Century Holds Meeting In Apparent Violation Of State Sunshine Law

July 27, 2016

The Town of Century conducted a meeting Tuesday afternoon in an apparent violation of Florida’s Sunshine Law. The state law requires that the public’s business be conducted in open, public noticed meetings.

A public notice published on NorthEscambia.com and in the weekly Tri-City Ledger newspaper in Flomaton 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.

NorthEscambia.com arrived for the 4 p.m. meeting to find the front doors of the Century Hall locked  and the parking lot empty.

When reached by phone, Debbie Nickles, Century’s town planner, said the meeting had been held at 2 p.m. Tuesday. She said letters mailed to the four citizens on the task force had advised them to arrive for a meeting at 2 p.m. She said the discrepancy between meeting time in the letters and the legal public notices was discussed, and the meeting was held despite the improper public notice.

Nickles said she was present at the meeting, along with town consultant Robin Phillips and CATF members Sylvia Godwin, Helen Mincy, Robert Mitchell and Alfonzie Cottrell.

According to the meeting minutes, the CATF voted to recommend that the council apply for the CDBG grant.

When NorthEscambia.com reached Century Mayor Freddie McCall on his cell phone Tuesday to inquire about the meeting, he was with a local group at a church camp in Kentucky and said he was unaware of the meeting. Town Clerk Leslie Gonzalez did not work Tuesday and did not answer her cell phone, and Deputy Clerk Kim Godwin said she was unaware of the meeting.

Nickles said that another CATF meeting would be scheduled and properly noticed. At about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, the town provided notice that the committee would meet again Thursday afternoon at 1:50 p.m.

Pictured: The Century Town Hall was locked and the parking lot empty at 4 p.m. Tuesday, the time of a publicly noticed town task force meeting. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.

Highway 99, Barrineau Park Road Projects Running Ahead Of Schedule

July 27, 2016

A contractor is on track for an early completion of projects to widen and resurface several miles of County Road 99 and Barrineau Park Road.

Work is 80 percent complete on a project to widen and resurface seven miles of Highway 99 from Barrineau Park Road north to Highway 97A in Bay Springs, according to Escambia County. Panhandle Grading and Paving is still  widening shoulders. The entire widening area will then be resurfaced , and then striping and signage will be added.

The Highway 99 project will be submitted to the Federal Highway Administration Agency (FHWA) for  reimbursement at an estimated project  construction cost of $2.87 million.

Escambia County says work is also 80 percent complete on the Barrineau Park Road project which includes widening the existing travel lanes to 11 feet wide, adding four foot paved shoulders, upgrading guardrails and minor drainage improvements. Panhandle Grading and Paving is still  widening shoulders. The entire widening area will then be resurfaced , and then striping and signage will be added.

In addition to the two county projects, the Florida Department of Transportation upgraded the railroad crossing on Highway 99  south Highway 97A.

Ascend Awards Scholarships To Three North Escambia Students

July 27, 2016

Three North Escambia students have been awarded $2,000 scholarships from the Ascend Cares Foundation.

The non-profit organization managed and funded by Ascend Performance Materials, awarded 23 scholarships to children of their employees in Alabama, Florida and Texas this summer. Applicants were required to have earned at least a 3.0 grade point average and have demonstrated a record of community service.

The three North Escambia winners were:

  • Abri’ McDaniel of Cantonment, 17, a graduate of West Florida High School of Advanced Technology in Pensacola. In school, Abri’ was a varsity cheerleader and a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Outside of school, Abri’ was active at the Ronald McDonald House, the NAACP’s Youth Council and the Charmettes etiquette club. She plans to attend Troy University in Alabama in the fall semester. Abri’s parents are Twana and Donald McDaniel. Donald McDaniel is a processor at the Ascend Performance Materials plant in Cantonment.
  • Jacob Norre of Cantonment, 18, a graduate of Tate High School. In school, Jacob was a member of the Beta Club, the National Science Honor Society and the school’s band, where he was drum major and played saxophone. Outside of school, he was an Eagle Scout and volunteered in The Miracle League. Jacob plans to attend Texas A&M University in the fall semester and major in aerospace engineering. His parents are Michael and Cathy Norre. Michael Norre is a project engineer at the Ascend Performance Materials plant in Cantonment.
  • Allison Woodfin of Molino, 18, a graduate of West Florida High School of Advanced Technology. In school, Allison was a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Future Farmers of America. Outside of school, she raised show pigs as part of the 4H agricultural club. She plans to attend Troy University in the fall semester and major in communications. Allison’s parents are Jennifer and Walt Woodfin. Walt Woodfin is a scheduler at the Ascend Performance Materials plant in Cantonment.

