Man Dies In Hunting Accident

December 2, 2013

An area man is dead following a deer hunting accident Saturday evening.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, 30-year old Christopher Garrett of Milton was hunting with friend Johnny Farmer on family property near Munson Highway in Santa Rosa County. They both left their tree stands about dusk. Farmer saw movement and fired, striking Garrett.

Garrett was transported to Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola where he passed away about 11:00 Sunday morning.

Florida Fish and Wildlife said they are investigating the incident as a hunting accident. As is standard procedure, the State Attorney’s Office will review the case.

Bridge Work Beginning On Hanks And Pine Barren Roads

December 2, 2013

Walnut Hill and Bratt area drivers can expect delays on two bridges this week. Road crews will be working on bridges on Hanks Road and also Highway 168.

Hanks Road Bridge

Work on the Hanks Road Bridge, just off North Pine Barren Road, was scheduled to begin on Tuesday. During the first phase of the project, crews will inspect and repair the underside of the bridge. By the end of the week, crews will turn their attention to the top side of the bridge. The focus on top of the bridge will be to clean and repair in order to best maintain the bridge.

Some lane closures are expected, mostly likely during the second phase of the project later in the week.

Highway 168 Bridge

Work on a Highway 168 Bridge, just west of Pine Barren Road, was scheduled to begin Tuesday morning. Work is expected to continue through December 10 during the hours of 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Some single lane closures are expected during work hours.

Pictured top: A bridge that will undergo repairs on Hanks Road. Pictured below: A bridge that will undergo repairs on Pine Barren Road. photos, click to enlarge.

Big Ticket Items Spur Growth In Florida Consumer Confidence

December 2, 2013

Florida’s consumer confidence showed some life in November after falling sharply in October as the federal-government shutdown and another debt-ceiling debate loomed in Congress, according to a University of Florida report.

On a scale that ranges from 2 to 150, confidence among Floridians rose to a 76 from a revised 70 in October, according to numbers released Tuesday. A big reason for the increase is an improved perception that now is a good time to buy big-ticket items, such as cars.

“That component is now at the highest since April 2007 when the economy was showing signs of the bursting housing bubble which led to the Great Recession,” Chris McCarty, director of UF’s Survey Research Center in the Bureau of Economic and Business Research, said in a news release.

Despite the overall increase in optimism, Florida seniors remain the most pessimistic consumers, McCarty noted.

“They were likely concerned over the potential consequences of a default on U.S. debt, such as potential delays in the distribution of Social Security and the negative effects such a default would have on an otherwise strong stock market,” McCarty said.

Cottage Hill Forest Makes Final Cut Of State Lands That Could Be Sold

December 1, 2013

The number of potential parcels remaining in the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s effort to sell state-owned property to help fund future land-conservation efforts is down to 77 as the public comment period has come to an end. Four land areas in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties are still on the list. Escambia County, the state may look to sell the Cottage Hill State Forest and 3.4 acres of the Tarkiln Bayou Preserve State Park. In Santa Rosa County, and 4.8 acres of the Blackwater Heritage State Trail and the  20 acre Gillis Road Track could be put on the market.

The money from any sales will be combined with $20 million that lawmakers included in the budget for the purchase of land to protect springs, water quality, water quantity or to serve as buffers for military bases. It is unknown how much the state would generate from the parcels that remain under consideration. No estimate may be made until the final list is set.

The Legislature approved the state land-sale program with the hope of raising $50 million. The list initially had 169 sites that combined for roughly 5,300 acres. Before the first parcel is offered to the public, the DEP must make the sites available to other state agencies and universities, and then to local governments.

In North Escambia, the Cottage Hill State Forest is located in the Cottage Hill Community north of Cantonment. The forest has no public road frontage, but is in the area bounded by McKenzie Road, Chavers Road, Williams Ditch Road and Highway 95A.  About 24 acres of the site is uplands, while 4.7 acres is flood plain and wetlands.

University of Florida/IFAS Extension Dean Nick Place made a three-part final recommendation in July for Escambia County 4-H. Following the sale of the Langley Bell 4-H Center to Navy Federal Credit Union, Place was tasked with deciding a future location or locations for the 4-H program. His proposal included the Cottage Hill State Forest for environmental and horticultural sciences, outdoor education, forestry and other 4-H activities.  [Read more...] According to a task force report, the state was willing to deed the property to Escambia County at no cost, while the state would continue to maintain fire breaks on the property.

Pictured: The Cottage Hill State Forest as shown on a Florida DEP map.

Bill Filed To Bar Insurers From Considering Gun Ownership

December 1, 2013

Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon, has filed a measure (SB 424) that would prohibit property and auto insurers from canceling policies or refusing to issue coverage because of customers’ legal ownership of firearms.

The proposal would also prohibit insurers from imposing an “unfairly discriminatory rate” due to gun ownership.

The measure, a companion to a proposal (HB 255) filed Nov. 4 by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, also prohibits insurers from disclosing to other parties the lawful ownership or possession of a firearm by an applicant or policyholder.

by The News Service of Florida

NWE Juniors Win Gulf Coast Youth Championship; Outscore Opponents 410-19 This Year

December 1, 2013

The Northwest Escambia Juniors won the Gulf Coast Youth Football Championship Saturday in Gulf Shores, wrapping up an impressive 12-0 season in which NWE outscored all opponents 410-19.

