November 24, 2013
USDA’s Farm Service Agency is reminding farmers and ranchers who participate in FSA programs to plan accordingly in FY2014 for automatic spending reductions known as sequestration. The Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA) mandates that federal agencies implement automatic, annual reductions to discretionary and mandatory spending limits. For mandatory programs, the sequestration rate for FY2014 is 7.2%.
Accordingly, FSA is implementing sequestration for the following programs:
- Dairy Indemnity Payment Program;
- Marketing Assistance Loans;
- Loan Deficiency Payments;
- Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program;
- Tobacco Transition Payment Program;
- 2013 Direct and Counter-Cyclical Payments;
- 2013 Average Crop Revenue Election Program;
- 2011 and 2012 Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program;
- Storage, handling; and
- Economic Adjustment Assistance for Upland Cotton.
Conservation Reserve Program payments are specifically exempt by statute from sequestration, so these payments will not be reduced.
“These sequester percentages reflect current law estimates; however with the continuing budget uncertainty, Congress still may adjust the exact percentage reduction. Today’s announcement intends to help producers plan for the impact of sequestration cuts in FY2014,” said FSA Administrator Juan M. Garcia. “At this time, FSA is required to implement the sequester reductions. Due to the expiration of the Farm Bill on September 30, FSA does not have the flexibility to cover these payment reductions in the same manner as in FY13. FSA will provide notification as early as practicable on the specific payment reductions. ”
For information about FSA programs, visit your county USDA Service Center or go to www.fsa.usda.gov.
November 24, 2013
The Tate High School Showband of the South has been selected to perform in the 2014 Dunkin’ Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade in Philadelphia. Aired on WPVI TV in Philadelphia, the parade is also seen nationally on ABC’s Good Morning America. The parade is billed as the oldest Thanksgiving Day parade in the United States.
Plans call for the Tate Showband to spend time in both Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. when they make the trip next year.
Pictured: The 2013-2014 Tate High Showband of the South. Courtesy photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.
November 24, 2013
“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.” This William Shakespeare quote is literally true for two sets of brothers in Escambia County’s 146th Expeditionary Signal Battalion.
Brothers Spc. Micaiah Glover and 1st Lt. Elijah Glover; and Sgt. Brandon Corey McAlpin and Sgt. Richard Kyle McAlpin provide communication and signal support for the 31st Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Brigade, of Alabama and the 4th Military Police Brigade, of Michigan for Vibrant Response 13-2. Vibrant Response, a major field training exercise, is conducted by U.S. Northern Command and led by U.S. Army North.
Approximately 5,700 service members and civilians from the military and other federal and state agencies are training to respond to a catastrophic domestic incident. As a component of U.S. Northern Command, U.S. Army North, coordinates timely federal military response to disasters in the homeland to help the American people in time of need.
Elijah Glover, the unit’s executive officer and acting commander at Vibrant Response, treats his twin brother in a professional manner. Micaiah addresses Elijah as sir, and Elijah addresses Micaiah as Glover. Elijah leaves it up to the non-commissioned officer to counsel his brother if it is needed.
Micaiah said if he needs something for the field, he uses his chain of command like any other soldier in the unit would. He doesn’t go directly to his brother.
“We still joke around and talk about family matters every once in while if we have time during lunch or before formation,” said Micaiah, a 25B — an information technology specialist. Adding they focus on the mission while on duty.
Micaiah installs, operates and performs unit maintenance on multi-functional/multi-user information processing systems and peripheral equipment and auxiliary devices. He’s mostly in charge of the internet networks inside a building.
Elijah said it takes people a while to figure out that he and Micaiah are brothers because of their professionalism.
The other set of brothers are a little different.
Unlike the Glovers, they are not twins. And they call each other by their middle names — Corey and Kyle.
“NCOs are allowed to call each other by their first name if they know each other and are the same rank,” Elijah said.
“We work off each other’s strengths,” said Kyle. “There’s some stuff I know better, and there’s some stuff he knows better. We work really well as a team.”
Corey, a 25S — satellite communication systems operator-maintainer, is responsible for lines of communication. He works mostly with line-of-site communications. It’s a truck that has an external wire that connects to a 15- to 30-foot antenna. The line-of-site communications is mostly there in case the satellite goes out, but also to help clear disruption in communication.
Kyle, a 25Q — multichannel transmission systems operator-maintainer, works directly on equipment that communicate through more than one channel. He mostly works with the Satellite Transport Terminal. As a civilian mechanic, Kyle also is able to fix some of the unit’s equipment when it goes down — like the generator.
