News

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

Florida’s senior U.S. Senator was in Pensacola Monday morning, with a number of stops around town. 

Bill Nelson’s first stop was a tour of the federal courthouse downtown, which is closed because of health-threatening mold and water damage. In April, the Senate approved spending the $32 million needed to renovate the facility. The House followed suit, but something else has cropped up.

myescambia.com

In part two of our look at the Escambia County Commission District-5 race, WUWF’s Dave Dunwoody sat down with incumbent Steven Barry.

Barry ran his first winning race four years ago, when he was elected with 70 percent of the vote. He says running as an incumbent this time around is considerably different.

“The biggest difference [is] the managing of the responsibility that I currently have while auditioning for another opportunity for that job,” said Barry.

Sandra Averhart

On the Primary Election ballot in Santa Rosa County, voters are being asked to support two half cent local option sales taxes. Both would be collected for five years, with one aimed at generating funds for infrastructure and capital projects. The other proposed (half-penny) tax is the latest effort to raise funds for a new county courthouse.

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

Danny Smillie is no stranger to the inner workings of Escambia County. He retired in 2014, after 30 years working a number of county jobs. During that time, he says he’s seen a lot of waste and abuse of funds during his time as a corrections officer and a bridge inspector in the county’s Road Division, the latter primarily in District-5. 

“We’ve got bridges that are 80, 90 years old,” says Smillie. “These columns are made for only 75 years, so we’ve run way over their limit. We have school buses, loaded down with kids, crossing [them].”

 

    

In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper talks about a recent CNBC poll that finds many in the economic field are unsure of the Federal Reserve’s plans. He also discussed how the unexpected fall of existing homes sales creates uncertainty in the marketplace.

 

Fictional characters help tell the story of actual events in the Pensacola area before and during the Civil War in a new book titled Blackwater Betrayal: The Ruthless Treatment of Milton and Pensacola by the Confederacy. It was written by Milton native Richard Kyle Smith.

Smith is a retired certified public accountant, but says he’s always been a lover of words and local history. And those two passions have come together in his first literary effort.

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

Cris Dosev is 54, a Florida Gator, and served as a Marine Corps aviator during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Next he wants to succeed retiring Congressman Jeff Miller.

He’s spent the last 22 years developing commercial and residential real estate in his native Chicago and his adopted hometown of Pensacola.  

According to published reports, which Dosev has confirmed, he has three main issues. First up, national security.

FWC

  The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has signed an agreement with a trash and recycling firm, aimed at reducing human-bear conflicts in Northwest Florida.

The memorandum of understanding with the firm Waste Pro USA comes after FWC in June narrowly voted against holding a bear hunt this year. The black bear population has grown from about 500 in the 1970s, to an estimated 4,300 adult bears today.

WUWF Public Media

There are six candidates vying to become the next sheriff of Escambia County. Four of them, including the incumbent, will square off in the Republican Primary on Tuesday, August 30.

There is well over a century of law enforcement experience in the Escambia Sheriff’s race.

David Morgan has held the office for the last eight years, and has more than 30 years in the field, starting as a patrolman in the Air Force.

Gulf Power Company

Gulf Power Company is considering a rate hike request aimed at bolstering its energy infrastructure. But for now, nothing is definite.

No concrete numbers are available as yet, but it’s believed any such request would be in the $115 million to $125 million range.

“What we did, is sent a letter to the Public Service Commission, letting them know that we may seek an increase later this year. But it’s an increase that wouldn’t go into effect until the summer of 2017,” said Jeff Rogers, the utility’s External Communications Manager.

Plans to begin ferry service between downtown Pensacola, Pensacola Beach and Fort Pickens are still set for next spring, but have been pushed back a few weeks. 

Next March was the original target date to launch the two boats and the triangular routes, but Dan Brown, Superintendent of Gulf Islands National Seashore, says some of the components of the service are meeting some challenges and delays.

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

It’s not Pensacola’s hottest destination, but the closed U.S. District Courthouse downtown is getting its fair share of attention from members of Florida’s congressional delegation.

One month after Sen. Marco Rubio inspected the building’s mold and water damage that led to its closing last year, Cong. Jeff Miller and U.S. Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas were escorted by Presiding Judge Casey Rodgers.

“Fortunately, the General Services Administration now seems poised to do what it should have done many years ago, and that is to repair the courthouse,” said Rodgers.

Michael Spooneybarger/CREO

Josh Green points out that artists who paint or draw trees can get away with a lot more than artists who render people.

 

“If most of the tree-like elements are there, you’re OK,” he said. “But if there is something even a few millimeters off with a body or a face, even an untrained eye will notice.” 

 

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

Of the eight Republicans seeking the Congressional seat in Florida’s First District, the lone woman in the race is a ninth-generation Pensacolian. 

Rebekah Bydlak was homeschooled kindergarten through grade 12 and entered Pensacola State College at the age of 16, earning a master’s degree in political science and public administration from the University of West Florida. She currently works as a taxpayer advocate with the group The Coalition to Reduce Spending.

  The race for School Superintendent in Okaloosa County will be decided on primary day this year. Earlier this year, the Okaloosa County School District was one of only three districts in the state with an “A” grade. There are two candidates vying to lead the district for the next four years. One is current Superintendent Mary Beth Jackson, who is seeking a second term after defeating Alexis Tibbits in 2012. She says voters should judge her on her actions not her words. "In the last four years we've moved academically from number 11 to number 2 in the state.

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