Russia Tops With Olympics Medals In Sochi; U.S. Is 4th

February 24, 2014

The 22nd Olympic Winter Games have ended.  Here are some highlights of the two plus weeks of action.

Only three gold medals were awarded on the final day and two of them went to host Russia.  The Russians swept the medals in Sunday’s first event, the men’s 50-kilometer cross-country ski race.  Alexander Legkov won it with a time of 1:46.55.2

That was 0.7 of a second faster than teammate Maxim Vylegzhanin (1:46.55.9) and 0.8 better than bronze medalist Ilia Chernousov (1:46.56.0).

Russia won its first-ever gold medal in the four-man bobsled, as driver Alexander Zubkov made it a clean sweep, after earlier in the games winning the two-man event.

Russia unexpectedly ended up on top of the medals table, with 13 gold, 11 silver and nine bronze for a total of 33.  At the 2010 Vancouver Olympics the Russians were back in 11th place with three gold, and sixth in total medals won with 15.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said he was pleased to see the Russians do so well before enthusiastic fans.

“It is not just enough to organize the Games, but you also need a good home team.  So they were working hard after the shock they had in Vancouver ,” Bach said.  “And I think it is just remarkable the progress that has been made within four years from Vancouver until today, so can we only congratulate the Russian team for this great success.”

Also at his closing news conference, Bach said the response from all the participants – athletes, National Olympic Committees, international sports federations, sponsors and broadcasters – has been overwhelmingly positive.

He added that in speaking to many athletes, after spending four nights in different Olympic villages, he did not hear one complaint.

“They loved the sports facilities, the quality of the Olympic villages,” Bach said.  “What impressed (them) the most was the proximity of the Olympic villages and their venues.”

Second to Russia in the gold medal count was Norway with 11.  Canada was third with 10, one more than the United States, by successfully defending its men’s ice hockey title with a 3-0 win over Sweden.  That was the final sporting event of the Games.

The United States was second behind Russia in total medals with 28, while Norway had 26 and Canada 25.

In all, 26 nations won medals at the Sochi Olympics, the same number as in Vancouver.

Bach said that even though so much attention has been given to the huge cost to stage these Olympics, estimated at $50 billion, Sochi’s operational costs were about the same as Vancouver.

He emphasized that the investment in the region for infrastructure will be here a long time – new roads, railroads, housing, sports venues, winter training facilities and more.  Sochi will host a Formula One auto race and 2018 World Cup football games.

“This project was not limited to just building a winter sports center,” Bach said.  “It was about the transformation of a whole region into a modern destination for tourists, for conventions and for sports.  And it was amazing what happened here.”

Five athletes tested positive for banned substances during the Sochi Games, including Austrian cross-country skier Johannes Duerr on the final day.  His expulsion for the red blood cell booster EPO prevented him from competing in Sunday’s 50-kilometer race.

The other four testing positive were a Ukrainian cross-country skier (Marina Lisogor), a German biathlete (Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle), a Latvian ice hockey player (Vitalijs Pavlovs) and an Italian bobsledder (William Frullani).  Those four other cases involved minor stimulants that can be found in food supplements.  None of the five had won medals.

As for the United States, a number a favorites like two-time Olympic snowboard halfpipe champion Shaun White failed to make the podium, while other underdogs came through.  Alan Ashley is the chief of sport performance for the USOC.

“There is always at the Olympics times when you are like going, ‘Oh my gosh, I wish so and so had done better,’ but just as many times there is like a whole new generation of athletes or a new group of athletes that surprise you, and that is the beauty of the Games,” Ashley said.

But the U.S. figure skating team had its worst Olympics showing since 1936 with no medals in men’s, women’s or pairs, and the long track speed skating team had its worst Olympics ever.

“Our job now is to say, OK, what went wrong, what went right?,” said Ashley. “How do we improve so that the next generation, when we go into Pyeongchang (in 2018) that we have corrected some things and moved this forward so that that group of athletes and that group of skaters that goes with us to the next Olympic Games has an even better opportunity to perform?”

The United States did come through with one notable performance in figure skating, as Meryl Davis and Charlie White won the first-ever Olympic gold medal for their country in ice dancing.


Hundreds Attend Walnut Hill Ruritan Auction

February 23, 2014

Hundreds of people attended the 39th Annual Walnut Hill Ruritan Club Farm Equipment Auction Saturday in Walnut Hill.

Items sold included farm equipment, lawn and garden equipment, household items and more during the event, which is held each year on the last Saturday of February. All proceeds from the auction benefit the Walnut Hill Ruritan Club’s community service projects in the Walnut Hill area.

Pictured: Hundreds attended the annual Walnut Hill Ruritan Club farm equipment auction Saturday in Walnut Hill. photos by Bethany Reynolds, click to enlarge.

Tribal Beat Band Members Receive Superior, Excellent Ratings

February 23, 2014

Several members of the Northview High School Tribal Beat Band received superior and excellent ratings at the Florida Bandmasters Association District 1 Auxiliary Solo and Ensemble MPA event Friday night at Gulf Breeze High School.

Taylor Brook and Maddi Weber received a superior for their trumpet duet, while Brook received a superior for her trumpet solo. Cory Hester received a superior for his saxophone solo. Kylie Brook, Kendrick Walker, Paula Spicer and Abbie Johnson each received an excellent rating.

Pictured: Taylor Brook and Maddi Weber (right) perform their superior-rated trumpet duet before the judges. Submitted photo for, click to enlarge.

