Pensacola, Florida
Thursday October 30th 2014

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Year In News: Headlines That Made A Mark

The IN took a look back at the headlines that drove the news cycles locally, nationally, and abroad in 2013. Though not comprehensive or listed in any particular order, the following are the stories that made waves and left their marks on our collective memories, at least here in our office. If you’re like us, there are several that may have slipped your busy mind by now—sorry Sequestration.

Local Headlines
The American Planning Association Names Palafox Street as one of its “10 Great Streets for 2013.” Selected for its historic architecture, plazas, wide sidewalks and medians, the APA noted that those elements added to improved business activity and added value to the community. The city celebrated with—what else—a street party and installing plaques along the Palafox Street sidewalks noting the honor.

Escambia County Assumes Control of the County Jail. On October 1, the county commission took over operation of the county jail from the Escambia County Sherriff’s Office. The takeover means the county will be responsible for bringing the jail into compliance with requirements stipulated by the U.S. Department of Justice as a result of their investigation into operations at the jail.

The Zimmerman Agency Swave Debacle. A new logo for the city—commonly referred to as the “Swave”—designed by The Zimmerman Agency, an ad agency hired to rebrand the city, became the focus of attention in early summer. City Administrator Bill Reynolds and the mayor’s Press Secretary Derek Cosson were fired and reassigned, respectively, and charged with non-criminal public records infractions for keeping the logo from the city council and the public. Cosson pled no contest and paid a $350 fine while Reynolds, who pled not guilty, was cleared of official charges and is now in the running for Escambia County Administrator.

YMCA at Community Maritime Park Negotiations Falls Flat. The early months of 2013 saw discussions among the city council, the mayor, the board of the Community Maritime Park Associates, and the community at large as to whether the Downtown YMCA should relocate to a waterfront parcel at the Community Maritime Park. Ultimately, the YMCA walked away from lease discussions after much procedural back and forth, and the CMPA board voting to allow the YMCA to build on non-waterfront parcels.

State Representative Clay Ford Dies. In March, Rep. Clay Ford succumbed to cancer. A Republican from Gulf Breeze, Ford was first elected to the State House of Representatives in 2007.  A special election for Ford’s District 2 seat on June 11 saw Republican Walter Bryan “Mike” Hill defeat Democrat Jeremy Lau.

University of West Florida Announces Football Program. UWF President Dr. Judy Bense announced in October a timetable for the establishment of the university’s football team. The university anticipates interviewing for and hiring a coaching staff in spring 2014. A full season of practices and scrimmages are planned for 2015 and the first games will be played fall 2016 at the Pensacola Bayfront Stadium.

The Escambia County Sherriff’s Office Makes National Headlines. Unfortunately, it was for two officer-involved shootings only a week apart. In August, two deputies fired 15 rounds at Roy Howard Middleton, who was unarmed, in his front yard, and only a week later two deputies entered a home without a warrant while pursuing a suspect and shot two of the owners’ dogs, killing one. An Escambia County grand jury determined no criminal charges should be filed against deputies involved in the Middleton shooting.

Visit Pensacola, Inc. Takes Over Tourism Marketing for the County. After public outcry in June over a 30-minute television ad that cost almost $290,000 changes came quickly for the Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce and its role in tourism marketing for the county. Visit Pensacola, Inc., a not for profit organization incorporated in August, is taking over those duties from the chamber, funded by county bed tax monies, a change which the county commission approved on Dec. 5.

BP Money Allotted for Escambia County. In May, Florida Governor Rick Scott announced that $58 million from BP’s National Resources Damage Assessment fines for the 2010 oil spill were allotted to projects in the state. Over half of the money was allotted to Escambia County, approximately $20 million for a Gulf Coast Marine Fisheries Hatchery and approximately $11 million for a Pensacola Bay Living Shoreline project. Environmentalists raised concerns about the hatchery project at a public meeting in September. A public review comment period for the project ends January 28, 2014.

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National Headlines
George Zimmerman Found Not Guilty
Alex Snowden Leaks Information about the NSA, Remains in Exile
50th Anniversary of the JFK Assassination
Obamacare Website Launches (and then crashes)
Sequestration
Supreme Court DOMA Ruling
Mass Shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C.
Gun Control Legislation Died in U.S. Senate
President Barack Obama Inaugurated for a Second Term
Boston Marathon Bombing
Tornado in Moore, Oklahoma

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International Headlines
Pope Benedict XVI Resigned, Argentina’s Jorge Mario Bergoglio/Pope Francis Succeeds Him
Britain’s Royal Baby Born, Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge
North Korea Conducted Third Underground Nuclear Test
Typhoon Haiyan Devastates the Philippines
Malala Yousafzai Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize
Syrian Civil War
Iran Agrees to Limit Nuclear Development Program
Meteor Strikes Russia
Over 1,100 Die in Bangladesh Factory Collapse
Chinese Spacecraft Chang’e Lands on the Moon