News

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.

IHMC

In the 1960s, a little known group of local fishermen, worried about severe pollution affecting the waters they fished in, formed a group called the Bream Fishermen Association. Formally chartered in 1970, over the last 40-plus years BFA volunteers have doggedly and tirelessly measured water quality across Northwest Florida and South Alabama. Adhering to strict scientific standards, the group has built a documented record accepted by the state of Florida for inclusion in its own database.

Michael Spooneybarger/ CREO

A free Children’s Day Celebration will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 20, at Saint Sylvester Catholic Church, 6464 Gulf Breeze Parkway in Gulf Breeze.

The event provides children with a variety of Japanese cultural activities, including carp-streamer painting and a coloring competition.

It is organized by the University of West Florida’s Department of Government, which is part of the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities.

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson was in Pensacola recently to get a firsthand look at the University of West Florida’s Center for Cybersecurity.

Center Director Eman El-Sheikh provided a briefing on the facility, one of only six National Center Academic of Excellence (CAE) Regional Resource Centers in the country, serving the Southeast and Puerto Rico.

“We’re thrilled about what we’re doing to cybersecurity, and we certainly want to help advance the state of it overall as a national leader in cyber-education,” said El-Sheikh.

A real news clip about an unusual car accident, and a made-up reality show about chicken farmers are the main topics of Miami Herald Columnist Carl Hiaasen’s latest novel: Razor Girl. WUWF’s Bob Barrett spoke to Hiaasen about the book and that odd fender bender in the keys. 

With Governor Rick Scott termed out of office in 2018, there’s beginning to be a lot of jockeying for position in both parties for that race.

Two aspirants, each from high-profile Florida families, announced their intentions this week. Republican Adam Putnam currently is Agriculture Commissioner.

“It has been an honor to serve my community, to serve my friends and neighbors, to serve my state, and to serve my nation,” said Putnam at a rally in his hometown of Bartow. “But make no mistake; for me, it’s always been ‘Florida first.’ And it’s why I am running for governor.”

Courtesy of Tobacco Free Florida

As part of Tobacco Free Florida Week, the Florida Department of Health is encouraging residents to ‘kick the habit’ by focusing on the ‘cost of smoking,’ both physically and financially, to help make their point, the Health Department’s Tobacco Free Florida education and prevention program is out with a public service announcement that invites viewers to “step into The Smoker’s Store,” where one can see the true cost of smoking.

Sandra Averhart

Recently, the University of West Florida’s Haas Center conducted a survey of Santa Rosa County residents about replacing the county’s courthouse. Whether to replace the building and how to replace it has been a persistent debate over the last few years.

Phyllis Pooley, director of special projects with the UWF Office of Economic Development and Engagement, which works closely with the Haas Center, joined Sandra Averhart to discuss the findings.

Santa Rosa County did not order or fund the survey.

The study focused on two main issues: location and funding.

United Way of Escambia County

Letter carriers will be picking up as well as dropping off this Saturday during the 25th annual Stamp Out Hunger event. The letter carrier’s food drive has become the largest single-day food drive across the nation, and benefits millions of Americans who struggle to put food on the table.

Teenagers and young adults are getting the chance to pick up some work experience and a bit of spending money this summer and fall, through a new program run by Escambia County.

About 40 kids will make up the inaugural Youth Employment Program, which is set to kick off next month. County residents between the ages of 16-20, whose family household income is at or below 200 percent of the 2017 poverty level, are eligible to apply.

Moto Electric Vehicles

Visitors to downtown Pensacola could be able to park and ride later this month, thanks to six new electric trolleys from Gulf Island National Seashore.

With the park’s ferry service in limbo the new electric trolleys, each consisting of motor and trailer units, are being loaned to the City of Pensacola. Each vehicle can hold 27 passengers.

Bob Barrett / WUWF News

Another historical figure from Pensacola’s past is getting a monument downtown. "What makes great cities is art and culture" said Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward speaking to a crowd of donors and dignitaries Monday morning. They were gathered for a groundbreaking ceremony for a monument to Revolutionary War hero Bernardo de Galvez, the general who drove the British out of Pensacola during the Battle of Pensacola.

As part of getting ready for the 2018 election cycle, Escambia County’s Supervisor of Elections recently attended a meeting in San Antonio, Texas on military and overseas voting.

For several years now, David Stafford and Okaloosa County Elections Chief Paul Lux have been involved with the Overseas Voting Initiative, working with the Pentagon and the Council of State Governments.

Senate Republicans are wasting no time showing they have little use for the House bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Needing 216 votes for passage, the Republican-controlled House approved the plan 217-213, with 20 GOP defections. Among those voting “yes” was Republican Matt Gaetz – who represents the western Florida Panhandle.

EOD Warrior Foundation

Military bomb-disposal technicians who’ve been killed in the line of duty will be honored during a ceremony Saturday at Eglin Air Force.

This will be the 48th Annual EOD Memorial Ceremony, which is held every year on the first Saturday in May.

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