Vehicle Hit By Train In Cantonment; Atmore Man Hospitalized

December 14, 2018

An Atmore man was seriously injured Thursday night when his vehicle was struck by a train in Cantonment.

The accident happened about 11:40 p.m. on County Road 97 just south of Muscogee Road.

The Florida Highway Patrol said 20-year old Dustin Ryan Crumbley was traveling north when he failed to stop in time at an Alabama Gulf Coast Railway railroad crossing. The train engine collided with the side of his 2000 Toyota Tundra.

He was transported to an area hospital as a “trauma alert” by Escambia County EMS.  A puppy in the vehicle was also seriously injured and taken to a veterinarian at an emergency animal clinic in Pensacola.

The FHP cited Crumbley for failure to obey a railroad crossing traffic control device and for not wearing a seat belt.

The marked crossing has flashing lights, but no crossing arms.

NorthEscambia.com photos by Kristi Barbour, click to enlarge.

Officials Call For Solutions To Trains Blocking Crossings; Law Provides For Fines

December 14, 2018

Elected officials are tired of trains blocking local roads and cutting off neighborhoods, and they are looking for solutions — including a call by one county commissioner to starting fining CSX under a law passed nearly 25 years ago.

“I’ve got constituency whose quality of life is being harmed, if not their personal safety,” Escambia County Commissioner Steven Barry said. During a commission committee meeting Thursday, he entered into the record about 40 pages of comments on the train issue that were made Wednesday by NorthEscambia.com readers on our website and social media channels.

Trains blocking local roadways is quality of life issue, he said, because people can spend 30 minutes or more each day waiting for a train blocking Highway 29 near Muscogee Road. And Barry said it’s an obviously a public safety issue when first responders are blocked from reaching citizens in need.

One Cantonment neighborhood, east of Highway 95A from Countri Lane to McKenzie Road, has been completely cutoff for hours by a stopped train. There are documented incidents where fire trucks and EMS units were unable to respond to medical emergencies in the neighborhood due to stopped trains.

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Escambia County has had an ordinance on the books since 1994 that allows for a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail when a train blocks a crossing for more than 15 minutes, except in the case of an emergency or mechanical failure.

But enforcing that ordinance becomes difficult, according to county attorney Alison Rogers.

“This is a very difficult and frustrating area of the law.   Railways and railroad companies have very significant federal protections and preemption,” Rogers said in an August email to NorthEscambia.com.  “…I don’t recall anytime in recent memory that it has been tested.  That said, there is no question that when dealing with railway issues, it is a challenge and cooperation is often difficult to obtain.”

Barry said a state law says that if a train is functioning and stopped, the railroad company must break the train for emergency vehicles, “but that’s not what happens”.

Barry and State Senator Doug Broxson said they are planning a sit down meeting with CSX decision makers early next year to address the issue.

“I’m very hopeful that we can sit down and figure something out …looking for a court to say the county does not have the ability to enforce the state and local ordinances,” Barry said Thursday. “”If we can’t get movement (from CSX), then I hope a majority of my colleagues would support at least making someone tell us that we can’t enforce the ordinances that we have.”

“We want to be civil about this and be gentlemanly in our approach, but if we have to modify the law to make sure our citizens are not being abused, that is what we will do,” Broxson said.

Commissioner Doug Underhill said it is time for Escambia County to start lobbying for funding for bridges over the railroad tracks on Airport Boulevard and Nine Mile Road and task county staff to determine if additional roads could support a secondary route.

Commissioner Lumon May said the Airport Boulevard crossing is sometimes blocked for 45 minutes by stopped trains.

“Those are critical moments that someone with a heart attack could be dead,” May said.

Pictured: An Escambia County Fire Rescue truck and an Escambia County EMS unit blocked by a stopped train on Highway 29 near Muscogee Road on two separate, unrelated emergency calls. Pictured below: A train blocked the Becks Lake Road crossing near Muscogee Road for about two hours early Thursday morning. Photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

ECSO: Cantonment Man Caught With Dozens Of Driver’s Licenses

December 13, 2018

A Cantonment was jailed after he was allegedly found with dozens of driver’s licenses in his possession.

Brett Henry Barlow, 27, was charged with five counts of possession of a fictitious Florida driver’s license, possession of drug paraphernalia and giving a false name to a law enforcement officer.

The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office responded to a prowler complaint on Unity Court near Lincoln Park where Barlow was allegedly sitting on someone’s back porch. When deputies approached Barlow and asked for identification, he reached down and grabbed one of several identification cards that were at his feet. The photo on the card not appear to be Barlow, according to arrest report, and he verbally provided a false name and date of birth.

Inside Barlow’s satchel, deputies reported finding 36 driver’s licenses from 19 different states and five Florida driver’s licenses. The Florida licenses were not valid, and the the identifications from the others states were “noted to a have numerous suspicious errors,” the arrest report states.

Deputies were able to contact the person listed on a military identification card, two bank cards and a matching New Mexico driver’s license also found in the satchel. The victim told deputies she had left her wallet in a public bathroom at a motel on Barrancas Avenue.

Barlow also had two syringes in his possession, one of which was filled with a brownish liquid that tested negative for heroin, according to the Sheriff’s Office. It is being forwarded to a laboratory for further testing.

Once Barlow provided his correct name to deputies, they determined he had an outstanding  warrant from Escambia County for failure to appear on a petit theft charged and Georgia warrant for a probation violation.

