Pensacola, Florida
Saturday May 25th 2019

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The Buzz 2/21/19

Nomadic News You might have heard rumors, but we can now confirm that it’s officially official—Nomadic Eats is upgrading their location.

Randy Russell and his team will be moving from their regular spot at City Hall starting early next month.

“We’ve acquired the space where Revolver Records is currently. The idea is to expand the concept of Nomadic Eats, offering a casual but upscale space for inside dining… and to be used as an event space for people’s needs. The idea is to not build out a full restaurant with a kitchen, but to keep a casual atmosphere with the food truck there, but have a unique space for our guest to lounge in, along with lots more outdoor seating as well,” Russell told Inweekly.

Nomadic Eats says their first date serving at the new location will be Tuesday, March 5. They will also plan to be open Tuesday-Saturday at the new spot, which is a change from their current schedule.

And don’t worry about Revolver Records. They aren’t closing, they’re just moving to East Hill. They will soon be taking up residence inside the former City Grocery location along with Dolce and Gelato.

Andrade Town Hall State Representative Alex Andrade is set to host a town hall meeting at 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 26, at the Creative Learning Academy, 3151 Hyde Park Drive.

Rep. Andrade has invited local elected officials to discuss public infrastructure and multijurisdictional coordination. County Commissioner Robert Bender, Councilman Jared Moore, School Board Chairwoman Patty Hightower and ECUA Board Member Dale Perkins are scheduled to attend. Each official will speak on specific issues relating to their jurisdiction.

“Investments in public infrastructure is a constant concern in Escambia County. It is vitally important at the state, county and city level,” said Andrade.

OLF 8 Master Plan The Escambia County Commission decided to leave the zoning of the 640-acre Outlying Landing Field 8 in Beulah to the master planner at its Committee of the Whole on Thursday, Feb. 14.

None of the five members on the commission wanted to hinder future planning on the site they purchased from the U.S. Navy for more than $17 million. The commission has begun seeking bids from organizations interested in helping shape development of the site, which will include a commerce park, among other amenities.

District 1 Commissioner Jeff Bergosh, who represents the area, said the master planner should be allowed to come up with its own ideas.

“We need to go out there with a blank slate,” Bergosh said.

Doug Underhill, the District 2 commissioner, echoed Bergosh.

“We do not want to lay any constraints out,” Underhill said.

Additionally, the commissioners agreed to think outside the box on how it could begin to recoup the cost of owning the land until development is ready to start. For example, mowing could cost the county up to $115,000 a year, county staff reported.

District 4 Commissioner Robert Bender recommended finding out if 4-H youth clubs or other organizations would be interested in doing horticultural or other projects there.

Commission Chairman Lumon May, who represents District 3, agreed with Bender, “That’s very doable.”

Cash for Bowling The buyouts of the holdovers from the Hayward administration has begun. Former City Attorney Lysia Bowling, who has worked for the city of Pensacola since April 2015, was paid $91,588.33 to give up her post and become the Contract & Lease Counsel for the Financial Services Department.

The $91K consisted of severance compensation of 120-days’ pay as per the contract signed by former Mayor Hayward—$53,213.33 and 500 hours of accumulated PTO leave—and $38,375, also per her contract with Hayward. Inweekly also learned that Hayward increased Bowling’s severance package in August 2018, three months before he left office.

Bowling’s pay dropped, effective Jan. 14, from $159,640 to $102,460.

The Great Soccer Debate The Valentine’s Day public gallery was awash with waves of red and green for the Pensacola City Council meeting, with opponents of a planned soccer complex off of Langley Avenue wearing red and supporters of the project sporting the city league’s green jerseys.

Although council would not be formally discussing the issue Thursday, proponents and critics alike had plenty to say about the proposed complex. Youth soccer players and coaches implored the council to move ahead with the much-needed complex at Hitzman Park, while some residents of the surrounding Scenic Heights neighborhood contended the project would bring unwanted change to the area.

“We desperately need space for soccer,” said Ben Boyer, a coach with the city’s youth soccer league.

“This is just not the right location,” said Sharon Dickinson, a neighborhood resident who has helped lead the charge of opposition.

