Driver Side-Swipes Bridge

August 21, 2016

A driver escaped injury early Sunday morning when they side-swiped the railing on the Quintette Road Bridge over the Escambia River between Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.

The 4:30 a.m. crash is under investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol. The Cantonment Station of Escambia Fire Rescue and Santa Rosa County EMS were among the first responders. photos by Kristi Barbout, click to enlarge.

A Few More Showers For Sunday

August 21, 2016

Here is your official North Escambia area forecast:

Sunday: Scattered showers and thunderstorms, mainly after 1pm. Partly sunny, with a high near 90. Southwest wind around 5 mph. Chance of precipitation is 50%.

Sunday Night: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms before 1am. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 73. Southwest wind around 5 mph.

Monday: A 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 92. Southwest wind around 5 mph.

Monday Night: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms before 1am. Partly cloudy, with a low around 72. West wind around 5 mph.

Tuesday: A 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 92. Northwest wind around 5 mph becoming calm.

Tuesday Night: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly cloudy, with a low around 75. West wind around 5 mph becoming calm.

Wednesday: A 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 91. Calm wind becoming east around 5 mph in the afternoon.

Wednesday Night: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 74. South wind around 5 mph becoming calm.

Thursday: A 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 90.

Thursday Night: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly cloudy, with a low around 73.

Friday: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly sunny, with a high near 92.

Friday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 74.

Saturday: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly sunny, with a high near 92.

No Injuries In Cantonment Highway 29 Crash

August 21, 2016

There were no injuries during at two vehicle crash Saturday on Highway 29 near Well Line Road. An infant and toddler passengers in the crash were properly restrained. The accident remains under investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol. photos by Kristi Barbour, click to enlarge.

Faithful Gather To Pray For Area Law Enforcement

August 21, 2016

Church members from throughout the community met Saturday outside the Pensacola Police Department Saturday and pray for law enforcement personnel.

The non-denominational event brought together a diverse crowd that stood shoulder to shoulder with officers, praying for their safety and protection. They also prayed for support staff and even the families of oficers.

Organizers are also hoping that people unable to attend the event will set aside a few minutes  during the day to pray for law enforcement personnel. And, as another way of showing support, people are encouraged to pray for an officer if they see one in public either by approaching the  officer and asking if they can pray for them, or by saying a private prayer.

Sunny Days: Growing Sunflowers

August 21, 2016

by the UF/IFAS Extension Service

Sunflowers not only make the garden beautiful but can also be used to bring the beauty of outdoors inside.

It may be towards the end of summer, but you can still plant sunflowers and enjoy them during the fall. In north Florida, try to complete sunflower planting by the third week in August. Depending on the variety, sunflowers will bloom about 55 to 75 days after planting – 60 days is a good average. Some sunflowers are sensitive to day length and may yield shorter plants and earlier bloom when planted in late summer. This corresponds to the reduction in daylight hours as summer progresses toward autumn.

To begin, choose cultivars that fit your landscape. There are now more sunflowers than just the seed bearing giants that many gardeners are familiar with. Just take a look at the gardening catalogs.

Sunflowers can be broadly divided into two types: those grown for production of edible seeds and those grown as ornamentals and cut flowers. Most gardeners will be interested in the ornamental sunflowers, also known as Helianthus annuus.

Sunflowers come in heights ranging from less than one foot to ten feet and also come in a wide range of flower colors. While brilliant yellow will always be popular, you can also choose from creamy white, bronze, mahogany, rusty red, burgundy and orange. Some types produce flowers with more than one color. The center disk of the sunflower also adds to the display and goes through color changes as the flower matures and seeds form.

Sunbright, Sunrich Lemon, Sunrich Orange, Soraya and Moulin Rouge are some that are recommended for Florida.

For best bouquet results, choose cultivars that are pollen-less to prevent pollen from shedding onto a tablecloth or other flowers in an arrangement.

If you want to grow sunflowers for the delicious, nutritious seeds, make sure you choose varieties bred for seed production, such as Mammoth Russian – also known as Mammoth, Russian Giant and Gray Stripe. These tall-growing sunflowers produce a single enormous flower at the top of the plant. To grow a really big seed head, apply general-purpose fertilizer when the flower head begins to appear. Just be sure to place them so that you can stake them if necessary.

