Three Injured In Highway 29 Crash In Molino

January 8, 2015

Three people were injured in a two-vehicle rear-end type collision Thursday afternoon in Molino.

The accident happened about 12:30 on Highway 29 near Duxbury Avenue. The driver of a pickup truck apparently rear-ended a SUV in the southbound lane of Highway 29. The pickup truck then left the roadway and came to rest in an open area off the highway.

The injured were transported by ambulance to Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola with injuries that were not considered life threatening.

Further details have not yet been released by the Florida Highway Patrol as they continue their investigation. The Molino and Cantonment Stations of Escambia Fire Rescue and Escambia County EMS also responded to the crash.

NorthEscambia.com photos by Kristi Price, click to enlarge.

Photos: Icy Morning

January 8, 2015

It was cold, and in some instances, icy Thursday morning in North Escambia. On Highway 168, these trees were iced over using a sprinkler.

Do you have icy or cold photos to share? Email news@northescambia.com

Photos submitted by Terry Emmons for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Fire Destroys Shed, Fence

January 8, 2015

Fire destroyed a detached shed and a privacy fence Thursday morning. The fire was reported about 9:25 in the 500 block of Templehill Street, near the intersection of East Kingfield and Chemstrand roads. There were no injuries and no damage to any adjacent homes reported. NorthEscambia.com photos by Kristi Price, click to enlarge.

Winning $57K Fantasy Five Ticket Sold In North Escambia

January 8, 2015

Someone is almost $57,000 richer this morning after purchasing a winning Florida Lottery Fantasy 5 ticket in Davisville.

fant5.jpgThe ticket sold at the Grey Goose Liquors, 11330 Highway 97, was one of four winning tickets sold for Wednesday night’s drawing worth $56,900.34. Other winning tickets matching all five numbers were sold in Jacksonville and Miami.

The 265 tickets matching four numbers won $138.50 each. Another 8,473  tickets matching three numbers are worth $12 each, and 87,204 ticket holders won a free Quick Pick ticket for picking two numbers.

Wednesday’s winning numbers were 15-20-28-32-34.

Senate Looks To Cut Back On Test Taking In Florida Schools

January 8, 2015

With parents complaining about a glut of tests in public schools and the Florida Department of Education investigating how much time students spend on exams, senators appear ready to refocus how the state assesses learning gains.

After members of the Senate Education PreK-12 Committee spent about an hour Wednesday hearing from and grilling Education Commissioner Pam Stewart about tests, the panel’s chairman said legislation addressing the issue was likely during the Legislature’s spring session.

“I’ve got a message very clearly from our members that they’re interested in doing something,” said Chairman John Legg, R-Lutz.

But as for the details of the would-be bill, Legg conceded that “I don’t know what it looks like yet.” Issues that might be addressed range from which grades of students should be tested, to how many tests should be administered, to whether “assessments” required by the state necessarily have to be tests at all.

Even lawmakers who spearheaded the state’s accountability movement, which led to many of the testing requirements now on the books, are beginning to rethink things.

“Here’s what I’ve learned today: We don’t know how much time is consumed by state-mandated tests. We don’t know how much money it costs to perform state-mandated tests. We don’t know whether tests that are performed by state mandate are valid and reliable,” said Sen. Don Gaetz, a Niceville Republican who has long backed education reform. ” … That troubles me as someone who believes in measurement and believes in accountability.”

Gaetz, a former Okaloosa County schools superintendent, referred to statements by an organization founded by former Gov. Jeb Bush — the father of Florida’s school accountability system — that Florida needs “fewer tests” and “better tests” as it moves forward.

“Given the things that we don’t know, and the time that’s overtaken us, are we headed in the direction of fewer tests and better tests, and if so, when will we get there?” he asked.

“In order to have fewer tests, it will take legislative change,” Stewart responded.

According to the Department of Education, the number of hours students will spend on the state’s main tests in many grades in 2014-15 is actually lower than the number of hours students faced seven years ago. But testing time this school year will be longer than in 2013-14, by more than two hours in several cases.

