Northview Manufacturing Tech Program Becomes Regional Model

October 22, 2014

The Automation and Production Technology Academy at Northview High School is being used as a model for similar academies at middle and high schools across the region.

Tuesday, the Northwest Florida Manufacturers Council’s Academy Task Force met at Northview to tour the manufacturing technology program to learn more about how it works. Upon completing the program, students are able to earn industry certifications that allow them to better compete for technical jobs upon graduation, or they can early college credits to continue their education.

According to Steve Harrell, the Escambia County School District’s curriculum coordinator for Workforce Education, employers are looking for job candidates that not only know how to create technical designs, but also have real experience implementing and constructing those designs.

“Employers are looking for the person with callouses on their hands,” said Harrell. “They want the person that knows how to design that also knows how to make it work.”

Training equipment was purchased for the Northview program with a $100,000 grant that allows students to get that experience.

“The students are excited and love the hands on; they are on the computers and the equipment from bell to bell,” said academy instructor Marty Lister.

And now, the Northwest Florida Manufacturers Council is set to recommend training equipment for middle and high schools across the region, based upon the Northview academy, The council has about $1.5 million from the state, with a goal of creating an academy in at least one middle and high school in each county in the region that is comprised of  Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay, Franklin, Gulf, Jackson, Calhoun, Holmes, Washington, and Liberty counties.

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

Peanut Butter Drive Continues

October 22, 2014

The Escambia County Extension office, Santa Rosa County Extension office along with the University of Florida Institute of Food & Agricultural Sciences and the Florida Peanut Producer Association are collecting peanut butter now through mid-November to help take a bite out of hunger.

The groups are accepting donations of unopened jars of peanut butter to be donated to local food pantries during Farm-City Week.

Unopened jars of peanut butter of any brand can be dropped off until November 21 at any of the following locations:

Escambia County

  • Escambia County Extension Office, 3740 Stefani Road, Cantonment
  • Escambia County Farm Bureau, 153 Highway 97, Molino
  • Escambia County Public Safety, 6575 North W Street
  • Gilmore Services, 31 East Fairfield Drive

Santa Rosa County

  • Jay Extension Office at 5259 Booker Lane, Jay
  • Santa Rosa County Extension Office at 6263 Dogwood Drive, Milton
  • South Santa Rosa Service Center, Master Gardener Help Desk at 5819 Gulf Breeze Parkway
  • All Santa Rosa County Library locations
  • Lowe’s Stores in Pace and Gulf Breeze

Peanut butter collected in Escambia County last year was donated to food pantries in Molino, Bratt and Century.

Pictured: The Godwins of Godwin Farms in Santa Rosa County, (L-R) Steven, Laryn, Valarie, Kylei, Rachael. Courtesy photo for, click to enlarge.

Escambia School District Cuts Energy Costs By $27.6 Million

October 22, 2014

Energy savings measures at Escambia County schools have not only saved the district money, they have now won a national award.

The Escambia County School District has achieved a 22 percent energy cost savings totaling $27,660,957 in a 96 month program since forming a strategic alliance with Cenergistic, a national energy conservation company. Cenergistic presented Superintendent Mr. Malcolm Thomas with its Chairman’s Sustainability Award at the school board’s meeting Tuesday night.

“Every dollar we don’t spend on energy is available to us to improve our facilities and add to our instructional programs. The challenge is that saving significant energy dollars requires the consistent execution of hundreds of energy saving actions by hundreds of staff members and educators every minute of every day,” said Superintendent Malcolm Thomas.

UWF’s Haas Center To Assume Economic Development Role For Century Chamber

October 22, 2014

The University of West Florida’s Haas Center will assume the role of economic development coordination for the Century Area Chamber of Commerce following resignation of a chamber staffer.

A year ago, the chamber hired Cindy Anderson for the position, which was funded by a $40,000 contribution by the Escambia County Commission.  Anderson had spent a decade as executive director of Team Santa Rosa, a public-private partnership that was the economic development contractor for Santa Rosa County from 1992 until 2012. After leaving TEAM, Anderson was briefly retired before accepting an office manager position at an Atmore real estate firm.

Now, Anderson has left the Century chamber, accepting  a position as executive director of the Northwest Florida Manufacturers Council.

With another annual $40,000 contribution from the Escambia County Commission, the chamber will  term to the Haas Center to provide an economic development coordinator  and supplement pay and benefits to make it a full-time position.

The Haas Center recently developed Century’s economic development strategic plan, and the Haas staffer that will take over the chamber position will work to implement the plan.

“I thought it was the best of both worlds,” said Century Mayor Freddie MCall, “for us to use the county money and go ahead and contract with the Haaas center to implement this (economic development plan) for us.”

