Throughout my 30-year career at the Pensacola News Journal, a recurring theme of our coverage was poverty and its impact on education. Statistics clearly show that high rates of poverty are reflected by poor performance in schools, and Escambia County has been a prime example.

One of the more enduring themes about education in Escambia is how openly people talked about taking jobs there, but buying a home in Santa Rosa County because they believed the schools were better.

The Escambia County School Board voted Tuesday to spend about $2 million for property, on which to build a new middle school in the western part of the district.  Dave Dunwoody reports

Superintendent Malcolm Thomas says the land, currently an abandoned airfield on West Nine Mile Road, is the school district’s answer to the booming population growth in that part of Escambia County.

The U.S. Supreme Court will soon announce a decision that could cause over 50,000 local people to lose their health insurance. 

Photo via Flickr// Phalinn Ooi

Pointing to a budget agreement reached by lawmakers, Governor Rick Scott's attorneys withdrew a request for a preliminary injunction in a legal battle with the Obama administration about health care funding.

Upon receipt of the filing, U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers canceled Friday's scheduled hearing.

According to a notice filed in federal court in Pensacola, Scott's attorneys wrote that the lawsuit would continue because the state and federal governments have not agreed on a broader resolution of the Low Income Pool issue.

Sandra Averhart

Local author Georgia McCorvey Smith has written several publications on Pensacola's African American history. Now, the retired teacher is unveiling a new book titled Elizabeth Finds Freedom for Christmas that weaves local history into a fictional story aimed at middle school students.

The central characters in the book are Elizabeth and her mother, who are slaves of Master James.

Residents in Escambia County are being urged speak up about school discipline and school arrests.  

Community groups such as the ACLU of Northwest Florida and the Escambia Youth Justice Coalition are calling on residents to push for changes in the district’s disciplinary policies, which they say disproportionately impact African American students.

Work is expected to resume later this year on the DeepFlex project at the Port of Pensacola, after resolution of some financial setbacks. Construction of a half-finished metal warehouse was idled in March.

Published reports say Houston-based DeepFlex has secured emergency funding through its parent firm in Brazil, to address more than $200,000 in liens filed by contractors.

Leonard Patrick Gonzalez Senior, one of the principals in the 2009 slayings of Byrd and Melanie Billings, has died in prison at the age of 62.

As is the case with every inmate death, the Department of Corrections will investigate Gonzalez’ passing, with the Medical Examiner determining the cause of death. DOC spokesman McKinley Lewis says the Inspector General’s Office will also investigate, which is standard procedure.

Gonzalez was serving 17 and a half years for his involvement in the slayings, which occurred at the Billings’ home in Beulah on July 9, 2009.

Photo via Flickr// Steve Harwood

A trip to the Gulf Islands National Seashore will cost you a bit more beginning this week. For the first time since 2002, the fees at  Gulf Islands National Seashore have been raised. 

The increase went into effect Sunday. The fee for a single car has almost doubled, increasing from $8 to $15. Pedestrians and cyclists have seen an increase to $7 and the cost of an annual pass has increased to $30, a $5 jump.