Brothers Arrested For Weekend Motel Murder

November 24, 2015

Two suspects have been arrested in connection with a weekend murder in Escambia County.

Aaron Lee Durning, 34, and Daniel Lee Durning, 28 have been arrested in Marion County, FL. The brothers are charged in connection with the murder of 57-year old Lisa Barberi.

Barberi’s body was discovered about 11 a.m. Sunday morning by an employee of he Quality Inn on New Warrington Road. An investigation determined that Barberi was strangled to death, according to the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office.

The Durning brothers will be returned to Escambia County to face charges of first degree premeditated murder.

Further details on the case have not been released.

Two Injured In Crash Involving Sheriff’s Deputy

November 24, 2015

An Escambia County Sheriff’s Office deputy and another man were injured in a two vehicle accident Monday night.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, 68-year old Jams Mohr ran a stop sign with his 1996 Nissan Altima at the intersection of 72nd Avenue and Penton Street about 10:05 p.m. His vehicle struck a 2010 Chevrolet Tahoo driven by Deputy Brittany Tate, 24.

Mohr was transported to Baptist Hospital with minor injuries. Tate also suffered minor injuries but was not transported to the hospital.

Mohr was cited for running a stop sign, driving with an expired license and no proof of insurance, according to the FHP.

Scott Proposes $79.3 Billion Budget

November 24, 2015

Gov. Rick Scott on Monday proposed boosting the state budget by more than $1 billion in the year that begins July 1, saying the additional spending would help Florida prepare to weather the next recession.

Despite calling for slashing $1 billion in taxes, the spending plan Scott outlined in Jacksonville would increase the total price tag for state government to $79.3 billion, an increase from $78.2 billion in the budget year that ends June 30. In a brief speech, Scott touted his plans to cut taxes and spend on education and services for Floridians with disabilities.

He also pushed again for a plan to plow $250 million into a new “Florida Enterprise Fund” to give the state another tool to draw economic development projects.

Without mentioning them specifically, Scott pushed back against criticism from some lawmakers who have questioned the need for the increased economic-development funding.

“We’re competing. These are all competitive projects. … If we don’t have the money to invest, we’re not going to win,” Scott said.

Legislative leaders have also raised question about whether Scott’s tax-cut package, which he had already outlined before Monday’s event, was too large given pressures on the budget from areas like health care.

In education, Scott would try to revive a campaign promise to set a new record for per-student spending in public schools. His budget would set aside $7,221 per student, for a total of $20.2 billion. It would break the previous record for per-student funding, set nine years earlier, by $95.

Education advocates and critics, though, are likely to note that the new figure doesn’t account for inflation.

Continuing his stance from recent years, Scott’s budget also doesn’t include tuition increases for colleges or universities.

Scott’s administration also highlighted funding for the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, saying the budget proposal would get rid of the waiting list for “critical needs” services, though that would still leave thousands of Floridians on a list for lower-priority services.

Lawmakers will begin considering Scott’s budget proposal during the legislative session that begins in January.

New Potties: Century Receives Grant To Upgrade Bathroom Fixtures

November 24, 2015

The Town of Century recently received a grant to update plumbing fixtures at town hall to be ADA compliant and for energy and water conservation. The Preferred TIPS Program awarded the town $4,511 for the upgrades. file photo, click to enlarge.

Growers Selected For Florida’s Medical Marijuana

November 24, 2015

Nearly a year behind schedule, Florida health officials on Monday selected five “dispensing organizations” to grow, process and distribute non-euphoric medical marijuana for a select group of sick patients.

But many in the industry believe that the biggest challenge in the drawn-out process is yet to come.

The five winners, who scored the highest of 28 applications, are Hackney Nursery in the Northwest region of the state; Chestnut Hill Tree Farm in the Northeast; Knox Nursery in the Central region; Alpha Foliage in the Southwest region; and Costa Nursery Farms in the Southeast region.

Hackney Nursery is located in Quincy.

