News

Gerald Herbert/AP

Cleanup continues from Hurricane Michael, which hit 10 Panhandle counties in October, leaving nearly seven times the debris of Hurricane Irma, which barreled across 45 counties in 2017.

“Irma got tremendous publicity all over the country; they had a million and a half [cubic] yards of debris,” says State Sen. Doug Broxson, (R-Gulf Breeze). “We’re about halfway through Michael and it’s already up to 25 million yards.”

Broxson, who chairs the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, says Michael’s final debris total could approach 70 million cubic yards.

myescambia.com

High school students get involved in a number of ways: Student government, band, and sports. But Escambia has a new initiative to inspire high schoolers to get involved in local government. WUWF reporter Abigail Megginson has more on the County’s New Youth Commission.

Before students turn 18, it can be difficult for them to get involved in politics. But Escambia’s new youth commission is trying to change that for its younger residents. In the 2019-20 academic year, 10 students from across the county will participate in the council.

nasa.gov

The sole lunar eclipse for 2019 is this weekend, and will look larger – and redder -- than usual.

That something extra – a lunar trifecta -- combines a “supermoon,” a “wolf moon,” and a “blood moon” to create a “super blood wolf moon.”

Governor's Press Office

Governor Ron DeSantis and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long returned to Northwest Florida this week, as the region continues its recovery from Hurricane Michael.

Among their stops, DeSantis and Long toured Tyndall Air Force Base and the tiny coastal town on Mexico Beach, the latter mostly destroyed by Michael.

CBS News

Along with their fellow Americans, Floridians and Pensacola-area residents are feeling the effects of the partial shutdown of the federal government. The Haas Business Center at UWF is studying those effects.

At this point, Haas has modeled up to 25 days of the shutdown, showing more than 7,100 jobs in Florida now idled.

Jennie McKeon / WUWF

Almost five years after the explosion that damaged the Escambia County Jail’s Central Booking Facility, work is now underway on razing and replacing the building.

A ceremony was held Wednesday at the facility to provide closure.

“I think that April 2014 – especially if you worked for the county – I think everyone knows where they were that night when this happened,” said Acting County Administrator Amy Lovoy, who welcomed the gathering on a sunny but cool, breezy morning at what was left of the booking facility.

Jennie McKeon / WUWF Public Media

Since 2008, the Gulf Coast Citizen Diplomacy Council, a program of the U.S. Department of State, has brought a steady flow of international visitors to Pensacola.  A recent delegation has included a contingent of 15 women journalists from Pakistan.

While in Pensacola, the group visited the studios of WUWF Public Media.

Savannah Vasquez

People visit Destin and South Walton primarily for the beaches.

But local governments are finding there’s little public access to its No. 1 asset. Now, they’re tasked with buying beachfront properties for visitors to enjoy.

The City of Destin has 13 beach access points. Eleven of those are city-owned, one is county-owned and one is owned by the state. Most of them provide only limited access to the beach creating a problem for visitors who want to enjoy the Emerald Coast.

ECAT

Escambia County Area Transit is kicking off an expanded local service in North Escambia County next month.

Beginning February 20, a smaller vehicle that can hold up to ten passengers will provide an “on demand” service for special-needs riders living in the area north of Quintette Road. ECAT spokeswoman Linda Roush says it’s called “Para-Transit.”

“It allows people with disabilities; an easier opportunity to get to appointments, or medications they may need or groceries they need to get,” says Roush. “And it’s really a door-to-door kind of service.”

Legislation filed at the state Capitol for the 2019 session would repeal a state law, which limited marriage to opposite-sex couples.

House Bill 6009 and Senate Bill 254 would strike the unenforceable law – limiting marriage to a union of one man and one woman - from the books. Senator Gary Farmer, a Democrat from Ft. Lauderdale, is a co-sponsor.

“It is our hope that in repealing this antiquated law, we give recognition to the power of love and the right that every person has, regardless of their sexual orientation, to express that love,” said Farmer.

