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.

Appeals Court Upholds Conviction Of Molino Robber That Wore Underwear On His Head

July 24, 2014

The Florida First District Court of Appeals has upheld the conviction of a Molino man that robbed a local pharmacy in 2010 while wearing underwear on his head.

Joseph Daniel Flowers, now 60, was sentenced in November 2012 by Judge Gary Bergosh to a mandatory minimum 25 years in state prison. Flowers was convicted in October 2012 by an Escambia County Jury of robbery with a firearm, three counts of trafficking in illegal drugs, and three counts of possession of controlled substances for the September 20, 2010, holdup of Scott’s Pharmacy on Highway 29.

Flowers’ attorneys sought to have the conviction tossed because the Escambia County Court only issued an oral finding that he was competent to stand trial but no written order was every issued.

The District Court of Appeals found that the trial court should have issued a written competency order and ordered the lower court to do so; however, the conviction and sentence were upheld. Further, the appeals court found that the court was not required to conduct a second competency proceeding, and nothing was presented to the trial court which could raise any doubt as to his competency at the time of his trial or sentencing.

Flowers robbed the pharmacy at gunpoint while wearing  a blue bathrobe, slippers, yellow kitchen gloves and boxer shorts on his head.

During the course of the robbery, Flowers took more than 80 prescription bottles containing thousands of dollars worth of narcotics. After he exited the pharmacy, he ran behind the building where he was picked up by co-defendant Krystal Lynn Collins.

Witnesses inside the store were able to identify Flowers based on the fact that he was a frequent customer of the pharmacy.

Collins, the getaway car driver in the robbery, was previously found guilty in July 2011 of armed robbery with a firearm and a half dozen felony drug charges. She was sentenced to 25 years in prison. She unsuccessfully appealed her conviction in 2013.

Pictured top: Joseph Daniel Flowers is detained by an Escambia County Sheriff’s Office shortly after the robbery of Scott’s Pharmacy in Molino. Pictured below: Scott’s Pharmacy in Molino was robbed September 20, 2010. NorthEscambia.com exclusive file photos, click to enlarge.

Local Agricultural Innovators Receive National Attention

July 24, 2014

Several  North Escambia area agricultural locations were featured  to extension educators from across the country Wednesday.

Over 2,000 agriculture and natural resource extension educators and guests attending the National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA) Annual Meeting and Professional Improvement Conference.

Wednesday, attendees fanned out across South Alabama and Northwest Florida for educational bus tours.

A “Where’s the Beef” tour visited  with people from 19 states enjoyed lunch and toured the Gizmo Angus Farm in Molino.

“It was very interesting meeting folks from all over the country and giving them the opportunity to see our cattle and the differences in management due to geographical location,” said Debbie Gilmore of Gizmo Angus.

The group also visited Cunningham Farm, founded about 1950, which emphasizes marking replace females regionally versus locally. The tour also stopped at Perdido River Farms which serves as a tribal entity leading the Poarch Tribe’s stewardship of agricultural land. PRF produces feeder calves. In addition to the cattle production, PRF manages 2,200 acres including a pecan orchard and 200 acres of row cropland utilized for farming peanuts, soybean, cotton and wheat.

A “Down on the Farm” tour visited the Yoder Family Dairy in Bratt, a micro-dairy that produces whole, pasteurized but not homogenized milk from less than 25 milk cows for direct sale. They also stopped by Gabbert Farm, home to one of the largest individual farm equipment collections in the South. For 24 years, thousands have attended the annual Jay Peanut Festival, and other events on the Gabbert Farm.

After lunch at the UF/IFAS West Florida Research and Education Center-Jay Research Farm, the group visited Sweet Seasons Farms near Milton, founded by Trent and Sharon Mathews. Four years ago, they partnered with a Utah company to create a 5-acre corn maze and an agricultural experience. Visitors learn how their food is produced and why agriculture is important to their lives while enjoying the maze and fun farm activities. And the farm tour visited Holland Farms a diversified family farm that sells peanuts, melons, and other produce directly to the public.

Other conference attendees took part in tours not directly agriculturally related in the North Escambia area…including visits to the Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum, Naval Air Station Pensacola and the Poarch Creek Indian Reservation.

Pictured : Extension educators from across the nation toured locations Wednesday that included Holland Farms in Jay (top photo), Gizmo Angus Farm in Molino (insets and below), and the Poarch Creek Indian Museum (bottom). Courtesy photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.


Farm Services Agency Moving To Jay To Better Serve Escambia, Santa Rosa Producers

July 24, 2014

The USDA Farm Services Agency in Milton will soon make the move to Jay to better serve agricultural producers in both Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.

The new Jay FSA Office will be located in the former Bank of America Building at 3927 Highway 4. There’s no target date yet for the move, but renovations to the new office are expected to take about 90 days.

In November 2012, the USDA Farm Service Agency in Molino was closed, meaning a 50 to 55 mile trip for some Escambia County producers to the next nearest FSA office in Milton.

“With the majority of the farming in both Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties located in the northern portion of the counties, moving the FSA Office to Jay will reduce the travel time for the producers in both counties by approximately 25 miles as Jay is centrally located between the Escambia and the Santa Rosa farming community,” Florida FSA State Executive Director Tim Manning said during a producer meeting in 2013.

