Santa Rosa County

Santa Rosa County

Recycling in Santa Rosa County has been a complicated issue for almost two years. Now, with a new subscription-based recycling program, the county’s environmental supervisor, Andrew Hill, says he’s optimistic this approach will lead to better recycling habits.

Despite the addition of distribution sites for the COVID-19 vaccine, Florida’s crush in demand has made it difficult to land a coveted appointment.

Locally, there’s hope that a planned statewide appointment system, and more doses, will ease what’s been a frustrating process for seniors and local officials trying to get the vaccine to them.

President Donald Trump has declared a major disaster exists in Escambia County from Hurricane Sally. But the declaration does not mention assistance for individuals.

The declaration provides funding for public damage —roads, bridges, public facilities, and debris removal, among others. At last check Escambia has about $183 million in such damages. The sticking point is that it does not yet include provision for individual or household assistance.

Primary Election Live Blog

Aug 18, 2020

Aug. 18 is the Florida Primary. We'll share live election results in state and local races from Escambia, Santa Rosa, and Okaloosa Counties. Polls close at 7 p.m. You can also hear live results online by tuning in to 88.1 FM.

U.S. Congress District 1

Winner will face Democratic candidate Phil Ehr in November

Matt Gaetz (Incumbent) Winner

Greg Merk

John Mills

Florida Legislature: 

State House District 1: 


Mike Hill (Incumbent)

Michelle Salzman Winner


Francine Mathis Winner

Barbara Scott-Shouse

State House District 2:

Winner to face Democrat Diane Krumel in November

Rep:  Alex Andrade (Incumbent) Winner

Chris Dosev

State House District 4:

Winner to face write-in candidate John Plante

Rep:  Sandra L. Atkinson

Jeff Hinkle

Patt Maney Winner

Jonathan Michael Tallman

Florida Division of Emergency Management

And we're off!

The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season has officially begun and families are again being advised to prepare in the event of a storm. However, things this year are just a bit different.

“We are switching gears and telling everybody that we don’t know (what the situation will be) with the COVID, so you probably ought to plan for seven days.”

Leah Thornton

Florida Forest Service firefighters continue to reinforce containment lines and mop up hot spots of the 2,215-acre Five Mile Swamp Fire. Tuesday morning, FFS reported the fire was 90% contained. 

Monday’s red flag warning has expired, but Blackwater Forestry Center spokesman Joe Zwierzchowski says the weather continues to be a challenge.

“It’s still dry, still dangerous,” he said. “We want people to be cautious until we see some decent rainfall.”

Blackwater Forestry Service

The Five Mile Swamp fire 75% contained, a week after it started.

The fire reached a total of 2,215 acres, said Joe Zwierzchowski of the Forestry Service’s Blackwater office. 

While it is an improvement, Zwierzchowski said the area’s red flag warning – meaning high temperatures, low humidity and stronger winds – has firefighters still working harder to extinguish flames and prevent further spreading. 

“What we are doing to mitigate is we have firefighters within 50 feet of the containment line smoldering hot spots,” said Zwierzchowski.

Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services

A private company with permission to conduct a controlled burn this week in Santa Rosa County could be hit with a hefty price tag for letting the fire get out of control.

At 9 p.m. Wednesday, the Monday fire, named the Five Mile Swamp fire, had consumed 2,000 acres of land in central Santa Rosa County, destroyed a dozen homes and damaged several other structures.

The Geo Group

With four inmate deaths due to coronavirus and more than confirmed 50 cases, Blackwater River Correctional Facility in Santa Rosa County has been the epicenter of the outbreak in the Florida prison system. The privately-operated prison is now second to Tomoka Correctional Institution, which 54 COVID-19 cases.

Jennie McKeon / WUWF

Santa Rosa County officials on Friday closed Navarre Beach in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19. In addition, the county ordered all restaurants to sell food by takeout or delivery. 

It was a reversal of an announcement Thursday afternoon that the beach would remain open.

Santa Rosa County

The beaches of Santa Rosa County remain open. County officials said the beaches will remain open as long as the public follows the guidelines of social distancing. That means groups no larger than 10 people can congregate.

At a news conference Thursday afternoon in Milton, Dan Schebler, county administrator said the decision to keep the beaches open will be reassessed daily. Deputies with the Sheriff’s Office will monitor the situation to make sure beachgoers keep apart a healthy distance.

Santa Rosa County

After two hours of public comments, the board of Santa Rosa County Commissioners voted 4-1 Monday to take on a resolution that would make the county a “pro-life sanctuary.”

Residents, pastors, and staff from local pregnancy resource centers lined up to share their views, a majority of them were in favor of the resolution and dismayed at Board Chairman Don Salter, who blocked the resolution from being placed on Monday’s agenda, because it was “too controversial and above the county’s purview,” he told Pensacola News Journal. Salter was the lone “no” vote.

Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media

The Santa Rosa County Commission is ready to approve an all-new group of appointees to the county’s zoning board. The new members will get right to work, with a new formal set of ground-rules.

Commissioners are appointing an entirely new zoning board, three weeks after controversial remarks by three members prompted commissioners to dismiss all 10 individuals from that advisory committee, and any other committees on which they served.

Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media

District 3 state Representative Jayer Williamson is pitching the idea of transferring jurisdiction over Woodbine Road in Pace from Santa Rosa County to the Florida Department of Transportation.

A Hope of Santa Rosa County

Earlier this month two nonprofit organizations, A Hope of Santa Rosa County and Panhandle Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), hosted a clinic offering inexpensive microchips and rabies vaccines — and they were met with a long line of animal owners.

“We did 260 rabies vaccines and 150 microchips,” said Brandi Winkleman, executive director for A Hope. “The only reason we didn’t do more was because we ran out.”