Northview Fans ‘Meet The Chiefs’ (With Gallery)

August 28, 2015

Northview High School’s Quarterback Club held a “Meet the Chiefs” event Thursday evening, giving fans a chance to get to know the team prior to the start of the regular season Friday night. Fans also had a chance to meet the cheerleaders and dance team. The Chiefs will travel to Crestview Friday night to take on the Bulldogs in a non-district game.

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

Central, Northview Split Volleyball Games

August 28, 2015

In high school volleyball Thursday evening, Central defeated the Northview Chiefs in varsity action, 19-25, 20-25, 15-25.

In junior varsity play, the Northview Chiefs beat Central, 25-19, 21-25, 15-5.

Northview will travel to W.S. Neal on Tuesday with the JV playing at 4:30 and the varsity at 5:30.

Wahoos Rally, Up 1.5 Games In South Division

August 28, 2015

All second half of the Southern League season, left fielder Jesse Winker came through with a big hit when Pensacola needed it.

Winker’s last one — a double in the right field corner in the eighth inning — was the biggest and came under the most pressure.

It not only cleared the loaded bases by driving in three runs to catapult the Blue Wahoos back into the lead, 9-8, over the Mississippi Braves, it put Pensacola 1.5 games up on the Braves in the race for the playoffs in the second half of the Southern League’s South Division.

By the end of the eighth inning, Pensacola had scored five runs and beat Mississippi, 11-8, and received a standing ovation from its 23rd sellout of 5,038 Thursday night at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium.

Pensacola improved to 34-26 in the second half and remained in sole possession of first place, while Mississippi fell to 32-27.

With 10 games left in the season, this is the latest Pensacola has been in first place since July 22, 2012 in its first season.

Winker said he was looking for a fastball to hit deep and at least get a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded. Instead, he ripped a line drive to reach base all five times he came to bat. Winker was 2-2 with a double, four RBIs, three runs and walked three times. The last time he got on base five times was on June 11, 2014 for the Bakersfield Blaze.

“How sweet,” said Winker, who was drenched with water by his teammates after the game. “It was unbelievable with the playoff atmosphere, plus PK’s (manager Pat Kelly) birthday. It was real cool. It was a real fun game to be a part of.”

Winker has hit in 18 of his 23 games this month. He is hitting .367 (29-79) in August and .312 in the second half. The Cincinnati Reds top prospect currently holds the Pensacola Triple Crown, leading the team with 13 home runs, 53 RBIs and a .278 batting average.

In top of the fifth inning with Pensacola leading, 4-1, the video board flashed birthday wishes to Pensacola manager Pat Kelly, who turned 60 Thursday. One photo was him with a mustache during his minor league playing days and the other a shot from this season. He tipped his cap to the crowd and smiled.

However, Mississippi scored five runs after that in the fifth. Braves right fielder KD Kang came through with a three-run homer to left to knot the game, 4-4. Kang has reached base in 29 straight road games this year, the longest streak in the Southern League this season.

Then, the Braves second baseman Levi Hyams drove in two more runs on a line drive over the head of Pensacola center fielder Phillip Ervin to put Mississippi ahead, 6-4.

Mississippi added two more runs to go ahead, 8-4, in the seventh inning when Pensacola shortstop Alex Blandino threw wide of first base trying to turn a double play that allowed the Braves third baseman Rio Ruiz and catcher Matt Kennelly to score.

Pensacola entered the game 3-56 when trailing in the seventh inning.

“It was fantastic,” Kelly said of Pensacola’s rally in the eighth inning to win the game. “We were dead in the water. I thought, ‘Man, we are really in trouble.’”

But right fielder Juan Duran laced a low line drive single to centerfield with two outs and the bases loaded in the seventh inning to bring home Blandino and Winker and pull the Blue Wahoos within, 8-6. He ended up going 2-4 with a three-run home run for five RBIs on the night.

Duran’s homer in the third inning was Pensacola’s 16th dinger in 24 games. After hitting just 25 home runs in the first half, the Blue Wahoos have clobbered 76 home runs on the season, which is third best in the Southern League.

Winker and Kelly both expressed optimism about making the playoffs with a series against the Jackson Generals in Tennessee and then its final homestand against Mobile at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium.

