Escambia District Approves Upcoming School Year Calendars

November 18, 2015

The Escambia County School District has approved calendars for the next two school years.

The calendars begin school on August 10, and both years include a full week out of school at Thanksgiving (a combination fall break and Thanksgiving holiday).

The calendars were approved by the Escambia County School Board Tuesday evening.

To view both calendars, click here (pdf).

District 5 Member Slayton Named School Board Chairman

November 18, 2015

District 5 Escambia County School Board member Bill Slayton was selected Tuesday as board chairman for the next year. S

Slayton is in his second term on the school board. He is a retired educator, with 36 years experience as an employee in the Escambia School District at Tate High School as a teacher, administrator, assistant principal and principal. He holds a bachelor’s degree and a Masters of Education Degree from the University of Southern Mississippi and an administrative certification from the University of West Florida.

District 3 member Linda Moultrie was named vice-chair.

Survey: Grocery Prices Down A Bit This Fall

November 18, 2015

Lower retail prices for several foods, including whole milk, cheddar cheese, bacon and apples resulted in a slight decrease in the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Fall Harvest Marketbasket Survey.

The informal survey shows the total cost of 16 food items that can be used to prepare one or more meals was $54.14, down $.12 or less than 1 percent compared to a survey conducted a year ago. Of the 16 items surveyed, 10 decreased and six increased in average price.

Higher milk and pork production this year has contributed to the decrease in prices on some key foods.

“Energy prices, which affect everything in the marketbasket, have been quite a bit lower compared to a year ago. Processing, packaging, transportation and retail operations are all fairly energy-intensive,” said John Anderson, AFBF’s deputy chief economist. Lower energy prices account for much of the modest decrease in the marketbasket.

The following items showed retail price decreases from a year ago:

  • whole milk, down 17 percent to $3.14 per gallon
  • bacon, down 11 percent to $4.55 per pound
  • apples, down 7 percent $1.45 per pound
  • shredded cheddar, down 5 percent to $4.56 per pound
  • flour, down 4 percent to $2.37 per five-pound bag
  • bagged salad, down 4 percent to $2.46 per pound
  • vegetable oil, down 3 percent to $2.61 for a 32-ounce bottle
  • Russet potatoes, down 3 percent to $2.64 for a five-pound bag
  • white bread, down 1 percent to $1.69 for a 20-ounce loaf
  • chicken breast, down 1 percent to $3.42 per pound

These items showed modest retail price increases compared to a year ago:

  • eggs, up 56 percent to $3.04 per dozen
  • orange juice, up 7 percent to $3.43 per half-gallon
  • ground chuck, up 6 percent to $4.55 per pound
  • toasted oat cereal, up 3 percent to $3.09 for a nine-ounce box
  • sirloin tip roast, up 3 percent to $5.67 per pound
  • sliced deli ham, up 1 percent to $5.47 per pound

“As expected we saw higher egg prices because we lost so much production earlier this year due to the avian influenza situation in Iowa, Minnesota and some other Midwestern states,” Anderson said.

Price checks of alternative milk and egg choices not included in the overall marketbasket survey average revealed the following: 1/2 gallon regular milk, $2.21; 1/2 gallon organic milk, $4.79; and one dozen “cage-free” eggs, $4.16.

The year-to-year direction of the marketbasket survey tracks closely with the federal government’s Consumer Price Index report for food at home. As retail grocery prices have increased gradually over time, the share of the average food dollar that America’s farm and ranch families receive has dropped.

“Through the mid-1970s, farmers received about one-third of consumer retail food expenditures for food eaten at home and away from home, on average. Since then, that figure has decreased steadily and is now about 16 percent, according to the Agriculture Department’s revised Food Dollar Series,” Anderson said.

Using the “food at home and away from home” percentage across-the-board, the farmer’s share of this $54.14 marketbasket would be $8.66.

AFBF, the nation’s largest general farm organization, began conducting informal quarterly marketbasket surveys of retail food price trends in 1989.

Man Convicted Of Stealing Guardrail, EBT Fraud

November 17, 2015

An Escambia County man has been convicted for stealing tons of steel guardrail from his McDavid employer, fraudulently installing the guardrail in two states and fraudulently using state EBT funds for years.

Barry Paul Fehr, 53, pleaded no contest Monday to multiple felony charges including grand theft, fraud – unauthorized user of public assistance and fraud – swindle obtaining property. Fehr was adjudicated guilty and sentenced to five years probation and 45 days in the county jail with an eligibility for work release.  He was also ordered to pay restitution to both his former employer and the State of Florida, with a full amount still to be determined.

Fehr  billed a contractor using Highway Specialties letterhead after representing himself as owner of the company and using letterhead to prepare quotes and establish contracts so that he would be paid personally for the installation of guardrail components on federal, state and local roadways.

He billed the contractor $6,300 for guardrail installed on I-10 and $500 for a guardrail repair on I-110 at Brent Lane, according to an arrest report. Investigators said he took inventory from Highway Specialties stock and transported it to the job site and performed the installation himself.

