Escambia County

Flickr//Andrew Bardwell

As part of WUWF’s look ahead to 2016, Dave Dunwoody recently sat down with Grover Robinson. In November, Robinson again took over as chairman of the Escambia County Commission.

“I’m hoping this time we don’t have an oil spill or some other natural disaster like the last time when I was chair,” said Robinson, noting that plans for rebuilding the Escambia County Jail Central Booking facility that was destroyed in a gas explosion during Pensacola’s April 30, 2014 flood event.

  There’s a change at the top at the Escambia County agency which oversees the county’s correctional department.  

Michael Tidwell is out, 11 months after succeeding Gordon Pike, who retired in late 2014. County Administrator Jack Brown announced his decision Friday morning.

“It’s a combination of things,” said Escambia County Administrator Jack Brown. “Bottom line, I feel that we need to change the direction we’re moving in to improve oversight and care within the jail facility.”

NOAA

The 2015 Atlantic Hurricane season has come to a close. The six-month period wrapped up on Monday, November 30.

As expected, it was a relatively quiet year.

In line with forecasts projecting a slightly below average season, there were 11 named storms, with four of those becoming hurricanes.  

Florida made it through the season without a storm making landfall in the state, but there were a couple of close calls.

Ferry service on Pensacola Bay is moving full speed ahead towards a launch date of March, 2017.

The latest step forward is the National Park Service’s award of a contract to All-American Marine. The Washington state-based firm will design and build two aluminum double-decker Catamaran-style ferry boats, each with a capacity of 150-passengers.

restorethegulf.gov//NOAA

  There’s a new deadline in Escambia County to submit projects seeking funds from the RESTORE Act.

Wednesday night had been the deadline, for applicants wanting some of the $58 million that’s coming to Escambia County beginning in 2017.

“We had a programming glitch that triggered at midnight, coming up on the 30th of September, vs. midnight at the end of the 30th,” said Keith Wilkins, the county’s Director of Community and Environment.

Photo via Flickr// Green Fire Productions / https://flic.kr/p/bN5Djz

Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas  will share a total of $18.7 billion from BP, as a result of the oil spill resulting from the Deepwater Horizon explosion in 2010. If approved by New Orleans Federal Judge Carl Barbier, it would be the largest court settlement in U.S. history.

“Just five years later, a potential ecological and economic tsunami has been avoided, because good people all came together and decided it was time to do the right thing,” said Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. “

On orders from Mayor Ashton Hayward, city staff brought down the Confederate flag from all of the City of Pensacola’s Five Flags displays on Thursday. It was replaced by the State of Florida flag.

In a written statement, the Mayor concedes that while the Confederate flag represents a part of the city’s history, it also stands as a “painful symbol of racial hatred and ignorance.”

A spokesman for Hayward’s office said in an email that the Mayor would not be making any more statements on the matter.

In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper provides analysis of recently released U.S. Census figures.

“We’ve declined in population over the years, as people have moved out to the suburbs,” said Harper, referring to the number of people living in the City of Pensacola, which is the urban core of a larger metro area including Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. The metro area population estimate for 2014 is 474,081.

Taylor County

Escambia County officials are gearing up for battle, over part of the insurance on the Central Booking Facility, which was damaged by an explosion one year ago this week.

The facility was rocked by a gas explosion related to massive flooding last April 30th. Two inmates were killed, and another 184 inmates and staff were injured. The cost of replacing both Booking and the older County Jail building is placed, for now, at $180 million.

Escambia County Administrator Jack Brown inherited the jail issue when he took over in June.

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

April is "SAAM" -- Sexual Assault Awareness Month,  and a host of Pensacola-area officials drove that home on Thursday in downtown Pensacola.

They gathered in front of the fountain at the marina near Plaza de Luna. The water dyed teal green – the color of sexual assault awareness. Patrick Nichols from NAS Pensacola read the proclamation, prior to signing.

“Every year, too many women and too many men are sexually assaulted and abused,” read Nichols. “This is an affront to our basic decency and humanity, and it must end.”

Photo via Flickr// sean dreilinger / https://flic.kr/p/sZSme

Escambia County is partnering with a number of local firms in launching a new notification system, aimed at alerting residents to developing emergencies.

“Basically, it’s an automated notification system, that can communicate with citizens on many different levels,” said John Dosh, Escambia County’s Emergency Management Chief. “Whether it be cellphone, home phone, work phone. It can email, it can text. It’s a subscription to provide this service.”

Bob Barrett / WUWF News

It was a day filled with bouquets and cake and history as marriage equality came to Florida on Tuesday.  In Pensacola, the Rev Dr. Jim Merritt began a full day of same sex weddings at the Holy Cross Metropolitan Community Church.

Josh Morton

Residents of Wedgewood and surrounding communities are getting action this week in response to their concerns about pollution from nearby construction and debris pits. Specifically, the Rolling Hills Construction and Demolition Debris Disposal Facility is now the focus of a hearing to revoke its state permit.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection opened a four-day Administrative Hearing on Tuesday at the Old Escambia County Courthouse.

  An Escambia County Grand Jury Thursday returned a “no true bill” after seven weeks of investigating last spring’s explosion at the County Jail’s Central Booking Facility.

A “no true bill” means the panel did not find probable cause to move forward with criminal charges in relation to the April 30 blast caused by a natural gas leak on the day after floodwaters hit the facility. Two inmates died, and 184 other inmates and staff were injured.

    Early voting is getting underway across the region for the November 4th General Election. Voters in Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, and Escambia Counties can cast ballots beginning Monday and continuing through Saturday, November 1st. 

For the General Election, each of the counties is exceeding the eight-day minimum by providing a total of 13 early voting days, with a combined 14 polling locations that will be open for 10 hours each day in Okaloosa and Santa Rosa counties; nine hours daily in Escambia.

Pages