City of Pensacola

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Thursday was a day of honor and reflection in memory of Marine Corps Capt. Jeff Kuss -- who died when his Blue Angel number-6 jet crashed near Nashville, Tennessee last week.

A private memorial service for the 32-year-old Kuss was held aboard NAS Pensacola on Thursday morning. On Thursday evening, Veterans Memorial Park was filled for a public candlelight vigil sponsored by the City of Pensacola.

Bob Barrett / WUWF News

  Since 1889, 14 members of the Pensacola Police Force have died in the line of duty. Wednesday morning, the city took time to remember their service.

City of Pensacola

Matt Schmitt and Joe Glover are out as Pensacola Fire Chief and Assistant Fire Chief, respectively. They were fired Tuesday by Mayor Ashton Hayward after a three-month investigation of the department.

The Mayor’s action came after reviewing the 138-page report which he says outlines a number of instances that demonstrated what it terms as “a lack of judgment, poor leadership and contempt for the city’s Human Resources Department.

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The City of Pensacola is the defendant in a lawsuit filed over the 25-foot Christian cross at city-owned Bayview Park.

The litigation – filed Wednesday -- is the latest salvo in a ten-month running dispute over the cross in the park, between the city and the American Humanist Association, based in Washington, D.C.

“We are contending that this is a violation of the Establishment Clause to the United States Constitution,” said Rebecca Markert, a staff attorney with the Madison, Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation.

City of Pensacola

Registration is underway for the 2016 Pensacola Citizens’ Academy. The academy is a nine-week look at city government and its departments and it kicks off May 17 and goes through July 12. The course is free, and interactive.

“Totally hands-on, meaning it’s not just sitting around and listening to talking heads,” said organizer Helen Gibson. “We’ve got tours, we’ve got demonstrations.”

The concept is from the city’s Neighborhood Division. When Ashton Hayward was elected mayor in 2010, he made the academies a priority.

The Fish House restaurant in downtown Pensacola has emerged from a legal challenge with its lease intact. However, there remains one more fight in the case.

On Friday, Circuit Judge Scott Duncan ruled that Fish House owner Collier Merrill’s sub-lease of the Pitts Slip property from business partner Ray Russenberger was immune from having to pay the city up to five million dollars in additional rent and interest.

Photo via Instagram//user @beautifulpensacola

More than two years after the initial filing, a lawsuit against the City of Pensacola involving the land on which the Fish House Restaurant sits may be close to resolution.

Circuit Judge Scott Duncan held a six-hour hearing on the case in January. Fish House owner Collier Merrill says their argument then was the same as it’s been all along, concerning the lease for the city-owned property call Pitt Slip, on which The Fish House and Atlas Oyster House sit.

Sandra Averhart

Governor Rick Scott met with local officials and the media on Wednesday, to discuss the aftermath of the twister that devastated some neighborhoods in Pensacola the previous night.

The Governor has issued an Executive Order declaring a state of emergency for Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties as a result of the tornado, which damaged more than 100 homes, in addition to the 24 apartments at the Moorings on Old Spanish Trail which were destroyed.

Dave Dunwoody

The next step in efforts to get Amtrak service back to Pensacola rolled into the city Friday morning, and the crowd greeting the “Inspection Train” appeared to be part pep rally and part revival meeting.

On a chilly but otherwise “Chamber of Commerce” day, the train made its entrance from the west, where it had originated Thursday in New Orleans. There to greet it was a crowd – some in period costumes – in front of what was the Amtrak station before service was ended 12 years ago.

Steve Hayes, the President of Visit Pensacola, and served as Master of Ceremonies

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Pensacola City Administrator Eric Olson’s out with some details about two issues going on at City Hall. One involves the Fire Department, the other deals with personnel policy.

City Administrator Eric Olson says the issues are not related, despite some media reports to the contrary.

“I like to look at it like there are two boxes – one is a box labeled ‘Investigation,’ and another is a box labeled ‘HR Manual,’” said Olson. “But that doesn’t mean that they’re in anyway linked. They just arrived on the same day.”

Pensacola residents appreciate their law enforcement and parks, but are less pleased with transportation and infrastructure, according to a new citywide survey.

The University of West Florida’s Haas Business Center was commissioned by the city to conduct the telephone survey during the last quarter of 2015. A similar review was done the previous year, which project leader Amy Newburn says had more components.

The Pensacola City Council is going back to the drawing board and paying for a study to figure out what to do with some valuable city land. The city has been examining the two acre parcel of land in the Hawkshaw district which is bordered by Ninth Avenue and Romana Street in Pensacola. Last Monday, the Community Redevelopment Agency held a special meeting to vote on hiring a firm called Urban Design Associates to conduct a study and get public input on what would be the best use of the land. The study will cost $25,000.

Georgia Barrett / WUWF News

The debate over allowing food trucks in Pensacola may not be over, but those mobile businesses celebrated a milestone in downtown Pensacola Thursday.  

A.J. took some time out from chopping onions in the Cajun Meat Train food truck Thursday morning, getting ready for the first day of serving lunch in the parking lot of Pensacola City Hall. "[We're] feeling great and hoping it opens eyes to everyone around and we get to park in some more places around town. Hopefully something good comes out of it and I'm excited and optimistic."

Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward recently dropped by the studio, for a chat with Dave Dunwoody to look ahead at the year in Pensacola governance.

DD: Mayor, before we look ahead to 2016, let’s look back at 2015. What do you consider to be some of the accomplishments in city government?

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The City of Pensacola is partnering with a new non-profit to help recently discharged veterans transition to civilian life. "The partnership with Pensacola is one of we hope many in the area that we will have". Mark Harden is the Florida Region Director of Boots Up, a non-profit that was recently formed to help service members transition to civilian life. "The city of Pensacola has plenty of prior military that work for them. Many of those might want to be mentors for our transitioning military. Additionally (the city has) jobs.

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