Man Sentenced To 12 Years For Burglary, Grand Theft

September 3, 2015

An Escambia County man convicted on burglary related charges will spend the next 12 years in state prison.

Trenton Marquis Fails was sentenced by Circuit Judge Thomas Johnson for burglary of an occupied dwelling, grand theft auto, theft from a person 65 years of age or older, criminal mischief, trespass and resisting officer without violence, fleeing or attempting to elude a law enforcement officer, reckless driving and driving without a valid driver’s license.

On January 4, Fails and his co-defendant, Anthony McPherson, knocked on the door of an 87-year old  woman and briefly spoke with her before forcing their way into the residence. The defendants took her purse, along with cash and her car keys, before stealing her car.

When deputies spotted the vehicle on Belmont Street, they  attempted to conduct a traffic stop of the vehicle by initiating their lights and siren. A brief chase ensued before McPherson and Fails abandoned the vehicle and fled on foot. A K-9 track led deputies to a residence on Frisco Road where both were apprehended.

McPherson was previously sentenced to 15 years in state prison.

The investigation was conducted by the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant State Attorney Jeremiah Monahan prosecuted the case.

Northview To Hold Open House Next Week

September 3, 2015

Northview High School will hold an Open House next week.

The even will be held from 6-7 p.m. on Tuesday, September 8 with school faculty and staff on hand to provide a more in-depth look at the education programs at Northview.

For more information, click here.

Escambia Sheriff’s Office Presents Quarterly Awards

September 3, 2015

The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office held their quarterly awards ceremony Wednesday, with Sheriff David Morgan presenting the following awards and commendations:

Commendation Medal and Law Enforcement Officer of the Quarter: Deputy Ron Busbee (pictured top).

(scroll down below photos for more)

Two Life Saving Medals: Sgt. Shedrick Johnson (pictured above).

Law Enforcement Employee of the Quarter: Vicki Hodge (pictured above).

20 years- Master Deputy Jeff Cutaio, Sgt. James Hall, Lt. Robert Johnson,  Lt. Cheryl Melaven, Commander Lee Weston, Lt. Joe Webber (pictured above).
Courtesy photos for, click to enlarge.

State Sets 320 Bear Limit For Upcoming Hunt

September 3, 2015

A target was placed on at least 320 black bears Wednesday as the once-threatened species will be hunted across Florida next month for the first time in more than two decades.

A split Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission approved quota numbers that represent about 10 percent of the bear population in four regions of the state — there are seven regions — where the hunt will be allowed. Commission staff called the regional and overall quota numbers “conservative.”

Commissioners, meeting in Fort Lauderdale, also gave support Wednesday to a position paper on the Florida panther population. Some panther advocates argued the commission’s move is a step toward allowing the endangered animals to eventually be hunted like bears.

The bear hunt, approved by the commission in June and set to start Oct. 24, will last from two to seven days. While the hunt is supposed to end in each region once the preset quotas are reached, hunters are guaranteed a minimum of two days of pursuing bears.

Commissioner Robert Spottswood said he’d like to give the agency’s executive director authority to close the hunt after the first day if the quotas are reached, but he failed to get support from the full commission.

“Why not manage the program so you can’t exceed the objective?” Spottswood said.

Commissioner Ron Bergeron, a hunter who cast the lone vote against the hunt in June because of what he said was a need to gather more data on the number of bears, also voted against approving the quotas.

Diane Eggeman, director of the commission’s Division of Hunting and Game Management, said that while the number of bears killed could exceed the quota numbers in each of the four regions, there will not be an “over-harvesting,” based on examples from others states that allow bear hunts.

Opponents said the commission was mismanaging the hunt, with an unlimited hunt for the first two days, and warned of a pending bear “blood bath.”

Lee Cook, a wetlands biologist, questioned assurances that there won’t be over-harvesting, as the state has sold 1,948 bear hunting permits — as of Tuesday — at a cost of $100 for Floridians and $300 for non-Floridians.