Century – Heart and Soul: This was the third story is a two-week series on  featuring Century.

Pictured top: The Century Area Chamber of Commerce. Pictured inset: Cindy Anderson, for economic development coordinator for the Century Chamber, at a recent chamber meeting. file photos, click to enlarge.

Flomaton Defeats Ernest Ward (With Photo Gallery)

October 22, 2014

The Ernest Ward Middle School Eagles, the only middle school football team in Escambia County (FL), wrapped up their season Tuesday night in Walnut Hill. The visiting Flomaton Hurricanes defeated the Eagles 22-6.

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

Navy Donates T-39 Training Aircraft To George Stone Technical Center

October 22, 2014

Like many retired Navy veterans that have served  decades on active duty only to return to serving their country in another role, one of the last T-39 Sabreliner jets to fly at Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola will help instruct students at George Stone Technical Center.

Instead of being flown to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base “boneyard” and languishing in the Arizona desert in lay-up, the airplane will become an integral part of the new Aviation Maintenance Program at GSTC.

“We are ecstatic about our partnership with the Navy and are very excited to get this jet,” said T. J. Rollins, principal at George Stone. “It was flying just a few months ago training Navy navigators, so it’s a fully-capable airplane for our new students to practice on as they work toward their certifications and licenses from the Federal Aviation Administration.”

The Navy-GSTC partnership happened through a chance meeting with the Escambia County School District’s Curriculum Coordinator for Workforce Education, Steve Harrell and a maintenance technician working at NAS.

“When I found out he worked on airplanes at the base, I mentioned that we were starting a new Aviation Maintenance Program at George Stone,” said Harrell. “He mentioned that they were retiring all of the T-39s and that I should ask the Navy if we could have one for our new program.”

John Appicelli, assistant officer in charge for the Chief of Naval Air Training detachment at NAS helped turn the suggestion into reality. He said that it was an unusual request, but it had merit.

“It took a lot of coordination between the Navy and government agencies, but we thought it was a great idea and would be well worth the effort,” said Appicelli. “We started the process in February and it took until now to work out all the details, including moving the jet to the school. As the aircraft left the base, ownership transferred to George Stone. I’m glad to see that it’s going to a good home and will continue to help launch aviation careers.”

Whisler Aviation from Seward, Neb. handled the transport of the T-39 to GTSC. The wing and fuselage were separated at NAS, trucked to George Stone and reassembled at the school Oct. 20 with the help of Deep South “The aircraft industry definitely needs qualified Airframe and Powerplant Mechanics as there is a shortage of A&Ps across America,” said Greg Whisler, president of Whisler Aviation. “In addition to transporting planes, we also have a repair facility that maintains aircraft, and we are always in need of certified A&P mechanics.”

The George Stone Aircraft Maintenance Program will be available for new  and current GTSC students and approval is anticipated for funding by the GI Bill and other veteran’s educational programs.

According to Keith Boring, program manager for the Navy’s Credentials Program Office, active-duty and reserve Navy and Marine Corps personnel will be eligible for funding for the certification testing portion of the Aviation Maintenance Program through the Navy’s Credentialing Online Program “We don’t fund for the training portion of the program, as many active duty and reserve service members qualify as a result of their military schools and on-the-job training,” said Boring. “Navy COOL does fund, however, for airframe, powerplant and combination testing for the necessary certification exams at qualified technical schools like George Stone.”

According to Harrell and Rollins, the goal of the Aviation Maintenance Program is to help develop a local workforce that can fill the future aerospace jobs coming through VT Mobile Aerospace Engineering, Airbus, and other regional employers. The GTSC Aviation Maintenance Program is currently in the process of receiving FAA approval and certification and is
scheduled to start the first class at GSTC in August of 2015.

by Ed Barker, Media Officer, Naval Education and Training Command for

Pictured top: A retired T-39 Sabreliner training jet fuselage is lowered onto its wing at George Stone Technical Center for use as part of their new Aviation Maintenance Program for students seeking a FAA Airframe and Powerplant certification. Pictured inset: The T-39 is loaded on a fladbed. Pictured below: Greg Whisler from Whisler Aviation and Kevin Henley from Deep South Cranes secure the nosewheel of the aircraft. Photo by Ed Barker, Naval Education and Training Command, for, click to enlarge.  Pictured bottom: The reassembled plane a parking lot Tuesday morning. Photo courtesy Allison Woodfin for, click to enlarge.

No Major Damage In Walnut Hill Kitchen Fire

October 22, 2014

A kitchen fire was out when firefighters arrived at a Walnut Hill home Tuesday evening.