The group met at the time with Congressman Jeff Miller to express their desire to move the FSA Office to Jay as the search was underway for a location.

Pictured: Renovations are now underway at the former Bank of America building in Jay which is set to be the new home of the USDA Farm Services Agency, Submitted photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Plane Crash Victims Identified

July 24, 2014

The Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office has identified the victims in a Wednesday plane crash as 67-year old Dean Legidakes and 15-year old Marli Shea McManus.  Their small plane took off Wednesday morning from an Escambia County airport and was found mid-afternoon in a  swampy area near Lillian, AL.

The small plane departed the Ferguson Airport off Highway 98 about 10 a.m., according to the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office. The plane’s emergency transponder and the pilot’s cell phone were pinpointed in Baldwin County.

According to the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office, the wreckage from the plane was spotted by a helicopter in a swampy area.

The two were aboard a Great Lakes 2T1 bi-plane. The exact cause of the crash will be determined by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Emergency Program Flood Repairs Begin At UWF

July 24, 2014

The University of West Florida did not escape the April 30th flood unscathed, and workers will began to make repairs Thursday in hopes of completion before school starts next month.

Just 15 feet west of the heavily-traveled four-lane Campus Drive that loops through the college campus and across from the intramural fields, the storm gouged out a gully 300-feet long and 20-feet deep.  The unstable gully slopes are toppling trees on two sides and threatening to collapse the roadway, the adjacent student parking lot and take out a stormwater outlet that drains runoff from the campus grounds into a 50-acre area. A natural gas main has been exposed and sediment accumulating at the bottom of the gully is discharging into Thompson Bayou and subsequently into Escambia Bay.

The University of West Florida contacted USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service for financial assistance through the Emergency Watershed Protection Program to repair the damages and prevent the road from failing.  NRCS will provide 75 percent of the estimated $700,000 to install a structure to convey the stormwater runoff to a safe outlet and stabilize the gully embankments to protect the road and stop the erosion. Officials expect to complete the work by August 26.

The Emergency Watershed Protection Program alleviates hazards to life and property caused by floods, fires, wind­storms and other natural occurrences.  Public and private landowners are eligible for assistance, but must be represented by a project sponsor, such as a city, county, conservation district or any Native American tribe or tribal organization.

“The University of West Florida has worked with NRCS in the past. The financial assistance from the Emergency Watershed Program and the expertise of the NRCS engineering staff has allowed us to do quality rehabilitation at these sites that will last for many years,” said Ron Northrup, UWF facility engineer.

Pictured top: Sediment at a bottom of a flood-created gulley on the UWF campus is making its way into Thompson Bayou and eventually Escambia Bay. Pictured below: The side slope of the gully continues to erode. Photos courtesy USDA  for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Man Pleads Not Guilty To Shooting Fleeing Son On Riding Lawn Mower

July 23, 2014

A Walnut Hill man has pleaded not guilty at an arraignment hearing for allegedly shooting his son on a riding lawn mower.

Marshall H. Harmon, 71, was charged with aggravated battery using a deadly weapon for the June 27 incident on Breastworks Road about a mile west of North Pine Barren Road.

Harmon and his 32-year old son had become involved in a verbal altercation at a nearby home, deputies said. The son then fled on Breastworks Road on a riding lawn mower, the father following in his pickup truck.

When the elder Harmon pulled alongside his son on the riding mower, Harmon fired two shots in the son’s direction, according to Sgt. Andrew Hobbs, spokesperson for the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office.  It did not immediately appear that Harmon intended to shoot his son, but may have instead accidentally hit him.

One of the shots hit the son in the neck, but the officials said the wound was not life threatening.  The son was airlifted by Lifeguard helicopter to Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola.

Harmon was taken into custody without incident at the scene of the shooting. He was released from the Escambia County Jail June 30 on a $25,000 bond. He is due back in court in for a hearing in mid-October, and his jury trial is set to begin in late October.

Pictured top: Suspect Marshall Harmon stands against his truck (far left background) as an Escambia County Sheriff’s deputy (center)  checks a weapon Harmon allegedly used to shoot his son June 27 on Breastworks Road. Pictured bottom inset: A deputy explains charges to Harmon. Pictured bottom: The shooting victim was airlifted from a field on Breastworks Road to Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola.

Two Arrested For Torching Stolen Car In Century Ballpark

July 23, 2014

Two Century residents have been arrested for stealing a car from the Food Giant in Century and then torching it in a ballpark.

Michael Alexander Dubose, 20, and Aubrey Odom, 17, have been charged with arson in the second degree, criminal mischief and vehicle theft for the July 1 incident.

The fire was reported about 7:15 a.m. behind an concession stand at the Lloyd Barrow Field on Church Street. The 1993 Buick Century was in an area not normally accessible to vehicle traffic. A witness said the vehicle had no tag attached.

The ballpark’s concession stand, owned by the town of Century, suffered minor damage, with vinyl siding melted off the back of the building. Damage to the building was estimated at less than $2,000.

NorthEscambia.com file photos.