“We are all locked in on what we can do to win,” Winker said. “It’s something special to be a part of. I hope we go there (to Jackson) and take five.”

Kelly said beating Mississippi in a five-game series for the first time this season is huge.

“This puts us in a great position by winning it,” Kelly said. “It takes us to the Jackson series with some momentum. We’re going into that series in good spirits.”

FDLE Arrests Man For Sex Offenses

August 27, 2015

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement, with assistance from the Pensacola State College Police Department, arrested Jorge Rafael Carias, 24, of  Milton, Wednesday on charges of using a computer to solicit a parent or guardian for sex with a child, traveling to meet a child for sex, and transmitting harmful material to a minor.

This case was investigated by members of the North Florida Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force including FDLE, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations, Okaloosa and Walton County Sheriff’s Offices, and Pensacola Police Department.

The investigation began in July when Carias engaged in a series of email and text messages with an undercover officer who Carias believed to be the parent of a 12-year old girl.

During the email and text exchanges, Carias solicited the undercover officer to have sex with the supposed girl in exchange for cash.  He also sent a pornographic photo of himself and sexual messages to the supposed child before traveling to a local motel for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity with a child.

Carias was located  at Pensacola State College and transported to the Escambia County Jail on a $60,000 bond. The case will be prosecuted by the Office of the State Attorney, 1st Judicial Circuit.

Atmore Man Indicted For Murder Of His Brother

August 27, 2015

An Atmore man has been indicted for the May murder of his brother despite a stand your ground claim.

An Escambia County grand jury indicted James “Jamie” Tolin Scott on one count of reckless murder for the shooting death of Tony Tolin Scott.  Tony Scott was shot to death with a small caliber rifle at James Scott’s home on Jefferson Avenue in McCullough, a small community north of Atmore.

The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office had responded multiple times to the home prior to the shooting due to fights between the brothers.

James Scott remains in the Escambia County Detention Center in Brewton with bond set at $250,000.

State Board Of Education To Ask For Record Funding

August 27, 2015

The State Board of Education decided Wednesday to once again ask lawmakers for record per-student funding for public schools — with the lion’s share of the increase coming from local taxpayers.

Board members unanimously approved a budget request of nearly $20.2 billion for the main funding formula for public elementary and secondary schools in the fiscal year that begins next July 1. That would set a new benchmark for total funding, up from this year’s $19.7 billion, as well as marking the highest per-student amount in state history.

“Last year, you’ll remember that Gov. Scott and the Legislature provided historic levels of funding for education, and we are hopeful that for the (coming) year, the governor and the Legislature will make education a top priority once again by providing historic funding levels,” Education Commissioner Pam Stewart told the board.

In a June special legislative session, lawmakers rejected Gov. Rick Scott’s call to increase per-student funding in the current budget year to more than the high-water mark of $7,126, which came in the 2007-08 school year. This year’s decision, made as the House and Senate tried to plug a hole in the health-care budget, deprived Scott of a victory on a campaign promise he had made during his successful re-election bid in 2014.

The proposal approved Wednesday by the board would boost spending to $7,209.39 per student, an increase of $104.33, or 1.47 percent, over the current year.

However, only $50 million of the $475.9 million hike in funding would come from the state. The other $425.9 million would come from local property taxes that make up a key part of the formula for education spending. That approach has drawn criticism from Democrats and some Republicans, who equate it to a tax increase.

Defenders of the formula point out that the local tax dollars go up because the value of property is rising, not because the actual tax rate is being increased.

The board’s proposal still has several stages to go through before a final number on per-student spending is set. Scott is expected to announce his budget proposal in December, and lawmakers will begin their regular session in January. A final state spending plan will likely be approved in March.

At least one board member held out the possibility that the increase could grow by the time lawmakers are done.

“I hope that percentage increases,” said board member Michael Olenick.

Sen. Don Gaetz, a Niceville Republican who chairs the Senate’s education budget subcommittee, said it is too early to tell whether it’s likely that the Legislature will approve a record amount.

“I hope it is (likely),” he said.

But Gaetz, a former district superintendent, also said he believes “Tallahassee politicians and school board members need to be careful about patting themselves on the back” for funding increases that largely come from local taxpayers.