“Soldiers describe Corey as the ‘City Mouse’ and Kyle as the ‘Country Mouse’,” said Elijah. “You’ll be able to decipher the monikers in quick conversation. Kyle has a distinct Southern accent and parables life in well-drawn tales. While Corey prefers the tall silent persona.”
Elijah, describing the McAlpin brothers, said “The Brothers Mac work well on and off the proverbial grid; with one another, their leaders and fellow NCOs and with their subordinates. These gentlemen command a respect due any professional of their caliber.”
Elijah added one final thought to describe the two sets of brothers: “During duty hours professionalism with a mission focus is the personal creed of all members of the 146th ESB family and the standard holds no exceptions for those of blood relation.”
Story by Spc. Alfonso Corral, 318th Public Affairs Operations Center
Pictured top: Spc. Micaiah Glover and his brother 1st Lt. Elijah Glover; and Sgt. Brandon Corey McAlpin and his brother Sgt. Richard Kyle McAlpin, all members of the 146th Expeditionary Signal Battalion from Pensacola, provide a Satellite Transportable Terminal for use during U.S. Army North (Fifth Army) led Exercise Vibrant Response 13-2. Spc. Micaiah Glover and Sgt. Brandon Corey McAlpin of the 146th Expeditionary Signal Battalion of Escambia County troubleshoot internet problems and perform maintenance on a Satellite Transportable Terminal during the exercise. Photos by Sgt. Alfonso Corral, 318 Press Camp, for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.
November 24, 2013
It’s that time of year again. The holidays mean special times with family and friends, and lots of delicious food: turkey, gravy, buttery homemade desserts and yes, the potential for sanitary sewer overflows.
It’s true; the holiday season comes with an increased possibility of pollution from costly sewer backups and overflows. During the holidays, when more cooks are preparing higher-fat-content foods such as deep-fried turkeys, the amount of fats, oils, and grease (FOG) entering into the ECUA sewer system increases, as does the potential for problems.
When turkey fat and gravy are washed down the drain during cleanup of pots, pans and fryers, the fats and greasy scraps harden, and stick to the inside of sewer lines. This build up increases over time, especially in cold weather, and can cause clogs and potential overflows. Who wants that problem at a holiday gathering?
Fortunately, there are ways we can all make sure our kitchens don’t contribute to potential pollution, and avoid sewage backups in our homes and neighborhoods. Cooks should refrain from disposing of fatty substances such as lards/shortening, butter/margarine, food scraps, dairy products, batter and icing, salad dressings and sauces into a sink or drain.
If You’re Frying a Turkey this Year:
Deep-frying a turkey often leaves behind three to five gallons of used cooking oil. ECUA recommends the following steps be taken to safely dispose of used cooking oil:
- Let the oil cool completely. Pour it into its original container or another leak-proof container and label “Used Cooking Oil.”
- Take the used cooking oil to an ECUA Cooking Oil Disposal Station or call the ECUA for a free Residential Household Hazardous Waste collection.
- For smaller volumes allow the oil to cool and solidify. Scrape it into the trash. Hint: add kitty litter to the oil. The litter will absorb the oil and form clumps for easy garbage disposal. Avoid scented or disinfectant types of kitty litter as they can react with the oil and cause a fire.
Please don’t dispose of FOG by dumping it in the yard. This action is harmful to the environment when rain washes FOG residue into the storm drain, reaching local waterways without treatment.
Here are tips for a friendly FOG cleanup:
- Pour cooled FOG into a can with a lid and preferably recycle at an ECUA drop off site.
- If you can’t recycle your FOG, please dispose of it in your garbage can. Wipe down greasy pots, pans and dishes with a paper towel before washing.
- Dispose of the paper towel in the garbage, not in your recycling can.
- Don’t use hot water or the garbage disposal to wash fats down the drain. Water cools through the pipes, causing fats to harden into clogs further along in the sewer system.
- Drop off used cooking oil at following ECUA Disposal Stations:
Clean & Green
3303 North Davis Highway
Baskerville Donovan Engineering
449 West Main Street
ECUA at Ellyson Industrial Park
9255 Sturdevant Street
ECUA Sanitation Department
3050 Godwin Lane
ECUA Bayou Marcus Water Reclamation Facility
3050 Fayal Drive
Pensacola Beach on Via de Luna Drive
Between Pensacola Beach Elementary School and Our Lady of Assumption Catholic Church
NAS Pensacola (Military and Base Personnel ONLY)
Andrew Jackson Court
Fort Santa Maria de Galve Hase Road
Abb Street across from the Naval Survival Training Institute
Murray Street and Billingsley Street
Corry Field Housing at NAS Corry Station
For additional information visit the ECUA website www.ecua.fl.gov or call 476-0480.
