Manna To Resume Feeding Hungry

July 23, 2014

After losing all its food to recent flooding, Manna Food Pantries’ main facility is partially restocked and the grassroots organization will be providing emergency food on a limited basis beginning July 28.

Because of Manna’s limited capacity to store and distribute food, the organization has temporarily set up an appointment-only schedule at the main pantry.

“We’re excited that we’ve gotten to a point where we can resume service to the hungry, although we’re still very limited right now,” said DeDe Flounlacker, executive director. “We continue to be amazed by the generosity of this community and how they’ve come together to help Manna get back on its feet. But the need is still great — we ask that the community continue to give — right now we’ve got a very limited supply of food.”

Manna staff will be helping people with appointments in temporary trailers set up in Manna’s parking lot. However, the staff and board of directors are actively looking for a new permanent home away from the flood-prone area.

“We’re committed to finding a more suitable location to serve the hungry in the community and are evaluating our options with a piece of land under contract with the Escambia School Board,” said Flounlacker. “Together, with the community’s help, we can rebuild Manna to make sure no one is left unfed.”

Limited service to the community

  • The Main Pantry will re-open Monday, July 28. Because of Manna’s limited capacity to store good, distribute food and see clients, the organization is now scheduling appointments. To schedule an appointment, call (8500 432-2053 Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • The Cantonment, Milton and Jay pantries have resumed limited service on a first come, first serve basis. Appointment not necessary.
  • All clients must present a picture I.D. and social security card for adults in the family, and social security card, birth certificates or shot records for children under 18.
  • Manna is no longer providing USDA food, which is what the organization distributed if people did not have a picture I.D. and Social Security card.

Last year, Manna Food Pantries distributed 800,000 pounds of food to the hungry, serving more than 42,000 people. The non-profit has been serving the community since 1983.

Go to mannafoodpantries.org to find out how you can make a donation or volunteer to help.

‘Hurricane Tax’ On Florida Insurance Policies To End 18 Months Early

July 23, 2014

An extra charge on property-insurance and auto-insurance policies to cover claims paid for the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons will end January 1.

The Office of Insurance Regulation formally issued orders Tuesday for insurance companies to move up by 18 months the end of a 1.3 percent “emergency assessment” for the state-run Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund, which provides backup coverage to insurers.

The assessment has hit policyholders for $2.9 billion, which has gone to reimburse insurance companies for claims from the eight hurricanes that hit Florida in 2004 and 2005, the last time a hurricane made landfall in Florida.

“It’s been nine years since (Hurricane) Wilma,” said Sam Miller, executive vice president of the Florida Insurance Council. “If anything, the assessment helps us remember how devastating these storms may be.”

Miller said the industry had been waiting for the orders so it could begin preparing for the new end date for the assessment, which previously had been set for July 1, 2016.

The orders make official a decision Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet made last month to end the assessment, Amy Bogner, a spokeswoman for the Office of Insurance Regulation, said in an email.

The assessment, which first appeared at 1 percent in 2007 and was raised to the current rate in 2011, collectively hits policyholders for between $350 million and $500 million a year.

In addition to the state’s near-decade luck at avoiding hurricanes, the early termination is due to claims for Hurricane Wilma coming in $498 million less than what had initially been thought. Wilma hit South Florida in October 2005.

Also, the fund has received more money than expected due to an increase in policies statewide.

The charge is imposed on most property and casualty policies other than medical malpractice and workers compensation.

The catastrophe fund, better known as the Cat Fund, currently has about $13 billion on hand and is expected to be able to raise an additional $4 billion, which is considered solid ground for covering most post-storm claims.

In addition to the Cat Fund assessment, the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp. adds an extra 1 percent charge on most policies to cover losses from the 2005 storms. First imposed in 2007, the charge is expected to be paid off in June 2017.

Woman Cited In Accident For Turning In Front Of Deputy

July 23, 2014

A 74-year old Pensacola woman was charged after turning into the path of Escambia County Sheriff’s deputy Tuesday afternoon.

About 4:09 p.m., Bonnie Mack was traveling east on Mobile Highway when she attempted to turn left onto Klondike Road. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Mack turned directly into the path of ECSO Lt. Alan Barton who was westbound on Mobile Highway. Barton was in an unmarked 2012 Chevrolet Tahoe that sustained about $8,500 in damage.

Barton, Mack, and Mack’s 49-year old passenger were all uninjured.

Mack was cited for an improper left turn in front of approaching traffic, according to the FHP.

Escambia Elections Ballots Are In The Mail

July 23, 2014

Tuesday afternoon, the office of Escambia County Supervisor of Elections David Stafford mailed more than 25,000 absentee ballots for the August 26 Primary Election. Voters will begin receiving their ballots as early as today.

