Home Run: She Said Yes!

August 26, 2013

Jake Clayton of Molino proposed to his girlfriend Jenna Peoples of Milton during a weekend Pensacola Blue Wahoos game…and she said “yes”. Photo by Michael Spooneybarger/Pensacola Blue Wahoos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Barons Halt Wahoos 2-0

August 26, 2013

In just his fourth start at Double-A, Chris Beck tossed eight scoreless innings and helped the Birmingham Barons knock off the Pensacola Blue Wahoos 2-0 on Sunday night in front of the 29th sellout crowd of the year at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium. Combined with a win by Mobile, Pensacola’s still remains just 3.5 games out of first place.

Beck (W, 1-2) retired the first 11 hitters he faced before giving up a two-out single to Devin Lohman in the last of the fourth. Overall, Beck scattered three hits with eight strikeouts. Pensacola’s best chance against Beck came in the eighth inning. With two on and one out, Brandon Short sliced a ball down the right field line that Trayce Thompson hauled in and then doubled up Corey Wimberly who was caught too far off of first base.

Thompson delivered the deciding blow in the game on offense as well, doubling home Dan Wagner in the top of the seventh to break the scoreless draw. Thompson would later scored on a Dan Black RBI single to give the Barons a 2-0 lead. Both runs came off Parker Frazier (L, 2-2) who gave up two runs on three his in his lone inning of work.

Jon Moscot battled through six innings for Pensacola, working in out of trouble throughout his outing. The right-hander allowed eight base hits, but struck out seven and walked a pair while not factoring in the decision.

Cody Winarski (S, 2) closed the door for Birmingham in the ninth inning, working around a pair of singles thanks to two strikeouts and a caught stealing.

The Wahoos will have another chance to take the series from the Barons on Monday night at 7 p.m. Josh Smith (9-9, 3.51) will toe the rubber for Pensacola while Birmingham will counter with southpaw Spencer Arroyo (8-6, 3.37).

Week Ahead: Prep Football Schedule

August 26, 2013

Here is Friday night’s  high school football schedule from across the North Escambia area.

FLORIDA

Thursday

  • Escambia vs. Legacy (Colo.) at Disney’s Wide World of Sports, 7:30 p.m.

Friday

  • Bozeman at Northview, 7 p.m.
  • Tate at West Florida, 7 p.m.
  • Jay at Cottage Hill Christian (Mobile, AL), 7 p.m.
  • Washington at Gulf Breeze, 7 p.m.
  • Pine Forest at East Gadsden, 7:30 p.m.
  • PHS at Lincoln, 6 p.m.
  • Crestview at Milton, 7:30 p.m.
  • Catholic at Navarre, 7:30 p.m.
  • Pace at Choctawhatchee, 7 p.m.
  • Crestview at Milton, 7:30 p.m.

ALABAMA

  • Flomaton at Monroe County, 7 p.m.
  • Escambia County at T.R. Miller, 7 p.m.
  • W.S. Neal at Holtville, 7 p.m.
  • Escambia Academy at Fort Dale (Greenville), 7 p.m.

Tropical Storm Fernand Forms, Heads Into Mexico

August 26, 2013

Tropical Storm Fernand formed Sunday night off the coast of Mexico and moved inland over Veracruz, Mexico. The latest information is the graphic above.

Back To School Bash: A Helping Hand For Hundreds

August 25, 2013

Hundreds of families received a helping hand Saturday during a Back to School Bash in Century.

Families received bags full of free clothes, boxes of healthy foods and snacks, and free school supplies. Community organizations were also on hand with information about the services they offer, often for free. And free hot dogs and snow cones added to the festive atmosphere.

The event was organized by Catholic Charities of Northwest Florida, the Florida Department of Children and Families and Americorp. Farm Share distributed enough food for 500 families, including snacks, water and cereal.

Organizers say they hope to make this an annual event for residents of Century and the surrounding communities in the North Escambia area.

Pictured top: Century area residents pick out free clothing during a Back to School Bash Saturday at Showalter Park. Pictured below: Families received free food. Pictured  bottom: Community  organizations such as the Century Branch Library also took part in the event. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.

Driver Flees Hwy 97 Crash

August 25, 2013

A driver fled a Highway 97 crash Saturday night in Walnut Hill.