The fire was reported about 5:50 p.m. at a home in the 5200 block of Wiggins Lake Road. The first firefighters on scene reported light smoke in the brick home but no fire. There was no major damage and no injuries in the incident.

The Walnut Hill Station of Escambia Fire Rescue responded to the reported fire. photos, click to enlarge.

State To Seek Death Penalty For Parents Charged With Toddler’s Death

October 22, 2014

State Attorney Bill Eddins said Tuesday that the State intends to seek the death penalty against against Christopher L. Redd and Jennifer Gail Perry for first degree murder in the death of their two-year old child.

Pensacola Police said Redd and Perry failed to seek medical treatment for their  son after he was severely burned by boiling water. He suffered second and third degree burns over more than 40 percent of his body.

The parents told police that the child, Bryson, managed to spill boiling water that was on the stove. They said Bryson acted like a typical two-year old and they did not seek medical treatment until until days later. In the meantime, they had searched burn treatments on the internet and had applied products purchased at local retailers, according to an arrest report. Additional, Perry had received prescription medication for a burn she suffered on her finger, and she said she applied the leftovers to the child.

Bryson died after being taken to Baptist Hospital.

Both told police they delayed medical treatment because they would not know what story to tell the hospital about the burns, and they were concerned Bryson and their two other children would be removed from the home by the Department of Children and Families.

Scott, Crist Turn Up The Heat In Final Debate

October 22, 2014

In their final — and most heated — debate before the Nov. 4 election, incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist came out swinging Tuesday night, excoriating each other’s records as the state’s chief executive and each painting his rival as out of touch with everyday Floridians.

Scott and Crist, a former Republican who left office after a single term and is now seeking his old job back as a Democrat, traded jabs over the economy, racial justice and the death penalty and drew sparks over each others’ wealth. Scott, who reported his net worth as $132.7 million last year, repeatedly contrasted his deprived childhood with that of Crist, whose father is a St. Petersburg doctor.

Scott, a former health care executive who made his fortune as the head of the Columbia/HCA hospital chain, repeatedly recalled how he grew up in public housing and how his parents struggled to pay for health insurance and Christmas presents.

“I watched a parent that lost the only family car. I watched a father struggle to buy Christmas presents. I went through that as a child. Charlie never went through that. Charlie grew up with plenty of money. He’s never had to worry about money. He has never had to worry about being laid off. Charlie has done fine in life. But what I’m going to fight for every day is what I’ve done the last three years and nine months, I’m going to fight for families like mine growing up,” Scott said.

Crist, who listed his net worth of $1.25 million last year, portrayed himself as an advocate for middle-class Floridians whose family had humble beginnings.

“He talks about that I’ve done fine in life. Listen, when I was a little kid, we lived in a small apartment in Atlanta when my dad was going to medical school and he used to delivered newspapers to make ends meet. So you don’t know me and you can’t tell my story. And I’m not going to tell yours. But I know you are worth about $100 or $200 million today,” Crist said. “And you know, God bless you for that wealth, Rick. But the way you got it was pretty unsavory. And you know, the fact that you just don’t relate to people, real people in Florida today and the struggles they have, and you won’t lower utility rates, you won’t lower property insurance, it is wrong.”

Tuesday’s hour-long debate, moderated by Jake Tapper of CNN and Kent Justice of WJXT, a Jacksonville television station where the match-up was held, was a marked contrast to last week’s meeting between the two rivals. That debate became the butt of national late-night comedy shows over a controversy regarding a small fan placed next to Crist’s feet beneath the podium. Scott refused to join Crist on stage for more than four minutes, and later accused Crist of breaking the debate rules.

In another heated moment Tuesday, Tapper asked Crist about his accusations that GOP leaders were hostile toward President Barack Obama because of his race.

Tapper asked Crist if he believed all Republicans are racists.

“No. I’m saying that element exists,” Crist said, referring obliquely to emails “distributed by some members of the Republican party” that “weren’t exactly flattering” about Obama. He said he drew flak from GOP officials because of his now-infamous embrace of Obama as governor and for taking federal stimulus money when Florida, and the rest of the country, were in the midst of an economic meltdown.

“It wasn’t right. The reaction that I have gotten from some in the Republican party, leadership, wasn’t tolerable to me,” Crist said. “And it was pretty clear to me. It wasn’t just because I was willing to work across the aisle with a Democrat to get the recovery funds to come to Florida. It was also pretty apparent to me because it was the first African-American president. Listen, I don’t enjoy saying that. It’s not what — you know, it’s not fun to say, but I’m going to tell the truth and those are the facts.”