“You have put us on track to go over the quota in the first two days,” Cook said. “That, combined with the nuisance bear kills and the car kills, could put us right back on the endangered species list, which we all worked so hard to get them off.”

Black bears were placed on the state’s threatened list in 1974, when there were between 300 and 500 across Florida. At the time, hunting black bears was limited to three counties. In 1994, the hunting season was closed statewide.

This year’s hunt is intended to help the state achieve a 20 percent reduction in the bear population in each region. The 20 percent figure includes the number of bears that die naturally, are hit and killed by cars and are captured and killed by wildlife officers due to conflicts.

Eggeman said permitted hunters, who will be limited to one bear each, must report kills within 12 hours, and there will be nightly updates, via text and social media, on the counts for each region.

According to the latest figures, there are an estimated 1,300 bears in the Central region, which includes the St. Johns River watershed to the Ocala National Forest, and 550 bears in the North region, which goes from Jacksonville west to Hamilton and Suwannee counties. In each region, the harvest target is 100 bears.

The bear quota is 40 in an eastern Panhandle region, which includes the northwestern Big Bend area to west of Apalachicola Bay. In a South region, which includes Broward, Collier, Hendry, Lee, Miami-Dade, Monroe, and Palm Beach counties, the quota number is 80. The South region excludes the Big Cypress National Preserve.

The issue has gained attention recently because of conflicts between bears and humans in some areas of the state. Critics of the hunt contend that people are moving into bear habitats and that the state should focus on efforts such as bear-proofing trash containers and prohibiting people from feeding bears.

Thomas Eason, director of the commission’s Division of Habitat and Species, said the agency is identifying obstacles in getting more “bear resistant” trash cans in areas where bears live, including a need to push for local ordinances to ensure compliance.

“It’s not rocket science. We know it works,” Eason said.

The panther issue also drew heavy discussion Wednesday. Commissioners backed the new position paper, which seeks incentives for private landowners to maintain panther habitat and assistance from the Department of Transportation to install panther crossings to reduce collisions with vehicles. Also, it seeks to develop ways to respond to encounters between panthers and people or panthers and livestock.

Commissioner Charles “Chuck” Roberts called the policy “our best efforts” to sustain the panther populations.

Agency officials say they aren’t seeking to allow the federally endangered species to be hunted but are seeking better management to reduce conflicts with humans.

Such assurances weren’t accepted by many of speakers addressing the commission Wednesday.

“It’s not what’s in the paper that’s wrong, it’s what’s missing from the paper that is wrong,” said Manley Fuller of the Florida Wildlife Federation. “Not a word about habitat loss. You folks know, and your scientists know, and the Fish and Wildlife Service folks know, that the big problem for the panther is loss of habitat. It’s been continuous, ongoing and it’s happening now.”

The policy statement also recommends the commission seek more federal assistance as the panther population in Southwest Florida has reached its “carrying capacity” and is expanding to other parts of the state.

Nearly a half-century of conservation efforts have allowed the panther population, mostly across South Florida, to grow from about 30 to around 180, according to the commission paper.

The current recovery plan calls for the panther population to reach about 240 adult cats in three areas across South Florida. Yet the panther population is being impacted by humans moving into the animal’s natural habitat.

Commissioner Aliesa “Liesa” Priddy, a Collier County rancher who shared a video of a panther strolling across a field apparently unconcerned about the human occupants of a nearby vehicle, questioned if the 240 number is realistic due to development growth. She also said many people may not understand the impact of panthers on residents of rural areas.

“The people that are in the urban, suburban areas have to have some empathy for those people that are not in the urban and suburban areas,” Priddy said.

Northview High Needs School Advisory Council Members

September 2, 2015

Northview High School needs volunteers for their  2015-2016 School Advisory Council.

The council meets four times each year after school.  Any interested parents or community members should call (850)  327-6681 ext. 221 to express their interested to serve.

Florida’s New Public School Test Found Valid

September 2, 2015

A study has found the state’s new standardized test for public-school students is valid, paving the way for the exam to be used in teacher evaluations and school grades, the Florida Department of Education announced Tuesday.

