News

House photo by Mark Foley

As the Florida Legislature prepares for a three-day special session beginning Wednesday, Governor Rick Scott is defending his record-setting budget vetoes.

Wielding the veto pen, the Governor cut out almost $12 billion from the new state budget, as part of a deal with House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron to fund two of Scott’s pet projects.

Escambia County Sheriff's Office

The search for 12-year-old Naomi Jones has now shifted into a homicide investigation, following the discovery of her body Monday afternoon in Eight-Mile Creek.

Naomi’s body was located in the water around 4 p.m. by two local fishermen scouting a place to fish in the creek near the intersection of Detroit Boulevard and Ashland Avenue. The location was approximately four miles from her home at Aspen Village Apartments on East Johnson Avenue and one mile outside the main search area, which was a radius of 3 miles.

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

Governor Rick Scott Monday held a pair of ceremonial signings, for legislation he signed for real last week to allow Triumph Gulf Coast to receive its first payment,$300 million, from the $1.5 billion BP oil spill settlement.

Gulf Power Company President Stan Connally kicked off the ceremony at Pensacola International Airport, after the event was moved from the VT-MAE construction site because of inclement weather.

Bob Barrett / WUWF News

There are a number of programs in place to help children with autism, both in schools and out. For adults, finding help gets tougher, especially for senior citizens.  However there is a program in Pensacola that caters to elders with developmental disabilities. "This (program) is unique. It was unique 30 years ago when it started and it remains unique" said Janet McIndewar, the Program Manager of the ARC Gateway Senior Adult Program. She says that in her travels around the state she has never come across a program for seniors with developmental disabilities like the one at ARC Gateway.

Michael Spooneybarger/ CREO

The highlight of the legislative session for Northwest Florida was agreement on a plan for distributing oil-spill settlement funds by Triumph Gulf Coast to the eight most affected counties. Phyllis Pooley, director of special projects with the University of West Florida’s Office of Economic Development and Engagement, has been reviewing the list of requirements for proposed projects and how they’ll be applied. She discussed them with WUWF’s Sandra Averhart.

Pat Bonish / Pat Bonish Photography

Last season’s storm surge in Cedar Key from Hurricane Hermine ranked in the top five, despite the category one storm staying more than 100 miles offshore. Even though winds never reached hurricane strength, life-threatening storm surge flooding still occurred.

Hurricane Specialist Jamie Rhome believes this is why the National Hurricane Center needed to create a new warning. It will be a Wireless Emergency Alert from the department of Homeland Security.

Today I’m returning to a topic I have talked about before.  Based on further experience, it’s important enough to remain a constant topic of discussion.

And that is the use of cell phones while driving.

Since moving to East Hill, riding my bike has become a primary form of transportation. During our year on Pensacola Beach I rode bikes a lot, but mainly for exercise. I did ride to stores and restaurants, but the trips were usually short, given the layout of the beach. And, an important point, the beach bike path minimized riding on major roads.

Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media

The Pensacola-Tallahassee Catholic Diocese is getting a new Bishop. Pope Francis has appointed Bishop-elect William Wack to the position.

Bishop-elect Wack comes to the local diocese from Austin, TX, where he has been pastor of St. Ignatius Martyr Parish for the last eight years. He replaces Bishop Gregory Parkes, who was installed as Bishop of St. Petersburg in January of this year. 

Before a room of diocese administrators gathered at the Pastoral Center in Pensacola, Msgr. James Flaherty shared the news.

Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media

Memorial Day Observance Features Newest Names On Wall South Vietnam War Memorial

Pensacola’s annual Memorial Day observance was held Sunday at Veterans Memorial Park in downtown. The ceremony featured a keynote speech by a former Blue Angels pilot and was highlighted by the unveiling of the newest names to be added to the Wall South Vietnam War Memorial.

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

Ramadan 2017 begins at sundown on Friday and will end at sundown on Sunday, June 25. 

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting during the day, to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad according to Islamic belief.

