May Draws A Crowd
A couple hundred citizens packed the Brownsville Assembly of God Reception Hall on April 22 to be heard by their elected officials and community leaders on a myriad of issues from job training and crime, to activities for youth and dilapidating, abandoned schools in their neighborhoods.
The panel brought together for the District 3 Town Hall hosted by Escambia County Commission Chairman Lumon May included: Quint Studer, founder of Studer Group and co-owner of the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, representing the business community; Escambia County School District Superintendent Malcolm Thomas; Supervisor of Elections David Stafford; Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan; Rev. LuTimothy May, pastor of Friendship Baptist, and Rev. Lonnie Wesley, pastor of Greater Little Rock Baptist Church, both representing faith-based organizations; Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward; and U.S. District Court Chief Judge Casey Rogers.
A few testy questions centered around the use of closed schools for youth activities and the eyesores that many have become in District 3 neighborhoods.
Josh Womack, of the Harvesters Neighborhood Watch in the Cantonment area, asked why Superintendent Thomas and the school board refused to work with the community in 2012 on turning the old Ransom Middle School into a center for youth. He pointed out no community center exists in the area. “We are trying to do a youth center. Our kids don’t have anything. They have to come to Pensacola.”
Thomas said he didn’t recall anything about Womack’s proposal to use Ransom for the community. In an answer to another question from a Montclair mother, Thomas did promise the school district would partner with agencies to provide summer youth activities for children. “We are happy to partner with someone who wants to help our students.”
When asked about the future of the closed schools, Thomas said that he is taking action on all the properties, including demolishing the former 4-acre J. Lee Pickens School. He said the only place left to sell or take some other action on is the former district headquarters on Garden Street.
Beach Mouse Gets Safe Passage
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has designed four mice crossings on Perdido Key. There aren’t any safe ones for humans, but beach mice will have their own.
In a letter to the federal agency and Florida Department of Transportation, Michael Hamlin, ECUA Manager of Utilities Development, wrote that the crossings cause conflicts with all of its utilities at each of the four crossing locations, for a total of 12 conflicts. Preliminary estimates to relocate the utilities range from $500,000 to $1,000,000.
In his letter, Hamlin requested a meeting with FDOT and Fish & Wildlife to discuss design alternatives.
Town Hall Goes Digital
On Wednesday, April 23, the city of Pensacola held its first digital town hall meeting on the mayor’s official Facebook page. Drew Buchanan, an Air Force veteran who moved to Pensacola in late 2013, asked the first question at 10:09 a.m. The last reply from Mayor Ashton Hayward was posted at 9:48 p.m. to Brian David Smith, Jr. who had asked about a summer internship.
In all, a dozen questions were asked throughout the day, seven of which were answered by the mayor. The queries ranged from concerns over crime and downtown flooding, to how to attract retirees and a parade for the champion Pensacola Ice Flyers. Questions were answered in bunches throughout the day.
For Buchanan, his praise of the mayor and his three questions earned him a guest spot on the city’s Instagram page. The photographer moderated the city page over the weekend, posting photographs he had taken of city sights.