911 Service Restored For AT&T Landline Customers

October 19, 2018

[UPDATE 7:05 a.m.] AT&T service to Escambia County 911 has been restored. Customers can again use their AT&T landline phones to call 911 for emergency services. Service was interrupted earlier this morning for some customers due to an AT&T network outage in the Cantonment area.

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Some AT&T customers in Escambia County may not be able to call 911 for emergency services due to an AT&T landline network outage in the Cantonment area. Impacted AT&T users who need emergency services such as law enforcement, EMS or fire should call from a mobile device or visit the nearest Escambia County fire station.

The duration of the outage is unknown at this time. Another notice will be issued when service is restored.

FHSAA Expands 1A Football Playoffs Due To Michael

October 19, 2018

The Florida High School Athletic Association has expanded this year’s Class 1A-Region 1 and 1A-Region 2 playoff format following Hurricane Michael. Now there will be eight teams in each regional playoff instead of six.

“It became abundantly clear that because of Hurricane Michael, it will take many schools several weeks to reorganize and field a football team.  It is with great thought and conversation that the best path for all communities, schools, coaches and most importantly student-athletes, is to allow eight teams,” the FHSAA said. Each team will be seeded from 1-8.

Currently, the Top 8 teams in 1-1A in rank order are:

  1. Baker
  2. Vernon
  3. Jay
  4. Northview
  5. Graceville
  6. Bozeman
  7. Holmes County
  8. Chipley

Freeport is ranked number nine.

Currently, the Top 8 teams in 2-1A in rank order are:

  1. Jefferson County
  2. Sneads
  3. Blountstown
  4. Port St. Joe
  5. Wewahitchka
  6. Cottondale
  7. Liberty County
  8. Franklin County

Each team’s schedule that was submitted at the beginning of the 2018 season will be used for playoff qualification based on the football point’s structure. Each team will earn a seed of 1–8 based on their end of the regular season point average.

The higher seed will host each round throughout the region playoffs.

NorthEscambia.com photo, click to enlarge.

Samoszenko Named Ransom Middle Teacher Of The Year

October 19, 2018

Lauren Samoszenko has been named the Ransom Middle School Teacher of The Year. She teaches gifted social studies. Courtesy photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Century Gives Final Approval To Tax Funding Plan For Redevelopment Area

October 19, 2018

The Century town council has given final approval to a funding plan for their Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA).

The council approved a Tax Increment Financing plan for their redevelopment area, allowed the CRA to receive property tax revenues each year in excess of an established base rate. The appraised value of the property within the designated district was “frozen”this year, with that amount of tax revenue generated still designated for the town’s general fund, the county and other taxing authorities.

The redevelopment area will receive 95 percent of the property tax generated in excess of the frozen base value as property values rise. It is estimated that will amount to about $10,000 the first year for the CRA.

The CRA funds will be used to improve conditions in the 510 acres, bounded by Jefferson Avenue to the south, Jefferson Avenue to the east, East High 4 to the north and the center line of North Century Boulevard to the west. It also extends north on the east side of North Century Boulevard to include commercial properties up to, and including, the former Burger King. Click here for a detailed map (pdf).

Tax Increment Financing is a unique tool available to cities and counties for redevelopment activities. It is used to leverage public funds to promote private sector activities in the targeted redevelopment area. Property owners in the CRA will pay the same tax rate as those in the remainder of the town.

TIF revenue can be used on a “pay as you go” basis, where the annual stream of revenue is used to fund small projects, or used to pay debt service costs over the life of a project lasting 10 or more years. Historically in Florida, TIF has been effective at generating large amounts of funding for capital investments for roadway improvements, flood control programs, water and sewer and drainage infrastructure improvements, parking lots and garages, neighborhood parks, sidewalks, street and sidewalk tree plantings, signs and building construction.

After a February 2016 tornado damaged or destroyed 40 homes and businesses, the town looked to address the long-term effects on the community of a downturn in economic development. That led to the redevelopment area.

The CRA plan sets a roadmap for future development and spending to eliminate existing conditions of blight and to encourage continued private investment. The plan also provides a framework for coordinating and facilitating public and private redevelopment within the area.

