News

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

Restoration of passenger rail service along the Gulf Coast is the focus of meetings this week by Amtrak and the Southern Rail Commission.

Six meetings, which began on Tuesday in Jacksonville and Live Oak, Florida, will feature what’s next in the work to get the trains back on track for the first time since before Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

“It’s been about 14 months since we ran the demonstration train across the route, and people are curious where things stand,” said Amtrak spokesman Mark Magliari.

Sandra Averhart / W

Twelve companies will compete for more than $250,000 in cash and prizes this week at the 2017 Innovation Awards.

The event will be held Wednesday and Thursday, April 12 and 13, at the Hilton Pensacola Beach, 12 Via De Luna Dr.

Innovation Coast is putting the competition for the second time since their inaugural event in 2014.

Governor Rick Scott has placed Florida under a state of emergency because of recent wildfires and the high potential for increased wildfires to continue.

The fires across the state have burned more than two-and-a-half times more acreage in the first three months of 2017, than during the same period a year ago. Currently, more than 100 active wildfires are scorching over 20,000 acres statewide.

Street performers in downtown Pensacola appear to be getting a new rulebook on plying their art.

Street performers, called “buskers,” play music or otherwise perform for voluntary donations.

“It looks to me, that over the course of over the last 450 some-odd years, there’s been street performance regularly downtown; and we want to preserve that, because that’s authentic to Pensacola,” said DIB Executive Director Curt Morse.

Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media

Again this year, the Gulf Coast Citizen Diplomacy Council hosted a recipient of the U.S. Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award.

April is Child Abuse Awareness Month. Coincidentally, Saadet Özkan, the honoree who visited Pensacola this week is working to fight child sex abuse in her homeland of Turkey.

This year marks the eleventh anniversary of the IWOC Award, for which 100 women have been recognized.

For 2017, Özkan is one of 13 recipients from places including Batswana, Columbia, Iraq, Peru, Syria and Vietnam.

IHMC

For years I carped in writing and on the air about the failure of Santa Rosa County to value the wildflowers that sprang up every spring along its country roads, especially on Garcon Point.

Northern Arizona University

One of the world’s leading experts on the planet Mars will be speaking in downtown Pensacola and on the University of West Florida campus this week.  Dr. Nadine Barlow is a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Northern Arizona University. She’s coming to Pensacola for a pair of lectures on the search for water on Mars. She spoke to WUWF's Bob Barrett about her passion for Mars.

Michael Spooneybarger/ CREO

Ron Finley started a food revolution when he planted vegetables on a curbside dirt strip outside his home in South Central Los Angeles.

His initiative was not only geared to stop the inequality he saw, in which some enclaves had easy access to fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, while others lived in what he terms “food prisons” - having to drive miles upon miles to get the same produce. It was also to help build communities.  The design of his gardens are just as important as the food he plants in them.

Michael Spooneybarger/ CREO

The University of West Florida's Department of Government played host to Dr. Keith Whittington, professor of politics at Princeton University, on March 21.

In his presentation, "Why Free Speech is Central to the Mission of a University," Whittington explained that while controversial speech on campus is not a new topic, it’s one that the educational community needs to discuss, as pressure to limit speech can come from all sides.

cdc.gov

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson is imploring his colleagues not to take up any bills that could undo recent progress in fighting the nation’s growing opioid problem. Similar concerns are found in northwest Florida.

Opioid-related deaths in 2015, the latest available numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, outnumbered those from gun homicides and vehicle crashes combined; and more than died from HIV/AIDS at its peak in the mid-1990s.

National Weather Service Mobile

Monday’s storms in northwest Florida and south Alabama gave way to fair skies on Tuesday, which are now giving way to another round of storms for Wednesday.

The best rainfall, will be over the Panhandle, probably 2-3 inches, and 2-4 inches in some areas, says Eric Esbensen, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Mobile.

Gulf Power Company

After rescinding its original $107 million rate hike request, Gulf Power Company’s compromise plan has received unanimous approval from the Public Service Commission. 

The settlement, crafted by Gulf Power, the Office of Public Counsel and other interested parties, goes into effect on July 1. Jeffery Stone is Gulf Power’s General Counsel, and had praise for the PSC staff.

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

April marks the 15th annual National Donate Life Month, and Escambia County officials Monday morning kicked off the local campaign to increase the number of organ donors. 

Tax collector employees here and in Florida’s other 66 counties are participating in the month-long effort co-sponsored by Florida’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

Michael Spooneybarger/ CREO

The 16th annual Women’s Studies Conference at the University of West Florida featured multi-disciplinary presentations of academic papers, posters and artwork from students, along with an address from the first female graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy to fly into space.

Michael Spooneybarger/ CREO

University of West Florida students and community volunteers on Saturday saved native plants from a site in Gulf Breeze that is slated for development.

Those plants, which ranged from beach rosemary to small blueberry trees, were moved from the now barren property behind the Gulf Breeze Zoo to the University’s greenhouse. They will be stored there until they are ready to be replanted and preserved at UWF’s Community Garden.

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