Taking A Bite Out Of Hunger: Peanut Butter Drive Underway

September 24, 2016

In an effort to boost the supply of the most requested food pantry item, peanut butter, UF IFAS Escambia County Extension is teaming up again with the Florida Peanut Producers Association to help “Take a Bite out of Hunger” by participating in a local peanut butter drive.

Residents are asked to help meet the challenge of collecting 1,000 pounds of the versatile food by donating unopened jars of peanut butter at one of five locations now through Wednesday, November 23.  All peanut butter collected will be donated to local food pantries in December.

Drop-off locations:

  • Escambia County Administration, 221 Palafox Place, 4th Floor
  • Escambia County Extension Office, 3740 Stefani Road
  • Escambia County Farm Bureau,153 Highway 97, Molino
  • Escambia County Public Safety, 6575 North W Street
  • Gilmore Services, 31 East Fairfield Drive

Many families in our community experience food insecurities. They rely upon food pantries to supplement their family’s meals and reduce worries about running out of food. To help meet the need of providing healthy options for our residents in need, this is the fourth year UF IFAS Escambia County Extension has participated in the peanut butter drive.

Last year, more than 2,800 jars of peanut butter were donated to local food pantries.

NorthEscambia.com file photo, click to enlarge.

Northview Beats Vancleave

September 24, 2016

The Northview Chiefs beat the Vancleave (MS) Bulldogs Friday night on the road, 25-3.

“It was a great four quarter game from our guys,” Northview Head Coach Dereck Marshman said. “We preached all week about how physical Vancleave was. Our guys responded and dominated physically for four quarters.”

“I felt it was by far our most complete game. Couldn’t be more proud about how we imposed our will to win tonight,” Marshman added.

The Chiefs were first on the scoreboard of the Mississippi school with a Luke Ward touchdown with 3:30 on the clock in the first. A missed extra point, and Northview was up 6-0. Just seconds before the half, Ward was in for another TD, 13-0.

With 6:41 in the third, the Bulldogs kicked a 39-yard field goal to make the score 13-3. The Chiefs struck again with 1:14 left in the third, Ward scored his third touchdown of the night, 19-3.

Seconds into the fourth quarter, Northview added another touchdown, this time from Hunter Edwards to make it 25-3.

With his three touchdowns, Ward had 18 carries for 125 yards. He also had 58 yards in the air. Edwards had a rushing touchdown, while Jeremiah Woods had 14 carries for 54 yards.

Defensively, Edwards recorded nine tackles, one QB sack and an interception. Jared Aliff had six tackles and two sacks. Neikel Robinson had an interception and two punt returns for 65 yards. Ward also had one punt return for 45 yards.

The Chiefs are on the road again next Friday night, this time to Maplesville, AL, about 30 miles north of Selma.

Look for a photo gallery by Monday on NorthEscambia.com

NorthEscambia.com photos by Gary Amerson, click to enlarge.

Niceville Tops Tate

September 24, 2016

The last time the Tate Aggies played Niceville, it ended with a 21-20 Aggie win that put Tate in the Final Four. But Friday night was a different story, as Niceville powered to a surprising 39-3 win over Tate.

Tate’s only score of the night came on a 40-yard field goal from with 1:30 to go in the first to make it 14-3.

Next Friday night, the Aggies head to Washington High School at 7:30 p.m.

A photo gallery will be posted by Monday.

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

Pediatric Dental Clinic Opens Next Month In Century

September 23, 2016

Pediatric dental services will be available in Century beginning next month.

Escambia Community Clinics will open their new ECC Century Pediatric Dental Clinic at 501 Church Street on October 10.

The clinic will provide important oral health care services for children 0 to 20 years of age, and will provide dental exams, dental x-rays, dental cleanings/dental hygiene, dental extractions, fillings and tooth restorations, dental sealants and fluoride varnish, and oral health education.

The ECC Century Pediatric Dental Clinic is now accepting calls for appointments Monday through Friday during business hours at (850) 724-4054. The child-friendly clinic will be open every Monday and Tuesday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Once open, same day appointments may be available, depending on clinic schedule.

ECC said all children should see the dentist for a dental exam by the time they are 1 year old to help them start off a lifetime of healthy teeth, and tooth brushing should begin by the time the first baby tooth erupts.

ECC Century Pediatric Dental Clinic accepts children covered by Florida Medicaid ages 0-20, children with DentaQuest dental insurance, children with no insurance (parents must complete ECC financial eligibility paperwork and receive approval for ECC charity/sliding fee program), and the clinic also accepts some private dental insurances.

