Escambia County

Photo Courtesy of Achieve Escambia

The Escambia County Commission is holding a public hearing Thursday to discuss whether to move forward with a proposed referendum that would authorize a county-wide tax and governing board focused on the health and well-being of children.

The ballot measure provides for a half-mill levy that would raise nearly $8 million a year for 10 years to fund a Children’s Services Council to be known as the Escambia Children’s Trust.

Photo courtesy of Escambia County

Ten years ago, the Deepwater Horizon/BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico became one of the nation’s worst environmental disasters.  The spill started after the explosion on April 20, but it was around this time in June that the oil began to show up on Escambia County beaches.

This week, WUWF is beginning a series of reports marking the 10th anniversary of the spill.

Photo courtesy of University of West Florida

To date, Escambia County high school seniors have qualified for nearly $1.9 million in federal student aid for the current year. That’s a slight increase over last year, despite the fact that this year’s push to increase applications was interrupted by the coronavirus outbreak.

Photo courtesy of Escambia County

Pensacola Beach now has a rare, endangered Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle nest. It marks the third nest this season on the Escambia County shoreline.The female came ashore to nest on Tuesday morning, giving some Pensacola Beach visitors an exciting - yet unusual - daytime sight.

A short video captured the nesting as beachgoers quietly watched.

Alan Levine/Flickr

Local businesses hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic can get some help, through a new program that’s getting underway this month.

It’s the Escambia County Small Business COVID-19 Recovery Grant Program, and the list of participants reads like a “who’s who” of local economic development; the county, city of Pensacola, University of West Florida’s Small Business Development Center, the Pensacola Chamber of Commerce, and Florida West – where Scott Luth is CEO.

Escambia County

When Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order Wednesday for Florida residents to stay at home to help stop the spread of coronavirus, it sparked more questions than answers. On Thursday, Escambia County officials held a press conference to explain what it actually means.

Essentially, their conclusion is that nothing has changed.

“Walk, bike, hike, fish, hunt, run, swim. You can go to the bank, go to the pharmacy, vet, or go to the doctor, if “teledoc” is not available,” said Escambia County Commissioner Robert Bender.

Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media

Escambia County is another step closer to implementation of all-electronic toll collection at the Bob Sykes Bridge Toll Plaza.

With District 2 Commissioner Doug Underhill absent, the board voted 3-1 to approve an agreement with the Florida Department of Transportation for the SunPass and toll-by-plate system, with all-electronic operation to begin in April.

The move aims to ease traffic congestion on Pensacola Beach, but there are ongoing concerns cashless tolls will become a barrier for some.

Records from Escambia County government are in the hands of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, as part of an ongoing investigation. 

The probe began earlier this year, focusing on the Emergency Medical Services division of the Public Safety Department. At issue, allegations by county medical director Dr. Rayme Edler that at least five EMS employees had falsified training documents.

Florida Department of Transportation

Time is running out for area residents to weigh in with their suggestions for naming the new Pensacola Bay Bridge. The joint naming committee, formed by Escambia County and the City of Gulf Breeze, will be taking suggestions until the close of business this Monday, June 3.

Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media

About six months after the departure of Jack Brown, the Escambia County Board of Commissioners have hired a new administrator. Pending contract negotiations, Janice Gilley is expected to take over as the county’s top executive this summer.

It’ll be her second go-round with the county and, yet again, she’ll be coming in at a difficult time.

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

The first of what’s expected to be a long-term study of homelessness in the Pensacola area kicked off last week, bringing together civic leaders and representatives from local non-profit organizations.

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

Community leaders and local non-profits are scheduled to gather on April 5 for a summit on the homeless and how to enforce laws governing panhandling.

The summit is the brainchild of Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson and Escambia County Commission Chairman Lumon May. At his weekly news conference Monday, Robinson said such an event hinges on the organizations who serve the homeless.

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

Ten Pensacola residents are circulating petitions, which would allow voters to decide if $5 million in tax money should go to the ST Engineering expansion project.

At issue, an interlocal vote by the Pensacola City Council and Escambia County Commission approving the award.

The group Citizens against Corporate Welfare hopes to collect at least 4,055 signatures within a 60-day period to force a referendum. That’s 10 percent of Pensacola’s registered voters as required by the city charter.

Teniade Broughton

A group of Pensacola area citizens is now looking to the next phase of their effort to memorialize the lynching victims in Escambia County.

It is through the Equal Justice Initiative Community Remembrance Project that lynching victims here and across the country are being recognized. 

It’s part of a multi-faceted campaign by EJI and its director, attorney Bryan Stevenson to tell the true history of racial injustice in America.

Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media

Achieve Escambia recently released its 2018 report card and set some audacious community goals for improvement, beginning with school readiness.