FDOT: Weekly Traffic Alerts

November 20, 2017

Drivers will encounter traffic variations on the following state roads in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties as crews perform construction and maintenance activities. For the upcoming Thanksgiving holidays, there will be no lane closures on the interstate or state roads beginning at 7 a.m. Wednesday, November 22, and ending at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, November 26. All major roads will be open to normal traffic.

Escambia County

  • Interstate 10 (I-10)/U.S. 29 Interchange Improvements Phase I - The following traffic impacts are planned on I-10 and U.S. 29 near the interchange (Exits 10A and 10B) from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. through Tuesday, Nov. 21:
    Alternating lane closures on I-10 east and westbound and U.S. 29 north and southbound.
    The U.S. 29 on-ramps to I-10 eastbound will be intermittently closed. Traffic will be detoured on U.S. 29 to access I-10 eastbound.
    The exit ramp from I-10 westbound to U.S. 29 south (Exit 10A) will be intermittently closed. Traffic will be detoured to Exit 10B.
    Alternating lane closures on the I-10 westbound exit ramp to U.S. 29 north (Exit 10B).
  • I-10 Widening from Davis Highway to the Escambia Bay Bridge- Drivers will encounter the following traffic impacts from 7 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. as crews perform paving work.
    Alternating lane closures on I-10 east and westbound near Scenic Highway Friday, Nov. 17 and Sunday, Nov. 19 through Tuesday, Nov. 21.
    The on-ramp from Scenic Highway to I-10 westbound will be intermittently closed through Tuesday, Nov. 21. Traffic will be detoured on I-10 eastbound to Avalon Boulevard (Exit 22) to access I-10 westbound.
    The I-10 eastbound off-ramp to Scenic Highway will be intermittently closed through Tuesday, Nov. 21. Traffic on I-10 eastbound will be detoured to Avalon Boulevard (Exit 22) to access I-10 westbound to Scenic Highway.
  • U.S. 98 (S.R. 30) Pensacola Bay Bridge Replacement – Alternating east and westbound lane closures on U.S. 98 (Bayfront Parkway), between 14th Avenue and the bridge, from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. through Tuesday, Nov. 21 as crews place temporary lane separators and barrier wall.

Santa Rosa County

S.R. 87 Multilane from Eglin AFB boundary to Hickory Hammock Road – Traffic between County Road 184 (Hickory Hammock Road) and the Eglin AFB boundary is restricted to loads less than 11-feet wide. The restriction will be in place until the project is complete.

Seminole Tribe, Disney Pour Money Into Gambling Initiative

November 20, 2017

The Seminole Tribe of Florida and Disney Worldwide Services spent $1.55 million in October to back a proposed constitutional amendment that would make it harder to expand gambling in the state, according to a newly filed finance report. The money went to the political committee Voters In Charge, which is trying to get the proposal on the November 2018 ballot.

The Seminole Tribe, which operates casinos in various parts of the state, contributed $1 million in October, while Disney added $550,000, the report shows.

In all, the committee had raised $4.1 million as of Oct. 31, while spending about $3.44 million. Voters In Charge had submitted 391,783 valid petition signatures to the state and needs to submit 766,200 to get on the ballot.

The initiative would change the state Constitution and give voters the “exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling” in the state.

It would require voter approval of casino-style games in the future.

“Our message of giving Florida voters, not politicians, the ultimate authority on gambling decisions is resonating throughout Florida,” Voters In Charge Chairman John Sowinski said in a prepared statement Monday. “We are on target to complete our petition drive by year’s end, after which we will turn our full attention to building voter support for our amendment through a broad grassroots effort and robust statewide campaign.”

by The News Service of Florida

Jim Allen Elementary School Names Students Of The Month

November 20, 2017

Jim Allen Elementary School has named Students of the Month for November. They are Mykamia Padgett (left) and Eli Langreck. Courtesy photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

American Diabetes Month: Floridians Impacted In Large Numbers

November 20, 2017

November is American Diabetes Month. As the prevalence of the disease continues to rise across the state and nation, the number of Floridians with diabetes is expected to increase.

David Becker, a spokesman for the American Diabetes Association, says the latest numbers show 29 million Americans with diabetes, and the toll on health can be great, including kidney failure, blindness, amputations and more.

“There are a lot of co-morbid diseases as far as diabetes and cancer and heart disease,” he points out. “It all kind of is interrelating.”

Becker says about 95 percent of those people who have diabetes have Type 2, which healthier lifestyle choices with nutrition and physical activity can help prevent.

In Florida a little more than 1.7 million have diabetes, but that  is expected to increase  to nearly three million by 2030, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Becker notes that even some simple, small changes with healthy eating and regular exercise can yield big results. “If you lose just 7 percent of your body weight, you can decrease your chances of getting diabetes by 58 percent,” he stresses.

