Prevent Holiday Crime

December 24, 2013

During the Christmas season, busy shoppers sometimes fail to remain aware of their surroundings, making them easy prey for criminals.

“During the holidays, when we are often busy and in crowds, criminals see opportunities,” Sheriff David Morgan said. “Don’t give them easy chances to commit crimes. Be safe, lock your vehicle and look after your neighbors.”

The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office is offering the following safety tips:

  • Always lock your vehicle.
  • When parking your vehicle to go shopping, remember where you parked it.
  • Always park in a well lit and well traveled area. Do not park in a remote dark area.
  • Stay alert to your surroundings and the people around you.
  • Have your keys in hand when approaching your vehicle. You will be ready to unlock the door and will not be delayed by fumbling and looking for your keys.
  • When storing items purchased at the stores, place them out of sight. The best place is in a locked trunk.
  • Be alert that crooks look for the “high dollar” shopping bags with your purchases. When possible, slip bags/purchases in a plain nondescript bag.
  • Do not leave your purse, wallet, or cellular phone in plain view.
  • Don’t resist if someone tries to take any of your belongings. Don’t chase someone who robs you, they may have a weapon. Instead,call 911.
  • Lock your vehicle and put up your windows even while you are driving.
  • If you go to an automatic teller machine for cash, check for people around and make sure it is well lit and in a safe location.
  • Carry only the credit cards you need and avoid carrying large amounts of cash.
  • If you make a purchase with your credit card, be sure to obtain any carbons or see that they are destroyed in front of you.
  • Drive defensively. Traffic is heavier during the holidays. Drivers may also have indulged in too much holiday spirits.

Christmas Gas Prices Down, Travel Forecast Higher

December 24, 2013

Christmas gas prices are down a few pennies per gallon over last year, according to the latest numbers from AAA.

The average price per gallon of regular unleaded gas was $3.21 Monday night in Escambia County, compared to $3.15 one year ago and an improvement from $3.27 one month ago.

Gas prices have climbed slightly from the multi-year low of $3.18 per gallon on November 12, but AAA expects most drivers across the country will pay less than a year ago to fill up during the holiday season. Gas prices recently increased because of planned and unplanned maintenance at a number of refineries and seasonally stronger demand for gasoline. Prices should decline by the end of the year due to rising supplies and increased refinery production.

AAA projects 94.5 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the year-end holiday season, an increase of 0.6 percent from the 94 million people who traveled last year. This upward trend marks the fifth consecutive year of increases and the highest travel volume recorded for the season. The year-end holiday period is defined as Saturday, December 21 to Wednesday, January 1.

According to AAA:

  • Holiday travel to total 94.5 million, an increase of 0.6 percent from the 94 million who traveled last year.
  • Year-end holiday travel is expected to increase for the fifth consecutive year, reaching a new high since data has been collected by AAA.
  • Ninety-one percent of travelers or 85.8 million to travel by automobile, an increase of 0.9 percent.
  • Nearly 30 percent (29.7) of all Americans will take a trip this holiday, with more than one in four (27 percent) taking a road trip.
  • Holiday air travel is expected to decline slightly to 5.53 million travelers from 5.61 last year.
  • Median spending expected to increase slightly to $765, compared to $759 last year.

Pictured: A gallon of regular unleaded was $3.16 late Monday afternoon in Cantonment. NorthEscambia.com photo by Kristi Smith, click to enlarge.

Christmas Holiday Closures, Trash Pickup Changes

December 24, 2013

Here are holiday closures in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties:

ESCAMBIA COUNTY

Closed December 24, 25, 31 and January 1:

  • Escambia County Board of County Commissioners
  • Escambia County Property Appraiser
  • Escambia County Supervisor of Elections
  • West Florida Public Library System

Closed December 24, 25 and January 1:

  • Escambia County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller
  • Escambia County Tax Collector

Closed December 25 and January 1:

  • The Perdido Landfill

ECUA

  • Residential: Tuesday pickups on Tuesday. Wednesday pickups will be on Thursday; Thursday pickups will be on Friday and Friday pickups will be on Saturday. Commercial (dumpsters): No change.
  • ECUA offices will be closed on Tuesday, December 24, Wednesday, December 25 and Wednesday, January 1.

