No Powerball Winner, Jackpot Rolls To $478 Million

July 28, 2016

There were no winners in Wednesday night’s Powerball drawing, pushing Saturday night’s estimated prize to huge $478 million…the fifth largest ever.

There has been no winner in the Powerball drawing for three months, pushing the jackpot closer and closer to half a billion dollars.

The numbers drawn Wednesday were 10, 47, 50, 65, and 68. The Powerball is 24.

New Travel Related Zika Case Reported In Escambia County

July 28, 2016

A new travel-related case of the Zika virus has been reported in Escambia County by the Florida Department of Health. It is the second travel-related case in the county this year.

The Escambia County case was one of 17 new travel related cases announced Tuesday and the only new case reported in the Florida panhandle. A case was previous reported in Santa Rosa County in February.

Florida health officials said Wednesday they are investigating two additional Zika cases that might not be linked to travel outside the state. The announcement means health officials are now looking at four cases that might not be travel-related — a potential sign that mosquitoes could be infecting people with the virus in Florida. Two of the cases are in Miami-Dade County, while two are in Broward County.

The number of Floridians diagnosed with the virus has steadily climbed, but until recently health officials said all of the infections had resulted from travel outside the state. As of Wednesday, the state had 328 cases that did not involve pregnant women, with 96 of those cases in Miami-Dade and 55 in Broward. The state said it also has monitored 53 pregnant women who showed evidence of Zika, though it does not release the counties where those women live.

The health department urges Floridians to drain standing water weekly, no matter how seemingly small. A couple drops of water in a bottle cap can be a breeding location for mosquitoes. Residents and visitors also need to use repellents when enjoying the Florida outdoors.

Debate Emerges On Carving Up ‘Docs V. Glocks’ Law

July 28, 2016

As a federal appeals court ponders the constitutionality of Florida’s “docs v. glocks” law, attorneys this week debated in court documents whether it would be possible to jettison parts of the controversial measure — and keep others.

The full 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments June 21 in a challenge by physician groups and individual physicians to the 2011 law, which seeks to restrict doctors from asking questions and recording information about patients’ gun ownership. Two days after the arguments, the court asked attorneys to file briefs about the issue of “severability,” a legal concept that can involve eliminating unconstitutional parts of laws while retaining other provisions.

Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office and a lawyer for the physicians filed briefs Monday taking starkly different positions on the question.

Bondi’s office said the appeals court could carve out unconstitutional pieces of the law while keeping the rest intact.

“The act’s provisions are functionally independent, and any invalid provision can easily be severed without disrupting the operation or integrity of the remaining provisions,” Deputy Solicitor General Rachel Nordby wrote. “If the court determines that any provision of the act is invalid, the court should apply the doctrine of severability and uphold all remaining valid provisions of the act.”

But plaintiffs say the law, dubbed by the Legislature as the Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act, cannot be broken apart. The plaintiffs contend the law violates doctors’ First Amendment rights.

“The challenged provisions of FOPA (Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act) are parts of a single legislative act, adopted by the Florida Legislature as a package, with a shared unconstitutional purpose,” plaintiffs’ attorney Douglas Hallward-Driemeier wrote. “In enacting FOPA, the Florida Legislature indisputably intended to chill speech by health care practitioners about firearms — and indeed a particular viewpoint on the same — with which the Legislature disagreed.”

The law, which is backed by gun-rights groups such as the National Rifle Association, seeks to place a series of restrictions on doctors and other health providers. For example, it seeks 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 law says 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. Also, the law seeks to prevent doctors from discriminating against patients or “harassing” them because of owning firearms.

In addressing the severability question, Hallward-Driemeier’s brief said some members of the appeals court during oral arguments posed a “hypothetical scenario” about possibly trying to narrow the anti-discrimination provision.

The appeals court typically does not signal when it will rule in cases, and judges have been divided on the constitutionality of the law — widely known as the “docs v. glocks” law.

A U.S. District Court judge blocked the law from taking effect, but a three-judge panel of the appeals court upheld the law in three rulings. The full appeals court then took the somewhat-unusual step of agreeing to hear the case.

by Jim Saunders, The News Service of Florida

First Medical Marijuana Dispensary Opens In Florida

July 27, 2016

Florida first legal medical-marijuana dispensary formally opened Tuesday in a Tallahassee storefront, a week after the company known as Trulieve received state approval to begin selling a type of non-euphoric cannabis.