November 24, 2013
At this rate, Gov. Rick Scott might start commissioning weekly surveys by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
Consider: In June, the last time that Connecticut-based school did a poll in Florida, Scott had sliced his deficit against former Gov. Charlie Crist from 16 points to 10. The following Friday, the state’s unemployment rate fell from 7.2 percent to 7.1 percent.
This week’s Quinnipiac release had more good news for the Republican governor: The gap between Scott and Crist is now down to seven points. And figures released Friday showed the unemployment rate slipping yet again, from 6.8 percent in September to 6.7 percent in October.
It might not quite be time for Scott to start singing “Happy Days Are Here Again.” But if the governor’s bid for re-election is compared to the movie that song first appeared in — “Chasing Rainbows” — it looks like Scott might be gaining on them.
The bottom line for the Quinnipiac poll was still not a great number for Scott. Crist, a former Republican who became a Democrat last year, leads his successor, 47-40, and Scott’s job approval rating is still underwater (47-42). Things might be looking slightly brighter for the incumbent, but his numbers would almost have to improve — or Crist’s worsen — for Scott to claim a second term.
“In other words, for Scott to win, he’s going to have to convince voters that Charlie was not a good governor and that he (Crist) is a political opportunist,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac institute. “And we all expect that he will spend tens of millions of dollars to make that argument. We’ll see whether it works or not.”
Democratic consultant Steve Schale brushed off the results as an inevitable tightening of the governor’s race.
“The idea that this was ever a 15-point race is foolish,” said Schale, who is advising Crist but made clear he wasn’t speaking for the campaign.
Meanwhile, Crist was making the rounds at the Florida Press Center — an opportunity to schmooze with the journalists who will be covering his race — and perhaps watching nervously the actions of a certain former spaceman.
Confirming reports that have circulated for months, Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson told Politico — a D.C.-based news organization — that he might jump into the race for governor if Crist “gets into trouble.”
When asked to elaborate on what trouble might mean, Nelson said, “That’s in the eye of the beholder,” according to Politico.
Nelson spokesman Dan McLaughlin said in an email he “had nothing to add” to the report, and Schale tried to downplay it.
“It doesn’t change anything. Charlie Crist is still running for governor. He’s still building a campaign. He’s still out there every day doing the kinds of things you do when you want to get elected governor. There’s nothing about this that’s changing any of that except that Bill Nelson’s not doing that,” he said.
Nelson, for the record, was not included in any of the scenarios that Quinnipiac ran in its November poll; Brown said they would put the senator back in the mix if he showed any interest in actually running.
‘AN OPPORTUNITY ECONOMY’
The new unemployment figures, meanwhile, marked Florida’s lowest unemployment rate in more than five years, according to the state. The new seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 6.7 percent still represents an estimated 625,000 people who are out of work.
The October number also represents 31,000 fewer people being out of work than in August, the last monthly jobless figures available before Friday’s release. The September numbers were delayed because the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics suspended all data collection during the federal-government shutdown.
The drop in the overall number of unemployed outpaced the number of people who simply left Florida’s workforce between September and October — 9,000.
Scott used the numbers to tout his progress and also to test some themes for when he faces voters next year.
“We don’t just want a state where job creation reaches a certain number, or unemployment falls to a certain number,” Scott said in a prepared statement. “We want to create an opportunity economy. We want a state with dynamic, growing industries that will create jobs and careers for generations to come.”
Another central plank of Scott’s re-election effort will almost certainly be his pledge to lower taxes and fees by $500 million during the legislative session that opens in March. State economists met Wednesday to try to attach a price-tag to some of the items on the menu.
For example, slashing the communications-services tax, which affects things like cell phone services, by 2 percent would drain $255 million out of state revenue. Slicing a percentage point off a commercial rental tax would reduce state revenue by about $235.6 million, and local revenue by $20.2 million — with the price tag going up in future years.
Repeating the three-day back-to-school sales tax holiday would cost the state $35.9 million, while a similar measure for hurricane gear would likely reduce income by just $3.3 million.
One idea that is relatively unlikely to go far is Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam’s proposal to trim the sales tax on energy used by businesses.
Putnam said Monday he remains behind the proposal to cut in half the 7 percent tax and to redirect the remaining revenue for school construction and maintenance — but it probably won’t go anywhere as lawmakers offer their own proposals for how to reach Scott’s half-billion dollar goal.
