Photo via Flickr// Ivy Dawned /

Florida’s Department of Agriculture is reminding Christmas chefs to follow some basic but effective steps to avoid food-borne illnesses.

About one in six Americans, roughly 48 million, gets a food-borne illness each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The most common illnesses are norovirus and the Salmonella bacteria. 

Michael Spooneybarger / CREO University of West Florida

Coffee table books are can’t-miss choices for the impossible-to-buy-for people on any holiday list. Titles cater to extremely specific interests. Whether you’re shopping for a James Bond movie poster collector or a connoisseur of wine from Slovenia, publishers provide.

DEO Florida

Florida’s unemployment rate continues to drop, to five percent even in November, down point-one percent from October. The Department of Economic Opportunity also announces more than one million private-sector jobs have been created since 2010.

DEO Director Jesse Panuccio says the five percent mark equals the national average, and translates to 486,000 unemployed out of a labor force of 9.6 million. Pensacola has seen 3,600 jobs added so far in 2015.

University of West Florida

In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper discusses the decision by the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade.

Harper called the increase in the interest rate of a quarter of a percentage point “good news,” noting the Fed tracked the economy carefully and is responsible for maintaining both full employment and a low and stable price level nationally.

University of West Florida

In 1992, archeologists found the first remains of the shipwrecks of Don Tristan de Luna’s fleet on the bottom of Pensacola Bay. De Luna, of course, was the man who first settled what would become Pensacola. But the exact location of the settlement was always a mystery. Was is the operative word.

Friday marks the annual exodus home by military personnel at local bases, and the United Service Organization is gearing up to help out.

The holiday events are part of the long tradition of the USO, which has 160 locations in 27 states and 14 countries. It dates back to its creation by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in February, 1941 – ten months before the attack on Pearl Harbor.

AAA projects the number of travelers for Christmas and New Year’s to hit the 100 million mark for the first time ever.

Actually, the auto club says 100.5 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from now until Sunday, January 3. That’s a 1.4% increase over last year, and seventh consecutive year of growth for this period. A number of variables are at play.

Community Solutions

  Community Solutions, partnered with the Greater Ft. Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce recently broke ground on One Hopeful Place, a facility intended to aid the homeless in Okaloosa County. WUWF’s Danielle Freeman reports although the groundbreaking is just the beginning of several phases the center will go through before completion in 2016, the community is eager about its potential.

  If you still haven’t signed up for health insurance for the new year, you have a little extra time to get that chore done. "The deadline war originally December 15 (to) get enrolled for coverage on January the first, but it has since been extended for an additional two days, December 16 and December 17 until midnight" said Cory Brown, the Benefits Program Manager for 90 Works in Pensacola, and a licensed health insurance navigator under the Affordable Care Act.


The recent renewed discussion over use of monies coming from the BP oil spill settlement for environmental improvements raised some good points.  One of the points of discussion is over whether we should pursue specific, if perhaps isolated, projects with these monies, or change the focus to be more goal-oriented. That makes sense to me if the main goal is on improving water quality. When all is said and done, that is the underpinning of the Northwest Florida economy.

Gulf Power Company

Groundbreaking is set for Wednesday for a new partnership between Gulf Power Company and the U-S Navy, aimed at developing, generating, and distributing solar power.

Under a 37-year lease, Gulf Power will use almost 600 acres of property aboard NAS Pensacola, Whiting Field, and two outlying landing fields, Holly and Saufley. Natalie Smith at the utility says plans are to build two large generating facilities.

“Those are some of the details we have to work out, and figure out how much space would be needed,” said 

photo via Flickr// 19melissa68 /

  Pensacola Police are looking for a suspect who they say was a real-life Grinch who stole Christmas – or at least part of it.

Our story begins around five o’clock Saturday afternoon, in front of Cordova Mall on North 9th Avenue.

“He approached the bell-ringer in front of the mall, and gave him the story that he was there to collect the kettles,” said Pensacola Police Lt. Steve Davis. “That particular bell-ringer was suspicious and asked for ID. The gentleman left and never returned.”


  ongressman Jeff Miller is getting at least one challenger for his U.S. House seat in 2016.

Charles Thies has done many things: the Miami native has been a police officer, adjunct professor, and businessman. He’s the former CEO of Cloud View Technologies in Mary Esther. Now, he makes his debut in politics, wanting to represent Florida’s 1st House District in Washington.

  In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper discusses what the slight rise in unemployment claims means for the economy and the possible changes to the state’s short sell mortgage laws.


The Dec. 5 unemployment claims are in, and the state’s initial claims have risen to their highest point in five months – up 13,000 to 282,000. But Harper says that’s no cause for alarm. Depending upon when the month ends, where Thanksgiving falls and where Christmas spending begins, the reports can be volatile from week to week.


Photo via Flickr// Jeff Smallwood /

This week marks the annual return of the Geminids meteor shower, which is visible from the Florida Panhandle, weather permitting.

The shower actually began earlier this month, with only a few meteors visible overnight. But Wayne Wooten, an astronomer at Pensacola State College, says things should ramp up by the start of next week. 

“The Geminids have been the best meteor shower of the year on average,” Wooten said. “The peak’s early Monday morning with maybe two meteors per minute coming out of the direction of the constellation Gemini.”