The Magic Of Summer Reading Comes To The Library

June 9, 2016

The magic of the annual Summer Reading program entertained children in Century Wednesday morning.

The summer of free events features a variety of performers, including a balloon artist, musician, gymnastics team, magician, theatre group, reptile handler and juggler.  And the more children ages 0-17 read, the more prizes they can earn.

The June schedule for the remainder of the Summer Reading Club is as follows:

Mr. Bob’s Magic Show

Mr. Bob’s magic show includes mind blowing magic, music and lots of hilarious audience participation.

  • Thursday, June 9, 11 a.m. – Molino Branch Library
  • Thursday, June 9, 4 p.m. – Tryon Branch Library

Musician: Roger Day

Roger Day’s skilled musicianship combines with his wit and wordplay to create a musical experience that parents will enjoy as much as the kids.

  • Tuesday, June 14, 11 a.m. – Southwest Branch Library
  • Wednesday, June 15, 11 a.m. – Century Branch Library
  • Wednesday, June 15, 4 p.m. – Pensacola Library
  • Thursday, June 16, 11 a.m. – Molino Branch Library
  • Thursday, June 16, 4 p.m. – Tryon Branch Library

Pensacola Gymnastics

Enjoy the Pensacola Gymnastics team as they demonstrate agility, flexibility, self-confidence, teamwork, dedication, and determination.

  • Tuesday, June 21, 11 a.m. – Southwest Branch Library
  • Wednesday, June 22, 11 a.m. – Century Branch Library
  • Wednesday, June 22, 4 p.m. – Pensacola Library
  • Thursday, June 23, 11 a.m. – Molino Branch Library
  • Thursday, June 23, 4 p.m. – Tryon Branch Library

Dr. Magical Balloons

Enjoy amazing balloon sculptures and original stories as Dr. Magical Balloons captivates and astounds readers of all ages.

  • Tuesday, June 28, 11 a.m. – Southwest Branch Library
  • Wednesday, June 29, 11 a.m. – Century Branch Library
  • Wednesday, June 29, 4 p.m. – Pensacola Library
  • Thursday, June 30, 11 a.m. – Molino Branch Library

Pictured: Bob the Magician at the Century Branch Library Wednesday morning. photos by August Whorff, click to enlarge.

Jackson Gets 8-4 Win Over The Pensacola Blue Wahoos

June 9, 2016

All night Wednesday Jackson Generals DH Tyler O’Neill delivered and he did it again in the ninth inning when he hit a two-out, walk-off grand slam against Pensacola Blue Wahoos closer Carlos Gonzalez.

The Southern League Player of the Month for May drove in all eight of Jackson’s runs in its, 8-4, victory over Pensacola at The Ballpark in Jackson.

O’Neill entered the game going 1-9 with one run, a walk, one RBI and a strikeout in the series. But Wednesday, the 20-year-old was 3-4 with a run scored, a double and a home run. He’s now batting .332 with 11 homers and 51 RBIs on the season. He is second in homers and batting average and first in RBIs in the Southern League.

Both teams were tied, 4-4, after the first five innings. But both team’s relievers buckled down. Barrett Astin and Nick Routt held Jackson scoreless over 3.1 innings on two hits, a walk and three strikeouts.

But Pensacola’s Gonzalez took over in the ninth, loaded the bases and then gave up the grand slam with two outs to O’Neill.

Pensacola right-handed starter Rookie Davis worked 4.2 innings and allowed four runs on seven hits and a walk and struck out four.

Jackson relievers Forrest Snow and Dan Altavilla no-hit the Blue Wahoos over the last 3.2 innings with one walk and five strikeouts.

They came in for Generals starting pitcher Jordan Pries, who worked 5.1 innings and allowed four runs on eight hits, one walk and struck out seven.

It was a back and forth game up until the ninth inning. In the top of the second inning, Pensacola center fielder Phillip Ervin and first baseman Kyle Parker both hit solo home runs to left field to take a 2-1 lead. It was Ervin’s sixth and Parker’s fourth of the season. Pensacola left fielder Tony Renda singled to left field to drive in third baseman Eric Jagielo, who singled to center, to put the Blue Wahoos up, 3-1.

Jackson scored first in the first inning when O’Neill got his first run-batted in when he hit a sacrifice fly to center that scored center fielder Ian Miller to go ahead, 1-0.

O’Neill then knotted the score, 3-3, in the third inning when he smashed a single to left field that scored both shortstop Benji Gonzalez and right fielder Guillermo Heredia.

