Counselors Available Monday At Tate High School

March 28, 2015

Counselors will be available Monday at Tate High School, following three unrelated accidents in less than a week that claimed the lives of two 15-year old students and a substitute teacher.

Monday is Spring Break for Escambia County schools, but Tate Principal Rick Shackle said the counselors will be available from 9 a.m. and will be at the school throughout the morning for students with a need.

Tate sophomore Katelyn White was struck and killed by a train Thursday. Last Monday, 15-year Justin Taylor was killed when his pickup truck struck a utility pole.  And last week, a Highway 29 wreck claimed the life of Penny Nellums, a frequent substitute teacher at Tate.

Weekend Gardening: Hit A Home Run With Knock Out Roses

March 28, 2015

by UF/IFAS Extension

Landscape shrub roses will not make you great cut flowers, but they will give your landscape an abundance of rose flowers for the majority of the year. They practically bloom non-stop during the growing season, from March to November in Northwest Florida. Also, they are much less prone to blackspot disease than the traditional hybrid tea, floribunda and grandiflora roses.

The Knock Out family of roses was started by rose breeder Bill Radler when he crossed seedlings of ‘Carefree Beauty’ with ‘Razzle Dazzle’ to create the original Knock Out rose. The family now includes varieties that range from blush to vibrant red and even yellow.

In general, Knock Out roses are drought tolerant, self cleaning, and resistant to black spot and powdery mildew. Since they require little maintenance, they are ideal for gardeners who enjoy roses but who aren’t interested in the upkeep required to grow hybrid tea roses. The only drawback of Knock Out roses is that they don’t have a strong fragrance. According to the Conrad Pyle website, the only true fragrant Knock Out is the yellow ‘Sunny’ cultivar.

Like all roses, Knock Out roses need to be planted where they will receive at least six to eight hours of sun each day. It also helps to have a site with good air movement and well-drained soil that falls between pH 6.0 and pH 6.5.

Knock Out roses generally grow three to five feet tall and equally as wide, but some sources say they can reach eight feet tall if not pruned, so be sure to space them appropriately.

After planting, water them regularly until they get established. Apply a three-inch layer of mulch to help retain moisture in the soil, pulling the mulch back from the stem of the plants. Be sure to avoid overhead watering which can increase the chance of fungal leaf spots. They prefer a deep watering every once in a while rather than frequent light waterings.

Knock Out roses are referred to as self-cleaning meaning that the spent blooms will fall off on their own. They will re-bloom every five to six weeks regardless of your deadheading practices. Deadheading is the removal of faded blooms. Most gardeners have found, however, that occasionally deadheading will create and maintain a tidier, more attractive plant.

For more information on rose pests and diseases, refer to the University of Florida/IFAS online publication at or contact your local Extension Office.

Santa Rosa Death Investigated As Homicide

March 28, 2015

The Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a death has a homicide.

Stephen Richmond Rice, Jr., 43, was found deceased in his Persimmon Hollow Road home after deputies responded for a welfare check.  Deputies said it was evident that Rice had been dead in the home for an undetermined period of time.

The Sheriff’s said foul play is suspected.

The cause of death is not yet known as investigators await the outcome of an autopsy by the Medical Examiner’s Office.

Anyone with information related to this case is urged to contact the Santa Rosa County Crime Stoppers at (850) 437-STOP.

Northview Tops Central; NHS Over Neal; Tate Beats Monroe; Tate Over Pines

March 28, 2015

Northview 13, Central 6
Northview 6, W.S. Neal 1 (JV)

The Northview Chiefs beat Central Friday night  13-6. Thomas Moore had a home run for the Chiefs, along with three RBI’s as he went 2-5 at the plate for the Chiefs.Quentin Sampson was 2-5 with a RBI; Brian Cantrell 2-5; Brett Weeks 2-5 with a RBI; Roman Manning was 2-4 with two RBIs; and Aaron McDonals was 1-5 with a RBI. McDonald pitched the win for the Chiefs allowing five hits and five runs, two errors and three strike outs. The varsity Chiefs will travel to PCA on March 31; the JV will travel to Tate on April 2.

