National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Each year on February 7, there is a nationwide effort to increase HIV education, testing, community involvement, and treatment among African Americans. 

For communities like Escambia County, the annual observance of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day takes on added significance.

Constitution Revision Commission

Pensacola is one of the stops for the Constitution Revision Commission, as it began public hearings in five cities across Florida on Tuesday. The local hearing is set for February 27 at the University of West Florida.

The 37-member Commission kicked off its tour at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, after spending the past few months going through more than 100 proposed amendments.

Speaking on The Florida Channel, CRC Chairman Carlos Beruff says their work has to be finished by May 10.

Fem Fest Facebook

Fem Fest, a week-long celebration of feminism, returns to Pensacola with events starting on February 14. Kirstin Norris, the Founding Organizer of Fem Fest says after last year's event "I came back really excited and wanting to do more. Wanting to make Fem fest bigger, better, involve more people, reach more beneficiaries. Just Fem Fest on a larger scale."

Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media

The EscaRosa Coalition on the Homeless recently conducted its 2018 Point-in-Time survey. The effort, required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), was conducted on January 24.

Staff and volunteers visited local shelters, encampments, and street corners in an effort to determine the number of sheltered and unsheltered homeless individuals in the area and identify service needs.

In this week’s Gulf Stories Moment, Dr. John Bratten, chair and associate professor of anthropology at the University of West Florida, discusses the importance of technology in searching for historical artifacts underwater.   

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

Three years after the first announcement, work is getting underway on renovating the federal courthouse in downtown Pensacola.

Thirty-one million dollars will be spent to clean up mold and water damage, along with other health and safety issues, that first cropped up just after the facility opened in 1997. Funding has been the major obstacle, says U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers, since her first call for action in 2015.

In honor of Black History Month, Pensacola State College presents a production of two short plays about some of the most well-known figures in the fight for freedom and equal rights for blacks.

The evening features a one-woman performance of Harriet, about former slave and abolitionist Harriett Tubman. Also, there will be a one-man performance of MLK and Mandela.

Lawrence Gamell, Jr. is acting and directing.

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

Republican Adam Putnam brought his “Florida First” campaign for governor to downtown Pensacola Wednesday morning, for a lunch appearance before a local civic club.

Speaking to the Panhandle Tiger Bay Club, Putnam outlined his agenda if he succeeds Rick Scott as Florida’s governor. For one thing, he wants to get it across to students that a four-year university degree is not the end all-be all for a successful career.

The West Florida baseball Argonauts open the 2018 season on Friday, hoping to improve over 2017. The Argos posted a 28-23 mark last season, finishing sixth in the Gulf South Conference tournament and unranked nationally.

“My job is to try to lead this team and build a culture and a team that they’re more than just playing for themselves,” said Head Coach Mike Jeffcoat, who enters his thirtheenth year in the dugout.

He says part of that job has moved from the diamond to cyberspace.

The University of West Florida softball team opens the 2018 season this weekend, ranked third nationally in NCAA Division II, and picked to win the Gulf South Conference.

The Argonauts garnered 10 of 14 first-place votes in the GSC coaches’ poll. Valdosta State, Mississippi College, Alabama-Huntsville and North Alabama round out the top five. Lee, which met UWF in the South Super Regional last year, came in at number six.

“We’re excited; it’s quickly approaching and I think we’re ready,” said Head Coach Melissa Paul, who begins her fourth season at West Florida.

Residents in the Florida Panhandle will join the rest of the United States early Wednesday morning, in experiencing a lunar “trifecta” – the first such phenomenon since 1866.

A “Super Blue Blood Moon" is basically a long and complicated way of saying there are three things happening at one time with the moon, according to Lauren Rogers -- an astronomer at Pensacola State College.

Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media

Florida’s First Congressional District has one of the highest concentrations of military veterans in the country. Improving veterans’ health care is a top priority here and it was the focus of a recent town hall in Pensacola.

Rebecca and Rick Winkler traveled from Crestview to attended the town hall featuring Northwest Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach.

Those of a certain age remember the enthusiastic TV ads for gadgets developed by a wondrous company called Ronco. These amazing, not available in stores products did everything from catch fish to remove those stubborn stains on clothing.

Some probably did work, but probably not for long. The materials were often inferior, and the problem s you needed solved didn’t need to be solved that often.

However, the ads did offer a new form of entertainment on TV, and brought us the ultimate marketing slogan: But wait – there’s more!

Florida West

With 2017 in the rearview mirror at Florida West, WUWF’s Dave Dunwoody looks at the challenges on the horizon for 2018 in part two of his report on local economic development.

Many of the projects and initiatives begun by Florida West in 2017 will continue to progress this year. And to hear CEO Scott Luth tell it, 2018 is hitting the ground running.

Bob Barrett / WUWF News

A national shelter rescue group has helped give the Escambia County Animal Shelter a fresh, new look. "Our goal is to get volunteers into shelters and animals out of them" said Bryna Donnelly, the Director of Greater Goods Rescue Rebuild, an animal shelter renovation program that recruits volunteers from all over the country to help shelters in need. They have been working at the Escambia County Animal Shelter for the last week and a half doing renovations and making the facility a lot more user friendly.

Florida West

After a banner year in 2017, the Florida West Economic Development Alliance is looking ahead to more successes in 2018. WUWF’s Dave Dunwoody kicks off a two-part report – first up -- the year past.

Chief Executive Officer Scott Luth says it was a good year overall laying groundwork. The one issue that stands out to him is the Bluffs Industrial Campus – which received $3.1 million from the state for site connectivity and infrastructure improvements.

Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media

The 2018 Point-in-Time (PIT) survey of homeless people living in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties was conducted Wednesday, January 24.

Data from the count is important. Beyond that data, local officials have commissioned the University of West Florida to conduct a study on the cost of homelessness, which they plan to use to help determine their next steps in addressing the problem.

The last PIT survey in 2017 showed 758 homeless people living in the two-county area. Of those, 539 were men, 117 were veterans, and 135 were chronically homeless.

A major weakness of our culture is our reluctance to talk about death. Given that it’s the ultimate destination for all of us, that’s a serious weakness. It leaves too many people grappling with their most fundamental fears all alone.

Fortunately, in recent years this taboo has loosened. One result is some excellent advice about the last word on all of us: our obituary. And that advice is that we all ought to write our own. After all, who knows what other people will say about us when we are gone?

Bob Barrett / WUWF News

Travelers to and from Pensacola will once again be boldly flying through an intergalactic travel hub. "We're not just on the map, I think we're going to be on the intergalactic map after this" said Pensacola City Administrator Eric Olson speaking at a Tuesday morning ceremony renaming the Pensacola International Airport, Pensacola Intergalactic Airport.

About 40 percent of Escambia County residents have earned some sort of college degree. A new organization wants to raise the bar.

Workers in Escambia County with an associate degree average just over $57,000 per year, according to the Florida College Access Network. Those with only a high school diploma average about $26,000.