Escambia County Area Transit (ECAT) Schedule Changes:

  • ECAT busses will not run December 25 and January 1
  • UWF Trolleys will resume service January 5

CENTURY, JAY AND PENSACOLA

All city offices in Century, Jay and Pensacola will be closed December 24 and 25.

SANTA ROSA COUNTY

Closed December 24, 25

  • Santa Rosa County Board of County Commissioners, including the library system and animal shelter
    • The Central Landfill located on 6337 Da Lisa Road will be open from 7 a.m. – noon on Tuesday, Dec. 24.
  • Santa Rosa County Clerk of the Court
  • Santa Rosa County Property Appraiser
  • Santa Rosa County Supervisor of Elections
  • Santa Rosa County Tax Collector

FDOT Suspends Construction Work For Christmas, New Years Holidays

December 24, 2013

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) District Three office is suspending highway construction projects on major roadways across Northwest Florida.  There will be no work on state roads requiring lane restrictions through Friday, January 3, 2014.  All major roads will be open to normal traffic.

Although no construction closures are scheduled over the holiday weekend, existing state highway work zones will remain in effect. Motorists are reminded to use caution while traveling through work zones around barricades and equipment.

FDOT is encouraging drivers to allow extra travel time and to use extra caution in existing work zones along state highways. Drivers are urged to make sure they buckle up, along with their passengers. FDOT and other safety agencies also ask drivers to obey speed limits, get adequate rest before traveling, avoid distractions and never drink and drive.

Drivers also are urged to be prepared for unscheduled highway closures due to accidents, disabled vehicles or other events. Motorists should be alert to changing weather conditions while traveling.

FDOT Calls For Traffic Light, Hwy 29, Hwy 97 Intersection Redesign

December 23, 2013

The Florida Department of Transportation is recommending multiple changeat te intersection of Highway 29 and Highway 97 in Molino — including a red light and redesign of a portion of the intersection.

According to James Barfield, District 3 secretary for FDOT, a full study of the intersection has concluded that a traffic signal be installed. The study also found that intersection should be redesigned to eliminate the “5-leg intersection configuration” caused by a driveway connection to the Tom Thumb by a combination of strong access control at the driveway connection and a reduction of the existing median opening width.

In October, the Escambia County Commission affirmed its support for improvements at the intersection and expressed a willingness for the county to pay for the red light at the Highway 29 and Highway 97 intersection.

The Florida DOT, Barfield said in an email, will begin the process to implement the recommend improvements.  There is no timetable for completion.

The move came after residents of the all residential northern stretch of  Highway 95A from Highway 29 to Highway 97 unsuccessful pushed commissioners to enforce a truck ban on that portion of Highway 95A. Trucks currently turn south on Highway 95A at Highway 29 to avoid the Highway 29 and Highway 97 intersection altogether over safety concerns.

“This is great news for the safety of the residents and commuters of Escambia County. It is an example of multiple municipalities and agencies working together for the good of the citizens. Assistant Escambia County Administrator Larry Newsom, and Colby Brown, director of Escambia Traffic and Transportation, worked closely and cooperatively with the professionals in the  District 3 Florida Department of Transportation office in Chipley, headed by District Secretary Tommy Barfield,” Escambia County District 5 Commissioner Steve Barry said.

Barry said Sen. Greg Evers, Rep. Clay Ingram, Rep. Doug Broxson, Rep. Mike Hill, Rep. Matt Gaetz and Senate President Don Gaetz also advocated for the DOT to make safety improvements at the intersection.

Pictured: Traffic crashes at the Highway 29 and Highway 97 intersection in Molino. NorthEscambia.com file photos, click to enlarge.

