Pensacola, Florida
Wednesday August 21st 2019

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The Buzz 3/14/19

Hubbs-SeaWorld Still Interested Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute CEO Don Kent last week wrote Inweekly to say the institute didn’t fall out of the fish hatchery project proposed for Pensacola by its choice.

Kent pointed out the institute had successfully worked in California with its Department of Fish and Wildlife and the recreational and commercial fishing communities to develop a hatchery replenishment program for several species of marine fish vital to the economy of the state and the quality of life of its citizens.

“Researchers from around the nation have recognized this multi-decadae-long effort as a model for how marine fisheries replenishment programs should be conducted,” he said.

He said that members of the Florida chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association and former Mayor Ashton Hayward visited their replenishment hatchery. The HSWRI attended numerous meetings and conferences in Florida and dedicated space at its Brevard County laboratory for use in collecting brood fish from the wild to support future hatchery work.

Kent visited Pensacola at least five times to meet with city staff and members of the community to begin planning the hatchery operation. He also developed a collaborative research agreement with the University of Western Florida to facilitate the use of the proposed laboratory by university faculty and students.

“HSWRI was never formally dismissed from the program,” he said. However, the institute was not allowed to be involved in planning or designing of the facility and were only shown diagrams of the proposed facility many months after others had developed them.

Kent added, “I feel it is important to let you know that HSWRI’s lack of involvement in the Pensacola hatchery project was outside our control and not what we wanted.”

He said that the HSWRI is still willing to assist Florida with the development of marine hatchery facilities but not without assurances “that our involvement would not be dismissed out of hand after so much effort had been expended.”

ST Scholarships ST Engineering has established a scholarship fund to promote aviation-related post-secondary education.

“The Pensacola Mayor’s Scholarship reflects ST Engineering’s long-term commitment to grow with the community that we operate in,” said Lim Serh Ghee, President of ST Engineering’s Aerospace sector. “Since we started setting up our presence in Pensacola in mid-2018, we have been dedicated to nurturing the local community such as by supporting young talents and helping them to secure a rewarding career in an industry that is set to grow robustly in tandem with rising air travel.”

The program will support outstanding individuals accepted into an aviation-related post-secondary educational program. Starting in 2020, scholarships will be awarded to four applicants annually from the Escambia County School District based on criteria including academic performance and financial needs. Successful applicants will each receive a scholarship amount of $2,500.

“ST Engineering continues to prove they want to positively impact our community and be part of it,” said Mayor Grover Robinson. “This scholarship shows ST Engineering’s commitment to providing educational resources to our citizens to grow in the aviation industry.”

New Ferry Operator The National Park Service and HMS Ferries, Inc. have signed a 10-year concessions contract for the operation of Pensacola Bay Cruises. HMS Ferries is the company that runs the ferry service that connects Fort Morgan and Dauphin Island in Mobile Bay.

HMS will immediately begin preparing for the 2019 season. Service startup date, schedule, prices and other details will be announced as soon as they are available. Tickets for regular service will be all-day hop-on, hop-off, and discounts may be offered for children, military, seniors, groups and frequent riders. Park entrance fees are waived for visitors arriving at Fort Pickens via Pensacola Bay Cruises.

“We’re excited to start working with HMS Ferries, Inc. and to see this wonderful opportunity return to Gulf Islands National Seashore this spring,” said Superintendent Dan Brown.

Pensacola Bay Cruises’ 150 passenger boats, named Turtle Runner and Pelican Perch, were built with funds received via a post-Deepwater Horizon oil spill settlement reached with BP.

HMS (Hornblower Maritime Services) has over 25 years of experience in the maritime industry, and currently operates boat cruises and ferries at locations across the country, including the Mobile Bay and Gees Bend ferries in Alabama and St. Johns River ferry in Jacksonville. They bring an experienced and capable team to the operation at Gulf Islands National Seashore and its community partners.

Westside Feedback The City of Pensacola’s Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) is seeking feedback on streetscape improvements to A, Reus and DeVilliers streets. The upgrades may include sidewalks, lighting, aesthetic and cultural enhancements, street trees, landscaping and bicycle facilities.

CRA will host a public workshop to receive input on plans and concepts at 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 19, at Pensacola City Hall in the Hagler Mason Conference Room on the second floor. A public comment period will open Tuesday, March 19, and will run for 30 days.

Written comments may be emailed to hgibson@cityofpensacola.com. Comments for consideration must be received by Friday, April 19.

Asphalt Removal Wraps Up Year three of the beach enhancement and asphalt removal project at Gulf Islands National Seashore has been completed. This year’s work began at Perdido Key in September 2018 and returned to Santa Rosa in mid-October. Approximately 520 cubic yards of asphalt fragments and road base material debris were removed this year from over 126 acres of the Santa Rosa Area.

This year’s work included multiple treatments of high visitor use areas where wind exposed additional debris. Onsite work wrapped up on Feb. 28 in time for shorebird nesting season. Demobilization of equipment and vehicles from Opal Beach will be completed by March 15.

