August 24, 2016
An Escambia County Grand Jury indicted Alonzo Dewayne Thompkins, Jr. for first degree felony murder in the death of a two-year old child.
On August 8, child was found unresponsive by his mother after being home alone with the defendant for approximately one hour. The Medical Examiner’s Office determined the death of the child to be caused by blunt force trauma to the child’s torso.
Thompkins is scheduled to be arraigned on September 1 for the murder. He is also charged with aggravated child abuse after a three-year-old child in the residence had multiple bruises on her body and a broken collar bone.
August 24, 2016
The Northview Chiefs hosted West Florida High School’s Jaguars Tuesday afternoon.
The Northview Chiefs will host Pensacola Christian on Thursday. Junior varsity plays at 4:30 and the varsity takes the court at 5:30.
NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.
August 23, 2016
Escambia County Supervisor of Elections David H. Stafford reminds voters who wish to be mailed a vote-by-mail ballot for the August 30 Primary Election to request their ballot no later than Wednesday, August 24.
Voters can make their request by using the online form at EscambiaVotes.com or by contacting the Supervisor of Elections by mail, phone (850) 595-3900, fax (850) 595-3914, or e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org). Requests must include the voter’s date of birth and address. Voters may track the status of their ballot by clicking Track My Ballot at EscambiaVotes.com.
After Wednesday, a voter may still pick up a vote-by-mail ballot in person from the Elections Office through Monday, August 29.
August 23, 2016
The Florida FWC Division of Law Enforcement reported the following activity during the weekly period ending August 18 in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.
Officer Clark observed a motorhome stopped in the middle of the road on south Fairfield Avenue. As the vehicle began moving, the operator was driving erratically. Officer Clark stopped the vehicle, made contact with the driver and smelled an odor of an alcoholic beverage on his breath. The officer also observed an open beer container on the floor. The operator agreed to submit to field alcohol tasks and performed poorly on all tasks. He was arrested for DUI and transported to the Escambia County Intoxilyzer Room where he declined to provide a breath sample. He was then transported to the Escambia County Jail for booking and processing. The driver was charged with driving under the influence (DUI), refusal to submit to a breath test, and knowingly driving without a valid license.
SANTA ROSA COUNTYNo report submitted.
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.
August 23, 2016
A state judge is weighing a decision that could shake Florida’s education-accountability system following a marathon hearing Monday in Tallahassee.
After nearly nine hours of testimony and arguments, Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers wrapped up a hearing on state and local policies for allowing students to move to the fourth grade but did not rule on a request that would allow about a dozen students across Florida to advance.
The practical effect of Gievers’ decision, and the appeals that are almost certain to follow, could either validate or shatter the “opt out” movement led by parents who say a state standardized test should not decide whether their children are allowed to move from third grade to fourth grade.
The parents of the students involved in the case told their children to “minimally participate” in the Florida Standards Assessment for third grade by filling in their names, breaking the seals on the tests and then refusing to answer any questions.
Those parents believe state law gives them the right to tell their children not to answer questions on the test. But while the law spells out ways to advance that don’t require passing the assessment, the Florida Department of Education and school districts say that doesn’t give students the opportunity to refuse to take it.
Gievers, who seemed in an earlier hearing to sympathize with the parents, gave no clear indication of how she intended to rule on the request for an injunction.
“You’ve given me a lot to look at, and I plan to do this the right way,” she said.
But the hearing laid bare not only the legal questions at the heart of the case, but the philosophical ones: Is a report card based on a year’s worth of work a better measure of a student’s knowledge, or is an objective test the proper measure? Where is the balance between a parent’s right to control his or her child’s education and the state’s right to determine how to measure learning?
The state cast the lawsuit as one that could undo years’ worth of efforts to end social promotion and make sure that students have mastered reading before going to the fourth grade.
“This is a potential undermining of the entire assessment and accountability system,” said Rocco Testani, an attorney representing the Florida Department of Education.
