Former Sheriff David Morgan Withdraws From Pensacola Mayor Race Due To ‘Family Medical Issues’

August 3, 2021

Former Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan is withdrawing from the race for Pensacola mayor in 2022 due to “family medical issues”.

After 12 years as sheriff, Morgan chose not to seek reelection. In April, he prefiled to seek the mayor’s seat now held by Grover Robinson, who will not seek reelection.

By July 31, Morgan reported that he had raised $38,895 for his mayoral campaign.

Here is the full text of an email from Morgan:

Mr. Stafford,

It is with regret that I must inform you, friends, and political supporters of my decision to withdraw from the 2022 Mayoral Race. Family medical issues, which I had prayed would resolve by years end will not.

Those with political experience know that campaigns are high energy and intensive affairs, where candidates and their families must be solely committed to the effort. It is not fair to a candidates supporters, and the process itself, to continue knowing you cannot remain fully engaged.

We of course will be refunding all campaign contributions. Any expenditures to date will be paid by me.

Susan and I thank all of you for your encouragement and support. You will all be forever in our hearts.

Sincerely,
David Morgan

Will Your Child Ride The Bus To School In Escambia County? School District Wants To Know

August 3, 2021

The Escambia County School District has posted a school transportation plans survey due to a bus driver shortage.

“We are asking parents to share students’ transportation plans ahead of the school year in an effort to maximize our efficiency and reduce lateness,” the survey states.

Click or tap here to take the survey.

The school district is asking parents or guardians to complete one survey for each of their children. The survey asks one simple question, along with the student’s ID number and last name.

The first day of school is Wednesday, August 11.

RELATED STORY: Here’s The List Of Adjusted Start And Dismissal Times For Escambia County Schools

NorthEscambia.com photo/graphic.

AG: Two Ensley Assisted Living Caregivers Abandoned Elderly Resident Along Road, Stole ID, Debit Card

August 3, 2021

Two Ensley assisted living facility caregivers are accused of stealing identification and a debit card from an elderly resident before abandoning them on the side of the road on a “particularly hot day” in 2019.

Following an investigation by Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, Tavetta Lavetta Jones and Tekera Levine were arrested over the weekend on charges related to abuse and exploitation of a senior.

As employees of Whispering Pines Assisted Living Facility on Jo Jo Road in Ensley, Jones and Levine were supposed to transfer the victim to sign bond paperwork. Instead, Jones and Levine, Jones’s manager, abandoned the victim on the side of a road and took the victim’s identification card and debit card. Jones is charged with exploitation of an elderly person or disabled adult, and criminal use of personal identification information. Levine faces a charge of accessory after the fact.

“The scheme concocted and carried out by these two caregivers is horrifying—the women abused their positions to steal a patient’s ID and debit card, then abandoned the senior victim on the side of the road. Thankfully, following an investigation by my Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, these suspects have been arrested and will face serious charges for this criminal scheme,” AG Moody said.

The state investigation revealed that Jones, an employee of Whispering Pines, abandoned an elderly resident on Antioch Cemetery Road in Walton County on September 3, 2019. The elderly victim identified Jones and Levine as the facility employees who orchestrated the abandonment and identified a black Volkswagen as the vehicle Jones was driving while abandoning the victim. Jones and Levine left the victim without a phone, water, money or identification on a “particularly hot day”, according to the state.

Levine, the manager of Whispering Pines, gave varying accounts about the occurrence of the abuse and Jones’s involvement. Phone records placed both Jones and Levine in Walton County near the time law enforcement responded to a 911 call by residents on Antioch Cemetery Road. Phone records also place Jones in the vicinity of ATMs where the victim’s debit card and personal identification number were used to gain access to the victim’s bank account during August and September 2019. Video footage places a black Volkswagen or similar vehicle at the ATMs during the transactions involving the victim’s debit card and PIN.

The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office arrested Jones on one count of exploitation of an elderly person, a third-degree felony; one count of criminal use of personal identification information of a person over 60 years of age and one count of criminal use of personal identification information over $5,000, both second-degree felonies. If convicted on all counts, Jones faces a possible sentence of up to 35 years in state prison. She was released from the Escambia County Jail on a $5,000 bond.