But critics said the controversial Florida Standards Assessment is still deeply flawed, and that the report is not as flattering as the department is portraying it. Lawmakers required the report in legislation passed this spring, following a slew of technical problems and a cyberattack on a computer platform.

“I think that we certainly can take away from this report that the FSA accurately measures the student’s knowledge of the Florida standards,” Education Commissioner Pam Stewart told reporters on a conference call.

The report’s finding that the test is valid allows Stewart’s agency to begin using it to calculate school grades and results that are incorporated into teacher evaluations under the state’s performance-pay laws. In the bill approved earlier this year, the Legislature put those uses of the test on hold until the study was done. It also lowered from 50 percent to a third the share of a teacher’s evaluations tied to student performance.

House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, seemed to indicate Tuesday that the study settles the issue.

“This validity study, combined with the Legislature’s efforts during the 2015 Session to reform student testing, have strengthened our school accountability system. … The Florida House will continue to support standards and accountability measures that provide our students with a first-rate education and prepare them for success in today’s world,” Crisafulli said in a statement issued by his office.

The study — conducted by Alpine Testing Solutions and edCount, LLC — was not entirely positive. While it supported the use of the Florida Standards Assessment for school grades and teacher evaluations, it said that because of the computer glitches, “the FSA scores for some students will be suspect.”

That could include grades on 10th-grade tests that factor into whether students can graduate. Stewart noted that those students are eligible to retake the tests. The study didn’t find a problem with pen-and-paper tests, which were used for third-graders, whose performance on the exam can also be a consideration on whether they move to the next grade.

Still, the finding on computer tests was a focus of critics who argued that Stewart and other officials were painting a too-rosy picture of the results.

“This is hardly a blanket confirmation of FSA validity,” said Bob Schaeffer, a Florida resident and public education director of the National Center for Fair & Open Testing, which is critical of high-stakes exams. “The cynical attempt by Tallahassee bureaucrats to ’spin’ the story conveniently ignores key evidence. Instead of protecting Florida’s politically mandated tests, it will provide further incentive for parents, teachers, and school administrators to overhaul the state’s fundamentally flawed assessment system.”

The Florida Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, was also critical.

“Well, we think the report had all kinds of red flags in it that the DOE should be considering,” spokesman Mark Pudlow said in an email. “But the department seems to be going full speed ahead with its flawed approach.”

by Brandon Larrabee, The News Service of Florida

Cantonment Cowboys To Hold Wall Of Fame Induction Ceremony

September 2, 2015

An induction ceremony for the new Cantonment Cowboys Wall of Fame will be held this Saturday at the Cantonment Sportsplex on Well Line Road.

Gene Atkins, Morgan Fowler, Shaquille Purifoy, and Bud Norton will be inducted and honored during a special ceremony that will be held about 4 p.m. between a midgets and a juniors game. The public is invited to attend.

Shaquille Purifoy was known by his family, friends, coaches, teammates and others as the life of the party, the clown in the classroom, and the playmaker on the field.  Shaq’s personality was larger than life. Many in the community considered him one of their own. He was a role model; one who set the example through his walk with the  Lord which was evident in his everyday life. Shaq’s life was tragically cut short when he was shot while visiting his parents when home from college on June 14, 2014.

Bud Norton was a coach in the Escambia County area. He was a part of the Cantonment park in some capacity for more than 30 years, be it park president to having grand kids playing there. Bud is one reason why the park is still around today.

Gene Atkin’s passion was coaching youth football and baseball. Atkins coached in both Atmore and Pensacola for over 45 years. He was widely known for his time working with youth in the 1960’s through 1980’s during his nearly 25 years living in Atmore.

Morgan Fowler was a cheerleader whose life was tragically cut short at the age of 12 from leukemia.

Pictured: Shaquille Purifoy.

