Owe Santa Rosa County Money? There Are New Payment Options

October 21, 2014

Customers owing money to Santa Rosa County  can now  establish payment plans using automated withdrawals from their checking account or credit card.

“We want to make it as easy as possible for the customer to meet their court obligations. By signing up for this program the customer no longer has to come to the Courthouse to make their payment, pay postage to mail in their payment, or worry about missing their payment. It is a good program for our customers,” said Clerk of Court Don Spencer.

Both methods allow the customer to set up their withdrawal plan without worrying about missing payments.  The customer’s authorized pre-agreed upon amounts will be deducted on the same day of each month from their checking accounts or charged to their credit cards.  It is easy to establish, resolves the late payment fees issue and the customer does not need to remember the payment due date. On a monthly basis, the participant  will receive a recorded phone message from the Clerk’s office reminding them of their automatic bank draft or credit card charge.

When the customer’s account is paid in full withdrawals are stopped and the customer’s file is closed.

If a customer wants the automated process to stop they should send their written request to the Santa Rosa County Courthouse.  The request should be mailed by the customer so that it arrives  at least five days prior to the next withdrawal date. Questions can be directed to the  Courthouse Information Desk at (850) 981-5554.

Northview FFA Receives National Grant For Poultry Project

October 20, 2014

The Northview High School FFA has received a Local Program Support Grant sponsored by the National FFA Alumni Association.

The $1,000 grant will enable to group to complete a “Backyard Poultry” project.

The grant will be presented during the awards session of the National FFA Alumni Convention on Thursday, October 30 in Louisville, KY.

Weekend Gardening: Colorful Bedding Plants Can Brighten A Winter Day

October 19, 2014

by Santa Rosa Extension Service

Decreasing day length is a signal to start preparing for winter. Soon, deciduous shrubs will drop their leaves and the landscape will appear stark and less impressive. To keep the gloomy days of winter at bay, add cool season bedding plants to the landscape.

Bedding plants are those that are commonly used in residential and commercial landscapes to provide color and interest. No other group of plants can so quickly and economically create a colorful landscape.

Most bedding plants are annuals. These short-lived plants grow from seed, bloom and die within one growing season. The transient nature of annuals means that at the end of their season when they are no longer attractive, annuals are removed and replaced with new plantings.

Many flowering plants prefer a very specific season; therefore, bedding plants are classified into two groups based on the temperatures they prefer. Cool season bedding plants do best in the cold to mild temperatures of October through early May and generally tolerate typical winter freezes without protection.

According to a University of Florida/IFAS publication, bedding plants that can be added to the North Florida landscape now include alyssum, baby’s breath, calendula, carnation, dianthus, dusty miller, foxglove, hollyhock, ornamental cabbage and kale, pansy, petunia, snapdragons and violas.

Most annual bedding plants prefer to be in a sunny location. Prepare the planting beds several weeks before planting. First, remove any weeds or other unwanted plants from the bed. Next, turn the soil to a depth of about eight inches. Spread a two- to four-inch layer of compost, rotted leaves, aged manure, composted finely ground pine bark or peat moss over the bed, and then evenly sprinkle a light application of an all purpose fertilizer. Thoroughly blend the organic matter and fertilizer into the bed, rake smooth and you’re ready to plant.

Gardeners are accustomed to (and even demand) that bedding plants be in bloom when they are purchased. Some cool season bedding plants, however, will provide far superior results if they are purchased when young and before the colorful display begins.

Bedding plants are typically planted to make a dramatic statement. To accomplish that, place multiple plants of the same kind in a bed. Bedding plants generally look best and the beds will fill in better when the rows are staggered. Lay out the first row of plants spaced properly. The second row is laid behind the first row at the appropriate spacing from it, but the plants are placed between the plants of the first row so that they form triangles with those plants.

Flower beds of colorful bedding plants add a lot to the landscape but require a fair amount of maintenance to stay looking their best. Keeping beds well weeded is critical. A two-inch layer of mulch will help considerably in keeping weeds from growing, and using preemergence herbicides (weed preventers) may help in some situations. However, always plan on having to do some hand weeding.

Florida Gov’t Weekly Roundup: Fangate, The Winds Of War

October 19, 2014

An ill wind blew across Florida politics this week. And much of it was generated by an electric fan.