And that doesn’t include other assessments required by the state that are administrated by districts. Stewart has asked districts for information on those tests and plans to report her findings to lawmakers before the legislative session begins in March.

Meanwhile, some legislators are saying they should look at themselves when trying to determine who is responsible for the number of tests Florida students take.

“We passed all these laws, and then we call you in to yell at you,” Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, told Stewart.”I mean, it’s almost ludicrous.”

by Brandon Larrabee, The News Service of Florida

Health Dept. Urges Precautions To Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

January 8, 2015

The Florida Department of Health urges Floridians to take precautions to prevent carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is a year round threat, however as temperatures drop, the potential for CO poisonings rise.  CO is a highly poisonous gas produced by burning fuels such as gasoline, natural gas, propane, kerosene, charcoal, and wood.  CO from these sources can build up in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces. The risk of illness or death increases with the level of CO in the air and the amount of time exposed. Dangerous CO levels can result when home appliances are not properly maintained or when used incorrectly.

“Carbon monoxide is a silent poisonous gas that can cause illness and death within minutes of exposure,” said Dr. Kendra Goff, state toxicologist for the Florida Department of Health. “It is invisible, tasteless, odorless and non-irritating, which is why taking precautions is vital and having sufficient working CO alarms in your home is critical. Proper use of generators, portable space heaters or gas grills can protect you and your family from the potential tragedy of an accidental poisoning.”

Since symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to those of the flu, food poisoning, or other illnesses, you may not think CO poisoning is the cause.  The common signs and symptoms include headache, nausea, weakness, abdominal discomfort/pain, dizziness, and confusion.  Other signs and symptoms may include blurred vision, numbness and tingling, ataxia (loss or lack of muscular coordination), irritability, agitation, chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations, seizures, and loss of consciousness.

Anyone who suspects symptoms of CO poisoning should go outside the home or building without delay and seek prompt medical attention. If a person has collapsed or is not breathing, call 911 for emergency medical assistance immediately from a safer location such as outside or from a neighbor’s home. Children, pregnant women, and individuals with heart conditions are most vulnerable.

Tips to help prevent CO poisoning:

  • Never use a gas stove or oven to heat the home.
  • Never burn charcoal inside a house, garage, vehicle, or tent, including in a fireplace.
  • Avoid using unvented gas, propane, or kerosene heaters in enclosed spaces, especially sleeping areas.
  • Install and use fuel-burning appliances according to manufacturer instructions, the Florida Building Code, and the Florida Fire Prevention Code.
  • Inspect the exhaust system of each fuel burning appliance every year, including chimneys, flues, and vents. Check for blockage, holes, and disconnections.
  • Have fuel-burning appliances inspected and serviced annually by a licensed contractor.
  • Never leave an automobile running in a garage, even with the garage door open.
  • Do not leave the rear window or tailgate of a vehicle open while driving. CO from the exhaust can be pulled inside the car, van, or camper.
  • Never use a portable generator or a fuel-powered tool indoors or in other enclosed or partially enclosed areas.
  • Always place portable generators outdoors on a dry surface far away from doors, windows, vents, and air conditioning equipment that could allow CO to enter. Orient the generator so that it is placed with the exhaust port pointing away from the home.
  • Install battery operated CO alarms or plug-in CO alarms with battery backup inside a house according to manufacturer’s installation instructions or NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) 720: Standard for the Installation of Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detection and Warning Equipment.
  • Install only CO alarms that meet the UL (Underwriter Laboratories) 2034 or the CSA (Canadian Standards Association) 6.19 standards.
  • Replace CO alarm batteries once a year and test alarms frequently.
  • Replace CO alarms every five years or as often as recommended by the alarm manufacturer.

State: Old Medicaid System For Kids ‘No Longer Exists’

January 8, 2015

Arguing that Medicaid has undergone a transformation, state officials pushed back Wednesday against a federal judge’s finding that Florida has not properly provided health care to low-income children.