At their Wednesday meeting, the state board also approved a list of legislative priorities for the 2016 session. Included were measures that would make it easier for high-performing charter schools to open new campuses, allow students in low-performing schools to receive enrollment preferences at charter schools and overhaul the Department of Education’s process for investigating teachers accused of misconduct.

Among other things, the latter bill would put more teachers on the board that investigates alleged wrongdoing and would allow the education agency to get access to the findings of child-protective investigations by the Department of Children and Families.

Wahoos Move Into First Place

August 27, 2015

Cody Reed held the Mississippi Braves to one run and struck out eight in six innings of work as the Pensacola Blue Wahoos won, 3-1, Wednesday night to move into first place in the second half of South Division play in the Southern League.

Wednesday night, Reed showed the 4,201 Blue Wahoos fans at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium what he’s made of. In the battle to make the playoffs, Reed retired nine Mississippi Braves in a row at one point.

On the road, Reed has a 3-0 record and 0.41 earned-run average. At home? Reed was 0-2, lasting just 7.2 innings with an 11.74 ERA.

Pensacola improved to 33-26 in the second half and sole possession of first place, while Mississippi fell to 32-26.

Reed said he knew he lacked his usual good stuff but wasn’t about to let the Braves have a big inning. He struggled early throwing 60 pitches over the first three innings.

“It wasn’t my sharpest day but I got through six innings,” said Reed, who came to Pensacola from the Kansas City organization in a trade for the Cincinnati Reds ace Johnny Cueto. “You just got to work through it. I love having that pressure of being the guy they give the ball to.”

Pensacola manager Pat Kelly, who turns 60 Thursday, said Reed’s six innings was exactly what the Blue Wahoos needed Wednesday against Mississippi. Reed improved to 4-2 with a 3.03 ERA.

“I had more guys in turf shoes than cleats tonight,” he said. “I love (Reed’s) stuff. He has a plus fastball with a plus slider. He really competes. He was upset he gave up one run.”

Pensacola scored first in the fourth inning when left fielder Jesse Winker walked and scored on right fielder Juan Duran’s fielder choice to go up, 1-0.

The Blue Wahoos added another in the next inning when Kyle Skipworth hit a shot to right field that was dropped for an error. He scored on Winker’s ground out to the first baseman for a 2-0 Pensacola lead.

But back-to-back doubles by Mississippi’s Keven Ahrens and Rio Ruiz brought the Braves within one run at, 2-1.

Pensacola, though, added an insurance run in the eighth inning to go up, 3-1, when shortstop Alex Blandino hit a rocket to centerfield for a double and scored on a sacrifice fly by first baseman Marquez Smith.

Kelly said he’s glad to be in the hunt for a playoff spot with 11 games left in the season. The latest Pensacola has had sole possession of first place was July 22, 2012 in its first season.

“If you had told me in April or May that we would be here I would have told you that you were crazy,” Kelly said. “This is great. It’s nice being here at this point. We just gotta keep going.”

Cantonment Man Charged With Stealing Car, Burglary

August 26, 2015

A Cantonment man is behind bars after allegedly using force to steal a car and then using it as transportation as he committed a burglary the following day.

James Christopher Gulsby 32, punched and choked his live-in girlfriend to get the keys and take a 2010 Suzuki Kizashi car belonging to her father, according to an arrest report. The following day, the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office receive a suspicious person call on Hound Chase Way, with the individual reported to be walking around with a black plastic box and a green garden hose.

They responded to find Gulsby in the backyard of a residence with a small crowbar and  pair of pliers. Deputies discovered the back door of the residence with pry marks that matched the use of a crowbar, and they reported finding a black box with tools and a green garden hose inside.

Gulsby was charged with domestic battery by strangulation, criminal mischief with property damage, burglary of an unoccupied dwelling, possession of burglary tools with the intent to use, and grand theft of a motor vehicle. He booked into the Escambia County Jail without bond.

Escambia Legislative Delegation Sets Public Hearing

August 26, 2015

The Escambia County Legislative Delegation will hold a public hearing September 21, according to Sen. Greg Evers, delegation chairman.

Delegation members will consider local bills, hear presentations from government entities and take public testimony on proposals for the 2016 Legislative Session. Any member of the public is welcomed to attend.

