Flash Mob: Students Read Like Crazy At Molino Park (With Gallery, Video)

January 27, 2015

It’s Literacy Week at elementary schools across Escambia County, and students at Molino Park Elementary kicked off the week first thing Monday morning with a flash mob. Books in hand, students took part the song “Read Like Crazy” (a parody of the song “Call Me Maybe”). The students worked on the song and choreography for the past couple of weeks.

Photos by Lana Clayton, Kristi Price and others for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Public Safety Boss: Additional Training Won’t Be Required Of Volunteer Firefighters

January 27, 2015

Concerns that Escambia County volunteer firefighters will be required to have a higher level of training to remain in service, and that the requirement could leave some fire stations with no volunteers, simply are not true, Escambia County Public Safety Director Mike Weaver said Monday afternoon.

Escambia County volunteer firefighters are currently required to have “Firefighter I” certification, while in some instances paid, or employee, firefighters in Florida are required to have nearly 200 additional hours of training to be “Firefighter II” certified. Most Escambia County volunteer fire stations have few, if any, volunteers that are Firefighter II certified.

Volunteer firefighters in Escambia County receive a stipend for their service, ranging from $300 to $550 per month, and the IRS recently determined that they are employees and that taxes should be withheld from their checks. That “employee status” has lead many volunteers to believe that a Firefighter II certification would be required.

“In my opinion there is nothing to be concerned with. Regardless of the term ‘employee’ from the IRS, Florida statutes state that a volunteer firefighter being paid a nominal fee as defined by the FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) only needs a Firefighter I. Our stipend program meets the definition of nominal fee,” Weaver said.

County leaders, including the county attorney, are continuing to work to make sure that volunteer firefighters are able to continue as usual as much as possible following the IRS audit, under direction from the Escambia County Commission. In the meantime, about a few volunteers that work in regular paid position with Escambia County in fire or EMS services remain unable to volunteer due to concerns about potential tax and overtime issues.

NorthEscambia.com file photo.

Three Injured In Early Morning Molino Crash After Driver Falls Asleep

January 26, 2015

Three people were injured in an early Monday morning single vehicle crash in Molino.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, 37-year old Cody Powell of Pensacola was northbound on Highway 29 north of Mathison Road about 12:50 a.m. when he fell asleep behind the wheel of his 1999 Lincoln Navigator. The SUV left the roadway, traveling along the the shoulder, hitting a mailbox, three traffic signs and eventually a tree, with the vehicle coming to rest in a wooded area near the Escambia County Health Department.

It took firefighters about 40 minutes to extricate two people that were trapped in the vehicle.

Powell and his passengers, 31-year old David Anthony Royce Crouthers of Molino and 29-year old John Kelly of Pensacola, were transported to Sacred Heart Hospital in serious condition.

Highway 29 northbound was shut down about an hour due to the crash. The Molino and Cantonment stations of Escambia Fire Rescue, Escambia County EMS and the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office also responded to the wreck.

Photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Students To Move Into New Ernest Ward Middle School Next Monday (With Photo Gallery)

January 26, 2015

Students are expected to move into the new Ernest Ward Middle School in Walnut Hill one week from today.

Many of the school’s teachers spend a portion of their weekend setting up their new classroom, which contain all new furniture and new technology that includes triple smart boards with “smart pens” that can be used by students from their desks.

All of the items such as computers and furniture, with the exception of library shelving, will be brand new. The school includes new to Ernest Ward technology such as a closed circuit television systems with a complete TV studio, closed circuit video monitoring, electronic security and access controls, and more.

The $20 million facility is not quite complete; there’s still minor work to be done throughout the building, and the school’s agricultural classroom and band room won’t be completed for several more weeks.

If all goes as planned, students will report to their homerooms in the old EWMS building on Monday, February 2. They will escorted grade by grade into the new facility where they will get the grand tour. There will be changes to student drop-off and pick-up areas as well on February 2. Those changes and complete move-in details will be published on NorthEscambia.com.

About a week later the move into the new building, demolition on the old Ernest Ward will begin. That demolition and new parking lots are due to be completed by the end of July.

OPEN HOUSE: An open house and tours for the public will be held on Monday, February 16 from noon until 4 p.m., following by a student registration even from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m.

For more photos, click here.

NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge

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Wreck Outside Atmore Claims Lives Of Teenage Couple

January 26, 2015

A single vehicle accident Saturday night about seven miles outside Atmore has claimed the life of a teenage couple.

The accident occurred on Highway 31 in Baldwin County, AL, about 10 a.m. when a 2013 Nissan Maxima with four passengers left the roadway and struck a utility sign and a utlity pole. According to Alabama State Troopers, 17-year old Allison B. McKinley of Frisco City, AL, was ejected from the vehicle and pronounced deceased a short time later at North Baldwin Infirmary in Bay Minette, AL. Her boyfriend, 16-year old Matthew H. Hinote of Monroeville, was transported to USA Hospital in Mobile where he was pronounced deceased at 4:34 a.m. Sunday.

The driver of the Nissan, 24-year-old Justin J. Jordan of Monroeville, was transported to Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola. A third passenger was also hospitalized after the crash.

The accident remains under investigation by the Alabama State Troopers. According to troopers, there were no seat belts in use at the time of the crash.

One Killed In Saturday Night Single Vehicle Crash

January 25, 2015

One person was killed in a single vehicle crash Saturday night on County Road 97 near Cantonment.

The Florida Highway Patrol said 22-year old Jonathon J. Hall was southbound in a 2006 Pontiac SUV about 6:15 p.m. when he traveled off the roadway for an unknown reason. The SUV overturned, coming to rest on its side.  Hall was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected.

Hall was transported to Sacred Heart Hospital were he was pronounced deceased.  His passenger, 20-year old Jocelyn Mercer, of Pensacola was transported to Sacred Heart Hospital in serious condition.

The accident remains under investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol.

Reader submitted photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.