Pensacola’s Renda put the Blue Wahoos back on top in the fifth inning, 4-3, when he singled sharply to left field and scored when second baseman Brandon Dixon grounded out to second base.

O’Neill then smacked his 17th double of the season to drive in Heredia with two out and tie the game, 4-4, in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Pensacola is 15-18 on the road this season. They are now 33-25 on the season and are tied for first place with the Biloxi Shuckers.

Jackson, the Double-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners, owns the best record in the Southern League and sits atop the North Division at 39-20.

Dixon earned the Southern League Player of the Week honors but in the three games since is 0-9 with five strikeouts and two RBIs. During his six game hitting streak, he was 15-24 (.625) with eight homers and 19 RBIs.

A Fallen Angel Returns

June 8, 2016

The remains of a fallen Blue Angel were flown back to Pensacola Tuesday aboard Fat Albert with a Blue Angel jet escort.

Fat Albert, flying under the call sign “Blue Angel 6″, and Lead Solo Lt. Ryan Chamberlain flew over downtown Pensacola, Pensacola Beach and Perdido Key as thousands paid tribute to Capt. Jeff Kuss, who was killed in the crash of his Blue Angel jet in Smyra, TN.

A public candlelight vigil will be held for Kuss this Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at the Veterans Memorial Park in downtown Pensacola. The public is invited to gather with candles and American flags to pay tribute to the fallen pilot. Six minutes of silence will be observed as Kuss was the pilot of plane number six.

Kuss’ body is expected to be transported to his hometown of Durango, CO, for burial.

For a photo gallery, click here.

Just prior to Tuesday’s flyover, Blue Angels Commanding Officer Cmdr. Ryan Bernacchi released the following statement:

Good afternoon to all of the Blue Angels friends and supporters in Pensacola, Florida.

Presently, our number six pilot, the Opposing Solo, Capt. Jeff Kuss, is returning to Pensacola aboard Fat Albert, where he will be reunited with his family, friends, teammates, and the Pensacola community. Jeff absolutely loved our Sunday evening arrivals. Flying in over downtown, “smokin’ the beach” from Pensacola to Perdido, and then the hitting the Delta Pitch Up Break at sunset into Naval Air Station Pensacola. The smile I would see radiating under that gold visor was truly spectacular. It emanated the pride, passion, and pure joy that he felt representing the Navy and Marine Corps, flying Blue Angel 6.

Tonight, I hope you will join the team in saluting him as he flies that special route home to Pensacola again. He is flying in Fat Albert – callsign “Blue Angel 6”, and escorted by the Lead Solo, in Blue Angel 5.

As Jeff’s family and the Blue Angels have navigated this immensely difficult time, a constant gift has been the unwavering support from our hometown of Pensacola, and from all across this great nation.

This great city, and also this great nation has lost a Blue Angel.  We are all grieving this tremendous loss, and inspired by the life he lived so incredibly well.

Our number one priority now is to assist the Kuss family in honoring Jeff and returning him to Durango, Colorado, where he will be surrounded by his beautiful family.  We thank you for your continuous support, and will honor Jeff with you at the Candlelight Vigil.


When you see the Solos overhead tonight, please send him your thoughts, prayers, and a Semper Fi.        ~Boss

For a photo gallery, click here. photos by Ditto Gorme and Kristi Barbour, click to enlarge.

Chamber To Fight Worker’s Compensation Coverate Rate Increase

June 8, 2016

The Greater Pensacola Chamber announced Tuesday that it will fight the spike in workers’ compensation rates that will take place this summer. As a result of a recent Florida Supreme Court ruling, workers’ compensation rates in Florida are scheduled to rise by 17.1 percent on August 1.

“We surveyed our Chamber membership and found that our local business community is adamantly opposed to this workers’ compensation rate hike,” stated Greater Pensacola Chamber Board Chairman Gary Bembry. “We also heard loud and clear that our membership wants the Chamber to join the fight in finding a solution to this onerous rate increase.”

Eighty-seven percent of respondents to the Greater Pensacola Chamber’s membership survey said this rise in workers’ compensation rates will have a negative impact on their business, and 97 percent of survey respondents want the Chamber to engage in fighting this increase.

The Greater Pensacola Chamber will partner with the Florida Chamber of Commerce and other pro-business groups to find a legislative solution to this increase.