Organizers said Escambia Community Clinics plans to add a medical clinic at the same Century location in early 2017 as well as a pediatric medical site in the old Winn Dixie in Cantonment.

Since 1992, the mission of Escambia Community Clinics  has been to provide comprehensive primary and preventive health care to the citizens of Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties and surrounding areas, with a special focus on access to care for the under-insured, uninsured, working poor and medically needy. ECC currently provides a wide range of services for both children and adults at eleven locations in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties. During 2015, ECC provided over 98,500 patient visits to 32,622 individuals.

ECC locations include a satellite medical location at 748 Highway 29 in Cantonment.

Courtesy photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Supreme Court Clears Hunter On Muzzleloader Charge

September 23, 2016

Christopher Weeks donned camouflage and an orange vest and went hunting in February 2012 with a muzzleloader rifle that had been a Christmas gift from his wife.

Then the problems started: A state wildlife officer saw Weeks’ pickup truck parked along a road in the Blackwater Wildlife Management Area in Santa Rosa County. And it turned out that Weeks had been convicted of a felony in the past, which led the officer to charge him with violating a law that bars convicted felons from possessing guns.

But more than four years later, the Florida Supreme Court gave Weeks a reprieve Thursday.

In a 5-2 decision, justices cleared Weeks on the gun-possession charge because state law treats antique firearms — and their replicas — different from other guns. The ruling said lawmakers exempted firearms manufactured in or before 1918 and their replicas from the prohibition on felons possessing guns.

The majority opinion, written by Justice Barbara Pariente, delved into the details about what could be considered a replica weapon and, in a key issue, rejected arguments that Weeks’ rifle didn’t qualify because it also included a scope.

“In this case, Weeks wanted to go hunting and, with his wife and his father, researched the law and determined that sections (of state law) allowed him to possess a replica of a 1918 black powder muzzleloader rifle with a percussion cap ignition system. … His rifle was modified only with respect to the attached scope,” said Pariente’s opinion, joined fully by Chief Justice Jorge Labarga and justices Ricky Polston and James E.C. Perry. “When the felon-in-possession statute is construed in the light most favorable to the defendant, Weeks’ rifle’s attached scope did not remove his firearm from the statutory exemption.”

Justice Charles Canady wrote a concurring opinion that was joined by Labarga and Polston.

But Justice R. Fred Lewis, in a dissenting opinion joined by Justice Peggy Quince, wrote that scope disqualified the rifle from being considered a replica.

“Although the firearm may have relied upon an ignition mechanism used by similar firearms before 1918, it also featured a scope that was not found on weapons that were available in 1918,” Lewis wrote. “In my view, such a firearm cannot constitute an antique firearm as defined by Florida law.”

Weeks, whose father is a retired law-enforcement firearms instructor, pleaded no contest to the charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and was sentenced to three years of probation, the majority opinion said. Despite the plea, he appealed based on arguments that the part of the law dealing with replica firearms was unconstitutionally vague.

The 1st District Court of Appeal ruled in Weeks’ favor on the constitutional issue, spurring prosecutors to take the case to the Supreme Court. In her opinion Thursday, Pariente said it was unnecessary to rule on the constitutional issue because the case could be decided by interpreting the definitions and wording in state law.

In a brief filed last year, Weeks’ attorney wrote that the muzzleloader, which was purchased at a Bass Pro Shop, was similar to a gun from the Civil War era.

by Jim Saunders, The News Service of Florida

NorthEscambia.com file photo, click to enlarge.

Winning $66K Fantasy Five Ticket Sold In North Escambia

September 23, 2016

Someone is over $66,000 richer this morning after purchasing a winning Florida Lottery Fantasy 5 ticket in Davisville.

fant5.jpgThe ticket sold at the State Line Gift Shop, 11208 Highway 97, was one of three winning tickets sold for Thursday night’s drawing worth $$66,188.82. Other winning tickets matching all five numbers was sold in Crystal River and Poinciana.

The 298 tickets matching four numbers won $107 each. Another 8,958  tickets matching three numbers are worth $10 each, and 87,885 tickets holders won a Quick Pick ticket for picking two numbers.

Thursday’s winning numbers were 05-11-18-28-36.

Bratt Superhero Boy On A Mission To Thank Law Enforcement

September 22, 2016

Tyler Carach is a Bratt Elementary School student by day, and an after school superhero that’s on a mission to thank law enforcement officers.