ECSO arrested Levine on one count of accessory after the fact, a third-degree felony. If convicted, Levine faces a possible sentence of up to five years in state prison. She was also released from jail on a $5,000 bond.

The cases will be prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Christi Hankins of MFCU through an agreement with Ginger Bowden Madden, State Attorney for the First Judicial Circuit of Florida.

ECFR: Smoke Alarms Did Not Function Properly In Gonzalez Apartment Fire

August 3, 2021

Escambia Fire Rescue said smoke alarms were present but did not function properly in an apartment fire early Saturday morning in Gonzalez.

ECFR responded to the 1100 block of Lake Drive, off Old Chemstrand Road, about 1:40 a.m. There was nothing showing upon their arrival at the triplex, but they found a working kitchen fire in the rear of the building.

Crews brought the fire under control by 1:53 a.m. The kitchen sustained moderate damage. The cause of the fire was classified as a cooking mishap.

The Cantonment, Ensley. Brent, Ferry Pass and Myrtle Grove stations of Escambia Fire Rescue responded. The American Red Cross provided temporary assistance to the displaced residents.

Photos courtesy ECFR for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

The Bill Is In The Mail? USPS Returns Mail To Sender Six Years Later

August 3, 2021

An employee at Century Water Works received a few unexpected surprises in the mail.

Central Water Works mailed the pictured water bill to a local address on September 16, 2015.

Monday, almost six years later, the bill arrived back at the water company on Byrneville Road with a yellow U.S. Postal Service “Return to sender” sticker dated July 31, 2021.

It was one six pieces of mail addressed by Central Water Works to the same person over a three-month period in 2015 that were all just returned by the post office.

We’ve reached out to the U. S. Postal Service (by email, not postal mail) for any possible explanation, and we’ll let you know what they say.

Photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Central Water Works Temporarily Closes Business Office After COVID-19 Exposure

August 2, 2021

Century Water Works has temporarily closed their business office to the public due to staff exposure to COVID-19.

The office is expected to remain closed until at least August 9.

Central Water Works serves about 1,000 members in the McDavid, Byrneville, Century and Flomaton areas from their business office on Byrneville Road.

Photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Florida Gas Prices Remain Steady

August 2, 2021

Florida gas prices have seen little change during the past week. The state average of $2.97 per gallon is the same as last week, according to AAA.

That’s four cents per gallon less than a month ago, but 43 cents more than one year ago.

The average price in Escambia County was $3.01. In North Escambia, a low of $2.89 could be found at three Cantonment stations. In Pensacola, the warehouse clubs were at $2.81.

NorthEscambia.com file photo.

It’s Still Hurricane Season, And We Are Climbing Toward The Statistical Peak

August 2, 2021

Now that we are in August, we’ve started the climb toward the statistical peak of hurricane season.

So far, 2021 is already on its way to being an active year. We’ve seen five named storms, including one hurricane (Elsa). Normally by August 1, we would have seen just two named storms with none of them becoming a hurricane.

As we get further along into August and September, storm tracks into the Gulf of Mexico become more climatologically favored.

The National Weather Service says don’t wait to prepare for the rest of hurricane season. Review your plans now, check your disaster supplies and know what you will do if a storm threatens our area.

Above: Typical August hurricane tracks.

Above: Typical September hurricane tracks.

Blue Wahoos Breakout With Big Win On Jay High Day At The Ballpark

August 2, 2021

The Blue Wahoos touted tandem, outfielders J.J. Bleday and Griffin Conine, made sure Sunday was a fun day — Jay High Day at the ballpark.

And maybe a well-needed one, too.

After what had been a rough homestand, both with weather and team results, Bleday and Conine put a charge into the mood by producing two big hits apiece and six runs batted in, as the Blue Wahoos busted out with an 11-3 victory against the Mississippi Braves in the final game of their series.

While the M-Braves took four of the six games, what occurred Sunday among an energized crowd at Blue Wahoos Stadium left a good mood to finish the weekend.