Those challenging the promotion policy tried to prove that the children deserved to move on without taking the Florida Standards Assessment or one of the alternative tests offered by the state. At times, they even drew on the testimony or words of school district officials and employees.
Rebecca Dooley, who teaches one of the children, testified that the girl’s report card showed she “demonstrated ability at grade level performance for all four marking periods.”
Dooley also indicated the student shouldn’t be forced to repeat material she had already mastered.
“I do not believe it would be in her best interests academically,” Dooley told the court.
Michelle Rhea, the girl’s mother, read from an email by the vice-chairwoman of the Orange County school board that indicated the last-minute rush to put together a portfolio for Rhea’s daughter showed the district had erred.
“The ball got dropped on this one, and the district needs to learn from it and make changes going forward for it not to happen this way again,” wrote Nancy Robbinson, the vice chairwoman.
For its part, the state repeatedly showed that the parents had declined opportunities to have their children take alternative tests. The parents argued that doing so would simply expose their children to the same kind of high-stakes testing that they had tried to avoid by opting out.
State lawyers also tried to highlight how Florida’s retention policy has improved education. Juan Copa, a deputy education commissioner who deals with the accountability system, said Florida’s ranking on national tests and its graduation rate has improved since the state began requiring the tests for advancement to the fourth grade.
Mary Jane Tappen, vice chancellor for K-12 public schools, also testified that there are questions about whether report cards are an accurate and fair measurement of whether students know everything they should.
“The concern is that those decisions are not based on the same scale and consistent from student to student across the state,” she said.
While the hearing Monday was not as emotional as an earlier round of testimony, the lawsuit remains contentious. Even Gievers’ authority to decide the case is in doubt.
Monday’s hearing moved forward despite almost all of the school districts refusing to fully participate. The districts insist that Gievers doesn’t have jurisdiction over their retention polices and have asked for their cases to be heard in their own counties and separate from the suit against the state.
That was one of a barrage of objections covering everything from whether revealing certain information about the students might violate their federal privacy rights to whether Attorney General Pam Bondi should have been formally notified about the case.
Gievers said she would rule on the venue for the case and the request for an injunction as quickly as possible. In the meantime, she swatted away the districts’ objections and pushed ahead, keeping court in session through lunch and into the evening.
by Brandon Larrabee, The News Service of Florida
August 23, 2016
The Northview Chiefs opened their volleyball season with a junior varsity win, while the varsity fell to the Pensacola High School Tigers Tuesday afternoon in Pensacola.
The Northview JV beat PHS two games to none 26-24, 25-23.
The Chiefs fell to the Tigers in varsity action 4-25, 8-25, 9-25.
The Northview Chiefs will host West Florida High School on Tuesday and Pensacola Christian on Thursday. Junior varsity games are at 4:30 and varsity games are at 5:30 both days.
Photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.
August 23, 2016
The Northview High School cheerleader will host a Mini Cheer Clinic on Saturday, August 27 from 7:30 until 10 a.m. and Tuesday August 30 from 4:30 until 7 p.m. in the school gym. The price is $35 per girl ages 3-14. Each participant will receive a shirt and be invited to cheer with the Northview cheerleaders during the first quarter of the September 2 home game against Escambia Academy. NorthEscambia.com photo, click to enlarge.
August 23, 2016
After blowing his last save opportunity, it was all forgotten for Alejandro Chacin when he got the call to close out the game Monday against the Mobile BayBears. Chacin, a Southern League All-Star and saves leader, retired the BayBears side to get his league-leading 25th save this season.
Pensacola’s bullpen threw four scoreless innings to lead their club to an 8-5 victory over Mobile in the opener of the five-game series at Blue Wahoos Stadium.
The win also gave Pensacola sole possession of second place in the South Division in the second half at 29-27, which is 4.5 games behind frontrunner Mississippi, which is 33-22. Mobile dropped a half-game behind Pensacola at 28-27.
To Pensacola manager Pat Kelly it was important to get Chacin in the game after blowing his fifth save this year. The win gave his team its 70th victory this year, which is the most for the franchise since it started in 2012.