A resident just south of the Highway 97 and Arthur Brown Road intersection reported hearing the crash about 10:40 p.m.  The vehicle and driver were gone as first responders arrived on scene a few minutes later.

The driver was apparently northbound on Highway 97, failed to negotiate a curve and struck a speed limit sign post. After hitting the post, the vehicle cross both lanes of Highway 97, destroyed a telephone company pedestal box, traveled though a cotton field and came to rest in the area of a building that was previously torn down. The driver then fled in the vehicle northbound on Highway 97 toward Ernest Ward Middle School.

Century Continues To Research Natural Gas Vehicle Conversions, Filling Station

August 25, 2013

The Town of Century is continuing the exploration process of using \natural gas to power some town vehicles and the installation of a filling station.

Tuesday, Mayor Freddie McCall, Council Member Gary Riley and gas department head Eddie Hammond  will hit the road to look at similar setups belonging to Okaloosa Gas. And on Friday, they will look Escambia County’s first natural gas filling station on Pine Forest Road.

The Pine Forest Road station was a joint project between the City of Pensacola, Pensacola Energy (formerly Energy Services of Pensacola) and ECUA. The $1.8 million filling station opened in October 2012. It is operated and maintained by Pensacola Energy and  features four “fast fill” hoses as well as 90 time-fill dispensers which can be used to refuel vehicles overnight.

The City of Pensacola also operates a private CNG filling station for their natural gas fleet, and ECUA plans to open a second site at their Ellyson Industrial Park  location this fall.

McCall, Riley and Hammond will report their findings back to the Century town council.

Pictured: Escambia County’s first CNG filling station opened on Pine Forest Road in October 2012. NorthEscambia.com file photo, click to enlarge.

Florida Gov’t Weekly Roundup: A Dem Drops Out And Greer Drops Back In

August 25, 2013

With the idea of a special session on self-defense laws having been quickly dispensed of last week and no education officials leaving, the capital began to drift back into its normal summer mode: little news and more chatter about the next election.

http://www.northescambia.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/floridaweeklly.jpgIn this case, most of the elections are still more than a year away — though voting in former Rep. Mike Fasano’s Pasco County district will get underway in a couple weeks. Meanwhile, the Democrats’ first attempt at a statewide candidate in the 2014 campaign imploded under the weight of his formerly mismanaged finances.

And Jim Greer’s name once again popped into the news, providing a reminder that the former Republican Party of Florida chairman’s former deeds loom over former Gov. Charlie Crist’s expected run for his old job, this time as a Democrat.

Perhaps preparing for that challenge, Gov. Rick Scott vocally promoted a set of issues that would help him with the conservative wing of his party, with Treasure Coast residents and potentially with moderate voters who will decide whether he or Crist is living in the Governor’s Mansion come the summer of 2015.

NOT ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS FOR BRASWELL

If there was one sentence that Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Allison Tant might like to take back from her time leading the FDP, it was probably one contained in an Aug. 15 press release about Allie Braswell’s candidacy for chief financial officer.

“I am thrilled that Allie Braswell is running for Florida’s CFO, because he’s exactly the kind of leader we need in Tallahassee,” she gushed.

Four days later, Braswell — the head of the Central Florida Urban League — was out of the race. His abrupt departure Monday followed reports in The Florida Times-Union that Braswell had filed for bankruptcy in Orlando in 2008, after having done so twice in South Carolina in the 1990s, though he said the second filing in South Carolina was related to the first.

“I have, at times, faced challenges in life that have not met with the outcomes I have desired,” Braswell said. “I take full responsibility for my actions, and apologize to my supporters. …Running statewide is a daunting challenge for any candidate; as a political outsider, I have now learned that I underestimated how my campaign would affect those I care about most.”

Republicans could hardly contain their glee, setting up a page to list eight things that lasted longer than Braswell’s campaign — Kim Kardashian’s marriage topping the list — complete with animated web pictures and humor.

“To back a candidate in charge of Florida’s finances without vetting that candidate’s handling of his personal finances shows either a high level of incompetence or a new level of desperation for Allison Tant,” said RPOF Chairman Lenny Curry.

Democrats, meanwhile, tried to quickly put the mess behind them.

“We advised Mr. Braswell to slow down so he could better prepare,” party spokesman Joshua Karp said. “He was very eager to announce, and it’s clear now he was unprepared for mounting this kind of campaign.”

