Pensacola, Florida
Saturday December 16th 2017

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The Buzz 11/2/17

UWF Alumni Honored The University of West Florida Alumni Association recently held its awards and recognition program to honor Spirit of UWF and Alumni Awards recipients. UWF President Martha Saunders, Howard Reddy, interim vice president for university advancement, and Missy Grace, alumni relations director, and Lauren Loeffler, executive director of career development and community engagement, recognized the outstanding achievements and impact UWF alumni and community partners have had on the Northwest Florida region and beyond.

“Our alumni have gone out into the world and made us proud to be their University,” Saunders said. “We can look at what they have accomplished and know that UWF helped them get to where they are today. This was the first year we added the Spirit of UWF awards for our community partners. These men and women made UWF’s continued growth possible. I was honored to be part of the ceremony where we recognize what their support has meant to us.”

The Alumni Awards recognize those who excel in representing the UWF Alumni Association, the University, their respective communities and the 80,000 UWF alumni worldwide. Those eligible for nomination included UWF alumni, friends, faculty and staff.

The following alumni were named recipients of the Alumni Awards: Distinguished Alumnus -Dr. Chris Brill, Robert Spencer, Robert Turpin, Harrison Peters and Pam Giganti-Bunge; Outstanding Young Alumnus-Ashlee Carpentier; Honorary Alumnus-Joe Ambersley; and Chambered Nautilus of Merit-Hal Marcus.

Working on Criminal Justice Reform Escambia County Corrections Director Tamyra Jarvis and her staff presented three possible programs to reduce the inmate population, lower the number of inmates who return to jail and save taxpayers money during the first Public Safety Coordinating Council subcommittee meeting on Oct. 24.

They presented the Alternative Sanctioning Program, Day Reporting Community Corrections Program and a Jail Re-Entry Program, all of which the county lacks. Additionally, subcommittee chairman Escambia County Circuit Court Judge Tom Dannheisser proposed implementing a Fatherhood Initiative.

Most of the nearly 90-minute meeting at the M.C. Blanchard Judicial Building was spent discussing the Day Reporting program. It is a more intensive version of probation with inmates meeting with corrections staff three times a week and being offered education, job training and help with housing among other services.

The voluntary program initially could handle up to 80 inmates by a corrections department office staffed with two corrections officers, an administrator and administrative assistant. The program estimated to cost $60 per month per inmate would rely on a majority of its funding from grants. The corrections department plans to hire a grant writer.

With about 1,520 inmates today, Jarvis said the program would grow “over time.”

“Those who have more supervision seem to do better,” added Tammie Booker with corrections. “It makes them feel empowered to want to be successful.”

Dannheisser proposed to the subcommittee starting a Fatherhood Initiative. He pointed out more than half of youth in Escambia County lack fathers. He said it’s the main reason jail cells are bursting with inmates.

National studies and organizations support his assertion showing young men who grow up without fathers are twice as likely to end up in jail. Meanwhile, 70 percent of juveniles in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes.

“An intact family is the best anti-poverty, anti-crime system ever devised,” Dannheisser said. “It’s the elephant in the room. The numbers are undeniable.”

Win-Win vs. Win-Lose Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward still is a big supporter of the Florida Gulf Coast Marine Fisheries Hatchery and Enhancement Center at Bruce Beach.

“West of city hall is just taking off,” said the mayor on NewsRadio 1620 on Oct. 25. “From the Blount School property being redeveloped now to the A Street and its beautification to Corinne Jones to the fish hatchery enhancement center, they had created a piece of property that was just toxic for years and now we’re going to be able to have a great asset there for the community to enjoy along with education, and hopefully get some more dollars to have people on the water with kayaks, etc.”

He added, “I’m trying to figure out why this is not a good thing. No one can tell me that.”

Inweekly checked with the Escambia County Property Appraiser Chris Jones’ website. Even though the Pensacola City Council approved the sale of the Blount School property last summer, the mayor’s office has not closed on the deal. The city still owns the land.

The Corinne Jones pond continues to have engineering issues and washed out again during the heavy rains at the end of last month.

And after the Inweekly reported that soil tests have come back clean for Bruce Beach and no environmental remediation is in the construction documents, Mayor Hayward had to admit the city had done no environmental testing on Bruce Beach and no facts to support his “toxic” comment.

