Federal Appeals Court Upholds ‘Docs Vs. Glocks’ Bill

July 26, 2014

A federal appeals court has upheld the state’s controversial “docs vs. glocks” bill, overturning an earlier court ruling that had blocked part of the law from being enforced.

In a 2-1 ruling, a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the state Legislature had the right to pass the law, which includes provisions restricting doctors and other medical providers from asking questions about gun ownership during medical visits.

“In order to protect patients, physicians have for millennia been subject to codes of conduct that define the practice of good medicine and affirm the responsibility physicians bear,” Judge Gerald Tjoflat wrote. “In keeping with these traditional codes of conduct — which almost universally mandate respect for patient privacy — the Act simply acknowledges that the practice of good medicine does not require interrogation about irrelevant, private matters.”

The majority found that the National Rifle Association-backed law, known as the Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act, “has only an incidental effect on physicians’ speech.”

The appeals court rejected a decision by U.S. District Court Judge Marcia Cooke, who ruled last year that the law was built largely on anecdotal evidence, and that legislators couldn’t prove that gun rights would be jeopardized or that patients who own firearms might face discrimination.

Supporters of the 2011 law say doctors might turn away patients who own guns or who wouldn’t answer questions about whether they did. Critics argue that doctors need to know what’s in a patient’s home so they can offer safety advice.
In a sharp dissent significantly longer than the majority opinion, Circuit Judge Charles Wilson said the law was an unconstitutional “gag order” that infringes on doctors’ rights.

“The holding reached today is unprecedented, as it essentially says that all licensed professionals have no First Amendment rights when they are speaking to their clients or patients in private,” Wilson said. “This in turn says that patients have no First Amendment right to receive information from licensed professionals — a frightening prospect.”

Howard Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, which filed a friend-of-the-court brief opposing the law, said in a statement that his organization was “astounded” by the ruling.

“Today’s decision will keep doctors from asking reasonable questions and providing advice that could very well save lives,” Simon said. “We expect the doctors who filed this case to appeal this decision and that this decision will ultimately be overturned.”

The doctors could seek a full appellate court review or appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

by Brandon Larrabee, The News Service of Florida

Escambia, AL, Animal Shelter Closing

July 26, 2014

The Humane Society of Escambia County (Ala.) has announced that it will no longer be operating an animal shelter or providing field services.

The organization’s directors said they can’t “humanely operate” on the $120,000 per year budget proposed by the Escambia County (Ala.) Commission. Doing so, according to Director Renee Jones, would force the shelter to bring in animals and hold them for the minimum required seven day period before euthanizing them at the shelter in Flomaton.

She said the Humane Society of Escambia County “has never operated that way and to do so would be completely contrary to our mission.”

“Although we completely understand that the commissioners have the task of responsibly allocating taxpayer dollars, we believe that our role in the community is to work toward the long term goal of a more humane community,” she wrote. “As an organization, we are refocusing and believe that we will be able to better support the needs of the animals and the people who love them, as well as staying true to our mission, by working toward a spay/neuter assistance and humane education program.”

The group will work through August to move animals housed in  the shelter to guaranteed adoption shelters and rescues.

For more information on how you can adopt an animal, contact the Humane Society of Escambia County in Flomaton, Ala., at (251) 296-2275 or email hsescambia@gmail.com.

Back To School: Supply Lists

July 26, 2014

School starts Monday, August 18 in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. Here are printable school supply lists from each elementary school and middle school in Escambia County, plus the North Escambia area schools in Santa Rosa County and Escambia County, AL.

(High schools typically do not have a general supply list. Students are advised of their supply needs in each class.)

North Escambia Area Schools:

Complete Escambia County Lists:




Two Cantonment Residents Caught Burglarizing Barn

July 25, 2014

Two Cantonment residents were arrested after being caught stealing metal and equipment from a barn in the Cottage Hill area.

John Henry Shiffner III, age 19, was charged with felony burglary and felony grand theft.  He remains in the Escambia County Jail without bond due to probation violation charge.  A 16-year old juvenile was also charged in connection with the incident and released into the custody of the Department of Youth Services.