Voters should receive their ballot within the next week, and can visit EscambiaVotes.com and click on “track my ballot” to monitor the status of their request. The deadline for voters to request a ballot to be delivered by mail is Wednesday, August 20, 2014 at 5 p.m. After that  date, voters may pick up a mail ballot at the Supervisor of Elections office.

Voters who have not requested a “vote by mail” ballot can do so in one of the following ways:

  • On the web: EscambiaVotes.com
  • By email: absentee@escambiavotes.com
  • By phone: (850) 595-3900 or fax (850) 595-3914
  • In person: 213 Palafox Place, Second Floor, Pensacola, FL 32502
  • By mail: PO Box 12601, Pensacola, FL 32591-2601

The deadline for voters to request a ballot to be delivered by mail is Wednesday, August 20, 2014 at 5 p.m. After that  date, voters may pick up a mail ballot at the Supervisor of Elections office.

Ballots must be received in the Escambia County Supervisor of Elections office by 7 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, August 26, 2014. Ballots can be dropped off at the Elections Office
during regular business hours or mailed back in the official ballot envelope provided. Be sure to include first class postage ($0.49) on your return envelope. Mail ballots cannot be dropped off.
Voters who receive a mail ballot and decide to vote in person during Early Voting or at their assigned precinct on Election Day should bring their marked or unmarked mail ballot to the polls so it can be canceled. Early voting begins Saturday, August 16 and runs through Saturday, August 23. Election Day is August 26. For complete information, visit EscambiaVotes.com.

Nokomis Residents Receive Lower Fire Insurance Rating, Better Protection

July 23, 2014

The Nokomis (AL) Volunteer Fire Department has received an improved  fire protection class rating which will translate to lower homeowner’s insurance premiums for hundreds of households.

The Insurance Services Office (ISO) recently notified the department that their new rating is a 5/5X, significant fire rating decrease from their previous 7/9. The new rating drops by two classifications for homes within 1,000 feet of a hydrant and drops fiyr classifications for homes outside the required distance from a hydrant.

Assistant Fire Chief Chris McGhee said many municipal, full-time fire departments are a Class 5. The lower ratings, he said, are based upon numerous factors, including water supply, equipment, number of firefighters and more.

The new ISO classification will take effect on October 1.

According to an example provided by the fire department, sample insurance premium on a $200,000 home would be $1,252 at a Class 9, but in the new Class 5X rating the premium would be $690, a savings for the homeowner of $562.

The Nokomis Volunteer Fire Department responds to an average of 60 calls a year with 15 volunteer firefighters in a district that begins just west of the Atmore Country Club and continues to the Baldwin County line, north to Doyle Hadley Road and south to the Alabama/Florida line — and area with about 400 residences.

An agreement between Escambia County, FL, and Nokomis calls for the Nokomis Volunteer Fire Department to automatically be dispatched to certain emergencies in a portion of the Walnut Hill fire district, and for Walnut Hill to be automatically dispatched to certain types of calls, such as structure fires, in Nokomis, AL.

The Nokomis Volunteer Fire Department’s “Squirt 24″ was formerly “Truck 5″ in Century. After the Century Station of Escambia Fire Rescue received a refurbished  75-foot ladder truck that was formerly assigned to Ensley, “Truck 5″ was put up for auction and purchased by the Nokomis VFD for $5,000.

“We are completely volunteer and have to raise our own support,” Nokoms Fire Chief Eddie Odom said. “There is always a need for funds and we hope that homeowners will step up and
contribute to the fire department, especially with the extra savings they will enjoy as a result of our efforts. A fund raising effort is underway now to expand the small fire station so we can receive a much needed 1,250 gallon per minute pumper that was donated from the City of Atmore but we have no room to house the truck. It’s not just the building that we need financial assistance with. The cost of keeping our firefighters equipped and trained is expensive just as diesel, parts, maintenance and building upkeep are. Now more than ever, we need homeowners and property owners to support us financially.”

Board member and Nokomis Fire Captain Jerry Gehman says many departments across the America ask for $95 to $125 per household as a general rule of funding annually. Many communities pay a “fire tax” around the same amount.

Contributions can be mailed to the Nokomis Volunteer Fire Department, P.O. Box 727, Atmore, AL  36502.

Pictured:  Operating under new mutual aid agreement, the Walnut Hill Station of Escambia Fire Rescue and the Nokomis (AL) Volunteer Fire Department held a combined training exercise last year in Walnut Hill. NorthEscambia.com file photos, click to enlarge.

Repeat Felon Gets 20 Years For Shooting Into Motel Room

July 23, 2014

An Escambia County man has been sentenced to two decades in state prison for shooting into a motel room.

Kendrell Maurice Sims entered a plea of no contest to the charges of shooting at, into or within a building, two counts of  aggravated assault with a firearm, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Following his plea, Circuit Judge Jan Shackelford sentenced Sims to 20 years in prison.

