Escambia Man Sentenced For Burglaries

September 13, 2016

Monday, an Escambia County man was sentenced to prison for two burglaries.

State Attorney Bill Eddins announced that Jeremy Brandon Stinson was sentenced  by Circuit Judge Paul Rasmussen as a habitual felony offender and prison releasee reoffender to 25 years in state prison. Stinson will serve 15 years of the 25 year sentence day for day.

Stinson was convicted last month by an Escambia County jury of two counts of burglary of a dwelling, petit theft and criminal mischief. On June 18, 2015, Stinson burglarized two neighboring residences in Escambia County.

Jeremy Brandon Stinson was previously incarcerated in Alabama for burglary and was  released on May 14, 2015. His prior criminal history includes multiple burglaries, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and drug possession.

Battle Lines Set Amid Tighter Budget State Budget Forecast

September 13, 2016

With a budget shortfall looming in future years, lawmakers began setting the stage Monday for a fight over state spending during the 2017 legislative session.

The Joint Legislative Budget Commission, a panel of House and Senate members charged with supervising spending while the Legislature is out of session, approved a long-range financial outlook for the state Monday.

In the coming budget year, which begins July 1, the outlook projects a surplus of just $7.5 million — a tiny sliver of the state spending plan, which is now roughly $82 billion. The following year, a budget gap of $1.3 billion could open up, followed by $1.8 billion the year after that.

Republicans, who have run the state budget process for two decades, quickly zeroed in on a culprit: The state is being wasteful with the money that it has.

“It is 100 percent because of spending. Nothing else,” said incoming House Speaker Richard Corcoran, a Land O’ Lakes Republican who has been budget chief for two years.

Corcoran dismissed suggestions that the $784.9 million in tax cuts and tax holidays that lawmakers have approved over the last three years helped to create the situation the Legislature now faces. Instead, he suggested that reducing state government’s current spending will be the focus.

He specifically highlighted spending on incentives for businesses — something that the House has opposed — and said that in the coming session, the Legislature would likely discuss doing away with Enterprise Florida, the state’s public-private economic development agency.

“I think that we’ve got to move away from spending money on the 1 percent and start spending money on essential services for the people that need it most,” Corcoran said. “Spending money in economic development is a bad idea.”

At the same time, there are already proposals that would pour more money into some areas of the state budget. Incoming Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, has pushed an additional $1 billion for higher education, as well as a plan to use bonds and federal money to boost Everglades restoration.

Corcoran said those ideas were not off the table but would have to be offset with cuts elsewhere.

Democrats, meanwhile, suggested that tax cuts were to blame. Rep. Janet Cruz, who is set to lead the House Democrats next year, issued a statement calling for lawmakers to take a look at those tax cuts before slicing spending.

“Actions have consequences,” Cruz, D-Tampa, said. “The last two years in particular, and for many years before, the majority has made decisions that are costing us now and into the future. Tax breaks that for the most part benefit big business interests mean we won’t have the flexibility to put the people of Florida first.”

The dueling positions suggested a possible return to the budget fights the played out in the Capitol after the financial downturn in 2008. Republicans leaned heavily on spending cuts while Democrats called for measures that would increase revenue. The GOP at the time agreed to increase tobacco taxes and motor-vehicle registration fees, which have since been rolled back, but avoided broad-based tax increases.

There are conclusions in the new long-range financial outlook that could change the potential shortfalls, in some cases dramatically. For example, the outlook assumes some increases in spending on areas like education and health care, projecting those areas to be handled the same as they have been in recent budget years.

The report includes a three-year average of tax cuts and projects similar decisions in the coming session.

It accounts for lawmakers setting aside $1 billion each year to deal with unexpected changes in the economy or additional needs that could crop up. No major changes are expected to that policy because lowering the state’s reserves substantially could make it more expensive to issue bonds to pay for construction needs.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Tom Lee, R-Brandon, noted that state economists will produce two more forecasts of revenues before the Legislature sits down to write the budget next spring. He also said other events, including potential approval of a new gambling agreement with the Seminole Tribe of Florida, could ease the shortfall.

“You could have a gaming compact. You could have some good things that happen,” Lee said.

by Brandon Larrabee, The News Service of Florida

Construction Begins On Highway 29 Widening Project

September 12, 2016

Construction activities will begin on Highway 29 from I-10 to one-half mile north of Nine Mile Road and near the Highway 29 overpass this week as crews begin mobilizing equipment and installing construction signs.

Improvements include widening Highway 29 from four to six lanes, replacing the existing twin bridges over Nine Mile Road with a single bridge, adding roadway lighting, sidewalks, bike lanes, improving signalization and performing drainage upgrades.  The project is slated for completion summer 2020.

Other construction activities will include installing erosion control, as well as clearing and trees and shrubs around the stormwater retention ponds, which should not affect traffic. Various utility companies will also be performing utility relocations throughout the project area.