Democrats appeared to be having better luck in a special election for House District 36, the Pasco County seat that Fasano vacated to take the county tax collector position. The seat is the only one in GOP-friendly Pasco where Democrats outnumber Republicans in voter registration.

Amanda Murphy, a Raymond James vice president, announced that she would run for the seat as a Democrat in the Oct. 15 race. Democrats worked to unite behind Murphy while Republicans faced a three-way primary between Bill Gunter, James Mathieu and Jeromy Harding.

THE RETURN OF JIM GREER, ONCE AGAIN

Despite serving an 18-month prison sentence for money laundering and theft, former RPOF Chairman Jim Greer can’t seem to stay out of the news. On Monday, The News Service of Florida reported that Greer tried to get a gambling regulator fired in 2009, two days before the veteran state worker was to resign, according to court records.

At the time, Greer — who was hand-picked for the RPOF post by Crist — was party chairman and getting paid $7,500 a month by the owner of the Mardi Gras Casino in Broward County to be a consultant for entertainment and hospitality regulatory issues. Greer later pleaded guilty to the money laundering and theft charges in connection with a scheme in which he created a company and then steered party business to it.

But the latest revelations come from a case involving the quest for a quarter-horse permit near Homestead, which could open the door for more slot machines in South Florida.

The company Greer was working for was one of the “three loudest voices” opposing South Florida quarter-horse permits, according to Florida Administrative Law Judge R. Bruce McKibben.

McKibben in an Aug. 6 recommended order said the Department of Business and Professional Regulation didn’t do anything wrong by denying a permit to Ft. Myers Real Estate Holdings, a company trying to get the permit for the venue in Florida City, near Homestead. The permit, if issued, would allow a card room and possibly slot machines.

But the court documents and interviews with the players reveal a marked shift in the state’s handling of permits after Chuck Drago, Greer’s close friend and godfather of his oldest son, became secretary of the agency and after long-time DBPR Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering Director Dave Roberts was ousted.

Within a week after Greer demanded that Roberts be fired, Drago ordered deputy secretary Scott Ross to terminate the regulator, Ross testified in the case.

Drago denies being asked by Greer to get rid of Roberts, targeted by South Florida tracks angry over the quarter- horse permits and other issues.

“Nobody asked me to have Dave Roberts leave. That never happened,” Drago said.

If nothing else, the case dredged up Greer, who could become an embarrassment for Crist if the former Republican governor runs again next year.

Greer’s lawyer Damon Chase, in addressing the gambling issues, claimed Greer got his orders from Crist.

“Suffice it to say, Mr. Greer served at the pleasure of Charlie Crist during that time. Mr. Greer was steadfastly loyal to Charlie Crist and always followed instructions consistent with Mr. Crist’s agenda. Any involvement Mr. Greer would have had in this story would have been at Charlie Crist’s express direction,” Chase said in an e-mail.

SCOTT’S WEEK

Scott, meanwhile, spent his week in a flurry of activity that dealt with policy — but could also bolster his run against Crist or whichever Democrat emerges from the party’s primary.

Scott announced he would float $40 million next year to speed completion of a federal project intended to clean river water on the Treasure Coast, something quickly endorsed by Senate Appropriations Chairman Joe Negron, R-Stuart.

The governor wrote that “inaction” by the federal government to maintain the Herbert Hoover dike system around Lake Okeechobee has resulted in a need to relieve stress on the system through water releases.

Residents have blamed the releases for bringing polluted water into river systems on both sides of the state.

Scott’s proposal would help fund the C-44 Storm Water Treatment Area Project along the St. Lucie River.

A day later, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it would reduce water releases from Lake Okeechobee in the coming days as the lake level has subsided amid drier conditions.

“While today is a good step forward, there’s much more to be done,” Scott said in a news release following the announcement. “Any amount of water from the lake that’s dumped into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers impacts families in the area.”

He also joined the Cabinet in lambasting potential privacy violations and identity theft under part of the federal Affordable Care Act that creates what are known as “navigators.”

The health-care law, often known as “Obamacare,” is anathema to conservatives, particularly the tea-party activists who fueled Scott’s rise in 2010 from little-known health-care executive to governor.

Scott said the federal government needs to provide assurances that proper background checks will be in place in hiring the “navigators” and their assistants, who are expected to help people through the paperwork in signing up for health coverage.