On October 23, 2013, at the Relax Inn on Mobile Highway, Kendrell Sims and Gregory  Henderson were in a physical altercation. Once the physical altercation broke up, Sims got a gun from his motel room and went back to Henderson’s motel room and began firing multiple rounds at the door of Henderson’s room. At that time, Greg Henderson and Elaine Green were inside the room.

Kendrell Sims was previously convicted of six felony charges, including drug related  offenses.

Century Adopts New Fee Schedule For Planning, Zoning, Development Review

July 23, 2014

The Town of Century has adopted a new fee schedule for planning, zoning and development review as part of the town’s land development code.

The new fee schedule items such as residential site renovation permits for $25, commercial site renovation permits for $50 and $50 demolition permits. In many cases, a portion of the fee is refunded once the applicant receives  the required  building permits from Escambia County.

The only fees greater than $50 are: $250 for a new commercial site or development, $500 for a small scale comprehensive plan amendment and $750 for large scale amendment to the comprehensive plan.

For a pdf copy of the fee schedule, click here.

Blue Angels Announce 2015 Team Members

July 23, 2014

The Blue Angels have announced the officers selected for the 2015. The squadron selected an executive officer, three F/A-18 demonstration pilots, an events coordination officer, two C-130 demonstration pilots, a flight surgeon, and a supply officer to join the 2015 team.

Many highly-qualified Navy and Marine Corps officers submit applications to join the Blue Angels each year.

“We remain committed to selecting the most talented and qualified individuals to join the Blue Angels,” said Cmdr. Tom Frosch, flight leader and commanding officer for the team. “Once again, a significant number of extremely talented, experienced Sailors and Marines applied this year, and we are proud of those we have chosen to join the 2015 team. They are excellent representatives of the skilled service members defending our freedom around the world.”

The Blue Angels select finalists to interview at the Blue Angels’ home base at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., during the week of the Pensacola Beach Air Show. The team makes selections at the conclusion of the interview week.

“All of our finalists this year are incredible examples of some of the finest officers in the Navy and Marine Corps, from both the aviation community and the fleet,” said Lt. Cmdr. John Hiltz, Right Wing pilot and the applications officer for the 2014 team. “What was most important for us — regardless of anything else — was to select the most qualified individuals for the team to represent the more than 540,000 Sailors and Marines deployed around the world, around the clock. And I’m happy to say that we’ve done that.”

The newly-selected 2015 team members include:

Executive officer:
Navy Cmdr. Bob Flynn, 45, of Moorestown, N.J., is a S-3B Viking naval flight officer and is currently assigned to the Naval War College. He is a 1992 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md.

F/A-18 demonstration pilots:
Navy Lt. Matt Suyderhoud, 31, of Honolulu, is currently assigned to Training Squadron 22 (VT-22) at Naval Air Station Kingsville, Texas. He is a 2005 graduate of Saint Louis University, St. Louis, Mo.

Navy Lt. Andrew Talbott, 31, of Sedan, Kan., is currently assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 106 (VFA-106) at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, Va. He is a 2005 graduate of Kansas State University, Salina, Kan.

Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss, 30, of Durango, Colo., is currently assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 312 (VMFA-312) Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S.C. He is a 2006 graduate of Fort Lewis College, Durango, Colo.

Events coordination officer:
Marine Capt. Corrie Mays, 34, of Marstons Mills, Mass., is currently assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (All Weather) 225 (VMFA(AW)-225) at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, San Diego. She is a 2003 graduate of the University of Georgia, Athens, Ga.

C-130 demonstration pilots:
Marine Maj. Mark Hamilton, 36, of Becker, Minn., is currently assigned to Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252 (VMGR-252) at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C. He is a 2000 graduate of Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind.

Marine Capt. Katie Higgins, 27, of Annapolis, Md., is currently assigned to Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252 (VMGR-252) at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C. She is a 2008 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md.

Flight surgeon:
Navy Lt. Joe Schwartz, 34, of Arlington, Va., is currently assigned to Electronic Attack Squadron 132 (VAQ-132) at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Oak Harbor, Wash. He is a 2002 graduate of the University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Ind.

Supply officer:
Navy Lt. Gregory Bollinger, Jr., 31, of Carbondale, Ill., is currently assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 9 (VX-9) at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, Calif. He is a 2006 graduate of the University of Maryland University College, Adelphi, Md.

Expected to return for the 2015 season are:

F/A-18 demonstration pilots:
Navy Cmdr. Tom Frosch, 44, of Clinton Township, Mich.
Navy Lt. Cmdr. Nate Barton, 33, of Hummelstown, Pa.
Navy Lt. Mark Tedrow, 31, of Charleroi, Pa.
Navy Lt. Ryan Chamberlain, 29, of Bloomington, Ill.

