County Commissioner, Public Works Boss Tour North Escambia Projects

March 23, 2017

Escambia County District 5 Commissioner Steven Barry and Public Works Director Wes Moreno toured several North Escambia locations Wednesday afternoon. They checked on the progress of paving several dirt roads and the progress of other current and potential future infrastructure projects. Pictured above: Barry (right) and Moreno discuss the upcoming paving of Bradberry Road off North Highway 99 near the Alabama state line. NorthEscambia.com photo, click to enlarge.

Blessed Are The Peacemakers: Special Visitors At Century Sheriff’s Precinct

March 23, 2017

The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office Century Precinct had some special visitors Wednesday from Byrneville United Methodist Church. They presented the deputies with “Blessed Are The Peacemakers” coffee mugs. Courtesy photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Traffic To Switch At County Road 97A Boggy Creek Bridge

March 23, 2017

Construction of the detour (acrow) bridge on County Road 97A over Boggy Creek near Enon in Escambia County is complete.  Traffic was to be transitioned to the temporary structure Thursday, March 23.  Drivers were reminded to use caution as workers make necessary adjustments to move traffic.

Crews will now begin replacing the existing structure with a new, modern bridge encompassing 12-foot travel lanes, eight foot shoulders and a solid concrete barrier railing. The bridge approaches will also be replaced.  Work is anticipated to be complete in the fall of 2017, weather permitting, on the $3,041,965 project..

Drivers are reminded to slow down to the posted speed limit of 30 MPH, use caution and be aware of the ‘S’ shaped curve when approached the temporary bridge.  There will be weight restriction on the temporary detour bridge.  Vehicles weighing over 88,000 ponds and cranes will be prohibited.

The bridge to be replaced was constructed in 1969.

Pictured: The CR 97A temporary bridge still under construction earlier this month. Photos for NorthEscambia.com,  click to enlarge.

Cantonment Man Get 25 Years For Attempted Murder After Robbery, Beating

March 22, 2017

A Cantonment man has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for beating a victim during an armed home invasion.

Zanterrial DeJohn Carter was convicted of an Escambia County jury of attempted first degree murder, burglary of a dwelling while armed with a dangerous weapon and grand theft.

In the early morning hours on November 14, 2015, Carter broke into an apartment on Spink Lane where the victim was severely beaten. entered a home in Escambia County  and held a resident down on the bed while striking him repeatedly in the head with a knife or small hatchet. The victim suffered deep wounds to his scalp and a broken arm from attempts to block the blows.

Carter assisted in stealing multiple electronic devices from the victim and fled the scene. The victim was able to call for help from a neighbor’s house. A witness in  the area of the crime was able to identify Carter and also provided property to law enforcement that had been stolen from the victim.

The victim told deputies that he believed Carter intended to kill him, and the only reason he survived is because he played dead during the attack.

Several items, including a TV, laptop computer and desktop computer were stolen during the incident, according to an arrest report. The total value of stolen item was $1,734.

Escambia County Alabama Looks To Increase Sales Tax

March 22, 2017

The county commission in Escambia County, AL, is asking the Alabama legislature to increase the county sales tax by 1 cent.

A 1-cent increase is expected to boost the county’s annual revenue by over $2.7 million. Without the increase, commissioners have said the county will be facing service cutbacks and possible layoffs due to lower general fund revenue, partially due to a decrease in revenue from oil and gas severance revenue and gas taxes.

The sale tax in Atmore, Flomaton in Brewton is currently 9 percent, while East Brewton already charges a 10 percent sale tax. The increase would mean a 10 percent tax in the cities, except 11 percent in East Brewton. Just to the south in Escambia County, FL, the sales tax is 7.5 percent, except for groceries and medications that have zero tax.

The commission has petitioned the legislature for the increase because Alabama law won’t allow a local county to pass a regulation to create new revenue.

Pictured top: The sales tax in Atmore, including at this Winn Dixie store, is currently 9 percent but may soon increase to 10 percent. A few miles away in Florida, shoppers pay no sales tax on groceries, 7.5 percent on most other items. NorthEscambia.com photo, click to enlarge.

Firefighters Battle Bratt Brush Fire

March 21, 2017

Firefighters battled a brush fire in Bratt Tuesday afternoon. The fire in the 6000 block of Ashcraft Road burned about an acre before firefighters arrived on scene and brought it under control just after 2:30 p.m.. There were no injuries and no structures reported to be involved. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.

Century Considers 59% Water And Sewer Rate Increase, 36% Garbage Rate Hike

March 21, 2017

The Century Town Council is considering a rate increase for water and sewer customers that would increase the average customer’s bill by 59 percent. And Mayor Henry Hawkins is also proposing a 36 percent increase in residential garbage fees. Additionally, a rate study for the town’s gas department is expected to be forthcoming.

The total rate increases for water, wastewater and garbage, if approved, will cost the average family of four about $300 per year.

