Unpaid Real Estate, Tangible Taxes Are Due This Week

March 28, 2017

Unpaid real estate and tangible property taxes are delinquent April 1, according to Escambia County Tax Collector Scott Lunsford.

Penalties of three percent for real estate taxes and one and one-half percent for tangible taxes will be assessed. Over $29 million remains unpaid, representing approximately 10 percent of the tax roll. To avoid the penalty, payment must be made by March 31.

Payment options are available:

  • online by midnight CDT, March 31 at EscambiaTaxCollector.com;
  • mailed with a March postmark;
  • left by midnight CDT, March 31, in a 24-hour drop box available at all locations;
  • made in person by March 31;
  • made  by phone at (850) 438-6500, ext. 3252 by close of business March 31.

Offices open 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and 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.

Parents Asked To Complete Short Survey About Their Child’s School

March 28, 2017

The Escambia County School District is conducting a parent satisfaction survey; parents are being asked to complete the simple online survey by Friday.

Click to access the Escambia County School District Parent Satisfaction Survey Spring 2017.

Northview Chiefs Beat The Escambia Gators

March 28, 2017

Northview 6, Escambia 5

The Northview Chiefs defeated the Escambia Gators 6-5 Monday night at Escambia.

Escambia took a 2-0 lead with runs in the bottom of the first and second. The Chiefs answered with four runs in the third to take the lead. Northview added another run in the top of the fourth, followed by two from Escambia to even the game at 5-5 headed into a scoreless fifth inning. The Chiefs’ winning run cam in the top of the sixth on a single from Chandler Lowery.

Zach Payne, Jared Alif and John Chivington also had RBIs for the Chiefs. Josh Neese had a double for Northview.

NorthEscambia.com file photo.

Lane Closures: Highway 99, Highway 196, Nine Mile Road

March 28, 2017

Highway 99, Highway 196

County Road 99 and County Road 196 will experience short-term lane closures beginning today. The closures will take place between the hours of 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Construction is expected to be completed by Saturday, April 1.  Construction will consist of milling and resurfacing of three bridge approaches on CR 99 and CR 196 and a 500 foot section of CR 196, west of CR 99. The roadway will be reduced to one lane while construction material and equipment is unloa ded and to complete construction.  Every effort will be made to expedite construction efforts to reopen the road by Saturday, April 1. If other lane or roadway closures are necessary beyond the anticipated time periods, another notice will be issued.

Nine Mile Road

Nine Mile Road near Scenic Hills Drive will experience lane closures through Thursday. The closures will take place between the hours of 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. on the eastbound side.  Construction will consist of adding right turn lanes on the south side of Nine Mile Road, just east of Westside Drive. Every effort will be made to expedite construction efforts to reopen the road by Thursday, March 30. If other lane or roadway closures are necessary beyond the anticipated time periods, another notice will be issued.

Man Wanted For Murder

March 28, 2017

The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office is searching for a murder suspect.

Claude Lee Whiting, 38, is wanted for the murder of 46-year old Ashlen Harrison. Harrison was shot multiple times in the 800 block of Citrus Street on Sunday.

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Whiting is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (850) 433-STOP or the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office at (850) 436-9620.

FDOT: Delays At Highway 29, North Tate School Road

March 27, 2017

Drivers can expect delays this week on Highway 29 at North Tate School Road, according to the Florida Department of Transportation.  The northbound, outside lane will be closed from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. Monday, March 27 through Thursday, March 30 as crews extend the southbound (left) turn lane, install a new northbound (right) turn lane, and construct a new driveway at Arby’s. NorthEscambia.com photo, click to enlarge.

Latvala Vows Help For Department Of Corrections Employees

March 27, 2017

With the Florida Department of Corrections asking to boost pay for entry-level employees to help fight turnover, “help is on the way from the Florida Senate,” according to the chamber’s top budget-writer.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, told his panel that he and other Senate leaders had agreed to help the agency try to stop the outflow of correctional officers to higher-paying private-sector and local jobs.

“Our budget will include some substantial help for you,” Latvala told Corrections Secretary Julie Jones, who presented a pay plan to the committee. Latvala said the details were still being hammered out, in part because state economists will meet  to project how much money lawmakers will have to work with as they craft a budget for the year that begins July 1.

Jones told the committee her plan has three prongs: raising pay for correctional officers, probation officers and some supervisors; a hiring bonus for some employees at facilities with high vacancy rates; and additional pay for those who work with inmates with mental-health problems.

The department has already taken some steps to try to tamp down turnover among its newest employees, Jones said, by strengthening penalties meant to recoup training costs for those who leave the agency within their first two years. “But I truly believe that without some kind of a pay package for recruitment and retention, we have nothing left to offer employees to keep them beyond those two years,” she said.

by The News Service of Florda

Saint Monica’s Cleans Up Along Highway 95A

March 27, 2017

Saint Monica’s Episcopal Church in Cantonment started a new ministry Sunday after their monthly potluck — their first quarterly Highway 95A trash pick up.