Pensacola is currently in talks with the YMCA on Langley to work out a deal in which the Y would swap its current facility and land for a chance to move over to the city’s Vickery Center near the Roger Scott Athletic Complex. The swap would allow for a three-field soccer complex to be built at the adjacent Hitzman park on Langley. The city recently announced a scaled-down version of its original proposal—smaller fields, less parking, fewer trees cut down—in hopes of addressing concerns being raised by the neighborhood.

Critics of the project, however, did not appear appeased by the prescribed changes to the plan. They decried a “rushed,” “one-sided” process and “lack of transparency.” They wondered why the city had veered away from an initially-proposed site for the complex off of Summit Boulevard. They don’t like the thought of the YMCA moving from the area. They pointed back to a 2005 episode, armed with old newspaper articles relaying how city officials at the time were determined not to locate a soccer complex at Hitzman.

Opponents of the project want the city council to return to the drawing board and figure out another location for the complex.

“I don’t know why this is not as disturbing to you as it is to me,” Jennifer Brahier, a neighborhood resident, told council.

Those in favor of the complex pointed to the city’s need for dedicated soccer fields in the face of rising participation in the sport. They noted that games are already played on the existing fields at Hitzman. They spoke about safety concerns due to the rutted, red-dirt conditions of the collective of football and baseball fields the league currently uses at Roger Scott.

Kenny Morgan, head coach for 25 years of Booker T. Washington High School’s women’s soccer team, told the council the area desperately needed the complex to better foster youth rising through the sport’s ranks. His daughter, Emily Morgan—a standout player in the area who went on to play at the college level—held her baby while her son danced in his green jersey beside her as she spoke about the impact such a complex would have on the sport and players locally.

“The impact of these fields is all-encompassing,” Morgan said. “Quality soccer fields are super important.”

Also speaking in support of the proposed complex was Buck Buckley, current president of the North Pensacola Optimist Club. He talked about the group’s founding of the park off of Langley in 1971 and how that development had also sparked concerns in the neighborhood.

“There were all sorts of people who protested it,” Buckley said. “It was gonna ruin the neighborhood.”

Immediately following Buckley was Scenic Heights resident Paulette Drasutis, “With this action, that will be the end of our lovely neighborhood.”

Ford Appointed Dr. Ken Ford and 14 others were named to the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence and have two years to produce a report for the president and Congress on the competitiveness of American technology.

Ford, CEO and co-founder of the Florida Institute of Human & Machine Cognition, is on the elite commission chaired by Eric Schmidt, a former Google CEO, other top executives from Oracle, Amazon and Microsoft, and technology, intelligence and defense government leaders.

The National Defense Authorization Act for 2019 created the independent federal commission. It is expected to review global advances, investments and strategies in artificial intelligence and related technology systems, evaluate foreign developments and investments in AI and recommend steps the United States might take to support its technological edge while ensuring national security and competitiveness.

Among its tasks, the commission will consider military uses of AI, review “ethical considerations” that may result from advances in AI technologies and evaluate opportunities to stimulate AI research and workforce development investments.

“I’m hoping we do something useful,” Ford said. “My contribution will mostly be as an AI researcher in a defense context.”

A recognized pioneer in machine cognition and AI systems, Ford brings insights into groundbreaking innovations in machine learning, cyber intelligence and security, robotics, sensory substitution and data mining.

“We move in fits and spurts,” Ford said of AI innovation. “We have quick progress, and then a slowdown and other areas take the lead.”

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio said he looks forward to the final report supported by $10 million in funding. An initial report is due in 90 days, with annual reports to come in August 2019 and 2020.

“America faces incredible challenges as technological advances upend our communities, disrupt our workplaces and threaten our national security,” the Miami Republican said in a press release.

FDOT Funds On Wednesday, Feb. 13, Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson received news from the Florida Department of Transportation that the city would receive an additional $20 million for Project Titan.

“I am proud to announce the City of Pensacola has secured the remaining funding for Project Titan, which will expand the Aviation Maintenance Overhaul Repair (MRO) campus at the Pensacola International Airport,” said Mayor Robinson in a press announcement.