Sunflowers are true to their name, they need to be grown in full sun. Prepare a sunflower bed as you would for planting most vegetables. They tolerate heat and dry conditions and almost any soil type. The pH preference is 6.5 to 7.5 and the addition of composted organic matter is beneficial.

Plant seeds about one-quarter inch deep directly into a prepared garden bed. It’s common to plant sunflowers into landscape beds, and many gardeners include a row of sunflowers in spring and fall vegetable gardens. After sowing the seeds, water the bed well and thesun water it as needed to keep the soil moist – even lightly every day if the weather is dry.

Sunflowers should be harvested in early morning before 10:00 a.m. It is best to cut the stems and place them in warm water right away for best results.

The versatility and variety of today’s sunflowers offer something for almost every garden and gardener. If you haven’t tried this plant lately, give it another look.

Escambia County Seeks Volunteers For Health Council

August 21, 2016

The Escambia County Board of County Commissioners, or BCC, is seeking Escambia County residents interested in volunteering to be considered for appointments to the Northwest Florida Health Council, also known as the Northwest Florida Big Bend Health Council.

Escambia County residents interested in serving on the Northwest Florida Health Council are asked to submit a resume and letter indicating their desire to serve by the close of business on Friday, Sept. 2. Resumes should be submitted to Judy Witterstaeter, Program Coordinator; Board of County Commissioners, P.O. Box 1591, Pensacola, FL 32502, or emailed to

Pursuant to Florida Statute 408.033, this local health council was established in accordance with the Health Facilities and Services Development Act as a private nonprofit organization serving Escambia, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Walton counties. The council serves to assist the state of Florida with planning for health facilities and services, providing a health data repository and helping counties and local communities to obtain better health care. Based on a rotating formula, the Escambia County Board of County Commissioners appoints six members to the council.

Local health councils develop district health plans containing data, develop hospital and nursing home utilization reports for the Agency for Health Care Administration, and provide analysis and recommendations that relate to health care status and needs in the community. The recommendations are designed to improve access to health care, reduce disparities in health status, assist state and local governments in the development of sound and rational health care policies and advocate on behalf of the underserved.

The council meets once per quarter or at the call of the president and chief operating officer. Meetings typically begin at 12:15 p.m. and last one to 1 1/2 hours.

Qualifications: The appointees shall be representatives of health care providers, health care purchasers and nongovernmental health care consumers, but not excluding elected government officials. The members of the consumer group shall include a representative number of persons over 60 years of age. A majority of council members shall consist of health care purchasers and health care consumers. Each member shall serve a two-year term effective Oct. 1 of the appointment year and ending Sept. 30 of the year the term expires.

Wahoos, Braves Go 16 Innings

August 21, 2016

Pensacola Blue Wahoos Sal Romano and Mississippi Braves Max Povse both threw eight scoreless innings and then their bullpens took over and continued the shutout for another seven innings.

In the 16th inning, left fielder Phillip Ervin scored the first run of the game when he doubled and scored on center fielder Brandon Dixon’s single to right field to give the Pensacola a 1-0 lead. The Blue Wahoos brought in closer Alejandro Chacin, the Southern League saves leader with 24.

Chacin, however blew his fifth save opportunity of the season, giving up a bases loaded walk to Mississippi’s leading hitter Dustin Peterson with one out to allow the Braves to earn a 2-1 victory in the bottom of the 16th inning at Trustmark Park. It was the longest game of the season for Pensacola.

The Braves came right in its half of the inning with a lead-off walk by center fielder Connor Lien and then a single by third baseman Levi Hyams to put runners on first and second with no outs. Mississippi right fielder Stephen Gaylor bunted and Pensacola’s Skipworth overthrew first base to allow Lien to score tying the game, 1-1.

Chacin intentionally walked Mississippi second baseman Ozzie Albies to load the bases with no outs. After a pop out, Peterson walked for the Braves win.

Pensacola had chances to score in both inning 14 and 15. Pensacola loaded the bases in the 15th with one out but Braves reliever Akeel Morris struck out the final two batters of the inning to end the threat.

In the top of inning 14, Pensacola second baseman Alex Blandino tried to score from second base on Dixon’s sharp line drive single to center field but Mississippi’s Lien nailed Blandino at home plate.