Tate 7, Monroe 0

Trace Penton pitched the win as the Tate Aggies beat Monroe 7-0. Sawyer Smith was 2-2 with a run and RBI; Mark Miller was 2-4; Stephen Harris was 1-2 with two runs; Hunter Worley was 1-3 with a run and double; and Josh Kea was 1-1 wih two runs, two RBIs and two SB.

Kississimee Klassic

Tate 2, Pembroke Pines 1

Pictured: Northview versus Central. photos by Ramona Preston, click to enlarge.

‘Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day’ Planned For Saturday

March 27, 2015

Saturday is “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day” in the city of Atmore, and organizers are encouraging Vietnam veterans from across the area and the public to attend a special ceremony.

The event will be held this Saturday, March 28 at 4 p.m. at Heritage Park at the corner of Main and West Craig streets in Atmore. It is hosted by the Ladies Auxiliary of VFW Post 7016. Vietnam veterans from the entire area, both from Alabama and Florida, are encouraged to attend.

For more information, call (251) 294-2356, (251) 363-0000, or (251) 359-1768.

Pictured: The 2014 “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day” in Atmore. file photos, click to enlarge.

Florida House, Senate Differ On Gambling Tracks

March 27, 2015

House and Senate leaders are taking divergent approaches to the perennially thorny issue of gambling, with the House vetting a soup-to-nuts gaming measure Thursday even as the Senate pursues negotiations with the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

House Regulatory Affairs Chairman Jose Felix Diaz’s comments at the introduction of a four-hour workshop on gambling might have foreshadowed the future of a sweeping proposal released by House Majority Leader Dana Young the day before the legislative session began earlier this month.

“Welcome to the most anticipated non-event of the year,” Diaz, R-Miami, quipped to a packed meeting room.

Young’s plan (HB 1233) would allow a maximum of two Las Vegas-style casinos to open in Miami-Dade or Broward counties and would effectively do away with a 20-year revenue-sharing agreement, called a compact, with the tribe. A portion of the deal with the Seminoles giving the tribe exclusive rights to operate banked card games such as blackjack is set to expire on July 31 unless the Legislature reauthorizes it or signs a new agreement.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Young — who previously characterized a gambling deal as “an enormous, gargantuan lift” — conceded it is uncertain whether the measure would come up for a vote at all.

“I don’t know yet,” Young, R-Tampa, said.

Meanwhile, Senate Regulated Industries Rob Bradley told The News Service of Florida that his talks with the Seminoles have intensified over the past week.

“We are negotiating right now with the Seminole Tribe. Those are ongoing negotiations. Whether they will be fruitful or not remains to be seen,” Bradley, R-Fleming Island, said.

The Senate is watching the progress of Young’s bill but has no plans to offer a similar package, according to Republican leaders in the Senate.

“The House has taken a very comprehensive approach. We understand that that’s the position of House leadership. If they are able to pass that bill in some form out of the House, then we will workshop it and take a very serious look at it. Meanwhile, we’re pursuing negotiations with the tribe,” Bradley said.

Echoing Young’s comments earlier this session, Senate GOP leaders this week indicated that passage of the House proposal in its current form would be a difficult task as the 60-day session nears the midway point.

“Trying to put a gaming bill up in committee was like throwing a side of beef into a shark tank,” Senate budget chief Tom Lee, a former Senate president who spent a decade in the Legislature before returning to the upper chamber in 2012, said of his experience with similar measures. “So good luck in the last three weeks of session trying to bring something in for a landing.”

Senate President Andy Gardiner was equally cryptic.

“Given the size of the gaming expansion that the House put out there, and it being the majority leader and everything…we sort of paused,” Gardiner, R-Orlando, told reporters on Tuesday. “If they really are going to push for extensive expansion, then the Senate will have to figure out what to do. Never say never.”

The future of the deal with the Seminole Tribe is a major looming question. Under the current agreement, the Seminoles agreed to pay the state a minimum of $1 billion over five years in exchange for exclusive rights to banked card games at five of its seven facilities throughout the state. The tribe’s payments to the state have thus far exceeded the minimum and are expected to increase under a complicated revenue-sharing formula inked in 2010.