Former Gov. Charlie Crist’s quest to keep cool at the second debate between himself and Gov. Rick Scott kicked up as much dust as a fan turned to its highest speed. Scott’s team argued that Crist had blown past the rules of the debate, while Crist’s campaign said the incumbent was simply trying to distract attention from his own huffing and puffing.

http://www.northescambia.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/floridaweeklly.jpgIt was the kind of fantastically weird Florida story that spins out of control. From the evening newscasts to the “Daily Show” and beyond, national figures ventilated their opinions about the latest weird political event in the Sunshine State. Some of those presentations breezed by the nuance to focus on the easy storyline: A fan had stopped a debate in Florida, if only for a few moments.

It would be wrong to blow off the other stories that took place this week. Both the University of Florida and Florida State University are closer to finishing the process of selecting their next presidents. And the Florida Supreme Court ruled on a case that had the potential to turn iPhones into trackers for law enforcement.

But the reports about Fangate whirred along.


It’s still not entirely clear what happened in the run-up to Crist and then (after a few minutes) Scott taking the stage in Davie for their clash over the issues.

The outlines are clear enough: At some point, Crist’s people put a fan on the stage, which ran afoul of at least one version of the debate rules. Crist, a Democrat, was on stage shortly after the debate was scheduled to begin, and Scott, the Republican incumbent, wasn’t. Then the governor appeared.

Almost all agreement breaks down after that.

According to the Crist campaign, former state Sen. Dan Gelber, a close Crist adviser, had discussed the use of a fan with the debate organizers. The Crist camp said it was alarmed by reports that the stage at the remodeled venue had been uncomfortably warm for an event last week with CNN’s Candy Crowley.

But about an hour before the debate, the temperature on the stage checked in at a less-than-balmy 67 degrees, according to a statement issued after the debate by the two groups that organized the event, the Florida Press Association and Leadership Florida.

“[FPA President Dean] Ridings then informed the Crist campaign that there was no temperature issue, and no fan would be needed, or permitted,” the groups said Thursday.

The Crist campaign put a fan on the stage anyway, only to be told that it wouldn’t be allowed. In the ensuing back-and-forth, debate organizers now say Scott never refused to take the stage, as was originally reported; instead he was waiting for the fan situation to be cleared up.

“Leadership Florida and the Florida Press Association did not anticipate or plan for the possibility that a candidate would not honor the debate rules,” the statement said. “In retrospect, the debate partners should have been better prepared for this possibility. In addition, we regret that one candidate was allowed to take the stage and allowed to talk before the fan issue was resolved.”

“So, let’s get one thing clear: Rick Scott never refused to take the stage and debate,” Scott campaign manager Melissa Sellers said in a lengthy email late Wednesday, shortly after the debate. “In fact, our campaign was not notified Charlie had even taken the stage because the last we heard, Crist was in an ‘emergency meeting’ with debate organizers pleading for his precious fan.”

But some pointed to the fact that Leadership Florida is tied to the Florida Chamber of Commerce — which supports Scott’s re-election. And the Crist campaign highlighted what it said was the most relevant fact: Their guy was on the stage, and Scott wasn’t.

“Who are you going to believe? Rick Scott, or your lying eyes?” Crist Communications Director Brendan Gilfillan wrote in an email to reporters. He added later: “Charlie was on stage. Everyone saw it … because it was on TV.”

And anyone who didn’t see it live almost certainly heard about it in the furor that followed.

In any case, both had less to complain about than Libertarian Adrian Wyllie, who was left off the stage for good when a federal judge ruled against Wyllie’s request that he be included in the debate despite not polling high enough to qualify.

“For too long, the Republican-Democrat ‘duopoly’ has controlled the conversation, and they have used their power to silence the competition,” Wyllie said in a statement following the decision. “Their attempts to exclude me from the debates is just another example. The people of Florida are demanding a third choice, and this decision is an injustice to those millions of Florida voters crying out for fairness and for their voice to be heard.”

If Scott was looking for something to take people’s minds off the fan flap, he received some fodder on Friday: The state announced that the final jobless numbers before the Nov. 4 general election could be the lowest for Florida since June 2008, when Crist was governor.

The Department of Economic Opportunity posted an unemployment mark for September at 6.1 percent, down from 6.3 percent in August.


University of Florida fans had to take a little glee in the hammering that their in-state rival, Florida State University, took for selecting state Sen. John Tharsher, R-St. Augustine, as its next president. But while UF didn’t go with a powerful politician, it still used a lightning-fast process once things really got started.

Cornell University Provost Kent Fuchs was selected quickly, and with little comment, on Wednesday to lead the Gainesville school’s efforts to improve its national academic reputation.

The university’s Board of Trustees unanimously picked Fuchs, 59, to become the school’s 12th president, after a discussion that lasted less than five minutes. The trustees’ selection followed morning interviews with Fuchs and New York University Provost David W. McLaughlin.

