Gaetz Files Bill To Legalize Non-Euphoric Pot

February 7, 2014

After a month of discussions, House Criminal Justice Chairman Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, filed a measure Thursday that would legalize a marijuana extract known as “Charlotte’s Web” that proponents believe can dramatically reduce seizures in children with a rare form of epilepsy.

The measure would legalize all forms of cannabis that contain .5 percent or less of tetrahydrocannabinol and more than 15 percent of cannabidiol, along with the resin extracted from the plant.

Gaetz’s proposal would also make it legal to manufacture the compound.

The federal Food and Drug Administration has not approved the product but supporters say it reduces seizures in children and adults diagnosed with a form of epilepsy that does not respond to other treatments.

Some Republican lawmakers are concerned that support for Charlotte’s Web could be confused with support for a medical marijuana proposal on the ballot in November. Because it has such a small amount of THC, the psychoactive compound in pot, Charlotte’s Web does not get users high, unlike the marijuana that patients with severe illnesses could get with a prescription from doctors under the proposed constitutional amendment.

Slight Chance Of Sleet, Snow For Tonight

February 6, 2014

Here is your official North Escambia forecast:

  • Tonight: A slight chance of rain and snow before 9pm. Cloudy during the early evening, then gradual clearing, with a low around 29. North wind around 5 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%. Little or no accumulation expected.
  • Friday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 55. Wind chill values between 25 and 35 early. North wind 5 to 10 mph.
  • Friday Night: A 40 percent chance of showers, mainly after midnight. Cloudy, with a low around 36. North wind around 5 mph.
  • Saturday: Partly sunny, with a high near 63. North wind around 5 mph becoming southwest in the afternoon.
  • Saturday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 40. Southwest wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the evening.
  • Sunday: Sunny, with a high near 62. Northwest wind 5 to 10 mph.
  • Sunday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 38. North wind around 5 mph.
  • Monday: Sunny, with a high near 58. North wind around 5 mph.
  • Monday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 38.
  • Tuesday: A 20 percent chance of showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 60.
  • Tuesday Night: A 40 percent chance of showers. Cloudy, with a low around 45.
  • Wednesday: A 40 percent chance of showers. Cloudy, with a high near 64.
  • Wednesday Night: A 20 percent chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 35.
  • Thursday: Partly sunny, with a high near 60.

National Weather Service graphic, click to enlarge.

County Tables Extension Of Century Gas Franchise For Walnut Hill, McDavid, Bratt

February 6, 2014

Thursday night, the Escambia County Commission tabled a public hearing and action on a  new natural gas franchise ordinance for the Town of Century. The request will be considered at a later meeting.

Pensacola Energy Director Don Suarez appeared at the commission’s Agenda Review meeting Thursday morning requesting the action be tabled because he was unaware the issue was up for a vote until a phone call Wednesday afternoon.

Century currently holds franchise rights from the county to provide natural gas service from the Escambia River westward to almost the Perdido River and from the Alabama state line southward to near Bogia. The franchise area includes Century, Byrneville, Bratt, Oak Grove, Walnut Hill and McDavid.

The franchise was granted by the county in 1968 to the Town of Century (then known as the Town of South Flomaton)  to provide natural gas services to the northernmost part of the county.

Century is now considering significantly upgrading its capacity for servicing residents and businesses located in this franchise area, but the present franchise expires in five years.  Rather than extending the current franchise agreement, the town is requesting that the BOCC adopt a new franchise ordinance that provides it with the same rights and responsibilities, including payment of franchise fees, as those franchises that the commission recently approved with  Gulf Breeze and Pensacola.

This new franchise will expire in 2045 would not extend beyond the  geographical franchise area previously designated in 1968. Century currently provides gas service only in a portion of their franchise area — near the town limits, south along Highway 29 to and including a portion of Highway 164, and west into Byrneville.

Century Mayor Freddie McCall said the town is first looking to expand natural gas service to an area of the Gandyville community near State Line Road.

“We just wanted this new franchise agreement in place before we starting investing in expansions and then the county take it away from us when the franchise agreement now expires in five years,” he said.

Pensacola  Energy, formerly known as Energy Services of Pensacola, currently provides natural gas service to commercial customers in Bratt and Walnut Hill — within the Town of Century’s gas franchise area. Pensacola Energy provides natural gas to Ernest Ward Middle School and at least one more large commercial customer in Walnut Hill, and Bratt Elementary and Northview High School in Bratt.  They also provide natural gas service to an unknown number of residential customers near Kansas Road, Green Village Road and North Highway 99 in Bratt.

McCall said he did not know what effect, if any, an extension of the town’s gas franchise agreement would have on Pensacola Energy’s service in the area.