“The best thing about closers is if they have short memories,” Kelly said, chuckling. “He’s the kind of guy — some words I can’t use — but he’s got two of them.”
The 23-year-old Chacin said the bullpen proved its worth to the team Monday by quieting the BayBears home run-happy hitters. Mobile has 98 homers on the year, which tops the Southern League, and hit two of them off of starter Tyler Mahle in the fourth and fifth innings to change a 7-1 Pensacola lead to a 7-5 Pensacola lead.
“We have a job as relievers to keep the game the same,” said Chacin, who is playing at the Double-A level for the first time. “I never mind about the save. You do your job and just help the team out.”
That’s exactly what the bullpen did Monday. Evan Mitchell relieved Mahle and threw two hitless innings with two strikeouts. Abel De Los Santos threw one scoreless inning, running his shutout innings to 16.1 to keep his ERA at 0.00. Chacin threw the last inning and got Mobile right fielder Gabriel Guerrero to fly out, Marzilli to strike out and catcher Matt Jones to ground out.
“It was pretty good,” Chacin said. “I felt really comfortable (Monday) tonight. Last time, I didn’t do the job. Tonight, I did it well.”
Kelly also recognized Mitchell for his two innings.
“The key to me was Mitchell,” Kelly said. “He shut them down. They got enough power over there that they can pop a couple and that’s what they did to get back into the game.”
Mahle retired 10 in a row and was cruising with a 7-1 lead before BayBears shortstop Dawel Lugo hit a high, deep fly ball over the left field wall in the fourth inning.
In the next inning, Mobile leadoff hitter Domingo Leyba hit his second homer for the team, launching a three-run shot into Hill-Kelly Dodge Hill that pulled Mobile back into the game, 7-5.
Mahle ended up pitching five innings and giving up six hits and striking out five in the game.
Pensacola had scored four runs in the bottom of the first on five hits. The inning started with second baseman Alex Blandino doubling, left fielder Phillip Ervin walking and right fielder Sebastian Elizalde singling to load the bases. Center fielder Brandon Dixon singled to center to drive in Blandino to tie the game, 1-1, with no outs.
After Blue Wahoos shortstop Zach Vincej popped out and BayBears third baseman forced out Ervin at home on a bouncer by catcher Chad Wallach, third baseman Taylor Sparks smacked a ground ball through the right side of the infield to score both Elizalde and Dixon for a 3-1 lead. Hudson completed the scoring when his single on a groundball into left scored Wallach to put Pensacola ahead, 4-1.
Pensacola added an insurance run in the eighth inning when Blandino led off the inning with a walk and was driven in by Elizalde for an 8-5 lead. Elizalde went 3-5 with a double, run scored and three RBIs. He now has back-to-back three-hit games and a team-leading 28 multi-hit games.
Interestingly, Blue Wahoos left fielder Ervin got on base four times on walks, a season high. He also stole his 33rd base on a pickoff attempt.
Meanwhile, Mobile BayBears starter Josh Taylor didn’t look like the same pitcher who threw a complete game shutout, allowing just three hits and striking out five. He lasted just 2.2 innings giving up seven runs, six earned on seven hits, four walks
August 22, 2016
Drivers will encounter traffic disruptions on the following state roads in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties as crews perform construction and maintenance activities.
- Interstate 10 (I-10) Widening – The inside lane of I-10 east and westbound, between Davis Highway (State Road (S.R.) 291/Exit 13) and Scenic Highway (U.S. 90/Exit 17), will be closed from 7 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. the week of Monday, Aug. 22 as crews place barrier wall.
- I-10 / U.S. 29 Interchange – Drivers will experience the following impacts on I-10 and I-110 from 8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 24 until 6 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 26 as crews remove overhead signage.
- The right lane ofnd, I-10 westbou near U.S. 29, will be closed.
- Traffic on I-10 westbound, between Scenic Highway (U.S. 90/Exit 17) and the U.S. 29 interchange, and I-110 northbound drivers, between Fairfield Drive (S.R. 295/Exit 4) and I-10, will be slowed by the Florida Highway Patrol in a pacing operation. Drivers should expect delays while the work is underway.