In a separate incident, Fehr allegedly negotiated a contract with Biles Construction for guardrail that was installed in Semmes, AL, and billed the company on Highway Specialties letterhead with his name at the top of the invoice. The guardrail used had been purchased by Highway Specialties for a project in Okaloosa County, but was reportedly taken from their inventory by Fehr.

The owner of Biles Construction told investigators that he was asked to pay for the guardrail in cash. When the company refused, Fehr reportedly asked that the $8,550 check be made out to him personally instead of Highway Specialties because he was going through a “nasty divorce”, the arrest report states.

Fehr was also charged with unrelated counts of grand theft and fraud after an investigation found that he  sold 30,145 pounds of steel highway guardrail components in 19 transactions to Wise Recycling without the permission of Highway Specialties for a total of $3,428.

The investigation also found Fehr in possession of additional guardrail components owned by Highway Specialties and valued at $2,135, the report states.

Several times, Fehr represented himself in a capacity to complete jobs and accept payment without proper invoicing and receipts, investigators said. Within the past two years, deputies said Fehr and his crew installed 150 feet of guardrail on I-10 and was paid $5,200 outside the scope of Highway Specialties.

Fehr was also convicted of paying cash at one-half the face value for  State of Florida EBT cards over the past five years. He then used the card as his own, fraudulently obtaining thousands of dollars worth of benefits.

Evers Files Bill to Block EPA Clean Power Program

November 17, 2015

Two Republican lawmakers want to keep Florida from having to follow new federal clean-energy regulations while the state backs a legal challenge to an Obama administration rule aimed at reducing carbon emissions from power plants.  Sen. Greg Evers, R-Baker and Rep. Manny Diaz Jr., R-Hialeah, filed similar legislation Thursday opposing the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan.

The plan, released by the EPA in August, sets limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants and is intended to help states reduce dependence on coal and other fossil fuels while increasing the use of cleaner energy sources. In a news release, Diaz contended the federal rules put thousands of coal-related jobs in the state at risk and could cause “skyrocketing energy costs” by requiring carbon dioxide emissions to be reduced in Florida by 26 percent.

“As a state representative it is my job to ensure that over burdensome regulations do not hurt Florida’s most financially vulnerable citizens,” Diaz said in the release. “It is also my job to push back against a regulation that was adopted by unelected bureaucrats who do not understand what the cost to Floridians will actually be.”

Under the proposed bills, no rules could be implemented in Florida that would limit or attempt to limit carbon-dioxide emissions from existing sources as a means to comply with the federal regulations until either Congress enacts legislation or a final court ruling upholds the legality of the plan.

Attorney General Pam Bondi has joined a multi-state lawsuit challenging the federal plan. The lawsuit was filed Oct. 23 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

by The News Service of Florida

Pictured: Gulf Power’s Crist plant in Escambia County. File photo.

Scott Moves To Keep Syrian Refugees Out Of Florida

November 17, 2015

Gov. Rick Scott wants to close Florida’s borders to additional refugees from Syria in the wake of Friday’s terrorist assault on Paris in which at least one of the attackers held a Syrian passport.

Scott advised U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in a letter Monday that the Florida Department of Children and Families, which receives federal funds, won’t assist efforts to relocate the up to 425 Syrian refugees destined to be resettled in Florida.

As the move doesn’t preclude federal officials from resettling Syrian refugees by working with local social-service agencies, Scott also asked in the letter for congressional leaders to prevent funding for such relocations to Florida or anywhere else within the U.S.

“As the federal elected body that exercises oversight and authorizes federal spending, please take any action available through the powers of the United States Congress to prevent federal allocations toward the relocation of Syrian refugees without extensive examination into how this would affect our homeland security,” Scott wrote.

Appearing on former Reagan administration official Bill Bennett’s radio show Monday, Ryan said he is looking for the “best legislative option we have” and has directed lawmakers to come up with recommendations to determine how to ensure terrorists won’t be able to mix with actual refugees.

“Look, we’ve always been a generous nation taking in refugees,” Ryan said. “But this is a unique situation. This is a situation where you have single men coming over, which is not women and children.”

Scott’s letter came as Republican presidential candidates questioned the nation’s Syrian refugee policy, governors in a number of other states announced they wouldn’t accept more Syrian refugees, and Florida U.S. Senate candidate Ron DeSantis quickly moved to infuse the refugee issue into next year’s Senate race.

“We have to err on the side of protecting the American people and we cannot run the risk of bringing terrorists into the United States,” DeSantis, a Republican from Northeast Florida, said in a release.

Also, state Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, and his son, state Rep. Matt Gaetz, R- Fort Walton Beach, offered support to Scott for any border-closing legislation.

The Gaetzes wrote in a letter that the terrorist attacks “in France underscore a stark reality — that no one anywhere is entirely safe from the murderous reach of ISIS and radical Islam. The president of France has called these attacks by ISIS against a civilian population ‘an act of war.’ European governments have closed or may close their borders. The increasing likelihood that mass migration of Syrian refugees may be infiltrated with terrorists makes it necessary that extraordinary vigilance be exercised before accepting this unplanned resettlement.”