Before winning the game in the 16th inning, Mississippi’s Peterson had launched a deep fly ball in the 12th inning that Pensacola’s Ervin caught with his back against the left field wall.

Mississippi and Pensacola have a knack for playing extra-inning games this year, going extra innings seven times. The clubs have now played 16, 14, 13, 11, two 10-inning games and extra innings Friday in a seven-inning doubleheader. The Blue Wahoos won four of the seven games and is 10-6 in extra-inning games this season.

Pensacola longest game this season had been its 14 inning duel against Mississippi on Aug. 4. It also played 14 innings June 9 against the Jackson Generals.

The 16-inning saga Saturday got off to an excellent start by both Romano and Povse.

Povse threw a no-hitter against Pensacola through five innings, while Blue Wahoos starter Sal Romano allowed just four hits through six scoreless innings.

The 22-year-old Povse started his first game for the Braves July 9 against the Mobile BayBears and got one of his four wins July 31 against Pensacola when he worked six innings, allowing three runs on seven hits, while striking out six.

Romano broke up the no-hitter Saturday in the sixth with a ground ball to left field. It snapped Povse’s streak of retiring 12 straight hitters.

The second Blue Wahoos hit came on Dixon’s infield single to third base in the seventh inning. Dixon went 4-6 with an RBI to lead Pensacola at the plate Saturday.

In all, Pensacola put four runners on base off of Povse with Ervin reaching on an error in the first inning. Blue Wahoos shortstop Zach Vincej walked in the second inning.

Povse ended up pitching eight shutout innings allowing two hits, walking one and striking out five. The righty lowered his ERA from 2.91 to 2.45.

Romano not only used his bat but matched Povse’s goose eggs throwing eight scoreless innings, too. He gave up just four hits, no walks and struck out eight. The big righty has 127 strike outs on the year, which is second in the Southern League.

Jake Ehret relieved Romano and struck out the side in the ninth inning to send the two teams into their seventh extra-inning battle of the season.

Pensacola dropped to 27-27 and is in third place in the Southern League South Division, 6.5 games behind South Division frontrunner Mississippi, which improved to 33-20 in the second half.

Remains Of Dozier Victims Could Go To Tallahassee

August 21, 2016

The remains of dozens of boys who were victims of beatings and abuse at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys should be reinterred in Tallahassee, the city where lawmakers and governors were responsible for the now-closed reform school, a state task force decided Friday.

The task force also decided to recommend creating memorials to the Dozier victims in both Tallahassee and Jackson County, the Panhandle community where the reform school operated from 1900 to 2011.

After the school closed and boys who were held at the facility began to tell stories of abuse and sexual assault, a team led by University of South Florida researchers found 51 sets of remains in an unmarked graveyard known as the Boot Hill Burial Ground at the 1,400-acre Dozier property. University anthropologists identified some of the remains through DNA and other methods.

The Legislature this year created the task force to decide what to do with unidentified or unclaimed remains and how to commemorate the victims. The law also authorized funeral payments to families who claimed Dozier victims.

The final decisions on reinterring remains, which are now being held at the University of South Florida, and the memorials will be made by Gov. Rick Scott and the state Cabinet, as well as the Legislature.

Friday’s debate during a five-hour hearing, held a few miles from the Dozier site, was sometimes raw and emotional, although the panel eventually reached a consensus on the recommendations.

Dale Landry, a task force member representing the Florida NAACP, said the state capital was the proper place to bury the Dozier boys because it was also the city where officials were responsible for creating the reform school and overseeing it.

Landry originally suggested the reinterment, which may take the form of a mausoleum or a cemetery, should be on the state Capitol grounds, noting there are nearby memorials for the Vietnam and Korean wars.

“It was the people in that building that housed the Legislature and the governor that allowed that foolishness to happen over here in Marianna,” Landry said, adding it would be a good idea for officials to walk by the site asking, “what am I doing today to protect Florida’s children.”

“They are still wards of the state of Florida, and Florida has a responsibility,” he said.

But the panel modified the recommendation to designate Tallahassee as the location, leaving it to lawmakers and other state officials to decide exactly where the remains should be reinterred. A Tallahassee cemetery owner has offered a site on the north side of the city.