“I’ve been in their shoes, I know they’ve got a lot of ideas,” Putnam, a former lawmaker, told reporters during a pen and pad session in his Capitol conference room. “They’ve got a budget they need to balance, and concerns about a surplus that hopefully will continue to be as robust as they’ve projected. But given the uncertainty of the national economy, we may not know until March just what type of budget outlook we have and how much there is to make the type of investments this might cost.”
THE CHANCELLOR’S CORONATION
In one of the least surprising developments of the week, the Florida Board of Governors reached out and touched their next choice for chancellor: Marshall Criser, currently the president of AT&T in Florida.
The board voted unanimously to name Criser to the position Wednesday afternoon, putting a fixture of Florida’s business and political establishment atop the network of 12 universities.
Criser, the son of a former president of the University of Florida and member of the UF board of trustees, has long been the front-runner for the position. Criser has headed up the telecom’s presence in Florida since 2005 and has had a role in government relations in Florida for AT&T or its state predecessor, BellSouth, off and on since 1989.
He is also a former chairman of the Florida Chamber of Commerce and currently serves as chairman of the Florida Council of 100.
“I believe that our state has laid the foundation to be the leader in academic quality, access for Florida’s students, and accountability to ensure the value of investing in Florida’s future,” Criser said in a statement following the vote.
STORY OF THE WEEK: Florida’s unemployment rate hit 6.7 percent, its lowest level in more than five years.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “I’ve hit a bottom and I realize I need help.”–Southwest Florida Congressman Trey Radel to Judge Robert S. Tignor after pleading guilty to possession of cocaine, as quoted by The Washington Post.
by Brandon Larrabee, The News Service of Florida
November 24, 2013
The holiday season is fast-approaching and if you haven’t already booked your flight home, now is definitely the time to do it. When it comes to booking holiday flights; the earlier you book, the more you’ll save. This may seem like a standard rule of thumb but Better Business Bureau has a few more travel tips to help you save time and money this holiday season:
1. Use online discount travel sites to find the best deals out there. If you plan on renting a car or staying at a hotel, bundle these reservations with airfare as a way to save money and find cheaper rates through your airline.
2. Consider going on a tropical vacation. Most people go home for the holidays so traditional vacation destinations are often less busy and less expensive over the holidays. It may seem strange to be laying on a beach on Christmas day, but it may turn out to be your favorite Christmas yet.
3. Fly into smaller airports. Their fares might actually be cheaper and they will be less crowded than larger airports.
4. Pack light to avoid possible overweight baggage fees. If possible, limit yourself to a carry-on bag to avoid the drama of lost or left-behind luggage. Also, do not wrap your presents before you fly because TSA workers may unwrap presents for inspection.
5. Be flexible with when you fly. The most expensive flights are on the days leading up to holidays like Thanksgiving or Christmas. Check out flights on the morning of the holiday because the rates may be cheaper and the lines may be shorter.
6. Take a taxi or van or ask a friend to drive you to the airport. This will save you money on airport parking, which often have very high rates especially around the holidays.
7. Get to the airport with plenty of time to spare. Don’t risk missing your flight because there is a huge line at security. Airports around the holidays are extremely hectic so make sure to leave extra early and avoid unnecessary travel drama.
8. If your flight gets cancelled, try finding your own alternative flight. There are many apps and websites that not only track flight delays, but also show departures and seats available elsewhere. This beats waiting in line and depending on an airline agent to find you a new flight.
We all know the holidays can be stressful enough, so don’t let a travel fiasco turn you into the Grinch before you even leave the terminal. Following these steps will reduce your travel stress and help you save some money along the way.
November 23, 2013
The defending 1A state champ Northview Chiefs suffered an agonizing 34-28 loss on the road to Cottondale Friday night in the Region 1-1A title game.
“It’s tough,” senior quarterback Dalton Tullis said following the game. “We worked hard, but we could have done more stuff than we did. I feel bad right now.”
The Chiefs suffered numerous controversial calls by the officials, including a game changer with 1:36 to go. The Chiefs were up 28-26 when Northview’s Brannon Freeman picked off a Hornet pass. The officials called pass interference, setting up a Hornet drive and the go ahead run for Cottondale.
“I saw things differently,” Northview head coach Sid Wheatley said. “It’s big. It’s big. If a couple of calls had gone the other way it would have been a different outcome in this game.”
And as the clock rolled down to zero and the Chiefs down to the Hornet’s 30 on the final play, Northview fans and coaches saw what should have been a holding call, but no flags were thrown.
But excuses and blame don’t earn — or lose — a trip to the state championship game in Orlando.