“We fast in May or July; it depends on the [lunar] calendar,” said Hosny Ibrahim, the Imam at the Islamic Center of Northwest Florida in Pensacola.

Warm waters in the Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico are expected to fuel an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season, which kicks off Thursday, June 1.

One tropical storm, Arlene, formed in April and spun harmlessly around the Atlantic.  The next named storms are Bret, Cindy, Don, Emily, Franklin and Gertrude.

UWF Athletic Communications

Update Monday, May 29:

UWF SOFTBALL:

Since this story was first reported, the No. 10 University of West Florida softball team ended its season on Saturday afternoon with a 1-0 loss to West Virginia Wesleyan in the NCAA Championships in Salem.

The Argonauts’ ended their season with a record of 46-15, giving the program its most wins and highest winning percentage (.754) since 2005, and UWF’s 88 wins over the last two years are the most in a two-year span since 2005-06.

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

The folding of a Pensacola-area historical foundation is providing a lovely parting gift for Pensacola State College.

Just before taking action to dissolve the T.T. Wentworth Jr. Historical Foundation Wednesday afternoon, one of its final acts was to award just over $100,000 to PSC for the creation of The Tom and Rosabel Wentworth Chair in American History.

PSC President Ed Meadows says the name “T.T. Wentworth Jr.” has been synonymous with history and learning for students of all ages.

Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media

Opponents of offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico are mobilizing to fight the most recent threat. In Northwest Florida, it’s about protecting military training in the Gulf and preventing future disasters like the like the one caused the 2010 BP/Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

Standing at the water’s edge, with arms raised, about three dozen people take part in the culmination of the annual ‘Hands Across the Sand’ event Saturday on Pensacola Beach.

“I’ve been doing this drilling issue ever since the BP Oil Spill,” said Monie Russo. “I’ve been out here religiously.”

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

Military-friendly northwest Florida will host a number of Memorial Day observances both this weekend, and on the actual holiday on Monday. 

Originally known as Decoration Day in the years after the Civil War, the holiday acquired its current name in 1954, and became an official federal holiday in 1971.

The Memorial Day ceremony at Veterans Memorial Park in Pensacola is Sunday afternoon at one o’clock – following the annual parade through downtown.

Sena Maddison, Florida West

Enterprise Florida was hit with a major funding reduction in the 2017 legislative session. One of the concerns is how local development agencies will fare with less state money.  

The state's economic development arm is getting around $17 million in fiscal year 2018, compared to the $24 million in this year’s spending.

“As I understand it the current budget has funds in for Enterprise Florida primarily for operations only,” said Scott Luth, President of Florida West, the economic development agency serving the western Panhandle.

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam brought his campaign for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in 2018 to Pensacola Friday morning. It was one of the final stops on his 10-day, 22-city bus tour.

Unlike most of the previous appearances around Florida, such as his announcement in his hometown of Bartow, there was no cheering crowd to greet the 42-year-old Putnam in downtown Pensacola. Instead, it was a roundtable discussion with small business leaders at the Dog House Deli.

Governor Rick Scott has not yet taken action on the new budget and he fate of Visit Florida, the state’s tourism promotion agency, remains in limbo.

For every dollar Visit Florida spends, the state receives $3.20 in return, according to the Florida Office of Economic and Demographic Research. In 2015, the latest available year, that translated to $109 billion in tourist spending; $11.3 billion in tax revenue, and 1.4 million tourism-related jobs in 2015. 

Florida lawmakers wrapped up the 2017 legislative session last week, three days behind schedule. This week, WUWF caught up with some legislators from Northwest Florida to get their impressions, as they wait to see what the governor will do and if they’ll be called back for a special session to deal with medical marijuana regulations.

Who will be hired as Escambia County Assistant Administrator? A search committee has narrowed down the list to the five finalists.

More than 300 applications were collected for the position, which will involve helping Administrator Jack Brown across a number of departments in serving a county with a population of more than 300,000. 

“Depending upon who we select and how we bring this person on, we’ll look at particular assignments that they’ll take off of my plate,” said Brown.

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