- In addition, the U.S. 29 north to I-10 eastbound ramp will be intermittently closed Sunday through Thursday nights from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. beginning Sunday, Aug. 21. The closure will continue until the end of August as crews work on the shoulder of the roadway. Traffic will be detoured north and make a U-turn at Broad Street to access I-10 eastbound.
- Southbound outside lane restricted between Berkley Drive and Barcia Drive from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 21 through Thursday, Sept. 3 as crews perform underground utility maintenance work.
- Creighton Road (S.R. 742) – Westbound lane restrictions near Lark Avenue from midnight, Wednesday, Aug. 24 to 6 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 25 as crews replace a utility pole.
- Texar Drive (S.R. 752) Pedestrian Overpass – Access to the pedestrian bridge is closed for approximately one month. Eastbound ECAT bus stops located at the pedestrian bridge will be temporarily relocated during construction to just west of N Miller Street.
Santa Rosa County:
- I-10 Widening – - Alternating lane closures, between the Escambia Bay Bridge and S.R. 281 (Avalon Boulevard/Exit 22), Sunday, Aug. 21 through Thursday, Aug. 25 from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. as crews continue widening work. In addition, there will be alternating lane closures on Avalon Boulevard near the I-10 interchange for bridge work will be alternating lane closures on Avalon Boulevard near the I-10 interchange for bridge work.
- I-10 Resurfacing - Intermittent and alternating lane closures east and westbound between State Road 87 interchange and the Okaloosa county line from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 21 through Thursday, Aug. 25 as crews perform paving operations. Motorists are reminded the speed limited is reduced to 60 MPH within the lane closure.
- U.S. 98 - Intermittent and alternating lane closures and slow moving operations between Bayshore Road and the Okaloosa County line continue from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. through Wednesday, Aug. 31. as crews perform striping operations.
All activities are weather dependent and may be delayed or re-scheduled in the event of inclement weather. Drivers are reminded to use caution, especially at night, when traveling in a work zone and to watch for construction workers and equipment entering and exiting the roadway.
August 22, 2016
After two days of early voting, 1,578 Escambia County voters had cast their ballots at one of seven available sites by the end of the day Sunday.. Another 14,257 vote by mail ballots had been returned as of Sunday, for a total of 15,835 ballots already cast in Escambia County.
Early voting is available each day through Saturday, August 27 at the following locations:
- Molino Community Center, 6450 Highway 95A North, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Escambia County Extension Office, 3740 Stefani Road, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Genealogy Branch Library, 5740 N. 9th Avenue, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Bellview-Saufley, 916 W Michigan Avenue, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Southwest Branch Library, 12248 Gulf Beach Highway, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Main Library, 239 N. Spring Street, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Supervisor of Elections Main Office, 213 Palafox Place, Second Floor, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Early voters cast paper ballots through digital scanners and may choose any one of the seven sites.
Another option for voters is to cast a vote-by-mail ballot, which can be requested through the online form at EscambiaVotes.com, or by e-mail (email@example.com), phone (850) 595-3900, mail, or fax (850) 595-3914. Requests must include the voter’s date of birth and address, and must be received no later than Wednesday, August 24. Voted ballots must be received in the Elections Office no later than 7 p.m. on Election Day and may not be returned to a polling location. The Postal Service recommends voters mail ballots at least one week before the due date. Vote-by-mail participants may track the status of their ballot at EscambiaVotes.com.
The third option for voters is to cast a ballot at their precinct on Election Day, Tuesday, August 30. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.
Florida is a closed primary state. In a primary election, voters may only vote for candidates in their party of registration unless there is a universal primary contest, a nonpartisan contest, or other issue on the ballot. Voters are reminded to bring their photo and signature ID with them to the polls and are encouraged to visit EscambiaVotes.com for complete voting information or contact the Elections Office by phone or e-mail with any questions.