Tyler and his mother Sheena, who is a former police officer, created the “I DONUT need a reason to THANK a cop” program  after an encounter with Escambia County Sheriff’s deputies at Gilley’s Store in Bratt during the summer. He asked if he could use some of his own money to buy doughnuts for the officers. He purchased four packs of chocolate doughnuts to share with the deputies.

He learned that there are  just over 400 sworn officers in the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, and he composed a letter to a the Krispy Kreme on 9th Avenue asking for a discounted bulk price. The store manager instead donated 420 doughnuts to the project. Tyler, dressed in a superhero doughnut cape, delivered the doughnuts to Sheriff David Morgan and his department.

“It was really cool and fun I love getting to meet one of the dogs and one of the horses and I also found a lizard outside the Sheriff’s Office,” Tyler said. “The sheriff gave me a really cool coin and said it was very special. It was called a challenge coin. I got to go on the command center and also sit in the SWAT mobile — that’s like the Batmobile but way cooler.”

Thursday, Tyler continued on his mission to thank every cop in America with a visit to the Flomaton Police Department. He provided each officer with doughnuts and a goodie bag. He was able to test out the siren, public address system and computer in a brand new Dodge Charger patrol car, and he even raced a couple of officers on foot. His request to play with an officer’s pepper spray and Taser was cheerfully denied for safety reasons.

“I like cops because they are the best and they are my friends and they like one of my favorite dessert — doughtnuts, he said. “They wear blue and green and those are two of my favorite colors. I like drinking coffee and they like coffee too it helps them stay awake when they have to work all night long to keep us safe.”

Tyler hopes to be a law enforcement professional one day.

“I want to be a cop to keep people and my family safe like the cops keep me and my family safe,” he said. “I also want to stop bad guys like bank robbers and stuff. I want to be a SWAT because they have riot shields and I want to be a canine because they have dogs and I love them and they are really cute.”

Mom Sheena said Tyler is remarkably quiet and reserved at a school and home. But put him in a room of police officers, like Thursday’s visit to Flomaton, and he’s extremely into his zone — even trading tips on dealing with bad guys and making arrests.

Through his Facebook page (click here), Tyler is working on finalizing an Adopt-A-Cop program with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office to connect residents with deputies. He will be collecting goodie bags with items like gum, candy, hand sanitizer, pens, notepads and other item. And he is working on plans to visit more departments, spreading his message one doughnut at a time.

“You DONUT need a reason to thank a cop because everything they do is a reason to thank them, so if you see a cop today, take a second to say thank you,” Tyler said.

Pictured top: Bratt resident Tyler Carach servers a doughnut Thursday afternoon at Flomaton Police Chief Bryan Davis. Pictured bottom inset: Tyler with members of the Flomaton Police Department. Pictured first below: Tyler checks out the interior of a 2016 Dodge Charger police vehicle. Pictured second below: Tyler’s doughnut mission started with four Escambia County deputies at Gilley’s Store in Bratt. Pictured bottom: Tyler with Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan. NorthEcambia.com photo and courtesy photos, click to enlarge.

Deferred Prosecution For Task Force Members; State Still Contends Century Violated Sunshine Law

September 22, 2016

The four individuals accused of violating Florida’s Sunshine Law won’t be prosecuted, but the State Attorney’s Office remains steadfast that a violation occurred and has the put the Town of Century on notice.

The former members of a Citizens Advisory Task Force — Alfonzie Cottrell, Helen Mincy, Sylvia Godwin, and Robert Mitchell — previously pleaded not guilty to a noncriminal violation of the Florida Government in the Sunshine Law. They were charged by the State Attorney’s Office with having a public meeting that was not properly advertised. On July 26, a meeting was advertised in a legal notice to begin at 4:00 p.m. The meeting was actually held at 2:00 p.m., preventing the public from attending.

If convicted, each defendant faced a maximum fine of $500.

Each defendant has signed a deferred prosecution agreement with the State Attorney’s Office under which charges will be dropped if the defendant has no violation of the law  and resigns their position on the Citizens Advisory Task Force or completes an online training course regarding the Sunshine Law. If the individuals meet the conditions, the charge will be dropped in six months. The State Attorney’s Office said any fees or costs in connection with the case will also be waived.

In letters from defense attorney Kim Skievaski to Century Mayor Freddie McCall and the Century Town Council, each of the four task force members resigned their positions effective September 12. Skievaski was hired by by the town at $300 per hour to represent the four defendants.

