Alabama Gov. Ivey Extends Mask Mandate One Final Time, Says It Will Be Lifted For Good April 9

March 4, 2021

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has extended the state’s mask mandate for another five weeks, but after that it will end, she announced during a press conference Thursday morning in Montgomery.

“Let me be abundantly clear. After April 9, I will not keep the mask order in effect,” Ivey said.

“Folks, we are not there yet, but goodness knows we are getting closer,” Ivey said. “If we keep it up and get through Easter, I think we will be in much better shape.”

Other changes announced by the governor included:

  • Outdoor programs will be allowed at senior centers within guidelines
  • Summer camps will be able to resume operations this year
  • Seating limits at restaurants will be lifted
  • Up to two caregivers will now be allowed to visit people in nursing homes and hospitals

“We are finally rounding the corner,” Ivey said.

Newly Renovated Century Branch Library Reopens (With Photo Tour)

March 4, 2021

The Century Branch Library reopened Tuesday after being closed for a month for renovation.

One of the most notable features of the new library design is a much improved use of space. The children’s area has been expanded, now incorporating what was formerly a storage room. The adult area, shelving and the circulation desk have been rearranged, creating a large open reading area that can be used for events and library programs.

FOR A PHOTO TOUR, CLICK HERE.

And, it’s like a park inside the library.

That’s how Escambia County Director of Library Services Todd Humble describes the newly renovated library.

“We are pleased to present a bright, open and airy space for our residents to enjoy within the Century Branch Library. The design concept behind this renovation was to represent nature,” Humble said as he describe the new, modern look of the library. “The paint color on the walls is blue to simulate the sky and the carpet pattern was chosen to simulate a patio. The color of the furniture was selected for a bright contemporary look, which will include orange, green and light blue colors.”

There will be two aquariums in the library on North Century Boulevard, one of which will include fish that might be caught in the Century area.

“The adult section will incorporate flowers and trees in the artwork. The lobby will include artwork of squirrels. The idea is to create a peaceful and inviting experience for residents to enjoy nature within the library.”

And then there’s the pod chair, likely to become very popular with library patrons. It’s comfy, with soft fabric inside. The hard dome-shaped outside shell provides sound isolation, making for a quiet reading spot.

Due to shipping and other delays, the renovation project is not quite compete. An official grand opening ceremony will be scheduled for a later date.

FOR A PHOTO TOUR, CLICK HERE.

NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.

Century Reschedules COVID-19 Grant Hearing After Oversight Leads To Wrong Address In Public Notice

March 4, 2021

The Town of Century has rescheduled a grant application public hearing after a simple oversight led to public notices that listed two different locations for the meeting.

The public hearing will allow the town to apply for coronavirus funding through a Small Cities Community Development Block Grant from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. The grants will be awarded in amounts ranging from $200,000 to $5 million for neighborhood revitalization, commercial revitalization, economic development, public service, planning or housing.

A public notice distributed in the council’s agenda pack and a public notice posted on the front door of Century Town Hall both listed the location of Monday’s night’s public meeting as Century Town Hall on North Century Boulevard. However, the town council voted in January to move all of their meetings to the Century Community Center on West Highway 4 beginning February 1 in order for more social distancing space and to allow for more public participation.

Town planner Debbie Nickles told the council that a public notice submitted for publication in a local weekly printed newspaper had the correct meeting location of the community center, which is where the council meeting was being held.

An improper public notice would be in violation of the Florida Sunshine Law and might invalidate Century’s grant application.

“I believe we will need to have another public hearing because the address is incorrect, although a number of people obviously figured out where the meeting was,” interim City Manager Vernon Prather said. “It is listed at 7995 North Century Boulevard (town hall). We’re not there so we have enough, we need to re-advertise. We’re trying to make transition from the old address to the new address.”

“Make sure we are all on the same page at the same time because people came by tonight with questions and concerns,” council member Sandra Jackson said in comments directed to town staff. “One person print, the next person proofread so we can go on and conduct the town’s business in a professional manner.”

The public hearing has been rescheduled for Tuesday, March 9 at 7 p.m. at the Century Community Center on West Highway 4. The public is encourage to attend to offer input on how the funds could be spent if the town is awarded a grant.

