Sandra Averhart

News Director

Sandra Averhart has been News Director at WUWF since 1996. Her first job in broadcasting was with (then) Pensacola radio station WOWW107-FM, where she worked 11 years.  Sandra, who is a native of Pensacola, earned her B.S. in Communication from Florida State University.

For several years, Sandra was co-host of “Inside UWF” on WUWF TV. Also, she has partnered with WSRE TV to serve as co-host of their “Rally” candidate forums, most recently in 2012. Sandra also lends her voice to the University of West Florida athletics program.  She has worked as public address announcer for Men’s and Women’s Basketball, and continues to “work the mic” at UWF Volleyball and Softball games. Along the way, she has been P-A announcer for four NCAA Division II national championships, to include two each in volleyball and softball.

In her spare time, Sandra continues to enjoy playing softball. She lives in Milton with her husband Charles and two dogs, Beau and Mollie.

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Students across Northwest Florida are heading back to school. The first day of classes is this Monday, August 13.

To get an update on readiness in the Escambia County School District, WUWF caught up with Superintendent Malcolm Thomas last Friday as preparation for the new school year were wrapping up.

General Readiness

Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media

There are five candidates vying for the open seat in the Florida House of Representatives District 1, encompassing the vast majority of Escambia County.  Political newcomer Franscine Mathis is one of two Democrats in the race.

Like some of her opponents, Mathis is from the Pensacola area. She has three grown children.

“I’m a proud Army mom,” Mathis said, referring to the fact that both of her sons are now serving in the Army. Her daughter is attending college.

Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media

In recent years, it’s been pretty rare in Northwest Florida to have Democratic candidates squaring off in a state level primary election. But, this year, there are two running for the Florida House of Representatives District 1, which covers most of Escambia County.

The race includes political newcomer Vikki Garrett, a native of the area, who earned bachelor and masters’ degrees from the University of West Florida.

Garrett is making her first run for political office and hoping to take advantage of her decades of experience in transportation planning and engineering.

Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media

The wide-open race for Florida House of Representatives District 1, which covers most of Escambia County, features two Democrats and three Republicans. WUWF recently invited GOP candidate Rebekah Bydlak to discuss her bid for the seat.

As a ninth generation native of the community, Bydlak’s run for House District 1 is personal, as she notes with a bit of family trivia.

Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media

With incumbent Clay Ingram unable to run for reelection due to term limits, the District 1 seat in the Florida House of Representatives is up for grabs. There are five candidates vying for the office.

Mike Hill, one of three Republicans in the race, is seeking to return to the state legislature.

An Air Force veteran and local businessman, Hill served three years in the Florida House.

He won a special election in 2013 following the death of then Dist. 2 Rep. Clay Ford.  In 2016, he lost a contentious race for the state senate.

Florida Department of Transportation

The Florida Department of Transportation took time out this week to address the many questions and concerns that have arisen following news of cracks in the concrete of the new Pensacola Bay Bridge.

AARP

Alzheimer’s research is getting a boost from the American Association of Retired Persons, which recently announced a major financial commitment to help put development of new drugs on a fast track.

“Alzheimer’s is a 100% fatal disease,” said AARP Florida spokesperson Dave Bruns, referencing the fact that there is currently no cure or treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. “So, this is among the grimmest diagnoses that one can receive and it ranks among AARP members as one of their top fears.”

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Education officials across Florida are digging into the details of their school and district grades for the 2017-18 school year to see where they can make improvements when classes resume this fall.

The Florida Department of Education released the grades on June 27.

Florida now has more than 1,000 “A” schools (1,027 schools) up from 987 in 2017 and 763 in 2016. The percentage of schools earning an "A" increased to 32 percent, up from 30 percent in 2016-17.

Jazz Pensacola

Jazz Pensacola is collaborating with the West Florida Public Library to present a Jazz Film Series on Sundays throughout July.

The series features four films that were all released between 1955 and 1961. One is a fictional story, but the others are biopics, chronicling the lives of three musicians who were contemporaries and each became famous in the 1930’s and 40’s. 

“The first one is this Sunday and it’s The Benny Goodman Story,” said Jazz Pensacola co-founder and jazz aficionado Norman Vickers, who helped to pull the series together.

Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media

The University of West Florida conducted excavations this summer at the Arcadia Mill Archaeological Site in Milton.

This latest round of research aims to add to the story of the Arcadia Mill Homestead, with a focus on the enslaved people who worked and lived there.

UWF Innovation Institute

The University of West Florida is now offering its newest massive open online course (MOOC), Cross-Cultural Competency.

The nationwide course tackles sensitive subjects and helps participants learn how to navigate diverse people and environments encountered in their daily lives.

Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media

State and local officials have unveiled plans to improve safety along Cervantes Street in Pensacola. The first step is the installation of new lighting along the roadway.

“And, today we’re making the announcement that a two-and-a-half mile stretch is going to be lighted with 72 lights and it started today,” declared state Senator Doug Broxson of Gulf Breeze.

He made the announcement at a news conference Tuesday morning at the Brownsville Community Center as dozens of neighborhood children looked on.

Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media

Pensacola native Daniel “Chappie” James, Jr. rose to become the nation’s first African American four-star general. Now, the property where he grew up is now home to a museum and flight academy honoring his legacy.

Downtown Improvement Board

First, it was Spanish foodways, highlighting the discovery of the 1559 Luna Settlement.

This year’s Pensacola Repast dinner, held last month by the Downtown Improvement Board, explored the multicultural influences of what was cooking here two centuries ago, during the Early American period in the 1800’s.

University of West Florida

One of the ways Pensacola’s cultural heritage is celebrated is through the individual people who lived here generations ago.

A recent event highlighted the city’s culinary history through the lives of four unique and diverse women who made Pensacola their home in the early 1800’s.

We’re getting to know Victoire Le Sassier, Marianna Bonifay, Dorothy Walton, and Genevieve Ham. Their stories were featured during the 2018 Pensacola Repast event held May 6, downtown. 

Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media

The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season is now officially underway. The six-month season runs from June 1 to November 30.

This year, emergency managers across Florida didn’t have to wait until June to deal with a tropical event as Subtropical Storm Alberto showered much of the state with rain as it tracked toward the Pensacola area for several days before drifting eastward and making a Monday landfall in Panama City.

Santa Rosa Island Authority

Three weeks into the 2018 season, the first sea turtle nests soon will begin to appear on area beaches.

Locally, Gulf Islands National Seashore is responsible for protecting and managing nests within the seashore and on Pensacola Beach. This year, GINS is implementing new sea turtle nesting protocols that limit human interaction.

Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media

Second grade students from four Escambia County elementary schools were invited to the University of West Florida Aquatic Center recently to get a lesson in basic water safety skills.

What they learned could potentially save their life or someone else’s.

Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media

The EscaRosa Coalition on the Homeless is no more. The agency has gotten a makeover, with a new name and a slightly new mission.

It’s now called Opening Doors Northwest Florida.

“The new name embodies being more open, not only for those that are homeless, making access to our organization more readily accessible,” said John Johnson, executive director. It also represents a focus on doing a better job serving the agency’s entire coverage area in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.

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