At last Monday night’s meeting of the Century Town Council, McCall, reading from an email from town attorney Matt Dannheisser, said “the state will completely dismiss the charges….nor is there any suggestion much less an admission of guilt”.  In a paragraph of the email McCall did not read to his council,  Dannheisser said he would hold off until the agreement was formally entered into court records before the “issuance of any statement demonstrating that there was no violation in the first instance”.  He said he would meet with the prosecutor to understand his reasoning, and “unless he can convince me that he had a good basis for his action, I will issue a letter supporting the town and explaining that there was no violation and that was likely the reason the persecutor essentially dropped the charges.”

After being provided a copy of Dannheisser’s email, Assistant State Attorney Greg Marcille wrote a letter to Dannheisser calling his conclusions “incorrect”.

“There was a clear violation of the Sunshine Law by holding a public meeting at a time other than what was advertised in a public notice. The decision to dispose of this case by Deferred Prosecution was not based on the strength of the case but rather on mitigation circumstance. These circumstances, including the age of the individuals, their agreement to resign from the Citizen Advisory Task Force, and the considerable responsibility of the Town of Century in allowing the violation to occur, convinced this office that Deferred Prosecution was appropriate,” Marcille wrote.

“The Office of the State Attorney has always taken a strong position regarding the enforcement of Florida’s Government in the Sunshine Law and Florida’s Public Records Law. We will continue to take this position in the future,” the assistant state attorney concluded.

A public notice published on NorthEscambia.com and in the weekly Tri-City Ledger newspaper in Flomaton, AL, stated that the Town of Century’s Community Development Block Grant Citizen’s Advisory Task Force (CATF) would meet at Century Town Hall at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, July 26.

“The public notice for the CATF meeting provided by our firm had a typographical error that listed the time for the meeting as 4:00 p.m. instead of the correct time of 2:00 p.m.,” town consultant Robin Phillips of Jones-Phillips and Associates said, adding that letter sent to the CATF member specified a 2:00 meeting time.

“There was never any intent on the Town’s or on our part to mislead or misinform anyone.  It was an unintentional typographical error, ” Phillips said in a letter to NorthEscambia.com.

Marcille said his office will continue to stand behind a letter from State Attorney Bill Eddins to McCall. The letter reads:

“This office has completed its review of allegations that members of the Citizens Advisory Task Force violated the Florida Government in the Sunshine Law by holding a public meeting at a time other than what was advertised in the public  notice. Based upon our review, we have determined that a Sunshine Law violation has occurred. As a result of that decision, we have filed noncriminal infraction charges against the members of that task force. We have also determined that the Town of Century bears considerable responsibility in this matter.

“In this case, public notices were advertised on NorthEscambia.com and in the Tri-City Ledger that the Citizens Advisory Task Force would hold a public meeting on July 26, 2016, at 4:00 p.m. The time listed on the notice was incorrect and should have stated 2:00 p.m. The meeting  was held at 2:00 p.m. and concluded before 4:00 p.m. As a result, this meeting was held outside the Sunshine and without proper notice to the public. It is unclear if the problem with the erroneous time was ever discussed at the meeting. To avoid this issue occurring in the future, we recommend that at the beginning of all public meetings, the advertised notice be clearly reviewed on the record to determine that the meeting has been properly advertised.

“It is also apparent that the members of the Citizens Advisory Task Force were not sufficiently educated as to their responsibilities under the Florida Government in the Sunshine Law. We recommend that the Town of Century immediately establish training programs for all individuals serving on Sunshine boards or committees. We recommend that an outside agency such as the First Amendment Foundation be used for the training.

“Finally, concerns have been raised that the Town of Century has not adequately advertised the  dates and times of public meetings. We recommend that the Town follow the suggestions of the Attorney General’s Office regarding public notices. These recommendations indicated that all meetings, with the exception of emergency or special meetings, should be advertised at least seven days prior to the meeting. Special meetings should be given notice of no less than 24 hours but preferably at least 72 hours notice should be given to the public. Emergency meetings  should be afforded the most appropriate and effective notice under the circumstances. This notice should contain the date, time, and place of the meeting, as well as a copy of the agenda or statement of the general subject matter to be considered.”

Pictured top: CATF members Helen Mincy, Robert Mitchell and Sylvia Godwin during a CATF meeting on Thursday, July 28. Alfonzie Cottrell was not present at the July 28 meeting. Pictured inset and below: The Century Town Hall was locked and the parking lot empty just 4 p.m. Tuesday, July 26, the time of a publicly noticed town task force meeting. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.