Don Suarez, Pensacola Energy director, referred our questions Wednesday to Tamara Fountain, communications administrator for the City of Pensacola. Fountain requested our questions be presented in an email. Our email to Fountain had not been answered or acknowledged by Thursday evening.

In the afternoon email to Fountain, NorthEscambia.com asked if an extension of Century’s gas franchise might “impact Pensacola Energy’s service that is currently provided within the Town of Century’s franchise area?”. We also requested information about commercial customers within the area and the number of residential customers served by Pensacola Energy within Century’s franchise area.

Pictured top: A Pensacola Energy meter in front of Ernest Ward Middle School in Walnut Hill, inside the Town of Century gas franchise area. Pictured below: The Town of Century’s gas franchise map (click to enlarge). NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.

Winning $121K Fantasy 5 Ticket Sold In Century

February 6, 2014

Someone is over $120K richer this morning after purchasing a winning Florida Lottery Fantasy 5 ticket in Century.

fant5.jpgThe ticket sold at Becky’s Mini Mart, 9010 N Century Boulevard, was one of two winning tickets sold for Wednesday’s drawing worth $121,183.96. The second winning ticket matching all five numbers was sold in Boynton Beach.

The 294 tickets matching four numbers won $132.50 each. Another 9,637  tickets matching three numbers won $11 each, and 99,008 tickets won a Quick Pick ticket for picking two numbers.

Wednesday’s winning numbers were 11-19-25-30-31.

Man Charged With Hitting Deputy’s Cruiser With Stolen Motorcycle

February 6, 2014

A Cantonment man has been charged with allegedly hitting a deputy’s cruiser with a stolen motorcycle.

Charles Black, who provided an address on McKenzie Road at the time of his arrest, was charged with  fleeing/eluding law enforcement, grand theft, grand theft of a motor vehicle and criminal mischief. He remained in the Escambia County Jail early Thursday morning with bond set at $55,000.

Back on December 2,  a deputy parked at Blue Angel Parkway and Mobile Highway observed a motorcycle with no lights  being driven erratically by Black.  The deputy followed, attempting a traffic stop at about Mobile Highway and Massachusetts Avenue. After the motorcycle stopped, the deputy reported Black appeared to be reaching for something. Then the motorcycle accelerated and ran into the deputy’s patrol vehicle.

A short time later, Black lost control while turning onto Fairfield Drive and crashed into a utility pole. According to the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, the 2008 Kawaski motorcycle had been reported stolen on November 30, 2013. The motorcycle was extensively damaged in the crash.

Black was also implicated in the theft of a Ford Ranger on November 10, 2013.

Black also received traffic citations for running a red light and careless driving.

Photos: Northview NJROTC Annual Inspection

February 6, 2014

Northview High School’s NJROTC Area Manager’s Inspection was held Wednesday at the school, with cadets undergoing  face to face scrutiny.

The inspecting officer was CDR Vince Bindi, Executive Officer, Naval Air Technical Training Center, NAS Pensacola where he is responsible for the delivery of exceptional aviation specific training to more than 16,000 sailors and marines annually.

The day’s events began with a personnel inspection, drill demonstration and a pass-in-review in the school gym. Other events Wednesday included a financial record review, briefings, administrative inspections, supply inspections and more.

Cadets Dakota Craft, Zacarra Davis, Jessica Brown, Willie Owens, David Donald, Douglas Dunkle, Emily Walston, Alyssa Borelli and Donald Baity were recognized for Exemplary Personal Appearance and awarded a medal for their efforts.

For a photo gallery, click here.

Pictured: Northview High School’s NJROTC Area Manager’s Inspection Wednesday morning at the school. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.

CVS Pharmacies To Stop Selling Tobacco Products

February 6, 2014

CVS  has announced that it will stop selling all cigarettes and tobacco products by October 1.

The CVS Caremark chain, with more than 7,100 stores, said Wednesday that cigarettes and tobacco products have no place in its outlets as it seeks to focus more on its role as a health-care provider. The chain, with $56 billion in annual sales, said ending tobacco sales will cost it $2 billion in annual revenue. CVS the first national pharmacy chain to take this step in support of the health and well-being of its patients and customers.

“Ending the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products at CVS/pharmacy is the right thing for us to do for our customers and our company to help people on their path to better health,” said Larry J. Merlo, President and CEO, CVS Caremark. “Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose.”

Studies show that nearly 44 million U.S. adults, about one-fifth of the adult population, smoke regularly. That figure is lower than in many other countries, but has remained mostly unchanged despite years of government campaigns against smoking.

U.S. officials say cigarette smoking accounts for more than 440,000 deaths annually in the country.