The agreement requires the Seminoles to share with the state 12 percent to 25 percent of what is known as the “net win” on their earnings — essentially the difference between how much money they take in and how much they pay out to gamblers. The tribe shares a higher percentage of the net win if it increases, from a minimum of 12 percent on a net win of up to $2 billion to a maximum of 25 percent on a net win of $4.5 billion.

But Amy Baker, the Legislature’s chief economist, told the House panel on Thursday that analysts do not predict the state during the remaining life of the 20-year compact to ever receive more than the current share, which is a 15 percent share on revenues up to $3 billion.

Baker offered lawmakers a swath of options for a new deal with the tribe, including changing what is included in the net win; imposing new minimum payments for activities such as expansion of facilities; greater exclusivity for the tribe by allowing it to offer games such as roulette or craps; and changing the revenue-sharing formula by increasing minimum dollar thresholds.

“All of these would take renegotiating the compact. None of these could be done in a simple extension,” Baker noted.

Baker also said that lowering the tax rate on slots at pari-mutuel “racinos” in Miami-Dade and Broward counties — now set at 35 percent, and reduced to 25 percent in Young’s bill — would generate a recurring loss for the state.

The talks between the Senate and the Seminoles could allow Miami-Dade and Broward pari-mutuels, which have slots, to add blackjack, increase the tribe’s revenue-sharing amounts and give the Seminoles exclusive rights to roulette and craps, sources close to the negotiations said.

The cash from the Seminoles could be even more alluring in what was initially considered to be a rosy economic year but has since been overshadowed by uncertainty about health care funding.

Florida could lose up to $822 million over the next five years by not renewing the card deal, according to state economists’ projections. Lawmakers have not included card-deal funds in their budget proposals this year.

But that issue did not arise during the four-hour House workshop on Thursday, where the panel received a briefing on gaming law and heard from more than 30 speakers representing in- and out-of-state gambling operators, horse breeders, Las Vegas casinos, business groups, greyhound protection and industry advocates and anti-gambling Christian conservatives.

The Seminoles, whose lobbyists were present at the meeting, were not among those who addressed the panel Thursday. The tribe has taken to the airwaves in three television ads to pitch a renewal of the card portion of the compact, emphasizing that the Seminoles have exceeded their $1 billion commitment in the past five years.

“Leaders of the Seminole Tribe closely followed today’s workshop and felt the state did a fine job of sharing the value of the compact, which is not the subject of the three bills filed by Rep. Young. The Tribe is focused on the important task at hand, which is to work out a way to keep the table games provision of the compact from expiring in July,” Gary Bitner, the Seminoles’ spokesman, said in a statement.

by Dara Kam, The News Service of Florida

Jay Tops Northview; Tate Wins In Kissimmee Klassic

March 27, 2015

Jay 4, Northview 4

The Jay Lady Royals defeated the Northview Lady Chiefs 7-4 in a game that was called early due to rain.  For the Lady Chiefs, it was the final game of the regular season before the district tournament that begins April 13 in Freeport. The Lady Royals (11-5) will host Holmes County Monday at 6 p.m.

For more photos, click here.

Tate 10, Harmony 2

The Tate Lady Aggies topped the Harmony Longhorns 10-2 Thursday night in the first day of the Kissimmee Klassic. The Aggies scored at least one in every inning. Tori Perkins pitched the win, allowing five hits, two runs and striking out nine. Casey McCrackin 1-4, Savannah Rowell 1-4, Tori Perkins 2-4, Elizabeth Werdann 1-2, Lauren Brennan 1-2, Savannah Ullrich 1-3, Rachel Wright 1-4, Samantha Burks 1-3, Kristin Quina 1-1.

Pictured: Jay at Northview Thursday night in Bratt. photos, click to enlarge.

Tate Downs NHS JV; Varsity Aggies Fall To Overton

March 27, 2015

Tate 6, Northview 1 (Freshmen/JV)

The freshmen Tate Aggies defeated the JV Northview Chiefs 6-1 Thursday night in Bratt. The JV Chiefs will travel to W.S. Neal Friday for a doubleheader beginning at 4:00. The freshmen Aggies will play at Milton Monday at 4:30.

