Santa Rosa County

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.”

Santa Rosa County is forging a partnership with the University of West Florida’s Haas Business Center to provide expanded economic analyses to county officials.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the project is for one year. Then it will be revisited to see if it needs tweaking.

WUWF Public Media

Santa Rosa and Okaloosa are among eight Florida counties in line to receive funding from the 'BearWise' program, to help reduce conflicts between bears and humans.

Bear populations in the state were up in 2015, the latest figures available from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), compared to the last estimate taken in 2002. There were roughly 120 bears in the western Panhandle of Florida – a 50 percent increase -- and nearly 1,100 in the eastern Panhandle – up 86 percent.

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.

As the debate continues over a new courthouse for Santa Rosa County, one county commissioner is weighing in with his own ideas about location, location, location. 

You’ve no doubt heard this before: when the courthouse opened in Milton, Babe Ruth was hitting homeruns and “The Jazz Singer,” with Al Jolson and not Neil Diamond, was in the theaters.

Dave Dunwoody / WUWF Public Media

More than half of Florida's active registered voters have already cast ballots ahead of Election Day. The others are now casting ballots, including voters in the western Panhandle.

Escambia County Supervisor of Elections David Stafford says as of midday, turnout was “brisk,” with about 33,000 votes cast since the polls opened at 7:00 a.m.  

Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media

Last month, Santa Rosa County voters approved a half-cent local option sales tax for infrastructure, but rejected a half-penny tax for construction of a new courthouse in downtown Milton.

The failure of the referendum means the courthouse issue is on hold as county leaders regroup.

When the last of the August 30 Primary ballots were counted the margin of defeat for the proposed courthouse sales tax was just 819 votes.

Sandra Averhart

On the Primary Election ballot in Santa Rosa County, voters are being asked to support two half cent local option sales taxes. Both would be collected for five years, with one aimed at generating funds for infrastructure and capital projects. The other proposed (half-penny) tax is the latest effort to raise funds for a new county courthouse.

Photo via Flickr// dawgfanjeff / https://flic.kr/p/fDtMgJ

Work is scheduled to get underway in the next few days, on restoring parts of Navarre Beach, by pumping sand from the Gulf of Mexico.

The firm Weeks Marine has been contracted to dredge and place 1.3 million cubic yards of sand onto the beach. Santa Rosa County Engineer Roger Blalock says the work will stretch from the border of Gulf Islands National Seashore to the west -- through Navarre Beach Marine Park to the east.

Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media

The last round of voting in Florida’s Presidential Preference Primary is set for this Tuesday, Mar. 15.  Early Voting in the state ended over the weekend. But, before it wrapped up, WUWF News caught up with a sampling of voters in Santa Rosa County. 

“I voted for Donald Trump,” said Pea Ridge resident Daniel Womack, who voted early at the Santa Supervisor of Elections Office on Saturday. He says ‘beyond all the rhetoric and antics’ he thinks Trump’s message reflects what a lot of Americans are feeling.

Sandra Averhart

Governor Rick Scott requested on Monday that President Obama issue a federal emergency declaration for Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties, in the wake of two tornadoes in as many weeks.

The Governor made the request after inspecting tornado damage in Century and Pensacola last week.

“The city’s going to do their job, the county’s going to do their job, the state’s going to do their job” said Scott. “And we’re going to make sure any resources we can get from the federal government, we make that happen.”

Santa Rosa County

Hunter Walker is wrapping up work as Santa Rosa County Administrator. In a final conversation with WUWF before leaving the post, he looked back at his 20 years on the job.

“Twenty years is a long time; that’s a generation,” said Walker. “The county’s changed a lot. I turned 65 in October so it seemed time.”

Walker has seen a lot of changes in Santa Rosa County during the past two decades, noting that the population was approaching 100,000 in the mid 1990’s, when he arrived. Now, approximately 163,000 people live in Santa Rosa.

NOAA

The 2015 Atlantic Hurricane season has come to a close. The six-month period wrapped up on Monday, November 30.

As expected, it was a relatively quiet year.

In line with forecasts projecting a slightly below average season, there were 11 named storms, with four of those becoming hurricanes.  

Florida made it through the season without a storm making landfall in the state, but there were a couple of close calls.

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