Pictured: The CVS/pharmacy store in Century. Courtesy image for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Town Hall Meeting To Discuss Changes At Escambia Animal Shelter

February 6, 2014

The Escambia County Animal Services and Target Zero Institute (TZI) will hold a special town hall meeting Monday, February 10, at the Escambia County Public Safety Building, 6575 North W Street, room 523, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Participants will hear from TZI and learn how community collaboration has helped drastically reduce public animal shelter intake, euthanasia and how public-private partnerships are now being duplicated across the country.

For more information,  contact Sara Pizano, Target Zero Institute, (954) 401-8785

Panel Passes ‘Common Sense’ Tweak To School Gun Policies

February 6, 2014

A bill backed by the National Rifle Association that lawmakers said would add “common sense” to zero-tolerance policies for s in public schools sailed through a House education panel on Wednesday.

The measure (PCB KTS 14-02) by House Judiciary Chairman Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, would prevent children from being disciplined for simulating a gun while playing or wearing clothes that depict firearms.

Baxley called the measure “the pop-tart bill” — a reference to a widely reported news story about a Maryland 7-year-old who was suspended from school last year for chewing his breakfast pastry into the shape of a gun.

“Obviously we don’t want firearms brought to school in a backpack,” Baxley said. “But we were definitely having some over-reactions.”

According to national news reports, incidents have included punishing students for drawing a picture of a gun, using a finger as an imaginary gun while making the sound of a gun, owning a miniature gun on a keychain, owning a gun made of Legos and wearing a National Rifle Association T-shirt to school.

In Florida, Fox News reported, an 8-year-old boy was suspended from Harmony Community School in the Central Florida community of Harmony after using his finger as a gun while playing cops and robbers with friends. Jordan Bennett was suspended for a day after school administrators said the gesture was an act of violence.

The stories didn’t sound far-fetched to members of the House K-12 Subcommittee, who added their own.

Rep. Carl Zimmermann, a Palm Harbor Democrat and high-school journalism teacher, recalled a student who — weeks before her graduation — was found to have a pink water pistol in the back seat of her car and “wasn’t allowed to walk to graduation” as a result.

Rep. Karen Castor Dentel, a Maitland Democrat and a public-school teacher, said the zero-tolerance policies often prevent administrators from using their common sense “because their hands are tied. I support the bill so that people will be able to have that flexibility.”

Florida law requires district school boards to adopt policies of zero tolerance for crime and victimization, requiring, among other things, that students found in possession of firearms or weapons at school, at school functions or on school transportation be expelled for a minimum of one year and referred to the criminal-justice or juvenile-justice system.

Critics have called the zero-tolerance policy the “school-to-prison pipeline” for criminalizing childish or adolescent behavior. The American Civil Liberties Union called the policy “a disturbing national trend wherein children are funneled out of public schools and into the juvenile and criminal-justice systems. Many of these children have learning disabilities or histories of poverty, abuse or neglect. …Students of color are especially vulnerable to push-out trends and the discriminatory application of discipline.”

Rep. Ronald Renuart, R-Ponte Vedra Beach, said the bill would give guidance to school boards and school officials that they should “take a step back, take a breath and realize that decisions they’re making are really affecting our students.”

Rep. Gwyn Clarke-Reed, a Deerfield Beach Democrat and a retired educator, asked Baxley whether the problems he was trying to address could have been handled internally within the school districts.

“I suppose there’s always a way things can be handled,” Baxley replied. “But this is the way a legislator can handle it.”

The K-12 Subcommittee passed the measure 13-0.

After the vote, NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer said the bill isn’t about guns.

“This bill is about children, and stopping children from being traumatized when adults lack good common sense or the capacity to make rational judgments,” she said. “Zero tolerance should not mean zero common sense. Unfortunately, it seems to.”

The Oklahoma Legislature is considering a similar measure, called the Common Sense Zero Tolerance Act.

Escambia County To Try Again Next Month To Name Adminstrator

February 6, 2014

Escambia County will try again in March to hold interviews and name a county administrator.

The Escambia County Commission was set to hold one-on-one job interviews with each of the five finalists for the county administrator position the last week of January, but a freak winter storm literally iced those plans.

On March 13 each finalist will meet separately with individual commissioners in their offices prior to public interviews with the full board at 1:oo in the afternoon. A second special board meeting will be held on March 14 at 9 a.m.  to pick a new top boss for the county if one is not named on March 13.

The five finalists for Escambia County administrator, as recommended by a citizens advisory committee, are:

  • Jack Brown — Perry, FL. County Administrator, Taylor County BOCC.
  • Ted Lakey — Graceville, FL. County Administrator, Jackson County BOCC.
  • Albert Penska — Gettysburg, PA. County Manager, Adams County.
  • William Reynolds — Pensacola. Former City Administrator, City of Pensacola.
  • John Weaver — Murrells Inlet, SC. Attorney, Thomas & Brittain

Due to the administrator interviews, a Committee of the Whole Workshop scheduled for Thursday, March 13, has been canceled.

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