A man at his mother’s home on Williams Ditch Road observed Shiffner and the juvenile walking away from a barn. It was discovered, according to an arrest report, that the duo had moved hundreds of pounds of heavy equipment and metals from the barn to a path that borders one side of the property.

When deputies caught up with Shiffner and the juvenile a short time later,  both completed written, sworn confessions, according to the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office.

According to court records, Shiffner was on probation at the time of his arrest this week after being convicted for of aggravated battery and disorderly public intoxication.

Escambia County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a drunken public disturbance in the intersection of Mayo and Front streets in Century in October 2013. Shiffner’s girlfriend, who is two and a half months pregnant with his child, said he had pushed her, causing her to land on her back on the ground. She refused medical treatment.

When deputies tried to question Shiffner in the back of their patrol vehicle during the October incident, he began yelling at his girlfriend. When deputies explained her claim that he had pushed her, “he stated he did not touch her and then began rambling on about how Obama is right,” deputies reported.

“Obama said cops always listen to women,” Shiffner said, according to his arrest report.

‘Great Day For Our Community’ — Immediate Financial Picture Improving For Atmore YMCA

July 25, 2014

About two weeks after announcing that they were on track to close the doors permanently next month, the Atmore YMCA director says things are beginning to look up for the organization’s immediate financial future.

“It has been a great day for our community and the YMCA,” Paul Chason, CEO of the Atmore Area YMCA said Thursday night.

Chason said several organizations have made financial commitments to help keep the YMCA’s doors open — the Atmore Lions Club has made a $5,000 donation; the Atmore Rotary Club has pledged $5,000; Gulf Winds Federal Credit Union committed to a $10,000 donation and $6,000 per year for three years; Alto Products has pledged $6,000 per year for three to five years.

He said the Atmore Rotary Club is reviewing their $5,000 pledge to possibly make it an immediate donation. If that happens, the YMCA will have secured the minimum amount needed to remain open through 2014.

In the meantime, the YMCA is still working to secure funding pledges for not only the remainder of this year, but for 2015 and beyond.

The YMCA board had set an August 4 deadline to raise $75,000 in donations to prevent an August 29 closure, but the board changed the request to $20,000 by August 4 to remain open through December.

The Atmore YMCA has served Atmore and surrounding areas since June 1995. The Atmore YMCA currently has just over 500 memberships representing about 1,250 members.

For more information or to donate to the Atmore YMCA, call (251) 368-9622 or stop by 501 South Pensacola Avenue in Atmore.

Pictured top: The Atmore Area YMCA building. NorthEscambia.com file photo.

Greater Escambia Relay For Life Needs Volunteers Now

July 25, 2014

The Relay For Life of Greater Escambia is seeking volunteers – community leaders, cancer survivors, caregivers, and all others – to join the 2015 Event Leadership Committee. Event Leadership Committee members are essential to the planning and implementation of the event.

The committee is made up of local volunteers that want to help the American  Cancer Society fight cancer. Committee members have the opportunity to take on a variety of  roles, including team or sponsor recruitment, fundraising, survivor and caregiver recognition, publicity, mission education, and more. The committee meets throughout the Relay season to plan all aspects of the event and coordinate a unique and special community experience.

Greater Escambia’s 2014 event was held at Tate High School on April 25 and raised more than $80,000. Plans for 2015 are underway, and the 2015 committee will hold its first meeting in early September.

Relay For Life is the signature fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, with events in more than 5,200 communities and 20 countries. Every year, the Relay For Life movement raises more than $400 million which helps fund groundbreaking research and free information and services  for cancer patients and their caregivers.

For more information about joining the fight against cancer with Relay For Life, contact Event  Chair Pat Clements at (850) 776-2944 or Shane Carter with the American Cancer Society at (850) 266-2290.

Pictured: The 2014 Greater Escambia  Relay for Life at Tate High School. NorthEscambia.com file photos, click to enlarge.