Great For The Kids: Free Open House At Turtle Point

October 25, 2014

There will be an open house today at the Turtle Point Science Center in Flomaton.

Admission is free and open to the public from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m. Food will be available from the Flomaton High School Band Boosters. There will be live music from “Two Stories Collide”, a live cake auction at 4:30, and a spooky trail.

The 3,000 square foot Turtle Point offers a touch tank for children and other hands-on exhibits. It boasts an extensive collection of wildlife specimens including many Alabama birds, nests, and eggs; a butterfly and living bee exhibit; live alligators, turtles, snakes, amphibians, and fish of the East Gulf Coastal Plain geophysical region. Also, plant lovers will find six teaching gardens and a wetland nature trail.

Turtle Point’s goal is to provide hands-on environmental education to students and adults in the South Alabama and Northwest Florida area. Turtle Point is located at 20959 Highway 31 in Flomaton, near Hurricane Park and Flomaton High School. For more information, call (251) 296-3401.

Pictured: The Turtle Point Science Center in Flomaton. file photos, click to enlarge.

Cantonment Veterinarian Gets State Prison For Multiple Drug Convictions

October 24, 2014

A Cantonment veterinarian is headed to prison after being convicted on drug charges that resulted from an investigation by the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office and the DEA.

Michael Bishop Windley, age 67 of Highway 196 Molino, was sentenced Thursday to 20 months in state prison to be followed by 10 years probation after being convicted on four counts of possession, delivery, and manufacture of a controlled substance and four counts of  fraud in obtaining prescriptions.

Judge E.P. Nickinson gave Windley until November 19 to turn himself in to begin the prison sentence. Windley was a veterinarian at the Companion Animal Clinic at 470 South Highway 29 (the former Winn Dixie shopping center).

The DEA received a call in August 2013 from a Winn Dixie pharmacist regarding the suspicious prescribing activities of Windley, according to the DEA. During the investigation, the DEA learned that Windley was fraudulently obtaining methadone by writing prescriptions in the name of his ex-wife’s dog and filling the prescriptions at various pharmacies in the Cantonment and Pensacola areas and then providing the drugs to his ex-daughter in law.

According to the DEA, Windley filled 30 prescriptions (for a total of 5,400 tablets) for methadone between December 11, 2012 and February 7, 2014. Two of the prescriptions for methadone were filled at two different pharmacies on the same date.

Windley presented multiple controlled substance prescriptions for 180 methadone tablets each for a dog named Banner under the owner’s name Barbara Ard of the 4600 block of Highway 196 in Molino. Ard, according to the DEA, is Windley’s ex-wife.

During a DEA inspection of the Companion Animal Clinic, Windley first told an investigator that he had researched several medical journals and attended a conference where methadone was used as a pain medication with no side effects in animals. Windley, according to an arrest affidavit, also said he had six dogs, five of which were deceased, that were prescribed methadone. He was unable to produce the medical files of the dogs, telling investigators that the files had been destroyed. The veterinarian then said he wrote the prescriptions for all the dogs under one dog’s name, filled them at area pharmacies and then dispensed it out to the animals’ owners — a wrongful practice, according to the DEA.

Later, Windley voluntarily surrendered his DEA license, the report states, and admitted the pills were for his daughter-in-law.

The daughter-in-law, a Gulf Breeze resident, told investigators that she would clean Windley’s home and take care of his pets. He would leave a bottle of methadone on a table at his home. She told investigators that she was taking up to 20 methadone pills per day, and investigators witnessed her make a call to her primary physicians to make an appointment to receive help.

Local Schools Receive State Five Star School Awards

October 24, 2014

Several local schools have received “Five Star  School Award” from the Florida Department of Education.

Escambia County schools honored were Jim Allen, Molino Park, Beulah, Lipscomb, McArthur, Pine Meadow, Bellview, Blue Angels, Hellen Caro, N.B. Cook, Cordova Park, , Longleaf, Pleasant Grove, Scenic Heights and A.K. Suter elementary schools; and Brown Barge Middle School.

The Five Star School Award was created by the Florida Department of Education’s Commissioner’s Community Involvement Council and is presented annually to those schools that have shown evidence of exemplary community involvement.

In order to earn Five Star School recognition, a school must show documentation that it has achieved one hundred percent of the established criteria in the categories of business partnerships, family involvement, volunteerism, student community service and school advisory councils.

Wards Named Outstanding Farm Family

October 24, 2014

The Ward family, including husband and wife Jimmy and Angela, have been named the Outstanding  Farm Family of the Year in Santa Rosa County.

The Wards have a rich agricultural heritage and have been a part of the Allentown community for almost 100 years. In 1917, James B. Ward settled his family and began farming along what is now Hwy. 89. By the late 1950s four of his six sons; Joel, James, Lamar, and Charles were expanding the family farming tradition and grew corn, cotton, peanuts, soybeans, various grains, abundant vegetables, and raised cattle until the early 1990s. The Ward brothers passed on a legacy of hard work, integrity, and generosity to the next generation of family farmers. Jimmy Ward, son of Lamar Ward, is the third generation of Wards farming in Allentown.