Fuchs, pronounced “Fox,” is expected to start at UF just after the beginning of the new year, replacing President Bernie Machen who is retiring in December after 10 years.

Fuchs, who graduated from Miami Killian Senior High School, said he felt privileged to join “Gator Nation,” where he hopes to build on the academic legacy already in place and also intends to become “one of the most enthusiastic of all the sports fans.”

“If I had the opportunity to be any place, this is the place I’d be,” Fuchs said during a news conference. “What is particularly exciting is that you have a single campus here that encapsulates all of higher ed in some sense. … To me, I can’t think of a better dream job.”

As for Thrasher, negotiations between himself and FSU over the contractual details of taking the job appear to be on track.

A draft of a proposed $430,000-a-year, five-year contract released this week has Thrasher taking over as the university’s new president Nov. 10.

Asked about the proposed contract, Thrasher responded in a text, “I’m good” — as most people would likely be with a six-figure compensation deal.

Thrasher is expected to be confirmed by the Florida Board of Governors, which oversees all universities, the first week of November.


Looking to buy a new smart phone for a loved one this Christmas? You no longer have to worry about whether you’ll unwillingly be helping the cops track down that family member or friend.

Pointing to privacy rights, the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday said police need to get warrants before using cell-phone information to conduct “real-time” tracking of criminal suspects.

Justices, in a 5-2 decision, sided with a man who was arrested in 2007 in Broward County after a search of his vehicle uncovered a kilogram brick of cocaine hidden in a spare-tire well. Police tracked the man, Shawn Alvin Tracey, through location information given off when cell-phone calls are made.

“We cannot overlook the inexorable and significant fact that, because cell phones are indispensable to so many people and are normally carried on one’s person, cell phone tracking can easily invade the right to privacy in one’s home or other private areas, a matter that the government cannot always anticipate and one which, when it occurs, is clearly a Fourth Amendment violation,” wrote Chief Justice Jorge Labarga, who was joined in the majority by justices Barbara Pariente, R. Fred Lewis, Peggy Quince and James E.C. Perry.

But Justice Charles Canady, in a dissenting opinion, wrote that given the “known realities of how cell phones operate … cell phone users have neither a subjective expectation of privacy nor an objectively reasonable expectation of privacy regarding the cell site information generated by their cell phones.”

“Individuals may very reasonably desire that information they provide to third parties —such as a cell service provider, a bank, or a credit card company — be kept private,” wrote Canady, who was joined in dissent by Justice Ricky Polston. “But a strong desire for privacy is not equivalent to a legitimate expectation of privacy.”

STORY OF THE WEEK: The second of three campaign debates between Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist gets snared in “Fangate,” a dispute over whether Crist should have been allowed to have an electric fan cool him during the debate.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Is there anything wrong with being comfortable?”—Former Gov. Charlie Crist, when asked why he insisted on having a fan during a debate.

by Brandon Larrabee, The News Service of Florida

Mother And Son Indicted In Murder Of Covenience Store Owner

October 18, 2014

An Escambia County Grand Jury had indicted Dontonio Diaz Thornton and Willie Mae Thornton with one count of first degree murder-premeditated or felony in the death of a convenience store owner.

The mother and son are accused in the September 13 murder of Phoung Nguyen Truong, 50. He was found deceased behind the counter at his place of business, the T M Food Mart located in the 1000 block of West Michigan Avenue.

Prosecutors said Truong was shot and killed in the course of a robbery.

Tate Gets District Win Over Crestview (With Photo Gallery)

October 18, 2014

The Tate Aggies beat the Crestview Bulldogs Friday night, 42-28

With 6:31 to go in the first quarter, the Bulldogs took an early lead that they held until  the second. With 10:11 in the half, the Aggies tied it up 7-7 with a 34-yard touchdown on fourth and 11 from junior quarterback Sawyer Smith to Reginald Payne.

Alondo Thompkins propelled Tate into a 14-7 lead with a 55-yard touchdown run with 8:14 on the clock in the second. Then, with 4:12 in the half, Payne was in for his second touchdown of the night on a sneak play from 1-yard out, and Tate was up 21-7 with 4:12 in the second quarter.

Smith found Darren Lee for a 45-yarder with 50.3 second on the clock for a 28-7 Tate lead at the half.

For a photo gallery, click here.

Less than three minutes into the third quarter, Tate moved up to 35-7 with a 12-yard keeper from Smith. Crestview scored twice before Alonte Thompson made it 42-21 with a 1-yard touchdown dash. Crestview capitalized on an Aggie fumble  with 8:09 in the fourth, 42-21.