The Eagles shut out Trimmier Park Saturday 7-0 after a 13-0 shutout of the Eight Mile Giants on Friday.  The Trimmier Park Saints are a combined all-star team made up from four parks in Mobile.

Odom scored the only touchdown for the Eagles with Jaden Cunningham scoring the extra point. Eagles defense held the Saints scoreless, even in a first and goal situation on the Saints 3-yard line. AJ Hasty, Keaundre Richardson, Jayden Jackson, Jaheem Durant, Da’Merion Findley and Kaden Odom had several tackles each. Kaden Odom completed two passes to Tanner Boone for short gains. Jayden Jackson also completed a 30-yard pass to Keaundre Richardson.

For a recap of Friday’s game, click here.

Pictured: The Northwest Escambia Juniors won the Gulf Coast Youth Football Championship in Gulf Shores Saturday. Photo for, click to enlarge.

Relic Of The Past: Florida Removing Motorist Aid Call Boxes

December 1, 2013

Those motorist telephone call boxes along Florida’s highways will mostly be a thing of memory.

The state Department of Transportation is removing all but a few of the 2,752 push button call boxes from along its highways as personal cell phones have reduced the need for the roadside phones.

“With cell phone use it was decided to save the department some money,” said DOT spokesman John O’Brien.

The removal, estimated to cost around $200,000, has already started.

By not having to maintain the system, including the interconnecting consoles at Florida Department of Highway dispatch offices and base stations, the state is expected to save $1 million a year.

The move will leave Pennsylvania and Hawaii as the only states that offer roadside motorists call boxes.

The boxes were installed in the early 1970s, back at a time when those seeking police, medical or automotive aide would have otherwise had to hoof it or hitch a ride to the closest businesses or residence with a pay phone.

However, for more than a decade the use of the boxes has been on a steady decline, falling from 56,674 calls in 1998 to 22,051 in 2004 and 7,807 in 2012.

“There’s been a dramatic decline in usage over the years,” O’Brien said. “The technology is antiquated and we’re doing a lot of stuff with ITS (Intelligent Transportation Systems programs) and the Road Rangers.”

ITS is a fiber optic system of traffic cameras, overhead message signs, microwave vehicle detectors, travel time sensors, road and weather information sensors, and highway advisory radios that is in place along 1,259 miles of interstate and turnpike. Work began this week putting the system in place in the northwest, along a section of I-10 and U.S. 231, at a cost of $24 million.

Along I-10, from the Alabama line to Jacksonville, the calls have dropped from 3,571 in 2004 to 1,143 last year from 464 call boxes.

Century Decks Out For Christmas With Pole Decorations

December 1, 2013

Century is all decked out with Christmas decorations along North Century Boulevard. Last year, the town bought 42, 50-inch Christmas wreaths with energy saving LED bulbs and 24-inch bows.

The wreaths were ordered from Dixie Decorations in Montavello, Ala., for $15,047, while the bows were purchased from a local business for $3,918. It also cost the town $2,734 to have Gulf Power wire three poles that previously did not have electricity for three of the wreaths.

Pictured: Lighted wreath decorations adorn nearly four dozen utility poles along North Century Boulevard in Century. photo, click to enlarge.

FFA Fruit Sale Ends Monday

December 1, 2013

The NHS FFA is selling citrus in attractive  2/5 or 4/5 bushel boxes perfect for gift wrapping. The Florida citrus is from RiverBrite in Vero Beach.

Orders must be made by Monday, December 2. The delivery date is Wednesday, December 18.

For an order form click here. Order forms and payment can be returned to Northview by mail (the address is on the order form), or dropped off at the school office. Fruits available include red apples, grapefruit, navel oranges, tangelos and Hamlin oranges. Mixed trio half bushels are also available.

For more information, call (850) 327-6681, ext. 248.

Holiday Giving: Shop Wisely For A Reputable Charity

December 1, 2013

Millions of Americans have ventured out to big and small retailers in search of the best deal for their holiday gift giving, and experts advise them to have the same diligence when it comes to picking their charity.

According to AARP, older Americans are more likely to receive charitable solicitations than any other group, and not all requests are legitimate, warns Doug Shadel, author of AARP’s “Outsmarting the Scam Artists.”

“There’s a lot of charitable solicitations going on out there that really tug at the heartstrings, whether it’s disabled veterans or anything having to do with disasters, and so you really just got to be careful about that,” he cautions.

Shadel advises seniors and others to be cautious of charities whose names are similar to better-known organizations.

You can also request written information, avoid cash gifts and ask for a receipt.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, nearly 25 million Americans are victims of consumer fraud every year.

You can check to see if a charity is registered in Florida by checking with the state’s Division of Consumer Services.

Shadel also says to ask the person requesting the donation more about how the donations are used and how much goes to operating costs versus the actual cause it claims to serve.

“A lot of times, charitable solicitors will try and get you into kind of a heightened emotional state around their charity,” he explains. “The best way to avoid that is at the beginning of every year, come up with your own charitable giving plan.”

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