Parents of children with severe epilepsy pushed for a 2014 law to legalize the purportedly non-euphoric marijuana — low in euphoria-inducing tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and high in cannabadiol, or CBD — and contended that it can end or dramatically reduce life-threatening seizures.

Sen. Rob Bradley, who was instrumental in passing the law, said he congratulated state Surgeon General John Armstrong early Monday morning. Applications for the licenses were due on July 8, and Bradley and other lawmakers had become frustrated that it was taking the Department of Health so long to pick the five dispensing organizations.

“I think now the attention should be focused on the industry to make sure that they cause no further delays and we move forward getting this product to these suffering families as quickly as possible,” Bradley, R-Fleming Island, said. “The department did its job. And now it’s time for the industry to step up. No further delays. Let’s move forward.”

But legal challenges over the awarding of the licenses are almost a given.

“It has always been anticipated that there will be challenges, and I’ve seen nothing in this process to persuade me that we will not see some of the winners challenged,” said Louis Rotundo, a lobbyist who represents the Florida Medical Cannabis Association and who also has a small ownership interest in at least one of the losing applicants.

Losers have 21 days to file challenges, but Patricia Nelson, a former director of the Department of Health’s Office of Compassionate Use who served on the three-member panel that graded the applications, said earlier this year that the challenges to the licenses will not hold up the process.

The winners of the licenses have 75 days to request “cultivation authorization” and, once that authorization has been granted, must begin dispensing the low-THC products within 210 days, meaning that the low-THC products could be on the shelves by next summer. The winners also have 10 business days to post $5 million performance bonds.

Meanwhile, losing applicants are trying to make sense of more than 600 pages of scorecards used to grade the applications by the panel comprised of Nelson; her successor, Christian Bax; and accountant Ellyn Hutson.

“I’ve got a number of calls from people trying to figure out how they got scored,” said Jeff Sharkey, a lobbyist who formed the Medical Marijuana Business Association of Florida and is affiliated with two nurseries that didn’t make the cut. “From that, people will make some decisions. Going back to growing tomatoes is option one. Option two is, some people have raised concerns about the perception of the nursery rulemaking committee and trying to figure out their scores and whether or not there are grounds for a protest. That’s kind of a normal review process for folks who’ve lost.”

Implementation of the law has been delayed due to legal challenges and an administrative law judge, who last year rejected the Department of Health’s first stab at a rule that would have used a lottery system to choose the license winners.

The department then held a rare “negotiated rulemaking workshop” — comprised of industry insiders, including Florida nurseries and marijuana experts from other states — to craft the regulations for the state’s marijuana industry.

Under the law passed last year and approved by Gov. Rick Scott, only nurseries that have been in business in Florida for at least 30 years and grow a minimum of 400,000 plants at the time they applied for a license were eligible to become one of the five dispensing organizations.

The nurseries teamed up with a variety of consultants, including out-of-state marijuana growers, in the hopes of edging out the competition.

Four of the five winners of the licenses — Chestnut Hill, Costa, Hackney and Knox — were represented on the rulemaking committee.

One of the most high-profile losers among the 28 applications was Loop’s Nursery, a Jacksonville grower that teamed up with the Stanley Brothers, a Colorado family that developed the “Charlotte’s Web” strain of cannabis whose name has become almost synonymous with low-THC, high-CBD medical marijuana.

Peyton Moseley, the husband of committee member Holley Moseley, is also part of Loop’s team. Holley Moseley heads up the “Realm of Caring Florida” non-profit organization also linked with the nursery. The Moseleys lobbied fiercely for the low-THC law on behalf of their daughter, RayAnn, last year.

Nearly all of the winners are represented by some of Tallahassee’s most influential lobbyists. Costa is represented by the Southern Strategy Group, while lobbyist Brian Ballard represents Hackney and Jorge Chamizo is the registered lobbyist for Knox Nurseries.