Review the Century CRA plan by clicking here.

NorthEscambia.com photo, click to enlarge.

College Softball, Baseball Games Saturday In Century

October 19, 2018

Pensacola State College will face Coastal Alabama Community College in the “Century Classic” Saturday Showalter Park.

The softball matchup will begin with pregame activities at 10:30 a.m. with an 11 a.m. game time. Pregame activities for the PSC vs. Coastal Alabama baseball game will follow the softball game at about 12:30 p.m., with first pitch at about 1 p.m.

Former PSC and Major League Baseball players Bill Sadler and Greg Litton, along with Escambia County District 5 Commissioner Steven Barry will be special guests.

Sadler pitched for the San Francisco Giants and Houston Astros during his MLB career. A 2000 Catholic High School graduate, he played at Pensacola Junior College in 2001 and 2002, before transferring to Louisiana State University in 2003.

Litton, a utility player, was drafted in the first round by the San Francisco Giants in 1984. He later played for the Seattle Mariners and Boston Red Sox. In 1983 and 1984, Litton was on the PSC Pirates squad before signing to play at Mississippi State University. However, he was drafted before joining the Mississippi State team.

The Century Classic also will have children activities such as a bounce house, games and an opportunity for autographs.

General admission is $5, and admission for children 8-12 and PSC faculty is $2. Admission for children 8 is free. PSC students will be admitted free with a student ID, and baseball and softball players in grades 1-12 will be admitted free if they are wearing their uniform jersey.

Admission proceeds will benefit the Buck Showalter Scholarship fund for GED students from the Century area.

Escambia County Helps Fly Hurricane Impacted Dogs, Cats To San Diego

October 19, 2018

On Thursday, Escambia County Animal Services, Friends of the Escambia County Animal Shelter, and the Humane Society of the United States loaded 63 dogs from hurricane-impacted shelters in Bay County onto a cargo plane for transport to a partner shelter in San Diego, where they will be made available for adoption. Thirty additional dogs on board the plane were taken from the Escambia County Animal Shelter in order to make room for additional animal transfers from hurricane-impacted shelters.

An Escambia County Animal Shelter staff member was on board the plane and helped transport the animals when they arrived in San Diego Thursday afternoon.

Since Hurricane Michael, Escambia County has taken in 156 cats and 91 dogs to be transported to partner shelters for adoption.

Another flight on Friday was set to transport about 150 cats and two dogs to Seattle.

Florida Makes Changes To Aid Displace Voters

October 19, 2018

Florida eased restrictions Thursday on vote-by-mail ballots in eight counties ravaged last week by Hurricane Michael, while also giving elections supervisors more time to conduct early voting.

Secretary of State Ken Detzner, the state’s top election official, said the changes included in an executive order by Gov. Rick Scott were requested by local supervisors and are intended to help displaced voters in Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Jackson, Liberty, and Washington counties.

“With the general election less than three weeks away, this unprecedented storm has impacted the normal operations of administering an election in counties that were hit hardest,” Detzner’s office said in a news release.

The changes do not include allowing voters to cast ballots by fax or email.

“In the hardest hit areas, communication via phone, fax and email remains challenging and would be an unreliable method for returning ballots,” the release said. “Additionally, past attempts by other states to allow voters impacted by natural disasters to fax or email ballots have been rife with issues.”

The eight counties, which have been a solid voting bloc for Republicans in state races, included 223,175 registered voters as of the August primaries. Roughly 43 percent of the voters were registered as Republicans, while 40 percent were Democrats and 17 percent were independents or registered with third parties.

More than a week after the Oct. 10 landfall of Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, the eight counties continue to grapple with problems such as power outages.

As of Thursday morning, for example, power was still out to 97 percent of Calhoun County and 81 percent of Jackson County, according to the state Division of Emergency Management. Similarly, power was out to 66 percent of Liberty County, while Bay, Gulf and Franklin counties were above 50 percent without power.

As part of Scott’s executive order, voters in the eight counties will be able to request — through telephone calls or in writing — for  vote-by-mail ballots to be mailed to addresses that don’t match the voters’ addresses in the Florida Voter Registration System.