Barlow remained in the Escambia County Jail Thursday morning.

Deputy Cleared In Shooting Of Jay Man; The Man Shot Is Now Jailed

December 13, 2018

A deputy has been cleared in the shooting of a Jay man, and the man that was shot has now been arrested.

The State Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday they have completed their review into the October 20 shooting by a Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office deputy at a home on Highway 4 in Jay.

Glen Dillon Phillips, 26, was shot after he pointed a crossbow at deputies.  He has now been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly  weapon and three counts of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer.

The incident began when the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Officer received a call from a man that said Phillips was threatening to kill him with the crossbow. Phillips refused to exit the Highway 4 residence for over an hour after deputies arrived.

Officers eventually made entry into the residence where they found Phillips naked and armed with a crossbow, according to a Florida Department of Law Enforcement report. He then pointed the crossbow at the deputies, with a deputy firing a single shot that struck Phillips under the right armpit.

Three days later, Phillips told investigators that he was naked on the floor, praying to his “Earth and native God”. He advised that he pointed the crossbow at deputies, but once they identified themselves as law enforcement he threw the crossbow onto a couch before he was shot.

He said “that he believed that people or aliens may be coming to take a meteorite he had previously located because he believed it was worth a lot of money,” the FDLE report states.

He told officers that he had not used narcotics prior to the incident. However, his hospital records indicate that he tested positive for amphetamines, cannabinoids, and benzodiazepines. During subsequent television interview with WEAR 3, Phillips said he had been using methamphetamine prior to the incident.

Jay Woman Passes Away Following Molino Wreck

December 12, 2018

A Jay woman has passed away following a wreck Tuesday evening on Highway 29 at Highway 97 in Molino.

Benny Ray Wolfe, age 76 of Jay, was northbound on Highway 29 in a Chrysler van about 5:50 p.m. when he made a left toward Highway 97.  Wolfe did not see an approaching southbound Chevrolet pickup driven by 58-year old David Lamar Wade of Pensacola, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. Wolfe pulled directly into the path of the pickup, causing the pickup to collide with the van. The pickup came to rest in a culvert.

Wolfe’s passenger, 71-year old Johnnie Riene Wolfe of Jay, was airlifted by LifeFlight to Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola where she was later pronounced deceased. Benny Wolfe was transported by Escambia County EMS with minor injuries, and Wade received minor injuries but was not transported to the hospital.

Benny Wolfe was cited for failure to yield right of way by the FHP.

NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.

What Can Be Done About Trains Blocking Roads In Cantonment?

December 12, 2018

What can be done about trains blocking Highway 29 and other roads in Cantonment?

That’s an issue the Escambia County Commission will tackle during a Committee of the Whole meeting on Thursday.

The big issue lies with the fact stopped trains will block Highway 29 or neighborhoods for extended periods of time.

Express your ideas in the comment section below, or on our NorthEscambia.com Facebook page. We’ll pass your comments along to Escambia County District 5 Commissioner Steven Barry.

Pictured: A CSX train on the Highway 29 crossing at International Paper. Photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

641 Acre Solar Farm Planned For McDavid, Large Enough To Power 14,000 Homes

December 11, 2018

A solar farm large enough to power over 14,000 homes is in the planning stages for West Bogia Road in McDavid.

Florida Renewable Partners (FRP), a wholly-owned subsidiary of NextEra Energy, is seeking permits to construct a 74.5 megawatt facility known currently as the “Escambia County Solar Energy Center” on 541 acres along and just north of West Bogia Road, according to documents obtained by NorthEscambia.com.

By comparison, Gulf Power’s largest solar field at Saufley Field is 50 megawatts, enough to power almost 7,400 homes. Gulf Power is not involved in the proposed McDavid project; however NextEra is currently in the process of purchasing Gulf Power as part of a $6.475 billion deal.

“The facility will generate clean, renewable energy by converting sunlight via photovoltaic solar panels into direct current (DC) electricity. The direct current flows from the panels through inverters and is converted into alternating current (AC) used by local electric utilities. Finally, the electricity travels through transformers, and the voltage is boosted for delivery onto the transmission lines so the local electric utility can distribute the zero-emissions electricity to homes and businesses,” according to a document filed with the  Escambia County Development Review Committee by FRP.

The development is planned for an area behind and north of existing homes on West Bogia Road between South Pine Barren Road and Highway 29. A small portion of the project area includes land north and south of West Bogia Road, surrounding Ray’s Chapel Baptist Church (map below). There are currently no homes on the project property.

The area, owned by RMS Timberlands,  is zoned as agriculture  and is currently used for timber growth.

No water or sewer infrastructure will be necessary to serve the development, and no habitable space will be constructed. The facility will be monitored remotely and will not require onsite personnel for day-to-day operation, but personnel will occasionally visit the site to conduct required maintenance activities, according to FRP documents.

The Escambia County Solar Energy Center is entering the pre-application process with Escambia County and faces numerous steps before being permitted.

The project area does not included land purchased by Gulf Power in 2009 for a possible nuclear power plant that was never constructed.

Photo and image for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Photo Gallery: Thousands Attend Atmore Twilight Christmas Parade

December 11, 2018

Thousands of people attended the annual Atmore Twilight Christmas Parade Monday night.

The parade featured lighted floats, twirlers, antique cars, bands, marchers, Santa Claus and more.

The parade was rescheduled from Saturday night due to rain.

For a NorthEscambia.com photo gallery, click here.

NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.