Prison’s Cabinetry Program Provides Desks For Elementary School

September 2, 2015

Santa Rosa Correctional Institution’s cabinetry program provided 36 desks to Jay Elementary School to use in a first and fifth grade classroom for the school’s Science Technology Art Engineering Mathematics  program. SRCI Warden James Coker, along with SRCI staff, delivered the desks late last week.

“The Florida Department of Corrections is proud to play an active role in the communities surrounding our institutions. Through re-entry initiatives such as the cabinetry program, Florida’s inmates have an opportunity to gain the skills and resources necessary for successful re-integration into our communities,” Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones said.

Pictured: Desks constructed by inmates in the cabinetry program at Santa Rosa Correctional Institution in place at Jay Elementary School. Photo for, click to enlarge.

Volleyball: Neal Tops NHS, Jay Over Central

September 2, 2015

W.S. Neal defeated Northview, and Jay defeated Central in high school volleyball action Tuesday.

At Northview

W.S. Neal JV def. Northview 2-1

17-25, 25-23, 5-15

W.S. Neal Varsity def. Northview 3-2

25-21, 24-26, 18-25, 25-23, 11-15

Northview will host Baker on Thursday.

At Jay

Jay def. Central 3-1

25-16, 18-25, 25-22, 25-23

Jay will ravel to Laurel Hill on Thursday.

File photo.

Fishing Rodeo To Benefit Backpack Project

September 2, 2015

The Escambia County School District’s 2015 Family Fishing Rodeo will be held at the Grand Lagoon Golf Club September 4-6..  This is the ECSD’s Maintenance Department’s third annual rodeo held to help raise funds so they can help local children with a  Friday afternoon backpack project.

Maintenance epartment organizers are excited to be able to help local children again this year with the support of their sponsors and the many people they hope will come out to fish and compete in the rodeo.

“Three years ago we started this event to do everything we could to help Escambia County children who need a little help to make sure they have something to eat over the weekends, “ Scott Stillman, one of the event organizers explained. “Last year we were able to send home healthy, easy to prepare snacks with 155 kids at 4 schools. Our goal this year is to serve more children and to work closely with the schools to ensure we are helping the children who need this service the most.”

Interested fishermen of all ages are encouraged to sign up to compete for prizes while helping kids. The Open Division fishermen will compete for first, second and third place in 15 salt water categories and 3 fresh water categories. Prizes are $50.00 for third place, $100.00 for second place, and $150.00 for first.

Winners in the junior division categories will win trophies for first, second and third place AND all first place winners will have a chance to win a bike! Their age group will also compete in15 salt water categories and 3 fresh water categories.

Participation starts with a Captain’s Meeting and light dinner on Friday, September 4 at 6:30 p.m.. Fishing begins at midnight and continues through Saturday and Sunday. On Sunday, during weigh-ins, there will be a fish fry, a silent auction and a drawing off opportunity.

“For $2.25 we can send a child home with snack foods to help them get through the weekend,” Stillman explained. “We look for food items that are healthy, balanced and most importantly, easy for a child to open or prepare without needing to turn on a stove or use any kitchen implements they might not be old enough to use yet.”

Tickets for adults planning to fish are $15  for the Open Division and only $1.00 for the Junior division (ages under ten). Ticket price includes a hot dog dinner sponsored by Sonny’s at the Captain’s meeting and a meal at the fish fry on Sunday.

Those wishing to join in for the Sunday fish fry may do so for $5.00 for adults and $1.00 for kids under 10. There will also be a Silent Auction for items like a vacation, a Yeti cooler, original artwork and more.

Fishermen — Tickets are available at :

Dizzy Lizzy’s Bait and Tackle, 2801 Cervantes Ave.

Outcast Bait and Tackle, 3520 Barrancas Ave.

Gulf Breeze Bait and Tackle, 825 Gulf Breeze Pkwy.

Tight Lines Bait  and Tackle, 711 N. Pace Blvd.

Goin’ Fishin’. 10870 Lillian Hwy.

Gray’sTackle and Guide Services, 13019 Sorrento Rd.

For more information, contact the ECSD Maintenance department at (850) 469-5585.

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