Jimmy learned a lot about farming while working with his dad and uncles and continues to farm most of the family’s land. Jimmy and his wife Angela have established their home and raised their three sons on the same land his father and grandfather farmed and raised their families. Family and community have always been important at Ward Farms. Jimmy’s three sons, Jamie, Justin, and Dustin as well as other family and friends in the community are still part of Ward Farms today. It is a great honor to have the Ward family represent Santa Rosa County agriculture in 2014.

The Wards were honored during the recent 48th Annual Santa Rosa County Farm Tour, where Angela Ward accepted the award from County Commissioners Don Salter and Bob Cole. In addition, Tiffany Bates, district representative for Congressman Jeff Miller, presented the family with a Congressional Record proclamation honoring them for their accomplishments. Mary Beth Barrows, special assistant for Senator Marco Rubio, also presented commendations to the family.

Around 200 local officials and area citizens participated in the 48th Annual Santa Rosa County Farm Tour. During the daylong tour they learned firsthand about agriculture and its importance to the local economy. This year’s tour highlighted our county’s important peanut industry where participants saw how peanuts are grown, harvested and delivered for processing. Stops on the tour included the Roy Ward Farm, the UF/IFAS Jay Research Farm, Chumuckla’s Living Truth Church for lunch and presentations, the Mickey Diamond Farm, Golden Peanut Company and Holland Farms.

Pictured top: The Ward family. Pictured below: Farm Tour visitors. Submitted photos for, click to enlarge.

Cantonment Gas Station Carjacking, Sexual Assault Suspect Arrested

October 23, 2014

[UPDATED 9:30 a.m.] A Cantonment man has been arrested in connection with the carjacking of a woman at a Cantonment gas station last month and an attempted sexual assault a short time later.

Eddie Lee Atkins, age 27 of 622 Muscogee Road, has been charged with attempted sexual assault with force and carjacking without a firearm or weapon, a first degree felony. He was booked into the Escambia County Jail without bond Thursday morning.

The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office said DNA evidence from both cases and the “tireless work” of sex crimes investigators led to the arrest.

At approximately 8:15 a.m. on September 18, a carjacking was reported at the Raceway gas station at Highway 29 and Muscogee Road. The victim had pumped gasoline and entered the store when Atkins allegedly entered her unlocked vehicle and concealed himself in the backseat. The victim did not see Atkinst and drove away from the store with him in the vehicle.

Atkins reportedly confronted the victim once the vehicle was moving. He told her that he had a knife and to keep driving or he would “stick” her. She drove around randomly and eventually drove to a neighbor’s residence. Once there she honked the car’s horn in distress to get someone’s attention. Atkins then struck her and pushed her from the vehicle, according to investigators.

Atkins then left in the car, heading back towards Highway 29, deputies said. The victim was treated at the scene for minor injuries. Shortly afterward, the vehicle was located on Pine Street.

A little more than 15 minutes later, the attempted sexual battery of a female jogger was reported on Rocky Avenue. The victim reported that as she was jogging when an unknown black male suspect grabbed her from behind and dragged her into awooded area. Once there he struck her in the face and attempted to remove her clothing but the victim fought back and was able to escape.

Pictured below: A composite sketch of a carjacking and attempted sexual assault suspect released by the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office shortly after the crime.

Gulf Power Customers Face January Increase

October 23, 2014

Gulf Power customers will see an increase on their bill next year. The Florida Public Service Commission allows expenses such as power plant fuel to be passed along to consumers, but they are not allowed to earn a profit on fuel charges.

A Gulf Power residential customer who uses 1,000 kilowatt hours a month will pay $139.29, up  from $132, according to the PSC.

Fuel costs are a major component of each customer’s monthly bill. The industry commonly uses 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity for residential customers as a benchmark, though many customers use more power than that each month.

Customers of two other major Florida utilities – Florida Power & Light and Tampa Electric – will see very minor decreases on their bills.

Son Charged After Dad Reports $37K In Musical And Fishing Equipment Stolen

October 23, 2014

A Cantonment man was arrested on long list of charges after allegedly stealing tens of  thousands of dollars worth of musical and fishing equipment.

Andrew Mark Hintz, 32, was charged with at least 10 counts of felony fraud for providing false information to a pawn broker, 10 felony counts of dealing in stolen property and three felony counts of larceny.

Hintz allegedly took the items from his father’s home in Beulah while the father was working out of the country. Items reported stolen included numerous pieces of musical equipment, guitars, amplifiers and fishing equipment with an estimated value of $37,000.

Hintz pawned over $15,000 worth of property belonging to his father, receiving a total of $3,570, according to an Escambia County Sheriff’s Office arrest report.

According to the report, Hintz had permission to be in his father’s house while he was out of the country, but no permission to take and pawn the items. The victim told deputies that his son has a drug problem.

Hintz remained in the Escambia County Jail early Thursday morning with bond set at $25,000.