“You’re a divider. You’re a mudslinger. You’re a divider,” Scott retorted, accusing Crist of failing to take action when he was governor. “We are the best melting pot in the world and you want to try to divide people. I want everybody to have the same shot I had to live the American dream.”

Crist blasted Scott for turning down millions of dollars for a high-speed rail project in Central Florida and for refusing to back an expansion of Medicaid, saying both would have brought thousands of jobs to the state.

“I’m action and I got things done and I’ll do it again and I’ll work with anybody — Republican, Democrat or independent,” he said

In another pointed exchange, the two candidates wrestled over the death penalty. Scott, who has signed a record number of death warrants in his first term in office, pushed lawmakers to pass a measure this spring that supporters said was aimed at speeding up the time between convictions and executions.

The question about executions prompted an intense back-and-forth between the two governors over an execution that Scott rescheduled last year at the request of Attorney General Pam Bondi. The attorney general asked to have the execution delayed because it conflicted with a fundraiser slated for the same evening for her re-election campaign.

“Now, to me, and my way of thinking, that doesn’t sound like somebody is taking that solemn duty as seriously as they should. I don’t understand that,” Crist said.

Crist interrupted Scott — who said he considers the death penalty “a solemn duty” and that he “thinks of the victims” when weighing executions — and demanded to know whether he was aware that he had canceled the execution for a fundraiser.

“It was — she asked me to delay it because it didn’t work on the dates that she thought it was going to be on,” Scott said.

Crist did not back down.

“Did you know it was for a political fundraiser?” he asked.

“Charlie, she apologized. She apologized. What would you like her to do?” Scott responded.

“I didn’t ask about her. Did you know it was for a political fundraiser?”

Scott repeated his answer.

“He doesn’t answer questions. Pleads the Fifth,” Crist finished.

Questions about racial justice wound up in a tangle over restoration of civil rights, something Crist pushed in his first few months as governor after his 2006 election.

Referring to Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old black teenager who was gunned down by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in Sanford, Tapper asked the candidates if they believed that African-Americans, especially young black men, get “a fair shake” in the criminal justice system.

“My goal is that they do,” Scott said, trying to discuss how he handled the Martin shooting but getting interrupted by Tapper.

“We have completely changed how we do juvenile justice. We’ve had a dramatic drop in the number of arrests since I got elected. We have the lowest recidivism out of our prison system because we put in reentry programs and we’ve helped try to make sure that if you get out of prison, you actually get a job … unlike under Charlie when you couldn’t get a job,” Scott said. “So, are we making progress? Yes. Is there more work to do? Absolutely.”

Crist disagreed. “I don’t believe they do. I think it’s sad. I think it’s very important that everybody is treated equally and get the justice they deserve,” Crist said, boasting that he worked to restore rights to non-violent felons.

“Sadly under Rick Scott, it’s gone and it’s gone for at least five years, you can’t even apply,” he said.

In one of his first actions as governor, Scott pushed the Florida Cabinet to do away with the “automatic” restoration of rights and impose one of the nation’s strictest waiting-periods before ex-felons can apply.

“Here’s Charlie’s plan. You commit a heinous crime, as soon as you get out of jail, you get to vote. Stalk, you get to vote as soon as you walk out. You have intentional permanent disfigurement of a child, you walk out of jail, you immediately get to vote,” Scott said. “That’s wrong, Charlie.”

Again, Crist fired back.

“That is fundamentally unfair. I said nonviolent criminals. You are lying again,” he said.

Tuesday evening’s angry tone — exactly two weeks before Election Day and with early voting already underway — set the stage for the candidates’ final push as they swing through the state seeking support. On Wednesday, former New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani is slated to help kick off a Scott campaign bus tour in Doral.

Crist is slated to remain in Jacksonville and campaign with U.S. Rep. Corinne Brown.

by Dara Kam, The News Service of Florida

Images courtesy CNN for, click to enlarge.

Local Teachers Share $64K In Education Grants

October 21, 2014

Over $64,000 in grants were presented to local teachers Monday night  by the Escambia County Public Schools Foundation as part of it annual Grants for Excellence Awards.

“This program is especially important for Escambia County Public Schools because there are needs in the classroom that cannot be covered through existing school or district budgets,” said David Deliman, chairman of the foundation’s board of firectors. “Our Foundation’s mission is to help overcome these gaps to ensure local students have the tools and resources they need to compete in today’s competitive economy.”