“Everything around the program has changed,” state Medicaid director Justin Senior told the Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee. “He (the judge) is critiquing a situation on the ground that no longer exists, and that’s unfortunate.”

After nearly a decade of litigation, federal Judge Adalberto Jordan last week issued a 153-page decision that pointed to wide-ranging problems in how the Medicaid program has served children. In part, Jordan found that low physician reimbursement rates led to a lack of access to care and that children had been improperly dropped from the program.

It remains unclear what changes or actions Jordan might require the state to take. Jordan, who serves on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals but heard much of the case while a district judge in Miami, indicated he will hold a hearing in late January to prepare for what he called the “remedy phase” of the case.

The state, however, will argue that the case is effectively moot because of a recently completed overhaul of the Medicaid system, which now enrolls almost all beneficiaries in managed-care plans. The lawsuit, filed in 2005, dealt primarily with issues in the Medicaid system from 2005 to 2009, Stuart Williams, general counsel for the state Agency for Health Care Administration, told the Senate panel Wednesday.

As an example of the changes, Senior said Medicaid managed-care plans are required to have adequate networks of doctors and other types of providers to serve children.

But Tallahassee physician Louis St. Petery, executive vice president of the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, took issue with Senior’s explanation about how managed care has resolved issues in the Medicaid system.

“From on the ground, those of us who are actually taking care of children on Medicaid, it really doesn’t work exactly like that,” said St. Petery, whose group has helped spearhead the lawsuit against the state.

For instance, St. Petery said children still lose eligibility improperly. Also, he questioned statements by Senior that the managed-care system will lead to fee increases for physicians. Low payments have long been a major issue in Medicaid, with many doctors saying it doesn’t make financial sense to care for Medicaid patients.

St. Petery also told lawmakers that Agency for Health Care Administration officials have declined to talk with pediatricians about fixing problems in the Medicaid system.

“In every instance, we have been refused,” St. Petery said. “They will not meet with us.”

But Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Chairman Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, defended the agency’s decision not to meet with pediatricians while the legal battle continues.

“I don’t blame the agency for not wanting to meet or rejecting these meetings until that litigation has been resolved,” Garcia said.

by Jim Saunders, The News Service of Florida

International Paper Grant Application Deadline Near

January 8, 2015

International Paper (IP) Pensacola Mill will award $50,000 in Foundation Grants in 2015, and the deadline for all grant applications in Monday, January 12.

Grants are awarded by the IP Foundation in Memphis, TN, and will  focus on environmental education, literacy, employee involvement and critical community needs. Applicants must be a registered 501c3 non-profit organization, school, or qualifying government entity to apply.

For more information about the Foundation, visit www.ipgiving.com.  For more information about the grant process, contact Janice Cooper Holmes, communications manager, by email janice.holmes@ipaper.com or call (850) 968-4203.

Century Seeks To Hire Someone To Coordinate Disaster, Emergency Training

January 8, 2015

The Town of Century is looking for a person or company to help them be ready in the event of a public emergency.

The town is currently seeking someone to develop and implement Citizens Corps and Community Emergency Response TEAM (CERT) programs.

The Citizen Corps mission is to harness the power of every individual through education, training, and volunteer service to make communities safer, tronger, and better prepared to respond to the threats of terrorism, crime, public health issues, and disasters of all kinds.

The Community Emergency Response Team program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and  trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue,  team organization, and disaster medical operations.

The  Be Ready Alliance Coordinating for Emergencies  (BRACE) in Pensacola has coordinated such efforts in Century. But now the implementation must now be open for public proposals, according to Debbie Nickels, town consultant.

The implementations will be funded by just over $11,000 in grant money provided by a federal grant through the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

Pictured: A mock CERT training disaster drill held in Century in February 2011. NorthEscambia.com file photos, click to enlarge.