The mayor framed the discussion about relocating the fish hatchery to Port of Pensacola as a “win-lose” debate. However, Dan Lindemann, the local businessman who brought up that the hatchery lease agreement may be void, told Inweekly that he supports the hatchery but believes it should be moved to the Port of Pensacola.

Lindemann described the relocation as a “win-win” solution. The port has several vacant buildings. The Florida Wildlife and Fish Commission can save money on construction, and the Community Redevelopment Agency can figure out the highest and best use for the city’s last vacant property on Pensacola Bay.

Tourism Success Visit Pensacola recently held its annual meeting to mark the beginning of a new fiscal year for the organization and celebrate the recording-setting success of the fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30.

Visit Pensacola President Steve Hayes said, “Through the combined efforts of Visit Pensacola’s staff, tourism partners, and industry leaders, that increase is a direct reflection of the tourism industry’s collaborative effort.

The Pensacola Bay Area experienced a 30-percent jump in number of visitors, 2,073,381 people. Those visitors spent $787,186,547, 16 percent higher than last year. The total tourist development taxes collected were nearly $10.2 million, an 8-percent increase.

The Pensacola Bay Area Visitor Information Centers hosted 82,000 travelers and booked 239 events that resulted in 27,430 delegates and 35,339 room nights, valued at $35.3 million.

Nicole Stacey, the marketing director for Visit Pensacola, talked about the group bookings on “Pensacola Speaks.”

“The groups are calling every day, and we are saying you know come on down,” she said. “We want those small market groups like the H.O.G. Rally. Coming up next week we’re going to have 1,200 Harley-Davidson riders just cruising through town so we’re getting calls every day which is super exciting.”

To build on that momentum, incoming Board Chair Jason Nicholson, vice president of operations for Innisfree Hotels, relayed his goals for the upcoming year.

“My goal is to communicate to Escambia County what the role of tourism is and how it directly relates to our economy,” Nicholson said. “In telling our story, my hope is to develop meaningful relationships that in turn educate and promote all that the area has to offer.”

Key areas of focus in 2018 will be to continue to use data to drive business decisions and direction while focusing on service to increase business. As storytellers for the industry, the importance will be to continue developing relevant content with a focus on service to partners, the Pensacola Bay Area community and travelers to the destination.

“We want the community to be involved in telling our story,” said Stacey. “We want them to know exactly what Visit Pensacola is doing and why. We want people to know we’re working together to promote our piece of paradise.”

Re-usable Bag Legislation The League of Women Voters of the Pensacola Bay Area is hosting a talk by Holly Parker, Florida regional manager of the Surfrider Foundation, on upcoming legislation to deal with the use of disposable plastic bags and their effect on pollution in the ocean and along Florida coasts.

The talk will be held 6 p.m. on Nov. 8, at the Downtown Library, 239 N. Spring St. The public is encouraged to attend to learn about the issue. For information, email lwvpba@gmail.com.

Global Start-Up Weekend The fifth Startup Weekend Pensacola will take place Nov. 10-12 at the Cowork Annex in downtown Pensacola, in conjunction with Techstars Global Startup Weekend.

Just like previous events, Startup Weekend Pensacola 2017 will start with individuals pitching ideas they think could be the next big thing. Teams will form around the most popular ideas, and each team will spend the next two days developing a prototype, validating the business model and getting feedback from experienced entrepreneurs and experts.

This will be the first Startup Weekend Pensacola to take part in Techstars Global Startup Weekend, a global initiative with more than 15,000 participating entrepreneurs in over 50 countries. Attendees will get access to exclusive resources to help prep for success at Startup Weekend Pensacola and make connections with mentors and other startup teams. The winning team will receive helpful perks for building their startup as well as a showcase in Techstars global channels.

“In the two years since our last Startup Weekend, the entrepreneurial landscape in Pensacola has grown tremendously,” said Joe Vinson, an organizer of Startup Weekend Pensacola. “Being part of Global Startup Weekend is going to take this event to the next level.”

Startup veterans and mentors will be on hand throughout the weekend to provide expertise and give talks on their experience in the fast-paced world of technology startups and creative business.

Startup Weekend Pensacola is organized locally by a volunteer team of entrepreneurs and business professionals in the greater Pensacola area. This year’s venue, the Cowork Annex, is a beautiful, modern co-working space located in the recently renovated One Palafox Place complex.

For more information, email Pensacola@StartupWeekend.org.