Motorists will encounter lane closures near the Highway 29 overpass as workers prepare the area for the bridge replacement Sunday, September 18. Lane closures will only be permitted between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Construction activities are weather dependent and might be delayed or rescheduled in the event of inclement weather. Drivers are reminded to use caution and watch for construction workers and equipment entering and exiting the roadway. photos, click to enlarge.


Scouts Surprise Local Heroes On 9/11

September 12, 2016

To mark 9/11 on Sunday, Webelos Scouts from Pack 499 and a girl scout from Troop 913, surprised local heroes at the Ferry Pass Fire Station with baked goods, handshakes and thank-yous for all they do everyday to protect the local community. The scouts also received a station tour. Photos for, click to enlarge.

Thousands Unite In Prayer On 9/11 In Bay Center Program

September 12, 2016

Thousands of people from churches across the area united Sunday for a night of prayer for our region, our county and the Body of Christ across the world.  Pastor Ted Traylor of Olive Baptist Church and Pastor Joey Rogers of Pace Assembly Ministries worked together to host the event to unit the community through prayer.

In addition to Traylor and Rogers, scheduled speakers included Police Chief David Alexander, Pastor Ken Hall, Pastor Evon Horton, David Mayo, Chaplain Eric Melvin, Congressman Jeff Miller, Pastor John Spencer, and Pastor Bernard Yates.

For more photos, click here.

Photos for, click to enlarge.

First Baptist Cantonment Honors First Responders With BBQ

September 12, 2016

The First Baptist Church of Cantonment held a special First Responder BBQ Picnic Sunday afternoon to honor local law enforcement, EMS and firefighters that dedicate their lives to service and protect. In the inset photo, the super-size serving is heading for delivery to the Molino Station of Escambia Fire Rescue. Courtesy photos for, click to enlarge.

Bonus Gallery: Tate High School Homecoming

September 12, 2016

For  a Tate Homecoming 2016 photo gallery, click here.

The photo gallery includes the Homecoming Court, crowning of Homecoming Queen Gloria Jones, the Tate Showband, cheerleaders, ROTC and plenty of football actions shots. photos by Kristi Barbour, click to enlarge.

Bonus Photo Gallery: Northview At Gulf Breeze

September 12, 2016

Click here for a photo gallery from Friday night’s Northview at Gulf Breeze game. photos by Gary Amerson, click to enlarge.

One Injured In Mobile Highway Crash

September 12, 2016

One person was injured in a crash Sunday night on Mobile Highway at Klondike Road. Further details have not yet been released by the Florida Highway Patrol as they continue their investigation. photos by Kristi Barbour, click to enlarge.

FDOT: Weekly Traffic Alerts

September 12, 2016

Drivers will encounter traffic disruptions on the following state roads in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties as crews perform construction and maintenance activities.

Drivers will encounter traffic disruptions on the following state roads in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties as crews perform construction and maintenance activities.

Escambia County:

  • Interstate 10 (I-10) / U.S. 29 Interchange – Drivers will experience the following impacts on I-10 and U.S. 29 from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 11 through Thursday, Sept. 15.
    • The inside lanes of U.S. 29 north and southbound near the I-10 interchange will be closed for drainage improvements.
    • The outside lane of I-10 eastbound near U.S. 29 will be closed as crews perform shoulder work.
    • The U.S. 29 north to I-10 eastbound ramp will be intermittently closed as crews work on the shoulder of the roadway. Traffic will be detoured north to make a U-turn at Broad Street and access I-10 eastbound.
    • Survey crews will be working on I-10 east and westbound and the I-10 ramps near U.S. 29 from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Monday, Sept. 12 through Thursday, Sept. 15. Please use extra caution when driving through the project work zone.
  • I-10 Widening – Intermittent and alternating lane closures between State Road (S.R.) 291 (Davis Highway/Exit 13) and U.S. 90 (Scenic Highway/Exit 17), from 7 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. the week of Monday, Sept. 12 as crews place pavement markers.
  • S.R. 8A (I-110) Overpass Downtown- The northbound right lane will be closed from 8 p.m. Monday, September 12 to 5 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 13 as crews perform routine maintenance on the bridge structure.

Santa Rosa County:

  • I-10 WideningAlternating lane closures between the Escambia Bay Bridge and S.R. 281 (Avalon Boulevard/Exit 22) from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 11 through Thursday, Sept. 15 as crews continue widening work. In addition, there will be alternating lane closures on Avalon Boulevard near the I-10 interchange for bridge work.

All activities are weather dependent and may be delayed or re-scheduled in the event of inclement weather. Drivers are reminded to use caution, especially at night, when traveling in a work zone and to watch for construction workers and equipment entering and exiting the roadway.

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