Committee’s Plans For Former Century High School Brick Memorial Almost Complete

June 8, 2016

A committee working to decide how to preserve bricks from the former Century High School in a monument has almost finalized their plans.

They anticipate that engraved bricks will be sold at $50 each to be placed around a 1936 monument and flagpole salvaged from the former school, which was demolished due to tornado damage. In total, about 3,000 bricks were saved from the school building for the project.

The committee is exploring the possibility of constructing the monument at, or very near, the actual site of the former Century High School on Hecker Road. Other sites that were considered included the Alger-Sullivan Historical Park, the Nadine McCaw Park and Showalter Park.

It is expected that the bricks will be on sale before the end of June. Complete purchase details will be published on

Pictured top:  Mayor Freddie McCall, center, addresses the “Brick and Monument Committee” Tuesday evening in Century. Pictured below: A sample engraving on an actual brick from the former Century High School. photos, click to enlarge.

Ohio Youth Groups Helps With Century Tornado Cleanup

June 8, 2016

Almost two dozen youth from the First United Methodist Church in Van Wert, OH, spent their Tuesday hard at work cleaning up tornado damage in Century.

Century was hit by an EF-3 tornado on February 15.

The youth and their leaders were on their way to Orange Beach, stopping for the day of service in Century.

“We are hopeful that what we are doing will be a blessing for the people of Century,” one of the volunteers said.

For more photos, click here. photos, click to enlarge.

Century Council Schedules Workshops, Moves July 4 Meeting

June 8, 2016

The Century Town Council has scheduled several public workshops and has rescheduled their July 4 meeting.

The regular first Monday of the month July 4 Century Town Council meeting has been rescheduled for July 11 at 7 p.m.

The council will hold a public meeting with the Florida Department of Transportation on Monday, July 13 at 6 p.m.

And the town council has scheduled budget workshops at 4 p.m. on every Thursday in July and the first Thursday in August.

All meetings are open to the public will be held in the council chamber at the Century Town Hall.

Justices Look At Semantics, ‘Common Sense’ In Slots Fight

June 8, 2016

In a case that could have broad implications for the state’s gambling footprint, a tiny horse track operated by the Poarch Creek Indians of Atmore on Tuesday tried to convince Florida Supreme Court justices that it should have slot machines, even without the express approval of the Legislature.

Marc Dunbar, a lawyer and part-owner of Gretna Racing in Gadsden County, relied on a semantic analysis to try to persuade the justices that a 2009 state law gave the track permission to let voters decide whether slots should be allowed at the pari-mutuel.

The Supreme Court’s ruling will likely affect gambling operations in Gadsden and at least five other counties — Brevard, Hamilton, Lee, Palm Beach and Washington — where voters have also approved referendums authorizing slots at local pari-mutuels.

The Gretna case hinges on the parsing of a 2009 law establishing eligibility for slot machines at pari-mutuels. The 2009 law, which went into effect the following year, was an expansion of a 2004 voter-approved constitutional amendment that authorized slot machines at seven existing horse and dog tracks and jai-alai frontons in Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

The 2009 change allowed a Hialeah track, which wasn’t operating at the time the amendment was approved, to also operate the lucrative slots. The law in question consists of three clauses, including one that deals with “any licensed pari-mutuel facility in any other county,” outside of Broward and Miami-Dade.

Dunbar insisted that the “third clause” gave permission to counties to hold referendums to allow slots at local pari-mutuels.

“It’s very clear,” Dunbar said. “The Legislature knows the words it uses, and uses them intentionally.”

But Deputy Solicitor General Jonathan Williams, representing the state, argued that lawmakers had no intention of such a massive expansion of gambling when they crafted the statute.

“The Legislature did not intend to legalize slot machines statewide” when it changed the law, Williams argued. The 2009 law allows counties outside Miami-Dade and Broward to legalize slot machines only if the Legislature or a constitutional amendment gives them permission, he said.

But several of the justices were troubled by both explanations of what lawmakers — historically averse to expanding gambling — meant when they crafted the statute.

Dunbar’s interpretation would amount to “a huge turn for the Legislature,” Justice Barbara Pariente said.

“Which is to basically say in 65 other counties, you just have to have a referendum, and you’re fine,” she said. “This would have been a very, very significant expansion of slot machines … and there is nary a mention in the legislative record of this kind of change.”

At the same time, Pariente, along with Justice R. Fred Lewis, seemed perplexed by the state’s suggestion that the lawmakers’ language did not authorize counties to do anything.

