported to West Florida Hospital.

The resulting crash closed northbound Highway 29 for about an hour as traffic was diverted onto Molino Road and Highway 95A.

The accident remains under investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol. Further details, including names, have not yet been released.

The Molino Station of Escambia Fire Rescue and the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office also responded to the crash.

NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.

Next Page »