Crestview recovered an onside kick for one more touchdown with 6:23 on the clock for the night’s 42-28 final.

The Tate Aggies improved to 6-2 overall, and an important 1-1 in the district.

“The district win is huge in a three team district,” Coach Ronnie Douglas said. “Our backs were against the wall because if we don’t win, we’re done.”

“We still have a real good chance. Crestview and Niceville still have to play, so we are still waiting on that.”  Last season, Crestview beat Niceville, leading to a three-way tie and a district shootout.

Tate will host Fort Walton Beach next Friday night, 7:30 in Cantonment.

For a photo gallery, click here.

NorthEscambia.com photos by Keith Garrison, click to enlarge.

Suffering From Allergies? Don’t Blame The Goldenrods

October 18, 2014

The bright yellow flowers of the goldenrod are everywhere in the North Escambia area, taking the blame from allergy sufferers. But one of fall’s most colorful plants actually gets a bad rap, according to the University of Florida Extension Service.

The true culprit for all those sneezes and sniffles is ragweed, according to Environmental Horticulture Agent Alicia Lamborn.

Goldenrod plants are bright and showy, producing large, heavy pollen grains that are carried off by bees, butterflies and other pollinators rather than by the wind. Ragweed bares greenish yellow flowers in small heads which produce copious amounts of pollen, carried by the wind rather than insects.

Ragweed flowers are not showy which means these plants are often easier to recognize by their stems and leaves. Ragweed has branching purplish stems that are rough and hairy, and leaves which are smooth, but deeply divided into lobed portions.

Pictured: Goldenrods bloom alongside a dirt road in Bratt. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.

High School Football Finals

October 18, 2014

Here is a look at Friday night’s high school football finals score from around the area.


  • Northview 43, Freeport 9 [Read more...]
  • Tate 42, Crestview  28 [Read more...]
  • Baker 42, Jay 14
  • West Florida 27, Gulf Breeze 7
  • Washington 23, Pine Forest 14
  • Escambia 44, Milton 34
  • Pensacola 35, Pace 10
  • Arnold 38, Catholic 36


  • Flomaton 38, St. Lukes 26
  • W.S. Neal 47,  Satsuma 21
  • St. Pauls 49, Escambia County (Atmore) 12
  • Escambia Academy 48, Pike Liberal Arts 14
  • Open: T.R. Miller

Northview Pounds Freeport

October 18, 2014

The Northview Chiefs were ranked No. 5 in the state in Class 1A as they headed into a 43-9 pounding of the Freeport Bulldogs Friday night in Freeport.

Northview jumped out to a 7-0 lead on a touchdown from Lett.

Freeport worked their way to the red zone, but their endzone pass was picked off by Cameron Newsome for a return that set up a Chiefs 30-yard field goal, 10-0 Northview.

Tydraee Bradley added another touchdown for the Chiefs with 1:45 to go in the first quarter, 16-0. The Chiefs rolled on to a 31-0 halftime advantage before allowing a touchdown and field goal from Freeport in the second half.

Lett  rushed for just 220 yards Friday night along with three touchdowns  two weeks after setting a school single game record of a 313 total rushing yards.  The senior is now well over 1,000 yards for the season — 523 of those yards in his last two games for those doing the math.

Newsome is at about 500 yards for the season after earning 137 yards along with a touchdown Friday night.

Chiefs are now 5-1 overall, 2-0 in the district. They will host 4A Walton Friday night before taking on the undefeated Baker Gators for the district championship October 31 in Baker.

Pictured top: The Northview Chiefs in action against Freeport Friday night in Freeport. Pictured inset: The Chiefs’ Cameron Newsome goes down after a long interception return, setting up a 30-yard Northview field  goal. Images courtesy WEAR 3 for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

NWS: Monday Night Storm Damage In Cottage Hill Was Not A Tornado

October 17, 2014

Damage to several homes and outbuilding in the Cottage Hill area Monday was not caused by a tornado — that’s the word from the National Weather Service in Mobile.

NWS forecasters said Thursday afternoon that there was no need for them assess the damage directly. Escambia County Emergency Management surveyed the damage and determined it was caused by straight line winds.

Four homes were damaged but were still liveable following the storms, plus the roofs of several barns and outbuildings were damaged. Several trees and power lines were also downed.

There were no injuries reported. There was a tornado watch, but no warnings, in effect as the storm hit.

For more daytime photos of the storm damage, click here.

NorthEscambia.com photos by Kristi Price, click to enlarge.

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