Learn About Century Business Challenge At Tuesday Workshop

March 2, 2015

Orientation and workshops for the upcoming Century Business Challenge begin Tuesday from the University of West Florida Haas Center and the Florida SBDC at UWF.

The business challenge is a business plan competition in which the winning company will receive a prize package valued at more than $25,000. The Pensacola-based Studer Institute and the Haas Center are sponsoring the competition in partnership with the Florida SBDC at UWF, which is providing business planning software and conducting orientation and workshop sessions for participants.

“I am very excited about our involvement with the Century Business Challenge,” said Kelly Massey, regional director of the Florida SBDC at UWF. “Growth business consultant Carl Quesinberry is leading our team on this project. We have assisted competitors in many business plan competitions before.”

The first orientation session will be open to the public on Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the Century Community Center on West Highway 4 at Industrial Boulevard. The meeting is an orientation for anyone wising to compete in the Century Business Challenge. The second public meeting will be a business concept workshop on Tuesday, March 17. Additional workshops, closed to the public, will be held for participants on April 7, 8 and 9.

“The Florida SBDC and UWF are seeking to make our services more convenient and accessible for those in Century and the surrounding area,” Massey said. “We will provide three training sessions and mentoring services for the competitors at no cost. The Century Business Challenge is a win for everyone.”

Those interested in participating in the business challenge must apply by the end of March. Applications and more information about the business challenge can be found at its website, www.CenturyBusinessChallenge.com.

Prizes for the winner of the Century Business Challenge include space at the Century Business Center on Pond Street at a lease rate of $1 per year, with the possibility of an extension of that rate for two more years based on the company’s performance.

Pensacola philanthropists Quint and Rishy Studer will donate $25,000 in financial support to the winner of the competition.

The Century Business Challenge is part of an economic development partnership of the Haas Center, the Town of Century and the Studer Institute.

Those interested in attending orientation or the workshops are encouraged to RSVP by emailing Allison Tyler at atyler1@uwf.edu

Driver Misses Curve, Hits Power Pole In Walnut Hill

March 2, 2015

There were no injuries when the driver of a vehicle missed a  90-degree curve on Kansas Road and destroyed a power pole Sunday night in Walnut Hill.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, 24-year old Austin Reimer of Ringwood, OK, was northbound on Kansas Road in a 2014 Ford Expedition when he failed to negotiate the curve and struck the utility pole. The vehicle eventually came to rest in a grassy field. Reimer and his three passengers ages 18-22 and all from Ringwood, OK, were not injured.

The accident happened just north of Arthur Brown Road about 9 p.m., causing a small number of Escambia River Electric Cooperative customers in the Kansas Road area to lose power for about two hours. The accident is under investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol. The Walnut Hill Station of Escambia Fire Rescue also responded.

NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.

Hundreds Attend Walnut Hill Ruritan Auction

March 1, 2015

Hundreds of people attended the 41st Annual Walnut Hill Ruritan Club Farm Equipment Auction Saturday in Walnut Hill.

Items sold included farm equipment, lawn and garden equipment, household items and more during the event, which is held each year on the last Saturday of February. All proceeds from the auction benefit the Walnut Hill Ruritan Club’s community service projects in the Walnut Hill area.

For more photos, click here.

Pictured: Hundreds attended the annual Walnut Hill Ruritan Club farm equipment auction Saturday in Walnut Hill. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.

Manna, Rotary Clubs Team Up To Create Nearly 80,000 Meals For The Hungry

March 1, 2015

The Combined Rotary Clubs of Pensacola (CROP) were joined with Manna Food Bank Saturday. The Fourth Annual Rotary Against Hunger Project resulted in 79,413 meals being packed for the hungry in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.

Over 300 volunteers took part in Saturday’s event, with each of the area’s 12 Rotary Clubs represented.

fThe Rotary Against Hunger project has become a critical part of our ability to meet the needs of the hungry throughout the year in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties,” said to MANNA Executive Director DeDe Flounlacker.  “This project provides much needed food during the Winter and early Spring when donations are always low, and need is always high.  Last year, MANNA provided assistance to 32,686 people, including 11,740 children.  These are your neighbors and mine – folks who are the working poor, grandparents raising their grandchildren, moms and dads who do not have enough money to pay their bills and buy food for their family.  Thanks to Rotary, thousands of people will be helped this year through this gift of nutritious food.”