The Gaetzes added that Florida has in the past “done its share” regarding refugees, but the “current circumstance is far more different and far more dangerous than any other time when we have been asked to open our borders and communities.”

Coordinated attacks by Islamic State, or ISIS, terrorists killed 129 people Friday in Paris and left hundreds injured.

An estimated 4 million people have left Syria due to its ongoing civil war, with many traveling to Europe. In September, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry pledged the United States would take in 15,000 Syrian refugees in the current fiscal year and another 85,000 the following fiscal year.

Florida has already received a little more than 100 refugees, according to the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.

Scott is not alone in seeking to block Syrian refugees from his state. Governors in Arizona, Arkansas, Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Ohio and Wisconsin have also announced they will refuse to accept any more Syrians.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who is running for president, said Sunday that U.S. aid should focus on Christians fleeing persecution in Syria.

“I think we need to do thorough screening and take in a limited number,” Bush said while appearing on the CNN “State of the Union” show. “There are a lot of Christians in Syria that have no place now. They’ll be either executed or imprisoned, either by (President Bashar al-Assad) or by ISIS. We should focus our efforts as it relates to the refugees for the Christians that are being slaughtered.”

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, also running for president and also appearing on a Sunday news show, ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” said that the U.S. “won’t be able to take more refugees.”

“It’s not that we don’t want to,” Rubio said. “It’s that we can’t.”

by Jim Turner, The News Service of Florida

File photo.

Hayward Appointed To Volunteer Florida Commission

November 17, 2015

Gov. Rick Scott has appointed seven people to the Volunteer Florida Commission, including Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward.

Hayward, 45,  fills a vacant seat and was appointed for a term that began November 13, 2015, and ends September 14, 2018.

Kerry Schultz, 40, of Gulf Breeze, is an attorney with Fountain, Schultz and Associates. She was reappointed for a term beginning November 13, 2015, and ending September 14, 2018.

The other appointees, all of which much be confirmed by the Florida Senate, are from across the remainder of Florida.

Volunteer Florida CEO Chester Spellman said, “Volunteer Florida is grateful for these outstanding appointments by Governor Scott. Volunteer Florida Commissioners are servant leaders who work every day to make Florida a better place to live, work, raise a family, and serve our neighbors. We look forward to continuing to work with our Commission to fulfill this mission.”

Escambia River Muzzle Loaders Make Donation To Escambia Fire Rescue

November 17, 2015

The Escambia River Muzzle Loaders stopped by the Cantonment Station of Escambia Fire Rescue with a donation Monday. They donated a turkey, spiral ham and $200 for the Escambia County Professional Firefighters Local 4131 burn fund charity. Courtesy photo for, click to enlarge.

International Paper Wins Water Stewardship Award For ECUA Partnership

November 17, 2015

International Paper in Cantonment was recognized as a leader in sustainability with a 2015 AF&PA Sustainability Award from the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA).

IP eceived the Leadership in Sustainability Award for water conservation efforts, specifically for their partnership with the Emerald Coast Utilities Authority (ECUA). Designed to recognize exemplary sustainability programs and initiatives in the paper and wood products manufacturing industry, AF&PA’s annual sustainability awards are given based on the merit of entries received across multiple categories.

“By introducing the use of reclaimed water to displace freshwater consumption, International Paper is reducing its water use at its Pensacola mill and protecting the local ecosystem,” said AF&PA President and CEO Donna Harman.

Through the partnership, IP receives treated effluent from ECUA that it uses in its industrial processes. This allowed International Paper to reduce its freshwater consumption, while ECUA has found a beneficial outlet for its treated effluent.

“I would like to thank AF&PA for acknowledging our achievements at our Pensacola mill,” said International Paper Chairman & CEO Mark Sutton. “This project demonstrates our commitment to water stewardship in the communities where we live and work.”

Northview Cross Country Team Members Honored

November 17, 2015

Northview High School held their annual cross country banquet Monday night.

The following awards were presented:

  • Fastest Female: Moria McGahan
  • Fastest Male: Brandon Korinchak
  • Most Improved: Tamara Barrows
  • Jim Ross Memorial Award: Triston Reaves
  • Junmi Ross Memorial Award: Moriah McGahan
  • Coaches’ Award: Dalton Hadley

For more photos, click here.

Pictured top: Junmi Ross Memorial Award winner Moriah McGahan, who was also named Fastest Female, and Jim Ross Memorial Award winner Triston Reaves. Pictured below: (L-R) Fastest Male Brandon Korinchak, Most Improved Tamara Barrows and Coaches’ Award winner Dalton Hadley. Pictured bottom: Coach Natalie Nall; seniors Tamara Barrows, James Ates, Triston Reaves, Moriah McGahan and Bethany Reynolds; and Coach Jesses Boone. photos, click to enlarge.

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