There were 16 people that set out on Highway 95 with trash bags in hand. In just 45 minutes, they group had picked up a pickup truck load of material from the roadside, including 12 bags of trash, five bags of recyclables,  one tire and an old desk.

St. Monica’s is partnering with Keep Pensacola Beautiful who provided them the vests along with trash and recycling bags.  The church will log their time and effort, and Keep Pensacola Beautiful will provide an Adopt-A–Road sign

The true rewards from starting this ministry is getting to spend time talking and singing with fellow parishioners while doing their part to help the environment and getting a little exercise at the same time, said Elizabeth MacWhinnie.

Photos for NorthEcambia.com, click to enlarge.

Florida House Starts Moving On Higher Education Overhaul

March 26, 2017

A Florida House committee has endorsed its version of a higher-education reform bill, including expanding Bright Futures scholarships and requiring state universities to begin using “block” tuition.

The bill (HB 3), sponsored by Rep. Bryan Avila, R-Hialeah, is the House’s answer to Senate President Joe Negron’s effort (SB 2) to elevate Florida’s higher-education system by increasing scholarship opportunities, tightening performance standards for state colleges and universities and encouraging more students to graduate on time. The Senate bill passed 35-1 in the first week of the legislative session.

The House and Senate bills are similar, but the House is taking a different direction on a number of issues.

Both bills would expand the top-level Bright Futures award for “academic scholars” to cover full tuition and fees for those students who qualify for the merit-based aid. It would also provide $300 for the fall and spring semesters for textbooks and other costs.

The Senate would expand the scholarship for “academic scholars” to the summer semester, while Avila said the House wants to expand summer support to all Bright Future recipients, including “medallion scholars”” and “gold seal vocational scholars.”

While agreeing with the Senate that the 12 state universities should have block tuition in place by the fall of 2018, the House would require “at a minimum” that the plans allow students to pay no tuition or fees for classes exceeding 15 credit hours per semester. The other details of the tuition plan, which would replace the current per-credit hour charge with a flat per-semester fee, would have to be worked out by the individual universities.

The House bill, which was approved in an 11-3 vote by the Post-Secondary Education Subcommittee, would be a little more lenient in its graduation-rate performance standards for state colleges and universities.

The House would measure state colleges by graduating full-time students who finish their degrees or certificate programs within 150 percent of the normal completion time, which would be three years for a two-year associate degree. The colleges would get extra credit for students who complete their programs within 100 percent of the normal time, which is closer to the Senate standard.

The Senate wants to measure university undergraduate programs on a four-year graduation basis. The House also would use a four-year measure, but would add a six-year measure with weighting for four-year graduations.

The House bill leaves out several programs in the Senate legislation, including a plan to reward top-performing graduate programs, a scholarship program for students from farmworker families and a plan to expand a tuition-free program for national merit scholars to out-of-state students.

The House bill includes a program to attract top-level faculty and would double a state matching grant for “first-generation” students, which are both in the Senate bill.

David Armstrong, president of Broward College, which last week was named a runner-up for a national award recognizing top-performing community colleges, urged the House committee and lawmakers to proceed cautiously on the changes.

“One of the frustrating and challenging things for us in education at any level is when law or policies or funding formulas, no matter how good they are, keep changing on us,” Armstrong said.

He also said the 150 percent graduation measure was more realistic for the state colleges, where a majority of students attend part time.

Armstrong questioned another provision in the House bill that would measure colleges based on their completion of two-year associate degrees but then hold the colleges accountable for their students finishing four-year degrees at state universities.

“We do not have control over them,” Armstrong said, referring to the college students who move to university campuses.

Rep. Ramon Alexander, D-Tallahassee, voted against the bill, saying “this proposal in many respects will have a negative impact on Florida A&M University.”

FAMU could be financially penalized under the Senate and House bill provisions related to graduating students within four years. Based on the students who graduated in 2015, only 13.4 percent of FAMU’s students met that standard, which was the lowest in the 12-university system.

Noting the majority of FAMU students are receiving need-based financial aid and some have to work to stay in school, Alexander said “the one-size-fits-all approach” will hurt some schools.

“We’re picking winners and we’re picking losers,” he said. “I have a problem with that.”

by Lloyd Dunkelberger, The News Service of Florida

Program Honors Vietnam Veterans

March 26, 2017

The Atmore VFW Auxiliary hosted its fourth annual Vietnam Veterans Day Ceremony (formerly known as Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day) Saturday at the Atmore YMCA.

Vietnam veterans from South Alabama and Northwest Florida  in attendance were honored for their service and sacrifice.

“You answered the call of your country and you did it well,” guest speaker Judge Jeff White told the veterans. “I pray there will always be heroes like you.”

For more photos, click here.

NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.

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