“By teaming up with Manna, we can insure that these meals will be distributed in a manner that will serve the needs of many families in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties,: said Ed Carson, Rotary Against Hunger Project chair. “Through this project, Rotary is striving to exemplify Service Above Self, the Rotary motto.”

The Rotary Against Hunger project has become critical to Manna, providing much needed food in the later winter and early spring when donations area usually low, Flounlacker said.  Last year, MANNA provided assistance to 32,686 people, including 11,740 children.

“These are your neighbors and mine – folks who are the working poor, grandparents raising their grandchildren, moms and dads who do not have enough money to pay their bills and buy food for their family.  Thanks to Rotary, thousands of people will be helped this year through this gift of nutritious food,” she said.

Pictured:  Nearly 80,000 meals were packed during the Annual Rotary Against Hunger Project Saturday at Manna Food Bank. Photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Report: Crime Is Down In Escambia County

February 28, 2015

Crime in Escambia County was down 9.6 percent in 2014, while the number of violent crimes was down 1.2 percent, according to the latest numbers released Friday by the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office.  There were 1,761 violent crimes in Escambia County in 2014, down from 2,271 in 2008, the year before Sheriff David Morgan took office, a news release stated.

The numbers, Morgan said, disprove a common misconception that crime is up in the county.

“Often the perception, cast through social media,is that crime is on the rise. However, these are the accurate statistic sand they reflect a continually positive trend,” the sheriff said.

According to the report, there were 18 murders in Escambia County in 2014, down 21.7 percent from 23 reported in 2013. Robberies were also down by a double digit percentage, a 17.3 percent drop from 370 in 2013 to 306 in 2014. Rapes were up just under 10 percent from 135 in 2013 to 148 in 2014, and there was a slight increase in aggravated assaults. All other violent crime categories were down.

Burglaries and mother vehicle thefts were down about 15 percent, while larcenies were down about 10 percent. Domestic violence offenses were down slightly overall

“With our limited resources, we are focusing on violent crime. Our continued goal is to make Escambia County safe and improving the quality of life for our families and businesses. Much of our success in reducing crime is due to our partnerships with the communities we serve.We encourage citizens to form or join neighborhood watch groups and report suspicious activity to Gulf CoastCrime Stoppers.Let’s work together to make Escambia County a better place to work, worship and play,” Morgan said.

The Pensacola Police Department’s annual crime report released Friday also showed an overall 8 percent reduction of the city’s crime rate compared with 2013.  The report shows a 9.4 percent reduction in the non-violent crime rate and a 5.1 percent reduction in the violent crime rate, resulting in an overall reduction of 8 percent.

“Not only does this show a decrease in violent and non-violent crimes within city limits, but also  it reflects the outstanding work done on a daily basis by our officers,” said Chief Chip W. Simmons.

The Uniform Crime Reporting statistics are submitted and accepted yearly by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Gastrointestinal Infections On The Rise In Escambia County

February 28, 2015

An increased number of gastrointestinal infections have been reported in Escambia County, and the Florida Department of Health in Escambia County would like to remind the community of proper hygiene practices to prevent gastrointestinal illness.

Gastrointestinal infections can be highly contagious and are usually spread through person to person contact with an infected person, contact with contaminated surfaces, or contaminated food or drinking water. Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, low to high grade fever, and headache.

