Escambia County Commission

Two years after the announcement that VT Mobile Aerospace would build a plant in Pensacola, more talks on funding the project are expected this afternoon. 

Construction was announced in September, 2014, with the plant originally scheduled to begin refurbishing large aircraft this summer. But, the site, 19 acres adjacent to Pensacola International Airport, remains idle with no groundbreaking date as yet.

In part two of our look at the Escambia County Commission District-5 race, WUWF’s Dave Dunwoody sat down with incumbent Steven Barry.

Barry ran his first winning race four years ago, when he was elected with 70 percent of the vote. He says running as an incumbent this time around is considerably different.

“The biggest difference [is] the managing of the responsibility that I currently have while auditioning for another opportunity for that job,” said Barry.

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

Danny Smillie is no stranger to the inner workings of Escambia County. He retired in 2014, after 30 years working a number of county jobs. During that time, he says he’s seen a lot of waste and abuse of funds during his time as a corrections officer and a bridge inspector in the county’s Road Division, the latter primarily in District-5. 

“We’ve got bridges that are 80, 90 years old,” says Smillie. “These columns are made for only 75 years, so we’ve run way over their limit. We have school buses, loaded down with kids, crossing [them].”

Adventures of KM&G-Morris Follow /

After three years of meetings, Escambia County’s RESTORE Advisory Committee is out with its final rankings of projects seeking money from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.

The 124 projects were initially ranked last fall and re-ranked over the past few weeks. Committee member Christian Wagley says what stands out about the process of identifying the top-ranking projects, is that the community wants those which multitask.

While no official announcement has been made, there has been progress in nailing down dates for Pensacon 2017.  Pensacon Chairman Mike Ensley says they have moved forward with both the Pensacola Bay Center and the Pensacola Ice Flyers, with help from the Escambia County Commission and have come to the table to talk about the dates Pensacon wanted and how things could be arranged so they can be used. Ensley says it looks like the county is putting its money where its nerd culture is.

Santa Rosa Island Authority

After a decade on the job, Buck Lee retired earlier this month as Executive Director of the Santa Rosa Island Authority. He recently sat down with WUWF’s Dave Dunwoody to look back, and to look forward.

Did the takeovers of the Santa Rosa Island Authority’s Public Works and Public Safety Departments hasten your decision to step down?

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   After hearing from the public, the Escambia County Commission Thursday took another step towards building a new jail facility.

The Commission voted 4-1 on a motion to build on the L Street site of the damaged facility, while acquiring the nearby McDonald’s shopping center to make it larger to replace the existing County Jail. Commissioner Grover Robinson was the lone dissenter, favoring a different location.

Plans are to build a nearly 1,500 bed detention facility – but just where has been up for debate for nearly the 19 months since the gas explosion that totaled

The Escambia County Commission is instructing staff to move ahead in hiring a design firm to develop plans for a new county jail.

The commissioners’ wish list is for a nearly 1,500 bed facility to replace the Central Booking Facility that was damaged by an explosion in April of last year, along with other aging components of the county jail complex.

The Escambia County Commission met Thursday at the Pensacola Bay Center, for a workshop on how to distribute about $150 million related to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

This was the first opportunity the Commission had to sit down with the RESTORE Act Advisory Committee and the consultant hired to draft the multi-year implementation plan. Commissioner Grover Robinson says they asked the committee to revisit three areas. First up, tourism.

As of Friday, volunteers at Escambia Fire-Rescue’s Ferry Pass station are being joined by career firefighters.

The action’s based on a couple of residential fires on Good Friday. No truck from Ferry Pass, the closest station, responded to either because of a shortage of volunteer firefighters.

“Ferry Pass is one of our busiest stations, said Commissioner Grover Robinson, in whose District-4 the station sits. “In fact, we have about five other stations, if we added them all together, they would make as many calls as they do in Ferry Pass.”

DLR Group

Escambia County is negotiating with an architectural firm, to set the criteria for hiring a design and construction team to build a new county jail.

Talks are underway with Omaha, Nebraska-based DLR Group, as part of plans to replace the Central Booking Facility, which was destroyed by a gas explosion last April. Amy Lovoy, the county’s Financial Officer, says if all goes as planned the contract would be presented to the County Commission at its April 23rd meeting.

After waiting a few weeks, the Escambia County Commission on Thursday is expected to discuss which, if any,  Confederate flag should be displayed at the Pensacola Bay Center.

On a 4-1 vote in December, the Commission approved flying only the U.S. and the Florida state flags at the facility. The Confederate battle flag was taken down, along with those representing England, France and Spain.

Photo via Flickr// J. Stephen Conn

If one Escambia County Commissioner gets his way, the debate and a vote on which Confederate flag to display at the Pensacola Bay Center will cool its heels for the next month or so.

On a 4-1 vote in December, the Commission approved flying only the U.S. and the Florida state flags at the facility. The Confederate battle flag was taken down, along with those representing Britain, France and Spain.

Photo via Flickr//Andrew Magill /

An audit by the Internal Revenue Service of Escambia County’s payroll is resulting in changes for the county’s volunteer firefighters. That could result in fewer volunteers.

Escambia County Administrator Jack Brown says what started out as a routine audit on the 2012 tax year eventually focused on a number of county employees who moonlighted as volunteer firefighters

Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan is the main target of a complaint filed with the Florida Commission on Ethics, by former County Commissioner Gene Valentino. 

Valentino declined WUWF’s request to be interviewed, saying he prefers to wait until the Commission on Ethics takes up the case, which he believes will be next month or in February.

Filed in October, the complaint names Morgan in connection with three allegations.