Council on Aging NWFL

Northwest Florida’s Council on Aging is back this winter with its annual collection and distribution of space heaters to low-income seniors.

And for now, demand is outstripping supply.

“It was sort of an unseasonably warm Christmas, so it wasn’t really an emergency for us,” said CoA spokesman Josh Newby. “But as the temperatures are dipping down into the 30s overnight, we’ve realized that this is still a need.”

Bob Barrett / WUWF News

The Belmont DeVilliers neighborhood will become a permanent stop on the Mississippi Blues Trail this week, with the unveiling of a historic marker at that Pensacola intersection.

"The Blues is life!" said Kamel King, the Bureau Manager for Visit Mississippi and Director of the Mississippi Blues Trail. "The Blues is the Earthly, organic demonstration of what life is. Whether it's slow or it's fast, or whether it's contemporary or traditional, it is really just original storytelling of how life really is for the person behind the mic."

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

The partial shutdown of the federal government; Pensacola’s homeless and ST Aerospace were among the topics at Mayor Grover Robinson’s weekly meeting with the media on Monday.

Robinson said at this particular time, they are not expecting any effects on the city by the shutdown, which is now in its fourth week.

“Now, if the shutdown continues further than February, we will have significant impact at that point; we will begin to see impacts,” said the Mayor.

Not so much the city operations, says Robinson, but more in areas such as housing.

fightcancersupport.org

Creating new benefits for first responders dealing with job-related cancers is among the top legislative goals of Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis when the 2019 session kicks off in March.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, firefighters are at a 15 percent higher risk of cancer compared to the general population. Nationwide, Patronis says, cancer was listed as the cause of death for 70 percent of firefighters dying in the line of duty in 2016.

Governor Ron DeSantis has suspended Okaloosa County School Superintendent Mary Beth Jackson.

The governor made the announcement during a short news briefing this Friday morning in Tallahassee.

“As you remember there have been several grand jury reports that have been very scathing about her conduct and her dereliction of duty,” said DeSantis in reference to the investigation into Jackson’s handling of a 2016 report of alleged child abuse involving a six-year-old autistic boy at Kenwood Elementary School.

Jennie McKeon / WUWF

An estimated 1.4 million former felons in Florida became eligible to register to vote on Tuesday, thanks to the passage of constitutional Amendment 4.

On that first day of implementation, Pensacola resident Tranassa White marked the milestone day by completing her voter registration application - in person - at the Escambia County Supervisor of Elections Office.

Walking in, White admits she’s a bit nervous, “I am.”

While most of the Inauguration Day hoopla surrounded new Gov. Ron DeSantis, members of his cabinet were also sworn in on Tuesday.

Prior to DeSantis taking his oath, Attorney General Ashley Moody, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and returning Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis were sworn in to begin their four-year terms on the state Cabinet.

Moody, a former Hillsborough County judge replaces term-limited Pam Bondi as the state’s top legal officer.

Navy Federal Credit Union

An offer by Navy Federal Credit Union to purchase land next to its campus in Beulah could mean new jobs and a leg up in acquiring BP oil spill money.

Navy Federal is offering $4.2 million for the 100-acre parcel, a part of what was known as Outlying Landing Field,  OLF-8, for choppers flying in and out of NAS Whiting Field. Spokesman Bill Pearson says it’s an opportunity to finalize their campus build-out project.

Ron DeSantis Facebook page

Former U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis was sworn in as Florida's new governor on Tuesday, as Republicans begin their third decade dominating the state's Capitol.

On a mild, sunny midwinter day at the Old Capitol in Tallahassee, Ronald Dion DeSantis placed his left hand on the Bible, raised his right hand, and repeated the 63-word oath of office as Florida’s 46th governor. Drawing on his naval career during his 16-minute address, DeSantis promised he would not be a “rudderless vessel.”

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