News

In the fourth installment of “Beyond Park East,” we look at the spiritual side of Pensacola’s LGBT community.

On its website, Holy Cross Metropolitan Community Church in Pensacola is described as a Christ-centered church of inclusion, community, transformation, and justice, where the message is: everyone is loved, worthy, and welcome.

That runs contrary to the messages on homosexuality from some, including televangelist Pat Robertson on his program “The 700 Club.”

A good day is when you learn something new. Or, as you get older, learn something over again. Sort of like rereading a good book, which is doubly rewarding when you can’t remember what happened from reading it the first time.

Anyway, last week I relearned two things: the value of a library card, and the reassuring fact that there are good people out there.

The third installment of “Beyond Park East,” features what the justices hath brought together -- same-sex marriage.

On a 5-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court in June, 2015 extended marriage equality to all 50 states and territories.

“This affirms what millions of Americans already believe in their hearts; when all Americans are treated as equal, we are all more free, said President Obama just after the court’s decision.

In part two of “Beyond Park East,” the spotlight is on the military, and how it has dealt , and is now dealing, with its LGBT members.

Gays and lesbians have served in the American military and in supporting roles dating back to the Revolutionary War. Prior to World War II, there was no written policy.

During World War II, Korea and Vietnam, the military defined homosexuality as a mental defect based on "medical criteria". Many gays and lesbians served honorably during those conflicts, but when the need for combat troops declined, they would be involuntarily discharged.

Michael Spooneybarger/ CREO

Housing market data for Escambia and Santa Rosa counties over the past decade show an increase in the total number of housing units in the two counties, with a growing number of those units occupied by renters and not owners. Phyllis Pooley, director of special projects with the University of West Florida’s Office of Economic Development and Engagement, reviewed data from the U.S. Census and the Shimberg Center for Housing Studies and found that there are significant changes in the housing market for the two counties.

University of Missouri

You’d like to think that if anyone would have accurate information about global climate change it would be science teachers. But a new study funded by the National Science Foundation concludes that this is not always the case.  Dr. Ben Herman, an Assistant Professor of Science Education at the University of Missouri, was the lead researcher on the study. "[The study] was focused on the state of climate change education in Florida and the Caribbean. So part of that was [asking] what are the teacher knowledge bases and what are the climate change teaching practices.

Today we kick off “Beyond Park East,” a five-part series on northwest Florida’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community.

On Memorial Day weekend, the LGBT community is out in force at Pensacola Beach’s Park East, for four days of sun, fun, and revelry. But when the beach chairs, towels and coolers are packed up, what happens the other 361 days of the year?

“The fact of the matter is, there’s an LGBT community in Pensacola 365 days a year,” said Louis Cooper, President of Gay Grassroots of Northwest Florida.

Florida Senate

The panel charged with overseeing one and a half billion dollars from the BP oil spill settlement is now fully staffed – including one member who helped create it.

Our story begins in 2010, shortly after the Deepwater Horizon explosion, which sent massive amounts of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. State Sen. Don Gaetz asked colleagues to approve a bill anticipating damage to the Panhandle coast.

Jessica Williams

At approximately 10 a.m. Wednesday, a fire and explosion occurred at McKinley Climatic Lab at Eglin Air Force Base.

Eglin officials say there were no “significant injuries” reported.

The explosion, which occurred in a support building near the lab, resulted in a huge plume of black smoke. Officials initially identified the source of the smoke as methyl chloride.

It’s happened to you. It’s probably happening more and more these days. Your cell phone rings. It’s a number you don’t recognize.  

Yes, you learned long ago to not answer calls from any number you didn’t recognize with an out of town area code. But now, it’s often an 8-5-0 area code, even the same first three numbers as your number, one of the newest tricks.

You think it might be the pharmacy, or the plumber you called. So, you answer.

All too often today, these calls turn out to be marketers or scammers. The FCC lists robocalls as its top consumer complaint.

Four hundred and fifty eight years after being sunk by a hurricane in Pensacola Bay, archeologists are working to make sure some undiscovered ships in Tristan de Luna’s fleet won’t face a new, twenty first century threat.

Three of de Luna’s vessels, of the six scuttled by the hurricane in 1559, have been discovered and are under investigation, including one discovered in 2016. There is speculation that the other three could be in the general area of the new Bay Bridge construction site.

Bob Barrett / WUWF News

If you took a walk on some sections of Pensacola Beach over the last few weeks, you may have come across some areas that were off limits to humans. "That's something that's been going on for years, now. It's just postings to mark off the fact that there are nesting shore birds in the area" said Becca Nelson, the Public Information Director for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. "We want people to know to keep their distance. We want people to respect those posted areas. A lot of times the birds and their nests and their hatchlings are hard to see.

The Pensacola Symphony Orchestra is issuing a community call for photographs of Pensacola to feature in a performance this fall called “Pensacola: Then & Now.”

For details, PSO music director Peter Rubardt recently stopped by the WUWF Studios.

SAFER Santa Rosa

Work is underway in Santa Rosa County to help residents with property damage from severe weather, but who are ineligible for government assistance.

The program is called SAFER, Support Alliance for Emergency Readiness, and in a broad sense is the next generation of the Santa Rosa Long Term Recovery Organization which developed after Hurricanes Ivan and Dennis.

Michael Spooneybarger/ CREO

In an ever-evolving digital age, members of the U.S. Congress are increasingly using technology to communicate with their constituents.

But are they also using virtual communication as a way to avoid face-to-face interaction with the public?

Dr. Jocelyn Evans, associate dean in the College of Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities at the University of West Florida and Jessica Hayden, a UWF graduate, address those issues in their book “Congressional Communication in the Digital Age.”

Although the news these days tends to be depressing, there is good news if you know where to look. And one of those items is the resurgence of the book, both the electronic version and the old-fashioned kind printed on paper.

Pensacola Ice Flyers

For a second consecutive off-season, the Pensacola Ice Flyers have the “Help Wanted” sign hanging behind the bench.

Team owner Greg Harris announced Monday that Rod Aldoff would not be returning for the 2017-18 season.

“I had a feeling it was going to happen, but I wasn’t too sure,” said Harris. “I know it took a little longer than we had wanted to, but I fully respect his decision. We both knew when he came back in mid-February that it was only for that three-months or so to finish off the season, and we would reassess in May and June.”

FDOT

Governor Rick Scott made a stop in Pensacola Monday morning to talk about building bridges-- literally. Scott, along with many state and local officials gathered at the north end of the 3 Mile Bridge to talk about the bridge replacement project and its impact on the area. "A 398 million dollar project. As you might expect you had a lot of people making sure this bridge was done right." 

Courtesy, The Oplontis Project

Dr. Kristina Killgrove, a researcher from the University of West Florida, is preparing for the trip of a lifetime. She’s heading to Italy soon to study skeletal remains of victims of the 79 A.D. Mount Vesuvius volcano eruption.  

Killgrove is a biological anthropologist and assistant professor in UWF’s Anthropology Department. Her classes include Intro to Anthropology, Bioarchaeology, and Human Osteology.

Gulf Islands National Seashore

Three areas in Gulf Islands National Seashore remain closed due to the impact of Tropical Storm Cindy.

The three areas on Santa Rosa Island, Ft. Pickens, Santa Rosa, and Okaloosa, are still heavily inundated by the significant amount rain that’s fallen over the last couple of days.

Park spokesman Brent Everitt says the high waves and tides continue to push water across the roadways, causing a lot of issues in those areas. One of the problems is 3-6 inches of standing water over a three-mile stretch of Fort Pickens Road.

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