“If it’s creating this false sense that other counties can do this, why would it be in there?” Pariente said. “It just seems bizarre that that would be what the Legislature intended.”

Lewis appeared to dismiss the parsing of the statute.

“We can get all wrapped up in all the words and phrases and need an English professor to tell us what these things mean,” Lewis said.

“If we said that it’s an eligible facility, but you can’t get a license, this whole thing makes no sense. Don’t we have to make some common sense with this whole thing that we’re faced with?” Lewis asked.

But the Supreme Court “is the place where words are interpreted,” Dunbar said.

“That’s where policy arguments are made,” he said, pointing toward the Capitol building across the street from the Supreme Court.

Tuesday’s arguments came after the 1st District Court of Appeal overturned itself in October and ruled in a 2-1 decision that the Northwest Florida racetrack cannot have slot machines without the authorization of the Legislature, despite county voters’ approval.

The majority in the October ruling sided with Attorney General Pam Bondi and Gov. Rick Scott’s administration, which sought a rehearing after a 2-1 ruling last spring in favor of Gretna Racing.

In both decisions, the appellate judges asked the Florida Supreme Court to weigh in on the issue of whether pari-mutuels can have slot machines if local voters approve, or if the games require the express say-so of the Legislature.

“The Legislature obviously was only dealing with Dade and Broward. That’s what they were dealing with. Nobody was standing up and having a debate about 65 other counties. If that had happened, I know a couple of my colleagues’ heads would have exploded,” Dan Gelber, a state senator at the time the law passed, told reporters after the hearing.

Gelber, a lawyer, represents former Gov. and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, who filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case, arguing that Florida’s Constitution requires a statewide vote for slots outside of Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

The Gretna facility, owned by the Poarch Creek Indians of Atmore and a handful of investors, has been in the spotlight since its inception. Florida officials granted the track the country’s first pari-mutuel license for rodeo-style barrel racing, but a court later decided that gambling regulators erred when they awarded the license.

Gambling regulators in 2014 denied a slots license for the track, built to accommodate slot machines and which also operates a cardroom.

A Supreme Court decision in favor of Gretna would not only affect pari-mutuels in other counties, but could shrink state coffers.

Under a 20-year agreement finalized in 2010 between the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the state, the tribe has exclusive rights to operate slot machines outside of pari-mutuels in Broward and Miami-Dade counties. The state reaps about $120 million a year from the revenue-sharing agreement.

by Dara Kam, The News Service of Florida

Jail Demolition Delayed Pending Settlement

June 8, 2016

The demolition of the Escambia County Central Booking and Detention Facility has been delayed pending litigation and a potential settlement related to the April 30, 2014, natural gas explosion at the facility. The delay comes at the recommendation of the county’s liability carriers, the liability carriers for AE New Jr. Inc. and Caldwell Associates Architects Inc., along with other subcontractors and suppliers who performed the renovation of the basement of the CBD, which housed laundry and kitchen facilities.

The liability carriers, subcontractors and suppliers are proposing a global settlement of all claims with plaintiff inmates who have filed suit and those inmates and correctional personnel who have potential claims for injuries sustained from the gas explosion. Until the settlement becomes final, the CBD cannot be demolished, as parties involved in the pending litigation and those considering litigation must have the opportunity to access the facility to inspect, test and photograph should settlement negotiations terminate or come to an impasse, according to a statement released Tuesday by Escambia County.

It is hoped that a settlement will be reached in the coming months, as all parties are working hard toward that goal, the county said.

Pictured: The Central Booking and Detention Center was damaged beyond repair during a natural gas explosion following flooding on April 30. 2014. file photo, click to enlarge.

Travel Related Zika Case Reported In Escambia County

June 8, 2016

The Florida Department of Health reported a travel-related case of the Zika virus in Escambia County, and a Declaration of Public Health Emergency was updated to include Escambia County.

The Escambia County case was one of five new travel related cases announced Tuesday, along with cases in Hillsborough, Osceloa, Palm Beach and Seminole counties. A case was previous reported in Santa Rosa County in February.

All Zika cases reported in Florida have been associated with travel. There have been no locally-acquired cases of Zika in Florida.

There have been 171 total cases reported in Florida, 33 of which were pregnant women.

The department urges Floridians to drain standing water weekly, no matter how seemingly small. A couple drops of water in a bottle cap can be a breeding location for mosquitoes. Residents and visitors also need to use repellents when enjoying the Florida outdoors.

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