If the current trends don’t change, it’s estimated that by 2050, 30 percent of all Americans will have diabetes.

by The Florida News Connection

Judge Blasts State Prisons Over Hepatitis Care

November 20, 2017

In a scathing ruling issued Friday, a federal judge found that Florida corrections officials have a “long and sordid history” of failing to treat inmates infected with the Hepatitis C virus and ordered the state to immediately come up with a plan to properly provide care.

U.S. District Judge Mark Walker found that the Department of Corrections and its health care contractors had for years refused to treat infected inmates with antiviral medications, known as “direct acting antiviral” drugs, because of the cost.

Between 7,000 and 20,000 of the state’s 98,000 prisoners are believed to be infected with Hepatitis C, but only 13 have been treated with the antiviral drugs since 2013, and three of those who received the treatment were plaintiffs in the lawsuit, according to court documents.

The treatment, which originally cost up to $75,000 when first released in 2013, now costs about $37,000 for a 12-week regimen and cures the virus 95 percent of the time.

But in a harshly worded 32-page order, Walker wrote that cost is no excuse for not providing the treatment, scolding the agency for being “deliberately indifferent” to the medical needs of inmates, a violation of their constitutional rights.

“Preventable deaths from HCV (Hepatitis C virus) are occurring within the prison system,” he wrote.

Walker ordered the department to update its Hepatitis C treatment policy and to formulate a plan to implement the policy by screening, evaluating, and treating inmates in line with directions and timelines set out by its expert witness.

And he told the corrections agency to come up with the plan “with alacrity,” writing in the order that “this court will not tolerate further foot dragging.”

Michelle Glady, a Department of Corrections spokeswoman, said in an email that the agency has asked the Legislature for $19 million “to expand the treatment for inmates with Hepatitis C” and that it contracts with the firm Centurion “to provide comprehensive health services to all inmates in Florida.”

“FDC (the Florida Department of Corrections) is absolutely committed to ensuring all inmates in our custody are provided medically necessary treatment that is in line with national standards and our constitutional responsibilities,” Glady said in the email.

Hepatitis C is usually contracted through intravenous drug use but can also be transmitted through tattooing or blood transfusions. The disease causes liver scarring, which can significantly impair liver function and ultimately lead to death.

The lawsuit was filed in May by the Florida Justice Institute on behalf of three inmates and a class of others infected with the virus. Walker also certified the case as a class-action lawsuit on Friday.

“We are very pleased with Judge Walker’s order, and we hope that it will result in thousands of inmates getting much-needed treatment so they will not die,” Randall Berg, executive director of the institute, told The News Service of Florida on Friday.

Corrections officials maintained that the case was moot because they had made several changes to their policy about treating infected inmates since the lawsuit was filed.

But even the most-recent revision — finalized a week before a five-day hearing in the case last month — is inadequate, Walker found.

“FDC needs to clear up the loosey-goosey language in its treatment policy so that it can no longer hide behind the consequences of its own obfuscations,” Walker wrote in a footnote.

The department’s latest policy doesn’t guarantee that inmates will be screened or receive treatment quickly enough, Walker found, based on testimony from the corrections department’s own expert.

The judge gave the department until Dec. 1 to come up with a new plan and ordered the agency to “increase its capacity and outline a timetable for doing so” because agency officials have maintained they do not have enough staff to start screening all inmates who could be at the highest risk of having advanced liver disease due to Hepatitis C.

“This court has no doubt that without a court-ordered injunction, FDC is unlikely to treat inmates in a constitutionally appropriate manner,” Walker wrote.

In a footnote, Walker wrote that funding issues could excuse some delay, but not to this extent.

“For instance, if DAAs (direct acting antivirals) were released yesterday, this court would not expect FDC to wave a magic wand and suddenly treat thousands of inmates overnight,” he wrote. “But that is not the case. FDC has had since late 2013 to respond to this problem, and it has only just recently started doing what it should have done years ago.”

by Dara Kam, The News Service of Florida

Pictured: The Medical Classification Unit inside the Century Correctional Institution.  NorthEscambia.com file photo, click to enlarge.

Cantonment Dollar General Robbed Saturday Night

November 19, 2017

The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the Saturday night robbery of a Cantonment business.

The Dollar General on Highway 29 and North Tate School Road was robbed about 9:55 p.m. Multiple Escambia County deputies responded to the robbery, including a K-9 unit. There was no word of any arrests.

No injuries were reported.

Further details were not released by the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office.

NorthEscambia.com photos by Kristi Barbour, click to enlarge.