Those who wish to make a presentation or provide testimony should  contact Dave Murzin at or cell, (850) 380-8249 to receive a Meeting Participation Form and return it to Evers’ office no later than 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 17.

Local bill submissions should includeda brief summary of the proposal, a draft of the proposed bill, and a 2016 Economic Impact Statement Form, must be received by Evers office no later than 5:00 p.m. on Monday, September 14th.

The public hearing will be held from 5-7 p.m. on September 21 at the Jean & Paul Amos Performance Studio, located at 1000 College Boulevard. in Pensacola.

The Escambia County State Legislative Delegation includes Evers, Rep. Clay Ingram and Rep. Mike Hill.

Citizen’s Customers May Face Rate Hike Due To Spike In Water Claims

August 26, 2015

A “disturbing” rise in water-damage claims in South Florida is driving Citizens Property Insurance Corp. to seek an average 3.2 percent increase in rates for many homeowners, the president of the state-backed insurer said Tuesday.

Without the surge in reported residential water damage over the past two years, which is causing the agency to alter its approach to such claims, Citizens would be asking for an average statewide rate decrease, Citizens President and CEO Barry Gilway said during a rate hearing before the Office of Insurance Regulation.

“You can’t move away from the fundamental issue, when you take a look at Miami-Dade, and you take a look at the rest of the state, there really is no major differences in ages of home or any other characteristics,” Gilway told Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty. “So it leads you to the obvious conclusion, and the conclusion basically is there is more fraud associated with these types of claims.”

As it is, Citizens customers in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe counties, which comprise a large portion of Citizens’ portfolio, are more likely to see rates increases than homeowners in other parts of the state under the rate proposals. And the reason is the water claims, Gilway said.

“If the Miami-Dade average (water damage) claim were the same as the rest of the state, 99 percent of all Miami-Dade policyholders would be getting an 8 to 9 percent decrease, not an 8 to 9 percent increase,” he said.

McCarty gave no hint if his office would approve the proposed rates.

The new rates, if approved by the state regulators by the second week of September, would go into effect Feb. 1.

The rates vary by county and depend on a property’s location, the home’s style, and the type of policy.

The overall statewide average increase would be 3.2 percent, with homeowners’ multi-peril personal-line accounts going up an average of 1.3 percent and wind-only coastal accounts going up 9 percent. Multi-peril coverage for mobile-home owners would go down 5.3 percent on average. There is no proposed change to sinkhole rates.

The increase in claims, primarily in Miami-Dade County, is driven by attorneys who specialize in water damage, which adds to attorney fees and adjuster costs, Gilway said.

“The issue for us is, we don’t even have a chance to work with a policyholder to come up with a fair settlement,” Gilway said after the hearing. “You saw the numbers, 30 percent of all the water damage claims come in with representation. We have not even talked to the insured. And 90 percent of all the claims coming in with representation come from Miami-Dade.”

In 2012, about one in 12 homeowners in Miami-Dade County with a Citizens policy made a water-damage claim, with the average cost just under $9,000. In the past 12 months, Gilway said, one in eight Miami-Dade policyholders with Citizens filed such a claim, with damage costs running on average approaching $15,000.

“We’re averaging 1,000 water-damage claims a month,” said Gilway, who described the increase as “disturbing.”

John Rollins, Citizens chief risk officer, said a majority of the claims come from reports of pipe failure. Citizens doesn’t cover flood and storm surge.

One change being made is that only Citizens adjusters, who are being trained as to what to look for in water claims, will respond to water claims in South Florida, Gilway said.

Gilway said he doesn’t anticipate the need to get the Legislature to enact new laws to address the increase in water-damage claims. But he said he’s working with Rep. Frank Artiles, a Republican from Miami who has been a critic of the agency, on rules for making water-damage claims with the state-backed agency.

The proposal would establish “mandatory” appraisal rules — similar to sinkhole claims — in which both sides on a water-damage claim would get to select an appraiser and if the two sides don’t agree, the issue would go before a mediator. The move would keep attorneys out of the issue, Gilway said.

The rate proposals come as Citizens has dropped from 1.5 million policies in 2012 to 589,456 policies as of July 31. Gilway said he expects the number of policies to be just above 500,000 by the end of the year.

by Jim Turner, The News Service of Florida

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