Northview NJROTC Adopts A Highway

December 23, 2013

The Northview High School NJROTC Unit has adopted a portion of Highway 29 from Bogia to McDavid, taking part in the state’s Adopt-A-Highway partnership to remove litter. Recently, 19 cadets collected about 110 pounds of trash. Submitted photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Christmas Recipes: Red Velvet Cake, Holiday Dips

December 23, 2013

redvel.jpgThe holidays are a time when a lot of people head into the kitchen to cook for family and friends. You just can’t go wrong with a red velvet cake. We also have a couple of dip recipes just in time for your Christmas entertaining — a black bean dip and a hot cream cheese dip.

Red Velvet Cake
by Shirley Boone

CAKE

  • 1 ½ cups oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 2 ½ cups cake flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. cocoa
  • 1 oz bottle red food coloring
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Mix oil and sugar together. Add eggs and beat well. Add food coloring. Add vinegar to buttermilk and pour into oil mixture. Add vanilla. In small bowl combine cake flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Mix with other ingredients until well blended. Pour into 9 inch greased and floured pans. Bake at 350 degrees. Two pans bake for 30-35 minutes, three pans bake for 20-25 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes and wrap in plastic wrap until cool.

ICING

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 box confectioners sugar
  • 1 stick Parkay margarine, softened
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Mix all together until creamed. Spread on cooled cake.

Black Bean Dip
by Mona Brown

  • 2 cans black beans, drained
  • 2 cans shoe peg corn, drained
  • ½ bunch green onions, chopped
  • Sprinkle of garlic powder
  • Mix ½ cup olive oil, ½ cup apple cider vinegar and ½ cup sugar.

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix together. Marinate for 24 hours. Drain and add 8 ounces of feta cheese. Serve with Scoops.

Hot Cream Cheese Dip
from the Molino Homemakers Club

  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 1 cup cooked crumbled bacon
  • 3 stalks green onion diced
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Mix all ingredients and pour into a 9×9 glass pan or pie plate. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve warm with Chicken in a Biscuit crackers.

How Much Do Those Christmas Lights Cost On Your Power Bill?

December 23, 2013

Have you ever wondered just how much it costs to light up your house and tree for the holidays? Probably less than you think, according to Gulf Power. The utility says it costs about $1.40 to run a string of 200 miniature holiday lights for about five hours a day for 30 days.

To save money, the company recommends the purchase of LED Christmas lights — the cost to power 200 LED bulbs five hours a day is only about 19 cents for a month.  According to the Alliance to Save Energy, each LED bulb uses only about one-tenth of the energy used by traditional mini-lights. And, LED lights last a long time and don’t produce heat, which helps eliminate fire hazards.

Saturday Night Highway 29 Crash Claims One Life

December 22, 2013

A  traffic crash Saturday night in McDavid claimed the life of a Pensacola man.

The accident happened about 8:30 p.m. on Highway 29 near Highway 164. The Florida Highway Patrol said 61-year old Kim Jon Lagamba of Pensacola was southbound on Highway 29 when he failed to negotiate a curve. His 1995 Nissan Frontier entered the median and traveled about 450 feet before reentering Highway 29. The vehicle rotate several times before it traveled onto the shoulder, hit a culvert, become airborne and struck a tree. The vehicle then came to rest in a culvert.

Lagamba was ejected from the vehicle and  was pronounced deceased on the scene; there were no passengers in the vehicle. Lagamba was not wearing a seat belt, according to the FHP.

The accident is under investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol. The McDavid Station of Escambia Fire Rescue, Escambia County EMS and the Escambia County Sheriffs Office also responded to the crash.

Pictured: First responders on the scene of a fatal traffic crash Saturday night on Highway 29 in McDavid. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.

Beulahfest Announces Headliners

December 22, 2013

Beulahfest has announced their headliners for the annual two-day event in March — The Charlie Daniels Band and country star Rodney Atkins.

Rodney Atkins will perform on Friday, March 21, and The Charlies Daniels band will perform on Saturday, March 22.

The 28th Annual Beulahfest will have a new home this year. The event has been held for the past few years at the Escambia County Equestrian Center, but the March 21-22, 2014, festival will be held at the Pensacola Interstate Fairgrounds.

Pictured top: Country star Randy Houser performs at the 2012 Beulahfest. NorthEscambia.com file photo, click to enlarge.

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