UWF Dominates Wingate, 31-0, In NCAA First Round Victory

November 19, 2017

WINGATE, N.C. – Coming into Saturday’s NCAA Division II Football First Round game at No. 3 seed Wingate, No. 6 seed UWF became the fastest startup program to reach the postseason. After the 31-0 dismantling of the Bulldogs, they can now lay claim to being the fastest program to win a playoff game.

From the third play of the game when Jalen Spencer intercepted Wingate quarterback Dylan Williams and returned it 23 yards for a touchdown, the UWF defense announced it was going to be the focal point of the day. Spencer got his second interception on the Bulldogs’ next drive returning it 15 yards to the UWF 30, eventually leading to an Austin Williams 51-yard field goal – tying his own career-long.

By the end of the 60-minutes at Irwin Belk Stadium, the Argonauts held 16th-ranked Wingate to a season-low 205 yards of total offense, sacked Williams a school-record nine times, picked him off three times and did its part to put all four Gulf South Conference teams into the Super Region 2 semifinals.

Marvin Conley, Reggie Barnes and Johnathan Coleman each posted double-digit tackles. The Argos have combined for 21 sacks and 38 tackles for loss over the last three contests.

UWF (8-3) ended with 289 yards of total offense –129 on the ground and 160 through the air. Mike Beaudry was 18-for-31 with three passing touchdowns and an interception.

Beaudry’s first scoring play came at the end of the half on a drive setup by a 35-yard Antoine Griffin punt return to just about midfield. With the Argos leading 10-0, he capped a 12-play, 53-yard drive with a 10-yard pass to Tate Lehtio, where the sophomore lept over a Wingate defender from the 2-yard line to reach the end zone.

UWF left no doubt about the outcome at the start of the second half, taking the opening possession 82 yards over 13 plays that saw Griffin haul in a 17-yard pass for the score. The drive took 6:43 off the clock and was the longest scoring drive of the season while putting UWF up 24-0.

They added a final score following a fumble forced by Trent Archie that Daryl Wilson recovered at the Wingate 31. Beaudry and company needed just three plays before he tossed a ball to tight end Austin Blake-Smith for a 13-yard touchdown. It was Blake-Smith’s fourth TD in the last four games.

The UWF kicking game was also strong on Saturday as punter Colton Norris and placekicker Austin Williams battled strong winds all game. Norris punted seven times and placed five inside the 20-yard line, while Williams made all three point after touchdown attempts, drew to within one made field goal of the GSC single-season record of 23 and put four of his six kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks.

UWF advances to the NCAA Second Round where it will travel to West Georgia (9-3) and face the Wolves for the second time in three weeks. UWG defeated Virginia State, 35-9, in its first round game. Kickoff time and ticket prices for the game at University Stadium in Carrollton, Ga. will be announced in the coming days.

Photo by Jim Wright for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Multiple Injuries In Nine Mile Road Crash

November 19, 2017

There were multiple injuries in a two vehicle crash Saturday on Nine Mile Road at Holsberry Road.

As many as four people were reportedly transported by Escambia County EMS to a local hospital following the accident at about 9:05 p.m. Their conditions were not available.

Further information has not yet been released by the Florida Highway Patrol.

NorthEscambia.com photos by Kristi Barbour, click to enlarge.

Airman Dove Graduates From Military Basic Training

November 19, 2017

U.S. Air Force Airman William T. Dove graduated from basic military training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, San Antonio, TX.

The airman completed an intensive, eight-week program that included training in military discipline and studies, Air Force core values, physical fitness, and basic warfare principles and skills.

Airmen who complete basic training also earn four credits toward an associate in applied science degree through the Community College of the Air Force.

Dove is the son of Ronald Dove of Century and Kelly B. Dove of Brewton, and husband of Taylor D. Dove of Flomaton.

He is a 2013 graduate of Flomaton High School.

Florida Baptist Children’s Homes Honored By DCF

November 19, 2017

Florida Baptist Children’s Homes was nominated for the 2017 Champions of Hope Award that is awarded annually by the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF).

The award recognizes organizations that go above and beyond to improve the lives of at-risk youth and children. The nomination was announced at a special Champions of Hope Luncheon on Tuesday at the 2017 Florida Faith Symposium at the Rosen Centre in Orlando.

Last year, Florida Baptist Children’s Homes, The Porch Light and Orphan’s Heart impacted 171,273 children and individuals through its services, which include but are not limited to its Brave Moms program, Compassion Ministries program, foster care, residential care and sex trafficking prevention and awareness.

“What an honor it is to be nominated for a prestigious award that embodies what we are diligently striving toward each day,” said Dr. Jerry Haag, president of Florida Baptist Children’s Homes, The Porch Light and Orphan’s Heart.  “This recognition is a testament to our supporters, partners and incredible staff who selflessly commit themselves to helping change the lives of children.”

Locally, the Florida Baptist Children’s Home is located on Chemstrand Road in Cantonment.

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