Most gastrointestinal infections can be prevented with proper hygiene practices, clean drinking water, and safe food preparation. The best way to avoid contracting or spreading these infections is to take the following precautions:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially after using the bathroom, handling diapers, and before preparing or eating food.
  • Use proper hand washing practices by rubbing soapy water on hands and under fingernails for 15 to 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based sanitizer.
  • If you become ill, stay home. If your child becomes ill, keep him/her out of school or childcare until free from symptoms for 48 hours.
  • If you are sick with vomiting or diarrhea, do not prepare food for other people.
  • Thoroughly disinfect contaminated surfaces by using a bleach-based household cleaner.
  • Immediately remove and wash clothing or linens that may be contaminated after an episode of diarrhea or vomiting.
  • Cook foods properly and wash fruits and vegetables before serving. Use separate cutting boards and utensils for preparing meats, fish, vegetables, or fruits.

Treatment for gastrointestinal illness includes drinking plenty of clear fluids and getting rest. Dehydration may be a concern, especially among elderly adults and young children, so it is important to maintain proper fluid replacement. If you have severe symptoms, including bloody stool, vomiting that does not resolve, high fever, or signs of dehydration such as reduced urination, you should contact your doctor.

For more information about prevention of these infections through proper hand hygiene please visit: http://www.cdc.gov/handwashing. If you are concerned that you have a gastrointestinal infection, please contact your doctor.

Know Before You Burn: Burn Authorizations Often Needed

February 27, 2015

Many times, area residents need permits for outdoor burns, according to the Florida Forest Service.

One of the primary roles of the Florida Forest Service is management of the state’s burn programs. Whether burning acres of forestlands or piles for land clearing operations, residents who plan to burn often need an authorization from their local FFS office.

“One of the goals of the Forest Service is to promote the benefits of fire and forest management,” said David Smith, Operations Administrator for the Blackwater District. “These authorizations are not meant to discourage people from burning, they’re simply a way to measure and track how much burning is occurring, where it’s happening and help ensure that people are doing it safely.”

The “where” part of that equation can be essential if a FFS firefighter has to respond to a fire. Through the Service’s internal Fire Management Information System, districts can map out all the burns in their area on any given day and if the need arises, direct responding crews.

If we don’t know where the burns are happening, that task becomes much more difficult.

“Firefighters responding to the correct location is crucial,” Smith said. “If a wildfire is threatening someone’s property, we certainly do not want critical firefighting resources delayed or diverted to a burn that someone is watching.”

Recently, the Blackwater District’s fixed wing aircraft pilot has discovered numerous unauthorized burns while on routine patrol. Mostly pile burns, the pilot has been able to mark the area on GPS and radio dispatch who then sends a Forest Ranger to inspect. Many of these inspections have results in a Notice of Violation for the landowner or person conducting the unauthorized burns.

In 2014, unauthorized debris burns made up more than 7% of the wildfires in district. So far in 2015, there have been 4 escaped unauthorized debris burns which is almost 15% of our fires. Landowners or burners can be charged for the cost suppression if their fire escapes regardless of whether it is authorized or not.

It’s important to note that not all pile burns require an authorization, however, and sometimes it can get confusing. Sometimes residents simply are unaware that they need to get authorizations before lighting the pile.

What type of burning requires authorization from the Florida Forest Service?

  • Acreage burns. If you’re planning to burn woodlands, grass pastures, home lawn or any other large area, you need an authorization.
  • Pile burns. Whether you’re burning multiple piles of land clearing debris generated on site or simple yard debris you generated while trimming trees and shrubs, if the pile is greater than 8 feet in diameter, you need an authorization.

There is no fee for a burn authorization.

Information required to obtain an authorization:

  • Location of the burn – street address or Section, Township and Range
  • Acreage to be burned – if appropriate
  • Number of piles to be burned, height, length (i.e. three piles, 9 by 12 feet in size) – if appropriate
  • Landowner’s name

No authorization needed if you are burning a pile of yard debris generated on your own property but it must meet the following requirements:

  • 8 feet or less in diameter or in a non-combustible container (burn barrel).
  • 150 feet or more from other homes.
  • 50 feet or more from paved public roads.
  • 25 feet or more away from your home.
  • 25 feet or more away from wildlands, brush or other combustible structures.

If residents are unsure if their planned burns needs to be authorized, they can call (850) 957-6140 for more information or visit www.FloridaForestService.com and click on the “Quick Link” for prescribed fire.

NorthEscambia.com file photos.