Hospital Lands Top Spot In Chili Cook Off

February 23, 2014

An Atmore Community Hospital team won first place during a chili cook-off in Atmore’s Tom Byrne Park Saturday, while second place went to the L.A. Bikers and third place to the First United Methodist Church.

The “People’s Choice” award for the best chili went to the Greater Mt. Triumph Baptist Church.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the hospital’s efforts to purchase a new X-Ray machine. photos by Bethany Reynolds, click to enlarge.

Mmmm – Girl Scout Cookie Time

February 23, 2014

Girl Scout Troop 903 from Molino/Cantonment was busy Saturday selling Thin Mints, Peanut Butter Patties and other Girl Scout Cookie favorites at the intersection of Highway 29 and Highway 97 in Cantonment. Submitted photos for,  click to enlarge.

Nelson Wants Fed Review Of State’s Unemployment Website

February 23, 2014

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., wants the Department of Labor’s inspector general to look into the state’s trouble-plagued $63 million unemployment assistance website for potential “waste, fraud or abuse or violations of law” due to months of delayed claims.

“Somebody owes taxpayers an explanation,” Nelson wrote Inspector General Scott S. Dahl on Friday. “They are the ones who paid the $63 million for this project.”

Nelson twice before has asked the Labor Department to look into the Department of Economic Opportunity’s Connect system that went on live in October. After Labor Department staff visited Tallahassee in December, the state agency announced that claims would be paid in cases that had been in dispute for more than one week. The move was intended to ease a backlog created by the new website.

Since Dec. 23, the state has imposed a $15,000 per business day fine against contractor Deloitte Consulting and withheld a $3 million payment to the company for failing to deliver a “fully functioning” system. The agency hired about 250 additional staff in January, at a cost of $165,000 a week. DEO reported about 6,000 applications were pending on Friday, a drop from a backlog of more than 60,000 in mid-January.

Nelson in his letter noted that, although the state agency claims the system has improved, media outlets continue to report that people “were still reaching out for help.”

Northview Shuts Out Washington

February 23, 2014

The varsity Northview Chiefs beat Washington High 8-0 Saturday in Pensacola.

Winning pitcher Brannon Freeman pitched for seven, allowing two hits, two walks and eight strike outs. He is 1-0 as a starting pitcher with one save.

Stats: Jody Bonner 1-3 with a double, one RBI and a run scored; Chasen Freeman 3-3 with a triple, 2 RBI and a run scored; Thomas Moore 1 -4 with a double and one run scored; Aaron McDonald 1-4 with a double , one RBI and one run scored; RJ Pritchett 2-4 with two doubles, two RBI; Kevin Barrow 1-3 with one run scored; and Roman Manning 1-3 with two runs scored.

Pictured: The Northview Chiefs shut out Washington Saturday in Pensacola, 8-0. Photos by Ramona Preston for, click to enlarge.

Rotary Clubs Partner To Create 110,388 Meals For Manna

February 23, 2014

Rotary Clubs from Escambia and Santa Rosa counties came together Saturday to pack 110,388  meals at Manna Food Bank. It was part of the Rotary Against Hunger service project of the Combined Rotary of Pensacola (CROP). Courtesy photos for click to enlarge.

One Killed In Early Morning Fiery Century Crash

February 22, 2014

One person died in a fiery single vehicle accident early Saturday morning.

The burning vehicle was discovered  by a passing Escambia County Sheriff’s deputy about 3:55 a.m. on Fannie Road just northeast of Campbell Road, across from the Happy Valley Holiness Church.

After the Century Station of Escambia Fire Rescue extinguished the blaze, the victim was discovered in the driver’s seat area of the vehicle.

The Florida Highway Patrol has identified the vehicle as unknown year model Toyota sedan

The driver was apparently headed east on Fannie Road when they failed to negotiate a curve, ran off the roadway, down an embankment and struck several trees on the shore of a gravel lake. A post-crash fire completely gutted the vehicle

The Florida Highway Patrol was unable to identify the driver of the  vehicle at the scene. Further details have not yet been released as the FHP continues their investigation.

Pictured top an inset: One person was killed in this fiery crash in Century early Saturday morning. Pictured below: The vehicle shortly after the fire department extiniguished the blaze. photos, click to enlarge.

Cutbacks: Reduced Service Hours Begin For McDavid Post Office

February 22, 2014

The U.S. Postal Service will being reduced retail hours today for the McDavid Post Office. The retail window will actually be open earlier and stay open later on weekdays while reducing service hours by five.

The new hours for the McDavid Post Office, effective February 22,  will be 7-11 a.m. and 2-4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8-10 a.m. on Saturdays. The post office’s retail window  was previously open 7:45 -11 a.m. and noon – 3:45 p.m. during the week and 7:45 to 9:45 a.m. on Saturdays. Access to post office boxes will remain 24/7.

Residents and businesses in the 32568 zip code were notified in December that the Postal Service will take future action regarding the McDavid Post Office. They were surveyed with 77 percent of respondents choosing a reduction in hours over other options including closure.

About two dozen people attended a public meeting with postal officials on January 16, at which time they were reassured that the McDavid Post Office would remain open.

There are no plans to make any changes at the Walnut Hill Post Office, which shares McDavid’s 32568 zip code. The Walnut Hill Post Office is a contract location operated by Escambia River Electric Cooperative, providing retail window services and post office boxes.

The McDavid Post Office was the only local post office in Escambia or Santa Rosa counties on the current closure or cutback list.

Pictured: The McDavid Post Office. photos, click to enlarge.

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