Escambia County Commission

Public comment is being gathered through early March on plans to remove sediments from Bayou Chico using funds from the BP oil spill settlement.

The draft plan includes $12.6 million from the Gulf Consortium for the Bayou Chico Contaminated Sediment Remediation Project.

Jeff Bergosh kicked off his year as Chairman of the Escambia County Commission last week. Before he took the gavel from outgoing chairman Doug Underhill, he sat down with WUWF’s Dave Dunwoody.

The new chairman, who also represents District-1, served for ten years on the county School Board and says his experiences on that panel was a great training ground for his new gig.

“Because of structure there, with the strong, elected superintendent,” said Bergosh. “Here, the lines are a little blurred because you have an administrator, but he’s actually an employee.”

One year after his election to the Escambia County Commission, Jeff Bergosh is preparing to take over the chairman’s seat. One of his first acts is aimed at the panel’s feud with county law enforcement.  

Bergosh will receive the gavel from outgoing Chairman Doug Underhill at Thursday’s Commission meeting. Almost immediately, Bergosh is expected to offer a proposal to resolve the funding issue with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office.

Plans for a land swap between Escambia County and the U.S. Navy are moving forward, after unanimous approval by the County Commission to continue the project. 

Initially, the Navy was to give the landing field near Navy Federal Credit Union to Escambia County. In turn, the county would spend $1.9 million to buy a 600-acre tract in Santa Rosa County near Ard Field Road.

Another five million was earmarked for getting that property up to speed as a landing field. That extra cost placed the deal in jeopardy, until Monday’s special meeting.

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

Escambia County Commissioner Grover Robinson announced Wednesday he will not seek re-election when his current term expires in 2018.

First elected to District-4 in 2006, Robinson recently stepped down from his second stint as chairman when Commissioner Doug Underhill took over in the rotation. So, why announce two years in advance?

“I’d like as much time as possible for good people in District-4 Escambia County to be able to figure out whether they want to seek election in two years,” said Robinson.

photo via Flickr// liz west /

More than 100 volunteer firefighters in Escambia County are set to receive some extra pay.

The Escambia County Commission is expected to approve a new stipend policy when it meets on Thursday. That would raise monthly payments of $200-$500 for Escambia County Fire-Rescue personnel who answer calls and meet basic requirements.

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].”

  The County Commission is expected to revisit debate on handing out revenue from the six-cent-per-gallon levy to the county, Pensacola, and the Town of Century for road paving and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“There’s been a formula between the city and county for a significant amount of time, and that formula every 10 years has to be renewed. We are at the time of that renewal,” said Escambia County Commission Chairman Grover Robinson. 

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

  Another step is taken in funding projects in Escambia County, with RESTORE Act money from the BP oil spill.

Two waterway restoration projects top the preliminary list submitted to the Escambia County RESTORE Advisory Committee, involving City Creek and Eleven Mile Creek Stream.

“Information that was provided for the criteria for the selection of projects was given to the public; [and] an application form was provided for them to fill out online,” said Mike Hanson, Project Manager for the consulting firm Dewberry, which ranked and scored the proposals.

  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.

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.

Escambia Fire Rescue

The Escambia County Commission is set to vote Thursday, on adding 12 career firefighter positions to staff Escambia Fire-Rescue’s Ferry Pass station.  

The nine enlisted and three lieutenant slots will cost an additional $375,000 in salary and benefits. The idea came about after two residential fires on Good Friday. Neither of which were answered by Ferry Pass, the closest station, because of a shortage of volunteer firefighters.

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.”