A 2014 law allows the company to sell low-THC cannabis oil to patients who suffer from cancer, chronic muscle spasms and seizures.

Another law, passed during the most recent legislative session, allows terminally ill patients to use full-strength marijuana.

“When I say it is an historic and momentous day, it really is,” Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers said during a packed news conference at the store Tuesday. “We are really overwhelmed and so proud to be this pioneer.”

The company plans to open a Northwest Florida location in Pensacola.

So far, one issue facing patients who want to get legal weed is finding doctors who will sign off on the treatment. As of last week, only 15 doctors had signed up to order the low-THC products.

While lawmakers gave approval in 2014, a series of legal battles has delayed the cannabis from becoming available to patients.

by The News Service of Florida and

Pictured top: Trulieve’s Tallahassee location opened Tuesday. Photo for, click to enlarge.

Escambia Vote By Mail Ballots On The Way

July 27, 2016

The Escambia County Supervisor of Elections Office delivered more than 26,000 vote-by-mail ballots to the post office on Tuesday for the Primary election. Voters could receive their green or ivory colored vote-by-mail packages as early as as today. Voted ballots must be received in the Supervisor of Elections Office no later than 7 p.m. on Election Day, August 30. Ballots require a first-class postage stamp ($.47 postage) if returned by mail.

The deadline to request a vote-by-mail ballot for the Primary election is 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, August 24. To request or track your vote-by-mail ballot for the Primary election, visit and click “Vote by Mail”, or contact the Supervisor of Elections Office at (850) 595-3900.

FWC Law Enforcement Report

July 27, 2016

The Florida FWC Division of Law Enforcement reported the following activity during the weekly period ending July 21 in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.


FWC officers provided waterborne security during the annual Blue Angels Air Show on Pensacola Beach. During the three‑day event, a total of 60 FWC officers conducted 589 hours of law enforcement patrol in and around Pensacola Beach providing security to the estimated 750,000 people attending the show by both land and water. An estimated 20,000 people attended the show by way of water aboard approximately 3,000 vessels. FWC officers conducted more than 250 vessel stops, checked more than 1,000 users and issued several citations and warnings for boating safety violations. Additionally, four boaters were arrested for BUI, two for underage drinking and two for assault.


(No report submitted for Santa Rosa County.)

This report represents some events the FWC handled over the past week; however, it does not include all actions taken by the Division of Law Enforcement. Information provided by FWC.

Montgomery Biscuits Roll To 10-5 Victory Over The Blue Wahoos

July 27, 2016

The Montgomery Biscuits welcomed the Pensacola Blue Wahoos to Montgomery Riverwalk Stadium by jumping out to a 10-1 lead.

The Biscuits knocked out usually reliable starter Tyler Mahle by scoring eight runs against him in his 4.2 innings of work and went on to win, 10-5, Tuesday.

Montgomery benefited from two two-run home runs by right fielder Justin Williams in the third inning and shortstop Willy Adames in the fifth inning off of Mahle. Mahle fell to 5-2, allowing nine of Montgomery’s 11 hits, walking. two and striking out one.

Pensacola fell to 23-27 on the road. The first half Southern League champions are now 15-16 in the second half. Montgomery improved to 19-12 and leads the North Division.

Montgomery didn’t take long to start rolling. DH Cade Gotta led off the bottom of the first inning with a double and came around to score on shortstop Adames ground out to third base to put the Biscuits up, 1-0. Adames was 2-4, scored twice and knocked in three runs.

Biscuits left fielder Granden Goetzman doubled to start the second inning and reached third on a wild pitch. Montgomery Williams then smashed a homer to left center to bring in Goetzman for a 3-0 lead.

Montgomery center fielder Braxton Lee doubled and went to third on an errant throw by Mahle trying to pick him off. Second baseman Thomas Coyle then hit a sacrifice fly to right field to score Braxton and put Montgomery ahead, 4-0.

Pensacola finally got on the board in the third inning to pull within, 4-1, when catcher Chad Wallach singled to third base and then Alex Blandino singled to shortstop.  Both first baseman Jake Bauer and Adames were charged with throwing errors on the play to make the run unearned.