“We needed to move the ball a little bit better in the second half. We needed to stop them a little bit better,” Wheatley said. “We’ve got to come back real hungry with these guys that are going to return (next season). We need to remember this feeling and be motivated by it. We need to win.”
And in the end, the Chiefs came up short, and the tears flowed.
“I’m feeling pretty bad right now. It’s heartbreaking to lose like this,” senior Neino Robinson said after the loss. “I think we played the best we could; we made some big plays. My team’s great; I have a great team. We just gave up some big plays in the end, and it come back to hurt us.”
The Chiefs were the first on the board Friday night in Cottondale with 8:40 to go in the first. Tullis was up the middle for a couple of yards and the Chiefs’ first touchdown. A missed extra point attempt, and Northview held a 6-0 lead.
On their next possession, the Chiefs fumbled the ball away with Cottondale recovering on the 10-yard line to set up a touchdown and a 6-6 tie.
In the second, Cottondale answered with a 15 yard touchdown pass to go ahead 12-6. With 7:54 to go in the half, Freeman was in from a couple of yards out and Tullis added the two point conversion run, 14-12 Chiefs. With just over a minute and a half before half time, the Chiefs expanded their lead to 20-12 on a 3-yard TD run from Freeman. On the extra point attempt, Robinson was into the end zone, 22-12 Chiefs.
In the third quarter, the Hornets stung with 8:30 on the clock to close in 22-18 with a 23-yard touchdown pass.
Cottondale scored with 6:01 in the fourth before the Chiefs retook the lead on 2-yard run from Keondrae Lett with 4:22. But Cottondale would come back with 41 seconds remaining to go ahead on a 4-yard run, 34-28.
Pictured top: Northview’s Keondrae Lett reacts emotionally after the Chief’s regional final loss Friday night in Cottondale. Pictured top inset: A missed Northview pass at the Hornet’s 3-yard line with 3.7 seconds remaining in the game. Pictured middle inset: Northview’s Neino Robinson and Coach Sid Wheatley following the loss. Pictured bottom inset: Junior Cameron Newsome gains yardage for the Chiefs. Pictured below: Ladarius Thomas fights off a Hornets defender. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.
November 23, 2013
A Cantonment driver has been charged with DUI manslaughter following a Thursday night traffic crash that claimed the life of his 54-year old passenger.
Melvin Pryear, 48, was released for from Sacred Heart Hospital Friday night, less than 24 hours after the crash. He was immediately taken into custody and charged with the death of Albertina McCarty of Pensacola. The Florida Highway Patrol said Pryear was driving under the influence when he pulled into the path of a 18-wheeler near International Paper.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Pryear was traveling north on Highway 29 in a 2004 Chrysler Sebring about 10:45 p.m. when he turned into the path of a southbound 2000 Volvo 18-wheeler driven by 60-year old Standford Britts of Medina, OH. The FHP said that according to multiple witnesses, both north and southbound Highway 29 had a green light as he approached Muscogee Road, but there was no green turn arrow for Pryear.
The front of the 18-wheeler struck the Chrysler, causing it to rotate onto the southbound shoulder at the Raceway gas station. McCarty, Pryear’s passenger in the Chrysler, was pronounced deceased at the scene by Escambia County EMS. Britts not injured.
Pryear remained in the Escambia County Jail early Saturday morning where he was being held without bond.
Pictured: A 54-year old Pensacola woman was killed in this crash Thursday night in Cantonment. NorthEscambia.com photos by Kristi Smith, click to enlarge.
November 23, 2013
Escambia Sheriff’s investigators have released the names of two shooting victims from an incident which occurred on November 19. The victims are identified as 32-year old Willie Maurice Floyd and 27-year old Courtney Germaine Floyd.
According to the victims, they were walking near the 3200 block of West Gadsden Street when they were approached by two black males. An argument ensued at which time one of the black males pulled a gun and fired several shots. Deputies responded and discovered the victims with what appeared to be non-life threatening injuries
Investigators are seeking any information regarding this crime. Anyone with information about this or any other crime is asked to call Gulf Coast Crime Stoppers at (850) 433-7867.
November 23, 2013
A local man is selling the fruits of his labor — satsumas from his orchard.
Jimmie Davis has nearly 180 satsuma trees in his orchard in the Davisville community. The satsumas, which are said to be better than an orange and peel like a tangerine, are available while supplies last.
To purchase the satsumas, stop by 9941 Highway 97 (south of Highway 4, near Pine Forest Road).
Pictured above: Jimmie Davis of Davisville with one of his satsuma trees. Submitted photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.