Alpha Foliage, owned by John and Carolyn DeMott, applied in two separate regions. The nursery has partnered with Surterra Florida, a limited liability corporation whose officers include two Atlanta investors also seeking to establish a footprint in Georgia’s nascent medical-marijuana industry. Alex Havenick, whose mother Barbara owns greyhound tracks in Naples and Miami, is also one of the officers of the Florida group. The nursery is also affiliated with Surterra Holdings, represented by lobbyists Ron Book and Billy Rubin.

Many of the applicants had applied for the low-THC licenses in the hope of expanding their businesses in the event that a constitutional amendment legalizing full-strength medical marijuana passed. That amendment narrowly failed last year, but a nearly identical measure is almost certain to go before voters next November.

Have A ‘Fresh From Florida’ Thanksgiving (With Recipes)

November 24, 2015

Fresh From Florida recipes can be incorporated into holiday traditions. These recipes feature delicious products grown and harvested in Florida. Look for the products with the “Fresh From Florida” label at your local grocery store.

“For an authentic Florida Thanksgiving, enjoy Florida’s agricultural bounty and incorporate ‘Fresh From Florida’ products into your meal,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam. “This time of year, you can find cucumber, squash, tomatoes and many more products grown and harvested right here in Florida, just look for the ‘Fresh From Florida’ label when shopping.”

Stuffed Florida Zucchini and Yellow Squash Parmesan

Florida Snap Beans with Caramelized Onions and Mushrooms

Pan-Roasted Florida Vegetables

Florida Snap Bean and Sweet Pepper Sauté

Florida Squash and Tomato Gratin

Lawmakers Back Higher Penalities, Costs For ‘Terroristic Threats’

November 23, 2015

People found guilty of making “terroristic threats” will face greater charges and have to pay for the fire-rescue and law-enforcement response, as well as any costs if public transportation is used for an evacuation, under a bill (HB 257) that received support  from the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee.

The proposal by Rep. Jimmie Smith, R-Inverness, would make it a felony for calling in a threat.

“Currently under Florida law, terroristic threats are only punishable as a criminal mischief or disturbing the peace,” Smith said. “However, as we have seen across the nation these threats of violence must be taken seriously and require a law-enforcement response.”

A similar measure (SB 436) by Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, has yet to be scheduled for any of its three planned committee appearances.

by The News Service of Florida

FFA Boxed Fruit Sale Is Underway

November 23, 2015

The annual Northview High School FFA Fruit Sale is underway with delivery before Christmas.

The NHS FFA is selling citrus in attractive 2/5, 1/2 or 4/5 bushel boxes perfect for gift wrapping. The Florida citrus is from RiverBrite in Vero Beach.

Orders must be made by Monday, November 30. The pickup date is Wednesday, December 16.

For an order form click here. Order forms and payment can be returned to Northview by mail (the address is on the order form), or dropped off at the school office. Fruits available include red apples, grapefruit, navel oranges, tangelos and Hamlin oranges. Mixed trio half bushels are also available.

For more information, call (850) 327-6681, ext. 248.

Century Reschedules Council Meeting

November 22, 2015

The Town of Century has rescheduled their regular meeting for the month of December.

The twon council normally meets on the first and third Mondays of each month. However, in December, the council only holds one meeting. This year, that December meeting will be held on December 14, the second Monday of the month, at 7 p.m.

The Century council will return to their normal meeting schedule in January.

Let The Miracle League Fry Your Thanksgiving Turkey

November 22, 2015

Want a fried turkey but afraid to try it yourself? Volunteers from the Miracle League of Pensacola will fry your turkey for you on Wednesday, November 25, saving you the time and trouble while benefiting the charity. And there is still time to make an appointment.

Completely thaw your turkey, removing all of the inside packaging and giblets. Write down exactly how much your turkey weighs so it is fried perfectly and take it to the Miracle League Park at 555 East Nine Mile Road from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Wednesday, November 25. For a monetary donation to Miracle League, the volunteers will fry your turkey to perfection. A minimum of $20 per turkey is necessary to help cover costs, and any additional donation will benefit the Miracle League of Pensacola.

Call (850) 384-9180 with questions or to schedule your time (leave a message if no answer). Reservations should be made early as they number of time slots is limited.

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