Overton, TN 8, Tate  6
Overton, TN at Tate (JV) Canceled

Tate lost to Overton, TN, Thursday night in Cantonment 8-6. Branden Fryman 2-4, R, 2B, RBI; Cole Halfacre 2-4, 2 2B; Jacob Saulnier 2-3, 2 2B; Mark Miller 1-3, R, HR, 2 RBI, Trace Penton 1-2

The JV  Aggies will travel to Milton on Monday for a 7 p.m., while the varsity Aggies. The varsity Aggies are schedule for tournament play April 1-April 4 in Rock Hill, SC.

Pictured: Junior varsity action from Tate at Northview. photos by Ramona Preston, click to enlarge.

High School Sports Group Could Face Overhaul, Elimination

March 27, 2015

A measure overhauling the Florida High School Athletic Association — and opening the door to the group possibly being replaced in two years — was approved Thursday by the House Education Committee on a nearly party-line vote.

Members of the panel voted to move the measure (PCB EDC 15-02) ahead on a 12-5 vote, with Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, D-Tallahassee, joining Republicans in support. Democrats said they were worried about some provisions in the bill, including one that would allow the education commissioner to designate another organization to oversee high-school sports in 2017.

Some also worried that parts of the proposal could open the door to more recruiting of students to switch high schools, though that is technically illegal and would remain so under the bill.

The legislation comes amid years of tension between some lawmakers, particularly in the House, and the association. The FHSAA doesn’t support the proposal, but representatives said the association backs most of the provisions outside of the one that could lead to it being replaced.

“It’s long past the time to limit the power of a very large, protectionist organization and place our priorities with the students,” said Rep. Elizabeth Porter, R-Lake City. “I only wish it had happened of the association’s own volition, and not (because FHSAA) had to be forced to change.”

A similar Senate measure (SB 1480) hasn’t yet been scheduled for a hearing.

The House proposal would overhaul the organization’s governance, setting up a 16-member board to oversee the association. It would also require a third-party review for students suspected of being ineligible and allow students to continue to play while their eligibility is reviewed, though games could be forfeited if the student is later ruled ineligible.

High schools would also be allowed to join FHSAA for some sports, but not in others — particularly football.

But much of the opposition is driven by the provision requiring the education commissioner, with the backing of the State Board of Education, to make a decision in 2017 on whether to keep the association or replace it. The bill also would set up a review of the organization every three years.

The commissioner could technically replace the association under current law, but there is no requirement for a review to be done regularly or by a certain date.

“We think that that is rather arbitrary and that, as a representative democracy, which this association is, if it’s truly violating people’s rights and not looking out for the best interests of our athletes, then FHSAA should be removed,” said Juhan Mixon, representing the association. “But we think that that should come back to this Legislature, and not be put in the legislation at this time.”

Rep. Joe Geller, D-Aventura, said the vagueness of the process lacked transparency.

“At a minimum, we ought to be saying what the criteria are, what these people need to do,” Geller said.

But Rep. Manny Diaz Jr., a Hialeah Republican offering the proposal, said the provision would actually give the association a “two-year buffer” to make necessary changes.

“At the end of the day, I do believe that they are in the strongest position, that they have the experience and they will continue to do this,” Diaz told reporters after the hearing.

Stuart Weiss, president of the Sunshine State Athletic Conference, said the FHSAA had changed in recent years precisely because of the threat of legislation. Schools in Weiss’ organization play football separately from the association, but still have to be members and have to honor the association’s rules.

“You can’t give a quasi-monopoly to an organization, not oversee (it) and see what they do,” Weiss said.

Former Escambia Coach Willie Spears Named As 1A Vernon Coach

March 27, 2015

The District 2 Class 1A Vernon Yellow Jackets have a new head football coach — Willie Spears, former Escambia High School head coach.

The Northview Chiefs’  dreams of a second state championship were stopped cold  in round one of the playoffs last November in Vernon. The Yellow Jackets beat the Chiefs 36-19 in the Region 1-1A football semifinal.

The Chiefs are in District 1, Class 1A with Baker and Jay. Vernon is in District 2 with Cottondale, Graceville, Holmes County, Sneads and Wewahitchka. In the state playoff series, the two districts meet in a regional semifinal game.

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