“This will help displaced voters to cast a ballot,” Detzner’s office said in the news release.

The order also will allow vote-by-mail ballots to be delivered to registered voters or their family members in the counties on election day.

On Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida noted that postal carriers in Calhoun County were unable to access half or more than half of the rural county, which is  between Tallahassee and Panama City.

Meanwhile, the executive order will allow the counties to continue early voting through the Nov. 6 election, a move intended to help voters whose precinct locations may have been damaged by the storm.

Early voting is mandatory statewide from Oct. 27 to Nov. 3, but county supervisors have the option to start the process Monday and add Nov. 4 to the schedule.

On Wednesday, Leon County Supervisor of Elections Mark Earley noted precinct locations and early-voting sites throughout the hurricane-wracked counties have been destroyed.

“Poll workers have uncertain housing challenges there,” Earley said. “There are challenges just getting water and food there, certainly. One of the biggest problems we are encountering is communications within some of these counties. The cell phone towers are out. The internet is out. There are a lot of communications issues that we are trying to overcome.”

Scott’s executive order also directed Detzner to coordinate with local supervisors to ensure members of the Florida National Guard, first responders, law-enforcement officers, utility workers and volunteers involved in the recovery effort are able to cast ballots.

by Jim Turner, The News Service of Florida

Man Killed While Walking Across I-10

October 18, 2018

A pedestrian was killed on I-10 near the Pine Forest Road exit Wednesday night.

The Florida Highway Patrol said the pedestrian was walking across the eastbound lanes of I-10 about 8:10 p.m. when he was struck by a semi-truck driven by 37-year old Philip Calhoun of Roanoke, AL.

The pedestrian was pronounced deceased on the scene. His name has not been released pending notification of next of kin.

General Election Sample Ballots Are In The Mail

October 18, 2018

Sample ballots for the November 6 General Election are being mailed this week to Escambia County voters. The sample ballot includes a ballot image, the voter’s polling location and information on the three ways to vote: early, vote-by-mail, and on Election Day. A sample ballot is also available at EscambiaVotes.com.

Voters have three different ways to cast their ballot:

  • By Mail: Voters may vote by mail using a vote-by-mail ballot, which can be requested through the online form at EscambiaVotes.com, or by contacting the Supervisor of Elections by mail, phone (850) 595-3900, e-mail (votebymail@escambiavotes.com), or fax (850) 595-3914. Requests must include the voter’s date of birth and the address, and must be received no later than Wednesday, October 31. Voted ballots must be received in the Elections Office no later than 7:00 p.m. on Election Day and may not be returned to a polling location.  Vote-by-mail voters may track the status of their ballot at EscambiaVotes.com by clicking Track My Ballot.
  • Early Voting: Early voting will be available Monday, October 22 through Saturday, November 3 at nine different locations from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Early voters will cast paper ballots through our digital scanners. Early voting will be held at the following locations:
    • Supervisor of Elections Office, 213 Palafox Place, Second Floor
    • Main Library, 239 Spring Street
    • Molino Community Center, 6450-A Highway 95A, Molino
    • Genealogy Branch Library, 5740 B, 9th Avenue
    • Southwest Branch Library, 12248 Gulf Beach Highway
    • Mobile Hwy/Pine Forest Rd Early Voting Center, 6675 Pine Forest Road
    • Escambia County Extension, 3740 Stefani Road, Cantonment
    • Brownsville Community Center, 3200 W. DeSoto Street
    • University of West Florida, Building 90, Campus Lane
  • At Your Precinct: The third option for voters is to cast a paper ballot at their precinct on Election Day, November 6. Polls will be open from 7:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. An ExpressVote ballot marking device is also available at each polling place and early voting site for persons with disabilities.

Florida Dept. Of Corrections Cancels All Weekend Visitations

October 18, 2018

The Florida Department of Corrections has again canceled weekend visitation at all facilities in the state.

The FDC canceled weekend visitation for all facilities statewide for Saturday, October 20, and Sunday, October 21. This cancellation includes all major institutions, work camps, work release centers and annex facilities.

FDC staff across the state are supporting intensive Hurricane Michael recovery efforts.

Normal visitation will resume next weekend, October 27-28.

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