Pictured: Consultant Robin Phillips discusses a Community Development Block Grant. Pictured below: Members of the public attended the Town of Century council meeting. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.

Greater Pensacola Chamber Honors Community Excellence At 61st Annual PACE Awards

March 4, 2021

The Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce held its annual Pensacola Area Commitment to Excellence (PACE) Awards Wednesday night at Blue Wahoos Stadium.

The following winners were announced:

Spirit of Pensacola: Dave and Mary Hoxeng, Cat Country 98.7, NewsRadio 92.3, ESPN-94.5, WEBY-99.1
Advocate Leader: Brian Wyer, CEO, Gulf Coast Minority Chamber of Commerce
Leader in Education: Shannon Nickinson, Director of Early Learning, Studer Community Institute
Professional Leader: Dr. David Josephs, Clinic Director, Lakeview Center
Business Leader: Norris Ayvazian, Operations Manager, Peaden Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electrical
Community Leader: Lisa Lyter, Creative Strategist, Red Iron Design House
Emerging Leader: D.C. Reeves, Co-Founder/CEO, Perfect Plain Brewery

“My congratulations go to this year’s PACE Award honorees,” stated Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce President Todd Thomson. “After such a trying year, it is wonderful to come together and celebrate our community’s excellence.”

Pictured: Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce Pensacola Area Commitment to Excellence (PACE) Awards winners. Photo Cat Country 98.7 for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Man Charged With Holding Patient Hostage At West Florida Hospital, Fighting With Deputies

March 3, 2021

An Alabama man was arrested Tuesday after allegedly holding a patient hostage at West Florida Hospital, fighting staff and deputies and even grabbing a deputy’s gun.

Timothy Rains, 26, of Loxley, Alabama, is charged with multiple counts of aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer or EMT, kidnapping false imprisonment, damaging property, resisting arrest with violence, and obstructing police.

The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office was called to a hostage situation in the Behavior Unit at West Florida Hospital about 2:30 p.m.

An arrest report states Rains was initially taken to the hospital as a voluntary patient for a medical condition. He was placed in the Behavior Unit due to lack of bed space in the regular emergency room.

Security staff said Rains became verbally aggressive when asked to put on hospital clothes and provide a urine sample. He then punched a hole in the wall and pulled the door scanner off the wall.

The report states Rains entered another patient’s room, locked the door and then blocked the door — not allowing the patient to leave or hospital staff to get into the room. Hospital staff asked Rains several times to let the patient out of the room, but he refused.

According to the report, hospital staff broke a window in an attempt to get the patient out of the room. Staff tried to use an aluminum crutch to pry the door open, but Rains grabbed the crutch and began swinging it at hospital staff.

The report states Rains eventually allowed the patient to leave the room, but he kept using the crutch as a weapon against hospital staff before they finally pulled it away from him.

Multiple deputies then tried to detain Rains, but he wouldn’t comply, according to the report. Rains grabbed ahold of a deputy’s gun in his holster, but he was stopped from getting the gun as deputies pinned his hand.

A deputy used a taser on Rains, but it proved ineffective. Rains then grabbed another deputy’s taser, pointed it at the deputy’s chest and pulled the trigger multiple times, according to the arrest report.

According to the report, after more struggles, deputies were eventually able to handcuff Rains and arrest him.

Rains’ bond was set at $155,000.

Missing Kids Found Near Munson, Manhunt Underway For Their Biological Mother

March 3, 2021

Two young boys kidnapped Tuesday in Louisiana were found safe Wednesday afternoon near Munson in Santa Rosa County, but their mother remained on the run.

Kaesyn Heck, age 8, and Jax Matthews, age 4, were kidnapped by their biological mother Shawntel Heck Tuesday afternoon from their father’s home in Ponchatoula, Louisiana, according to Louisiana authorities. The children were in a 2013 Hyundai Elantra stolen from the father’s residence.

Deputies received information about a possible destination for Heck in Santa Rosa County. The two children were recovered about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday at an address off Byron Cooley Road, about three miles southwest of the Munson fire station.

The suspect fled from the area and a K-9 search began, according to Sgt. Rich Aloy of the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office. As of about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, deputies were still searching for the suspect.

Shawntel Heck is a former resident of the Milton area, according to Santa Rosa County Jail records.