GARBAGE

Century’s 545 garbage customers currently pay $16.98 to per month. In order to stop financial losses in the garbage department, Hawkins is proposing a 36 percent increase of $6.21 per month, for a total bill of $23.19. The increase will allow the town to continue to collect bulk items such as furniture and appliances and vegetative waste.

WATER AND WASTEWATER

The water and wastewater department had a net income loss of $142,022, according to a Florida Rural Water Association rate study presented to the council Monday night.

The average family of four customer using 5,000 gallons of water per month currently pays $18.65 for water and $13.00 for wastewater, for a total bill of $31.65. The rate study recommends three-year incremental rate increases totaling a 59 percent ($18.59) increase  for the average user….$21.27 for 5,000 gallons of water and $27.58 for wastewater.

The study recommended the following water rate increase:

It was recommended that the full water rate increase be spread over a three year period, and incremental tiers be established:

For wastewater, the study found:

It was recommended that the full wastewater rate increase be spread over a three year period, and incremental tiers be established:

For an average family of four, the rate increases would be as folows:

The town is seeking a total legislative appropriation of $60,000 for preliminary engineering reports for the potable water and wastewater systems. These reports will identify the deficiencies in each system, allowing the town to seek funding and make the necessary improvements.

In order to apply for future grants or loans, the water and wastewater systems must be financially viable by implementing the rate increases, according to town officials.

Pictured: The Century Town Council Monday night. Pictured: Century’s water, wastewater and natural gas franchise also serves the Century Correctional Institution. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.

Century Names New Gas Superintendent, Gives A Few Employee Raises

March 21, 2017

The Century Town Council voted Monday night promote an employee from within as their new gas superintendent and also handed out a few employee raises.

The council promoted Kim Godwin, former deputy town clerk, to gas department superintendent to replace an employee that recently stepped down from the responsibilities.  The council also increased her salary by $5 per hour to $18.26 to cover her new responsibilities as gas superintendent plus upcoming work on the town’s stagnant website.

The council also voted to provide $2,930 for Godwin to attend two upcoming educational workshops. The funds were already budgeted for gas department operating supplies.

Godwin has been employed by the town since May 2012.

Also Monday night, the council voted to increase the salary of a window clerk from $8.21 to $9.50 per hour and an administrative assistant from $9.68 to $10.50. Both employees have taken on additional responsibilities to justify their pay increases, according to Mayor Henry Hawkins.

Pictured: Kim Godwin, Century’s new gas superintendent. NorthEscambia.com photo.

The Blue Angels Return Home

March 21, 2017

The Blues are back! The U.S. Navy Blue Angels buzzed downtown Pensacola and Pensacola Beach late Monday afternoon on their way back to their home at NAS Pensacola for the air show season..

The 2017 Pensacola Beach Blue Angels Air Show will be July 9, and the Pensacola Naval Air Station Homecoming Air Show is coming up on November 11 and 12. There are also numerous opportunities to catch a Blue Angels practice aboard NAS Pensacola. Click here for a schedule.

NorthEscambia.com photos by Ditto Gorme, click to enlarge

Gulf Power Reaches Rate Increase Settlement

March 21, 2017

A rate hike on the horizon for hundreds of thousands of Gulf Power customers might not be as big as initially proposed.

The Northwest Florida utility agreed Monday to a settlement with the state Office of Public Counsel, which objected to an original proposal to raise base rates by $106.8 million. An announcement of the settlement came just prior to the start of a hearing before the Florida Public Service Commission.

The settlement proposal, which the commission agreed to consider April 4, would add about $7 to the monthly bills of typical residential customers who use 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a month, according to Gulf Power.

“Energy providers can’t just sit and coast,” Gulf Power spokesman Jeff Rogers said. “We have to continue to invest in infrastructure, transmission lines, substations. We’re a 90-year-old company. We’ve got equipment constantly aging and that constantly has to be invested in to ensure the reliability our customers expect.”

If the request is approved, the company projects that starting July 1, the monthly bill for typical residential customers will grow from $144 to $151.

The initial request sought to boost the typical monthly bill to $158.

The state Office of Public Counsel, which represents customers in utility cases, initially argued that base rates should decrease by about $2 million. No objection was raised to the settlement proposal on Monday by other parties involved in the case, which range from Walmart to the Sierra Club.

In the agreement, Gulf Power’s original request for a $106.8 million base-rate increase would fall to $62 million through the end of 2019. However, the company projects the net impact to customers would come to $54.3 million.

The filing before the PSC now says Gulf Power would seek a “return on equity,” a measure of profitability, of 10.25 percent, down from the original proposal of 11 percent. Gulf Power also is also now seeking to take a one-time $32.5 million write down on costs related to a Georgia power plant, known as Plant Scherer.

Gulf Power in the past has sold electricity from the plant on the wholesale market but now uses power from the plant for its retail customers.

The Pensacola-based Gulf Power is one of four major investor-owned utilities in Florida. It serves about 450,000 customers in eight Northwest Florida counties.

by Jim Turner, The News Service of Florida

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