“We want to just keep building off (Sunday),” said Bleday, who went 2-for-5, scored three runs and scorched the ball in four plate appearances. “We have been struggling.. We have been letting some games affect us, but today we did a really good job.. We came out hot.”

That started with Bleday’s lead-off single in the first inning, followed an out later by Conine’s two-run blast off a 99-mph fastball. The moon shot exited his bat and carried 441 feet over right center wall, bounced on the concourse, then bounded out of the stadium.

It continued Conine’s lead as the top home run hitter (26) in Minor League Baseball.

“This series (M-Braves) did a really good job of fastballs up every at bat,” said Conine, who was elevated a week ago from the Beloit Snappers, the Miami Marlins’ High-A affiliate where he hit 23 homers.

“(M-Braves pitchers) all throw 96 to 98 (mph) and that is tough to get on top off. So (Sunday) I really put emphasis in pregame work with fastball machine.

“Getting one (homer) in the first (inning) was awesome. It was a lot of fun out there today.”

The enjoyment carried through the stadium. It was Jay Day at the ballpark, complete with Jay High School’s band, their cheerleaders and their principal all part of pregame activities.

They started the festivities, then the Blue Wahoos followed with their performance.

Riley Mahan followed Conine’s homer with a solo shot in the first. The Blue Wahoos then knocked out M-Braves starter Victor Vodnik with a four-run second inning, highlighted by Bleday’s 2-run triple.

Vodnik was strong in Mississippi’s win Tuesday in the first game of the series, but faced only 12 batters Sunday when pulled with one out in the second on Jay High Day at the ballpark.

Seven of the nine batters in the Blue Wahoos lineup factored into the scoring. The big boost came from the bottom of the order with J.D. Orr, Connor Justus and Galli Cribbs Jr. combining for five hits, six runs scored and they reached base a combined 10 times in the game.

After the Blue Wahoos game Friday night was rained out, the team ended a seven-game losing streak by winning Saturday’s first game of a doubleheader and followed Sunday with one of the top performances this season.

“I think (postponement) allowed guys to get some rest and hit the reset button,” Bleday said. “These last two games we won were a good area where we want to be at.”

Will Stewart, as he’s so often done this season, delivered a quality start on the mound. He worked five innings, allowed just hits, one walk and struck out six to earn his fourth win.

Four relievers followed. The Blue Wahoos turned three double-plays and new catcher Santiago Chavez threw out the M-Braves’ Justin Dean trying to steal third in the first inning.

In all, the Blue Wahoos got 11 runs on 11 hits. They will now head to Biloxi for a week-long series against the Shuckers at MGM Park in Biloxi, Miss.

His first week in Pensacola left Conine with a good impression of the crowd setting at Blue Wahoos Stadium.

“The ballpark is awesome,” said Conine, 24, the son of Jeff Conine, a 17-year Major League player, two-time All Star, who led the Marlins to both of their World Series titles.

“It is really fun,” he said. “The fans are really into it. I know Beloit is getting a new ballpark (opens Tuesday), but playing in the old one, I’m definitely not used to the fan electricity and the buzz at the ballpark like here.”

It was Jay Day in a big way at the ballpark. The Jay HS band entertained fans outside the stadium before the game with various songs. The band then performed the National Anthem.

The Jay High varsity and junior varsity cheerleading squads also performed before the game.

New principal Benjie West, a Jay graduate who took over June 4, threw out the first pitch. In addition, the Jay 10-under girls softball team was honored before the game for winning a state tournament championship.

by Bill Vilona, Senior Writer, Pensacola Blue Wahoos

Escambia Health Department Announce Location, Scheduled Change For COVID-19 Testing

August 1, 2021

The Florida Department of Health in Escambia County (FDOH-Escambia) is announcing a change in location and hours of operation for specimen collection for COVID-19 testing for all persons with or without symptoms beginning the week of Monday, August 2.

Testing will be available at the FDOH-Escambia Downtown Center at 1300 West Gregory Street every Tuesday and Thursday from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. Testing is available to anyone with or without symptoms. Identification is required, and a cloth face covering is required to enter the building for testing.

For an appointment, call (850) 595-6554. For questions, call (850) 595-6500, option 6.

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