Suggestions to reinter the bodies in Jackson County, neighboring Gadsden County and Tampa were rejected by the panel.

Many members of the “White House Boys” group, which was named after a Dozier building where beatings and other abuse occurred, strongly opposed reinterring the victims’ remains back on the grounds of the reform school.

Bob Baxter, a Gainesville resident who was at Dozier from 1950 to 1951, said the remains should never be returned to Dozier, remembering how the bodies of the boys were treated at the Boot Hill burial ground.

“It wasn’t a cemetery. It was a damn dump site,” he said, adding returning the boys’ bodies would be like “killing them again.”

Jerry Cooper, a task-force member who was sent to Dozier as a runaway teen and leads the White House Boys group, said the overwhelming majority of his group wants to see the White House demolished.

“Most of the men feel it would be a sore that would fester and fester over the years” if it remains, Cooper said. “We would like to see the building come down, and we would like to be present.”

But Timothy Parsons, head of the state Division of Historical Resources and chairman of the task force, said it was outside the panel’s jurisdiction to make recommendations about what should happen to buildings at the Dozier site.

The task force also unanimously agreed to create memorials in Tallahassee and Jackson County to remember the boys who lived and died at Dozier, as well as victims, including two staff members, who died in a 1914 dormitory fire at the facility.

The panel left the decisions on the design and location of the memorials to lawmakers and the governor and Cabinet.

The decisions on reinterment and memorials won the support of Marianna and Jackson County officials who were members of the task force. Local officials have been pushing the state for the ability to develop some or all of the former Dozier site to help the community’s economy.

by The News Service of Florida

Escambia County Unemployment Rate Slips

August 20, 2016

Governor Rick Scott announced Fridayday that the Escambia County area added 1,400 new private-sector jobs over the year in July. The area’s unemployment rate was 5.1, declining by 0.5 percentage point in the last year.

Governor Scott said, “We are seeing continued economic growth in the Pensacola area as well as across the state and it is great news that the Pensacola area created 1,400 new jobs over the past year. We will continue to work to diversify Florida’s economy and cut taxes to make it easier for businesses to succeed so families can find great jobs.”

The industry with the largest job gains in the Pensacola area over the year was professional and business services with 700 new jobs. In July, the Pensacola area had 4,763 job openings, which included 1,201 openings for high-skill, high-wage, STEM occupations.

The state’s unemployment rate remained at 4.7 percent in July, the lowest rate since November 2007. Florida’s annual job growth rate of 3.3 percent is also exceeding the nation’s rate of 1.9 percent, for the 52nd consecutive month.

West Nile Case Confirmed In Santa Rosa County

August 20, 2016

The Florida Department of Health in Santa Rosa County (DOH-Santa Rosa) today advised residents there has been an increase in mosquito-borne disease activity in areas of Santa Rosa County.

A human case of West Nile virus has been confirmed and there is a heightened concern additional residents will become ill. Santa Rosa County Mosquito Control and DOH-Santa Rosa continue surveillance and prevention efforts.
DOH-Santa Rosa reminds residents and visitors to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes and to take basic precautions to help limit exposure.

To protect yourself from mosquitoes, the health department recommends that practice of  “Drain and Cover”:

Drain standing water.

  • Drain water from garbage cans, house gutters, buckets, pool covers, coolers, toys, flower pots or any other containers where sprinkler or rain water has collected.
  • Discard old tires, bottles, pots, broken appliances and other items not being used.
  • Empty and clean birdbaths and pets’ water bowls at least twice a week.
  • Protect boats and vehicles from rain with tarps that do not accumulate water.
  • Maintain swimming pools in good condition and chlorinated. Empty plastic swimming pools when not in use.

Cover skin with clothing or repellent and cover doors and windows.

  • Wear shoes, socks, long pants and long sleeves when mosquitoes are most prevalent.
  • Apply mosquito repellent to bare skin and clothing.
  • Always use repellents according to the label. Repellents with DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, and IR3535 are effective.
  • Re-apply mosquito repellent as often as needed to prevent mosquito landings and bites.
  • Use mosquito netting to protect children younger than 2 months old.
  • When using repellent on children, apply to your hands first and then rub on their arms and legs.
  • Place screens on windows, doors, porches, and patios. Always repair broken screens.

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