This year’s grants represented a wide variety of projects, all with a focus on either STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) areas or literacy initiatives. For example. students in Henrietta Adams’ classroom at Jim Allen Elementary School in Cantonment will read books about African art on a “multicultural safari” which was funded by a foundation grant. In Douglas Allen’s classroom at Tate High Schol, students will turn to physics toe explore the speed ratio of runners, and in the classroom of Nichole Childress at Jim Allen Elementary School, the old adage “a picture is worth a 1,000 words” will come to life with visual vocabulary cards. And at Ransom Middle, students let by Chet Truett will produce a newscast using iPads.
The following 45 projects received up to $2,000 each for a total of $64,316.82 in grants from the Escambia County Public Schools Foundation:

  • Henrietta Adams, Jim Allen Elementary – Amazing African Art: A Multicultural Safari
  • Douglas Allen, Tate High – Physics of Speed-Ratio of Runners
  • Theresa Anderson, Oakcrest Elementary – The Read-Aloud Factor
  • Sara Barcellona, Brown-Barge Middle – Astrorockets
  • Edward Bauer, Washington High – Accessing the Diversity & Abundance of Nearshore Species
  • Russell L. Bertles, Workman Middle – The Theory of Music-tivity
  • Robin Blalock, Tate High – Of Mice and Men
  • James Bobbitt, Pensacola High – Visualizing Polynomial Graphs using Graphing Calculators
  • Adam Bretschneider, Roy Hyatt Environmental Studies Center 3– Experience the WildCAT: A Hands-on FCATE Ecology Review
  • Sherri Carter, Bratt Elementary – Flip Classroom to Success
  • Nichole Childress, Jim Allen Elementary – Visual Vocabulary Cards: A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words
  • Heidi Chism, Pine Meadow Elementary – Reptiles! Reptiles! Reptiles!
  • Tim Deloge, Escambia High – NASA Human Exploration River Challenge
  • Diedra Diettel, Suter Elementary – Eggstra! Eggstra! Learn All About It!
  • Ann Dungan, Blue Angels Elementary – Bullying? Not At Our School!!
  • Patricia Gaddis, Tate High – Video Variations and Explorations
  • Melissa Garcia, Semmes Elementary – Differentiating Literacy and Math Education
  • Krystal Gibson, Beulah – Genius Hour: Engaging Students by Igniting Their Passion
  • Rachel W. Gilmore, Molino Park Elementary – Reading/Writing Round-Up
  • Kathy Godwin, Semmes Elementary – Bringing the World to Life
  • Anna K. Harageones, Ferry Pass Elementary – Help Young Readers & Writers Build a Robust Vocabulary
  • Brenda Harrell, Bratt Elementary – Picture a Word
  • John Herber, Oakcrest Elementary – The Little Planet that Could
  • Janet K. Johnson, Pine Forest High – Promoting STEM and Social Studies Literacy
  • Maurine Kramerich, PATS Center – Historical Sculptures and Monuments
  • Michelle Leitner, Semmes Elementary – Learning Literacy through Listening Centers
  • Peter N. Lupton, Pine Forest High – Getting to Know the World Around Us
  • Matthew MacGregor, Escambia High – Citizen Science
  • Melissa G. Marsh, Pensacola High – ELL Literacy Project
  • Sarah Mason, Blue Angels Elementary – Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye
  • Kevin McAuliffe, Pine Forest High – A Story with A Different Voice
  • Vicki Murphy, Oakcrest Elementary – English Language Learning Going Digital
  • Jean Odom, Cook Elementary – Sesame Street Puppeteers Set the Stage
  • Nancy O’Neal, Ransom Middle – LEAP into Science
  • Karen Potter, Ransom Middle – Practice Makes Better Readers
  • Catherine Rudd, Scenic Heights Elementary 3– Literacy through Comic Books
  • Caitlin Salak, Beulah Elementary – STEM Challenges for 5th Grade
  • Mary Samaras, Cordova Park Elementary – All Dressed Up and So Much to Learn
  • Anita Schmidt, Lipscomb Elementary – Student Advocacy: Protecting Shore Birds
  • Lorri Seibert, Ransom Middle – Tools of Engagement
  • Jane Smith, Longleaf Elementary – Providing Anywhere, Anytime Learning
  • Cindy Speed, Weis Elementary – Students for STEM
  • Melissa Thompson, Scenic Heights – Interactive Science Notebooks
  • Chet Truett, Ransom Middle – Reporting to You LIVE!
  • Shawn P. Walker, West Florida High – Oh Brother, Give Me Color
  • Roberta D. Wetzel, Bailey Middle –1 Let’s Explore Courage in Life and Literature

The projects funded this fall will directly impact a total of 11,237 students and 220 teachers this school year alone, organizers said.  Many of the classroom materials, software, and other items purchased with Grants for Excellence funds will continue to be used for years to come.

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