“I am extremely thankful for Governor Ron DeSantis, DOT Secretary Kevin Thibault, DOT District Secretary Phillip Gainer and all else involved,” he continued. “I am excited for this transformational project to move forward.”

Earlier in the week, Mayor Robinson addressed Escambia County Commissioner Doug Underhill’s assertion that receiving $20 million from FDOT for Project Titan would drain money away from other regional efforts, such as sidewalk and streetlight upkeep.

“Here’s what Underhill knows and what got me so mad the other day—airport stuff does not come at the cost of any of the other things there,” Robinson said, clarifying that FDOT allocates aviation-specific funding. “That money does not put a drain on anything dealing with roads, bridges, safety or anything else. It is strictly there for airports.”

Pensacola-Ft. Lauderdale Connection Silver Airways began daily nonstop service between Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Pensacola International Airport on Wednesday, Feb. 13.

“We are very excited to be adding additional routes to our airport for our residents and business travelers,” said Mayor Grover Robinson. “This is great news for Pensacola, and we are thrilled to have another direct flight option for the residents and businesses located in the Pensacola and Greater Gulf Coast area.”

To complement the new service, Silver offers convenient connections beyond Fort Lauderdale to Key West and the Bahamas. Also, connections are available to destinations throughout the Caribbean and Latin America through Silver’s interline ticketing partners, including JetBlue, United, Avianca and Azul Brazilian Airlines.

“Adding nonstop service between South Florida and the Florida/Alabama Gulf Coast region is a natural addition to Silver’s already extensive Sunshine State route network,” said Silver Airways CEO Steve Rossum. “We’re thrilled to offer business, leisure and military travelers yet another affordable, convenient and time-saving way to fly within Florida versus driving.”

For complete details, visit silverairways.com.

Need A Bus? The Pensacola Blue Wahoos will select a local nonprofit organization to receive the team’s branded bus, a 1999 Champion Freightliner, through a social media giveaway. The Blue Wahoos have used the bus since their inaugural season in 2012.

Local nonprofits interested in entering their organization as a candidate to receive the bus should record a 30-second video explaining how they would use the bus and upload it to Facebook with the tag @bluewahoosbaseball. Organizations without video capabilities can submit a written letter explaining why they should be selected by email to communityrelations@bluewahoos.com. The team will accept submissions until Thursday, Feb. 28.

Heroes for Hope During Pensacon 2019, The Heroes for Hope charity stream will help raise funds to benefit local pediatric patients through Extra Life. Extra Life is a grassroots experience that mobilizes passionate gamers of all types to support local Children’s Miracle Network hospitals that treat sick and injured babies and children in their communities. Extra Lifers raise money throughout the year, culminating in an international, 24-hour fundraising and gaming marathon called Extra Life United.

All proceeds from Extra Life directly benefit 170 Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) hospitals across North America. The Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart is a CMN member. CMN hospitals treat babies and children with all types of illnesses, conditions and injuries, regardless of their family’s ability to pay.

“Last year, Heroes for Hope raised over $22,000 for the Studer Family Children’s Hospital,” said Carol Carlan, president of Sacred Heart Foundation. “We look forward to an even more successful year of collaboration with Pensacon, Extra Life and our partners at Heroes for Hope.

Supporters are invited to donate Twitch at twitch.tv/heroesforhope.

Mark Your Calendars Santa Rosa County Animal Services is offering a special feline adoption event now through Saturday, Feb. 23. All cats are available for adoption at no cost and are spayed or neutered, microchipped and vaccinated. The shelter is open for adoptions Monday through Friday from 11 a.m.- 4 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m.- 2 p.m. at 4451 Pine Forest Road in Milton.

The public is invited to attend a meeting at 6 p.m., Monday, Feb. 25, to provide input and ask questions about the new District 1 public library, which is expected to be constructed starting in 2020. The meeting will take place at Bellview Elementary School, 4425 Bellview Ave. District 1 Commissioner Jeff Bergosh, the Library Board of Governance and library staff will be in attendance.

Escambia County will host a Black History Month program and celebration 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, at the Brownsville Community Resource Center, 3200 W. De Soto St. The free event will feature performances from local youth, live entertainment, dancing, poetry readings, skits and exhibits celebrating Black History Month.