Money Saving Cold Weather Tips

January 8, 2015

Gulf Power Company is offering some cold weather energy savings tips for everyone, including customers of other utilities. Gulf Power offers the following tips to stay warm, safe and conserve energy.

Things you can do right now to save money and energy

  • Set your thermostat to 68 degrees or lower to conserve energy.
  • Reverse the direction of your ceiling fans so they rotate clockwise as you look up at them. This will force warm air down from the ceiling.
  • During the middle of the day, open blinds and curtains on the sunny side of the house. Also, where possible, reduce the traffic in and out of the house.
  • Don’t use your oven to heat your home — it’s not efficient and most important, it’s not safe.
  • A fireplace is not always an efficient heat source. If not used properly it can actually make the rest of the house cooler because airflow up the chimney removes the heated air. When using the fireplace, close all doors and warm air ducts to the room where the fireplace is located. Glass doors on a fireplace will reduce the outflow of warm air. And a fireplace with a blower system is ever better because it actually blows the warm air around the firebox back into the room.
  • An electric blanket is more economical than heating the entire house all night long.
  • Use a portable electric heater to heat only a small area. Buy models that are thermostatically controlled. Keep it at least three feet from items that could catch fire like curtains or furniture. Make sure you have working smoke detectors on every floor and in every sleeping room of your house.
  • Make sure vents and return air registers are not blocked by furniture, draperies, doors or other obstacles.
  • Use “draft stoppers” or towels/blankets to block drafts at foot of door.
  • If you should lose power, go to your thermostat and turn off your heating system. Please wait 10 to 15 minutes after power has been restored before turning it back on. This prevents a power surge from shutting down electricity again.
  • If you should lose power, please do not connect portable generators to your household electrical wiring. This can cause serious injury to you and to Gulf Power employees who are restoring electricity. Instead, plug appliances into the generator. Never use a generator in enclosed or partially-enclosed spaces because of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Things you can do to prepare your home for the whole winter season

Temperature settings

  • Heating a house makes up about half of your electricity bill so set your thermostat to 68 degrees or lower in the winter. Did you know that you can decrease the amount of energy you buy for heating by three percent or more for every degree below 68 degrees you set your thermostat?
  • Programmable thermostats are a good investment, or you can take advantage of Gulf Power’s Energy Select. Energy Select is Gulf Power’s advanced energy management program that offers a lower price for electricity 87 percent of the time. Energy Select features a programmable thermostat and a special rate of four price periods based upon time of day, day of week and season. Installation and meter-based surge protection are both free with Energy Select. Only $4.95 per month.

Heating and cooling equipment

  • The system heating the home is extremely important. If it’s an older, less efficient unit, upgrading to a geothermal heating and cooling system — or a high efficiency air-source heat pump may be a wise choice. Contact Gulf Power at 1-877-655-4001 for a free Energy Check-Up.

Routine maintenance

  • A well-maintained heating system runs more efficiently. A complete tune-up of the home heating system can cost anywhere from $50 to $100 and more, but this is a very worthwhile investment and can reduce your heating bill from 3 to 10 percent. Some companies offer regular service contracts, which are a convenience if you tend to forget system maintenance. Remember to replace the filter every month.

Ductwork

  • Duct leakage can account for 20 percent of the heating and cooling cost. Getting ducts sealed up should be at the top of the list for making your home energy efficient.

Insulation

  • Adding insulation to your attic is one of the most cost-effective energy saving measures. Different types of insulation material have different R-values. The recommended level is R-38 in the attic.

Weather-stripping and caulking

  • Weather-strip door jambs and caulk any cracks around windows to prevent cool air from entering your home.

Window units

  • If you have a window air conditioning unit, remove it for the winter months to prevent heat from escaping through and around the unit. If it can’t be moved, put a cover over it to prevent drafts.

Humidifier

  • Use a humidifier to keep your home more comfortable. Adding moisture allows you to reduce the thermostat setting without feeling colder.

« Previous PageNext Page »