C-130 demonstration pilots:
Marine Capt. Dusty Cook, 32, of East Bernard, Texas.

Maintenance officer:
Navy Lt. Cmdr. Declan Hartney, 44, of Limerick, Ireland.

Administration officer:
Navy Lt. j.g. Phillip Harper, 33, of Chicago.

Public affairs officer:
Navy Lt. j.g. Amber Lynn Daniel, 33, of Ramona, Calif.

The mission of the Blue Angels is to showcase the pride and professionalism of the United States Navy and Marine Corps by inspiring a culture of excellence and service to country through flight demonstrations and community outreach.

Since its inception in 1946, the Blue Angels have performed for more than 484 million fans.

Wahoos Beat Mobile

July 23, 2014

With hundreds of budding princesses roaming Pensacola Bayfront Stadium in their dresses and tiaras, something magical happened in the first inning.

The Pensacola Blue Wahoos scored seven runs on eight hits, including five doubles, and went on to defeat the Mobile BayBears, 8-4, on 18 hits.

Daddy-Daughter night at the ballpark included a pre-game parade where Little Mermaids, Snow Whites and Jasmines pranced down the first baseline to loud applause. It included Wahoos Manager Delino DeShields young daughter helping her daddy deliver the lineup card to the umpires and join a quartet of other princesses to sing, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” during the seventh inning stretch.

Whether it was magic spells at work or not, DeShields was just happy to see his hitters hitting. During the team’s 1-8 skid entering Tuesday’s game, the Wahoos hit .239 as a team and had 77 strikeouts and 67 hits.

All nine starters got on base during the game and only pitcher Daniel Corcino was hitless. In fact, seven of the nine hitters had at least two hits and Ryan Wright, Kyle Waldrop and Juan Duran all had three.

DeShields said it was the first time his 7-year-old daughter, Delaney, got to sit in the dugout and hangout on the field. They watched the 7-minute fireworks show to Disney tunes together after the game.

“She might be a good luck charm,” DeShields said. “I’m going to have to start bringing her all the time.”

Yorman Rodriguez, who went 2-5, including a double to start the game, said one of the most special feelings he has is when he hears his toddler in the stands behind the backstop shouting his name.

“The whole game she yells, ‘Poppie! Poppie!’” Rodriguez said. “She yells loud, too. It’s awesome.”

Mobile scored three of its runs on a homerun over the right-center fence by Jake Lamb, who is leading or near the top in every offensive category in the Southern League. The Arizona Diamondbacks No. 9 prospect according to MLB.com has 13 homers and 76 RBI.

The third game of the five-game series with the Arizona Diamonbacks Double-A affiliate the Mobile BayBears gets underway at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. RHP Jon Moscot (5-9, 3.19) takes the mound for the Wahoos and is scheduled to be opposed by the BayBears RHP A.J. Schugel (4-1, 3.70).

by Tommy Thrall

Escambia Issues Air Quality Health Alert For Wedgewood Area

July 22, 2014

Effective immediately, in response to air quality monitoring, the Florida Department of Health in Escambia County (FDOH-Escambia) is issuing a health alert for the area surrounding the Wedgewood Community Center and the Rolling Hills Construction and Demolition Landfill in Escambia County.

Air quality monitoring has been performed by Escambia County at the Wedgewood Community Center (6405 Wagner Road, Pensacola). This center is adjacent to the Rolling Hills Construction and Demolition Landfill located at 6990 Rolling Hills Road, Pensacola. The monitoring has revealed elevated levels of hydrogen sulfide in the air at a minimum level of concern for long term exposure to humans. Hydrogen sulfide is a colorless gas which often has an odor similar to rotten eggs, but which may have no detectable smell when present in low concentrations. However, even low concentrations of hydrogen sulfide gas can have negative health effects.

Exposure to hydrogen sulfide may cause respiratory symptoms such as eye, nose, and throat irritation in some individuals. People experiencing respiratory symptoms should consult their physician for treatment and should stay inside their homes.  According to FDOH-Escambia’s Director, Dr. John Lanza, “While inside, people should close their windows, run their cooling/heating system, and change their system’s filter, as needed. If symptoms persist while inside an air conditioned home, people may choose to leave the area until their symptoms are tolerable.”

Persons who have questions about health problems or symptoms they may be experiencing related to hydrogen sulfide exposure should contact their primary care physician. Those who have asthma or other chronic lung disease should follow their disease management plan, and should call their doctor if symptoms worsen. For medical emergencies, call 911 or go immediately to the nearest emergency facility.

The Florida Department of Health in Escambia County will continue to evaluate air quality monitoring results, as reported by Escambia County. Any further recommendations and alerts will be released as more information becomes available.

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