“We believe that part of being a good company means being good to our team members, their families and our community,” said Rachell Gold, executive director of the Ascend Cares Foundation. “We are grateful for the opportunity to invest in these dedicated young people and wish them the best as they further their education.”

Murder Suspect Captured, Released Days Prior To Cantonment Shooting

July 26, 2016

An Escambia County man was captured after a manhunt in Cantonment just days before he allegedly murdered a man Saturday night also in Cantonment, NorthEscambia.com has learned.

Marquis Derrell Bryant, 19, is wanted for homicide in connection with the shooting death of 29-year old Alphonso Leon Griffin.  Griffin suffered a gunshot wound and was found in the yard of a residence in the 200 block of Sheppard Street in Cantonment just after 9 p.m. Saturday. He was transported by ambulance to Sacred Heart Hospital where he later passed away.

Bryant was captured by the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office just five days before the shooting, but not placed under arrest.

On Sunday, July 17, Bryant allegedly stole a classic Ford Mustang. On Monday, July 18, deputies spotted Bryant in the stolen 1965 Mustang at 3:47 p.m. near Hicks Street and Muscogee Road, according to the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office. When a deputy attempted a traffic stop, Bryant refused.

The deputy followed the vehicle, not exceeding the speed limit. Bryant opened the driver’s side door while the vehicle was still in motion. He then jumped from the vehicle and fled on foot.

The Sheriff’s Office said Bryant was located by a K-9 a short time later.

Sgt. Andrew Hobbs, spokesperson for the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office said deputies suspected that Bryant ingested some type of narcotics before being captured. He was transported to a local hospital for medical care. Hobbs declined to say which day Bryant was released from the hospital, citing medical privacy laws.

Hobbs said deputies submitted a grand theft auto warrant for judicial review. At the time of the murder, the warrant had not yet been signed by a judge.

Bryant now has an outstanding homicide warrant. Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to call the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office at (850) 436-9620 or Crime Stoppers at (850) 433-STOP.

FHP: Jay Man Driving The Only Vehicle To Strike, Kill Pedestrian

July 26, 2016

A Jay man was the driver of the only vehicle that struck a pedestrian in a fatal crash early Sunday morning, the Florida Highway Patrol said Monday.

Tyler Watson Shook, 18, was westbound on Willard Norris Road near Emerald Forest Road when he struck a pedestrian identified as 36-year old Rodney Ross Cropper II of Jay. Cropper was pronounced deceased on the scene.

On Sunday, the FHP originally issued a media release in which they said Shook was driving the second vehicle to strike Cropper. However, on Monday the FHP said that after a forensic review, it was determined that Shook’s Ford Bronco was the only vehicle to hit Cropper.

Any charges against Shook are pending the outcome of a Florida Highway Patrol investigation.

Operation Lifesaver 40 City Anniversary Tour Visits Atmore

July 26, 2016

“If we can save just one life, it’s worth all the effort.”

Those were the words of Nancy Hudson, Operation Lifesaver Alabama Executive Director. Operation Lifesaver  is a nonprofit public safety education and awareness organization dedicated to reducing collisions, fatalities and injuries at highway-rail crossings and trespassing on or near railroad tracks.

This year is the 40th anniversary of the program in Alabama, and Operation Lifesaver is on a 40-city tour across the state to spread their safety message. Monday, the tour stopped in Atmore where the group presented a program to senior citizens, public safety employees and the media. The Atmore City Council also heard from Hudson and Stephen Curlee, manager of community affairs and safety for CSX as they proclaimed Monday as “Rail Safety Tour Day” in Atmore.

“We want everyone to think train when they see tracks and be careful,” Hudson said.

Pictured top: Operation Lifesaver Alabama Executive Director Nancy Hudson addresses the Atmore City Council Monday afternoon. Pictured inset: CSX Manager of Community Affairs and Safety Stephen Curlee explains crossing safety to the council. Pictured below: Atmore Police Chief Chuck Brooks, Fire Chief Ronald Peebles, Curlee, Mayor Jim Staff and Hudson address the media about Operation Lifesaver’s 40-city anniversary tour. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.