It was the only run that Montgomery starter Taylor Guerrieri would give up to Pensacola in six innings to improve to 11-4 becoming the first pitcher in the Southern League to 11 wins. He gave up four hits, one walk and struck out five.

Montgomery tacked on another run in the fourth when Goetzman tripled and was driven in by Williams single to right field for a 5-1 lead.

The Biscuits extended its lead in the fifth inning to 7-1 on a two-run homer to left center by Adames that also scored third baseman Kean Wong. Williams then doubled on a pop up to left field that deflected off of Pensacola shortstop Zach Vincej’s glove and scored Goetzman to go ahead, 8-1.

Vincej went 2-2 with a walk, and is now batting .333 in July, his best monthly average this season.

Montgomery scored two more runs in the seventh inning to make the score, 10-1. Williams smacked a line drive to center filed that scored both Adames and Bauers.

Pensacola finally broke out with four runs in the eighth inning to pull within, 10-5. Blue Wahoos right fielder Sebastian Elizalde singled in Blandino. Pensacola third baseman Taylor Sparks, who was 2-5, Tuesday scored on a wild pitch after a single to center.  Blue Wahoos left fielder Jeff Gelalich singled to center to score Elizalde. The fourth and final run crossed the plate when DH Brandon Dixon, who had walked, scored on a wild pitch.

In the ninth inning, Pensacola loaded the bases with one out, but Montgomery closer Jeff Ames came in and faced Brandon Dixon, who popped out to the catcher, and Jeff Gelalich, who struck out, to end the threat. Batters are now, 0-10, against Ames with the bases loaded.

Cat Country 98.7 Nominated For Prestigious NAB Award

July 27, 2016

Pensacola’s locally owned country radio station, CatCountry 98.7, has been nominated for a National Association of Broadcasters Marconi Award. This is the station’s third nomination for the prestigious award.

CatCountry 98.7 is one of just five stations in the country nominated for the 2016 award.

The station helped United Way raise more than $240,000 for tornado relief and raised money for toys for needy children at Christmas — just two of many community events spearheaded by CatCountry during the past year.

“I’m so proud to work with this team.  I genuinely believe we are the hardest working team in the business,” said Brent Lane, program director and morning show host.

“We are proud of our team and constant effort they put in to make our community a better place,” said Dave and Mary Hoxeng, owners and operators of CatCountry 98.7.

The winners will be announced September 22 at the NAB Marconi Radio Awards Dinner and Show in Nashville.

Bernie Sanders Lauds Hillary Clinton As Convention Opens

July 26, 2016

PHILADELPHIA — After last week’s raucous and divisive Republican National Convention, Democrats opened their convention Monday looking to present a striking contrast in unity as they prepare to nominate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for president.

There’s always Day 2.

Between suspected Russian hackers and renegade delegates committed to U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the first day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia often looked at least as rowdy as last week’s proceedings in Cleveland.

The soon-to-be nominee’s name drew boos on the convention floor. The outgoing Democratic Party chairwoman was jeered in front of her home-state delegation, leading to a late decision to strike her from the main program to avoid a repeat in front of a larger audience. At least one delegate had taken a “Stronger Together” sign, scratched out the last word and wrote in its place: “with Bernie.”

All of that was bracketed by complaints about logistics that undermined Democrats’ attempt to be the steady convention.

Not that they didn’t try. Sanders himself touted Clinton twice in the space of a day — once during a boisterous event with his delegates and again before the full convention. In his late-night speech at the Wells Fargo Center, Sanders gave perhaps his most full-throated endorsement of Clinton so far.

He noted how this year’s Democratic platform was, in his view, the most progressive the party has ever produced.

“Our job now is to see that strong Democratic platform implemented by a Democratically-controlled Senate, by a Democratic House and a Hillary Clinton presidency. … Hillary Clinton will make an outstanding president, and I am proud to stand with her tonight,” Sanders said.

Even before he took the stage, Sanders was pushing his supporters to line up behind Clinton. In an email to delegates after some of the booing early in the day, Sanders scolded those who had taken part.

“The political revolution is not about one election or one candidate. … Our credibility as a movement will be damaged by booing, turning of backs, walking out or other similar displays. That’s what the corporate media wants. That’s what Donald Trump wants,” he wrote.