“Federal safeguards that should be in place to protect our privacy are behind schedule and inadequate,” Scott said. “It is unclear how the federal government will protect personal information from being stolen or otherwise misused.”

But Leah Barber-Heinz, spokeswoman for Florida CHAIN, a patient-advocacy group, called the claims by Scott and the Cabinet members another “outrageous” attack on the federal program.

“They’re trying to scare people away, trying to distract from the important work of implementation in Florida,” Barber-Heinz said.

In a more moderate pitch, Scott announced Thursday that he was calling a three-day summit in Clearwater that will bring together political, business and education leaders. The summit is expected to address some of the highest-profile education issues in the state, including the state’s standards for student learning, the tests those students take, the grades assigned to schools and how teachers are evaluated.

“Florida’s education accountability system has become a national model, but we are at a critical point in our history,” Scott said in a news release announcing the summit. “Our students need and deserve a quality education that emphasizes critical thinking and analysis. Our teachers and schools need our support as we continue to compete nationally and globally in preparing students for success in college, career and in life.”

STORY OF THE WEEK: Allie Braswell, the first Democratic candidate to enter a 2014 statewide race with the backing of the party, withdraws after reports emerged showing the chief financial officer hopeful had previously declared bankruptcy.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “One reason things aren’t changing fast enough is there’s no anger, there’s no outrage in this room. Unfortunately, the people that would be outraged and angered are dead.”–Pat McCabe, a foster parent and Guardian ad Litem, during a town-hall meeting about an epidemic of deaths in recent months that has rocked the state’s child-welfare system.

by Brandon Larrabee, The News Service of Florida

Hands Across The Border: Troopers Cracking Down For Holiday

August 25, 2013

Troopers from Alabama and Florida will come together Monday and pledge to work together over the Labor Day holiday weekend to ensure drivers are maintaining safe speeds, not drinking and driving and always using their safety belts.

During the “Hands Across the Border” event, troopers from both states will meet at the Alabama Welcome Center on I-10 Monday morning at 9:45 and caravan to the Florida Welcome Center as a sign of mutual support in their efforts to reduce DUI crashes and fatalities during the Labor Day week in both states.

During the next week, law enforcement officers will crack down on unsafe driving through saturation patrols and checkpoints throughout the week.

Wahoos Stun Barons With 5-Run 8th Inning

August 25, 2013

Down by four runs headed to the last of the eighth inning, the Penascola Blue Wahoos erupted for an improbable five-run comeback to knock off the Birmingham Barons 5-4 in front of the 28th sellout crowd of the year at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium. The win proved to be crucial as the Wahoos gained a game on first place Jacksonville, who was no-hit on Saturday. Pensacola now sits three games out of first with eight games to go.

The Wahoos offense scattered seven hits in the first seven frames before finally breaking through against reliever Kevin Vance (L, 2-6) in the eighth inning. Ryan LaMarre started things off with a triple to right-center and scored two batters later on a single from Yorman Rodriguez. Mike Costanzo followed with an RBI double to make it 4-2 before Vance hit Tucker Barnhart and was pulled from the game.

Jarrett Casey entered for Birmingham and fired four straight balls to Travis Mattair to force in a run before walking Devin Lohman to tie the game at four. Corey Wimberly became the first out of the inning, but it was a productive run as his sacrifice fly to left scored Barnhart to give Pensacola their first lead of the game at 5-4.

Trevor Bell (S, 17) came on in the ninth for Pensacola and mowed down the Barons in order to pick up his franchise record 17th save of the year, moving the Wahoos to within three games of first place.

The epic comeback made a winner of Chris Manno (W, 4-3) who struck out two in a scoreless eighth inning. Daniel Renken got the start for Pensacola and posted a quality start, allowing three runs on eight hits in six innings.

Birmingham jumped out to a 2-0 lead on Renken in the third inning on a Trayce Thompson RBI infield single while another run scored on a throwing error by Lohman. In the sixth, Keenyn Walker drove home David Herbek with a single to make it 3-0 before Brandon Jacobs added a fourth run in the seventh on another infield single.

Barons starter Scott Carroll kept the Wahoos at bay through his five innings, allowing just five hits to go along with four strikeouts and a walk.

Winners of seven of their last eight, Pensacola will look to continue its playoff push on Sunday at 4 p.m. Jon Moscot (2-1, 4.95) gets the ball for the Wahoos against the Barons’ Chris Beck (0-2, 5.54)

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