But even Sanders drew boos on some of the occasions when he praised Clinton.

Sanders had also told a group of supporters earlier in the day that supporting Clinton was important in her November election against the Republican nominee Trump.

“We have got to elect Hillary Clinton and (vice presidential candidate) Tim Kaine,” he said as some delegates cheered and many booed. “This is the real world that we live in.”

The party also rolled out other popular or Sanders-friendly public figures to try to patch over differences between Clinton and the opponent she defeated in the primaries after a grueling, months-long battle.

Paul Simon played “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” Sarah Silverman, a comedian who backed Sanders in the primary, put the message most succinctly and most bluntly.

“To the ‘Bernie or Bust’ people: You’re being ridiculous,” she said.

First Lady Michelle Obama, who is wildly popular among the Democratic base, also implicitly drew a comparison between diehard Sanders delegates and Clinton, who responded to a primary loss to President Barack Obama in 2008 by joining his Cabinet.

“Hillary did not pack up and go home, because as a true public servant, Hillary knows that this is so much bigger than her own desires and disappointments,” Michelle Obama said.

The day started out on a discordant note; outgoing Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, someone viewed with disdain by Sanders supporters, was jeered at a breakfast for delegates from Florida, where she serves as a congresswoman.

“It is so wonderful to be able to be here with my home state,” Wasserman Schultz said, as a cascade of boos and heckling began. “All right, everybody. Now, settle down.”

The appearance came less than 24 hours after Wasserman Schultz announced she would step down as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee at the conclusion of this week’s convention.

Wasserman Schultz was tripped up after leaked internal party emails raised questions about her impartiality in the presidential primary between Clinton and Sanders. The emails are believed to have been obtained by Russian hackers.

Some Sanders supporters Monday shouted “Shame on you!” at Wasserman Schultz, while her supporters chanted her first name. The congresswoman tried to put a brave face on the intense interest surrounding her decision to resign as party chair, reportedly under pressure.

Despite his overtures to Clinton, though, Sanders showed no signs of sadness Monday about Wasserman Schultz’s departure. At a rally for his delegates, the crowd roared when Sanders brought up Wasserman Schultz’s departure.

“Her resignation opens up the possibility of new leadership at the top of the Democratic Party that will stand with working people and that will open the doors of the party to those people who want real change,” Sanders said.

by Brandon Larrabee, The News Service of Florida

Thomas: Escambia Schools Need To Aim Higher

July 26, 2016

Educators must change their mindset to move forward, rather than falling further behind.

That was the message Monday from Escambia County Superintendent Malcolm Thomas as he addressed school administrators and some of the district’s teachers Monday at Washington High School.

Citing the book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” from author Carol Dweck, Thomas said a fixed mindset is unacceptable when compared to a growth mindset.

“There are fixed mindsets that believe that there is going to be no change, that children will have a certain IQ just because of their zip code. But we need a growth mindset, that we can develop the mind and achieve acceptable results,” Thomas told after the speech.

“Our problem isn’t that we are arming too high and missing the mark,” Thomas said, referencing and paraphrasing a quote from Michelangelo.  “Our problem is that we are aiming too low, and we are successful.”

“There are teachers in the system that have been there a long time, and they teach like they have always taught. A shift has to be made toward the growth mindset,” he said.

Escambia County’s district grade from the state dropped this last school year from a B to a C, and many individual schools also experience a drop in their school grade.  Thomas said he does not care about test scores if children are learning at the level they need to learn, but he said that is not happening overall.

“We are obsessed with tests and standards. We need to be teaching every day and making sure the kids are learning at the right level.”

Students return to class in Escambia County on August 10.

Pictured top: Escambia County School Superintendent  Malcolm Thomas addresses administrators and faculty Monday at Washington High School. Pictured below: Administrators and faculty listen to Thomas, including (foreground, L-R) Northview High Assistant Principal Gerry Pippins, Northview High Principal Gayle Weaver, Ernest Ward Middle teacher Laura Chavers, Ernest Ward Principal Nancy Gindl Perry and Ernest Ward Assistant Principal Virkeisha Palmer. Photos for, click to enlarge.

Next Page »