The ongoing project, which also includes the Fort Pickens Area, removes asphalt pieces ranging from the size of large slabs to as small as a quarter of an inch in diameter and other road base materials. Work is only performed in the offseason while shorebirds and sea turtles are not nesting. Native vegetation damaged during the asphalt removal process is replaced, limiting the impact of removal activities on the park’s natural resources.

“Removing the broken asphalt and road base material from park beaches makes a huge visual impact for our visitors and helps restore the delicate beach habitat,” says Superintendent Dan Brown. “Once it is no longer part of the road, the broken, scattered asphalt it is much like litter and does not belong on our beautiful beaches. So, we’re doing our best to clean it up.”

Roadway debris has accumulated for more than 20 years following hurricanes and storms that destroyed and scattered portions of the park’s asphalt roads. The Beach Enhancement and Asphalt Removal project is a Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) Early Restoration project. The work is being paid for with funds provided by BP as part of a 2016 settlement agreement with federal and state governments to compensate the public for injuries to natural resources and recreational use caused by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

More information about other Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Early Restoration Projects can be found at gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov.

New Children’s Hospital Sacred Heart will celebrate the opening of the new four-story Studer Family Children’s Hospital later this month with a Community Open House from noon-4 p.m. Saturday, March 30.

Guests are invited to tour the new building. Children will receive free custom-fitted bicycle helmets, and parents can take advantage of free car seat safety checks. Additional activities for kids include a bounce house, games, character greetings and a visit from Children’s Hospital facility dog Sprout. Guests can also get an inside look at one of the Children’s Hospital’s specially-equipped pediatric ambulances. Local food trucks will be available.

Sacred Heart will commemorate the 50th anniversary since the founding of the Children’s Hospital with a ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony for the new facility at 10 a.m. Monday, April 1. Refreshments and tours will follow.

The new children’s hospital is located at 1 Bubba Watson Dr., part of Sacred Heart’s Ninth Avenue campus in Pensacola. Guests are advised to park in the Ninth Avenue parking garage.

The new children’s hospital will increase access to specialized pediatric care and consolidate inpatient pediatric services in one convenient location on Sacred Heart’s Pensacola campus. It will include a pediatric emergency department, 72-bed neonatal intensive care unit, medical/surgical beds, pediatric imaging department, pediatric satellite pharmacy, pediatric inpatient rehabilitation gym, child life playrooms and a new family-friendly dining venue.

For more information, visit studerfamilychildrenshospital.com.

Alzheimer’s Symposium On Wednesday, March 20, the Central and North Florida Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association will host a free educational and supportive event for caregivers, people with early-stage dementia, professionals and the community. Featuring keynote speaker Keith N. Fargo, Ph.D., the Research and Caregiver Symposium will be held at the Sanders Beach-Corinne Jones Resources Center, 913 S I St.

Sponsored in part by VITAS Healthcare, the program will begin at 9 a.m. and is expected to run through 3:30 p.m., with lunch being provided. There is no cost to attend, but registration is required. Please call 800-272-3900 to register.

Animal Welfare Summit Pensacola Humane Society will host a Regional Animal Welfare Summit in cooperation with Best Friends Animal Society and Jacksonville Humane Society at Skopelos at New World, 600 S. Palafox.

The summit will bring together leaders of animal welfare in Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton and Bay counties. Its purpose is to identify the unique needs and efforts within each community to increase life-saving outcomes. Under the leadership of Best Friends Animal Society and Jacksonville Humane Society Training Center, discussions will focus on county-specific data and present opportunities to develop potential partnerships, funding opportunities and community coalitions. Attendees are asked to bring their county-specific data for 2018.

The summit will take place on Wednesday, March 20, from 1-5 p.m. and Thursday, March 21, from 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. with lunch provided. All local rescue groups are invited to attend a Town Hall meeting from 5-5:45 p.m. following Wednesday’s summit. A reception open to the community will take place from 6-7 p.m. For details, visit pensacolahumane.org.

Readers Ensemble The African American Heritage Society and the Delta Iota Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority will present “An Evening with The Readers Ensemble,” on Saturday, March 23, at Voices of Pensacola Multicultural Center, 117 E. Government St.

This program will feature readings from “When Black Folks Was Colored” and a special tribute to the Harlem Renaissance.  Tributes will be paid to Pensacola literary legend Ms. Ora Wills and the phenomenal Grammarian Ms. Mamie Hixon, who were both editors of African American Heritage Society publications “When Black Folks Was Colored” and “Images in Black.”

There will be a reception that will begin at 4 p.m. followed by the program that will start at 5 p.m.  A suggested donation of $10 is appreciated to support this and other African American Heritage Society programs.

Mark Your Calendar The City of Pensacola will host the grand opening of Fire Station No. 3 at 4 p.m. Thursday, March 14, 750 Summit Blvd.

IMPACT 100 Pensacola Bay Area will announce its annual membership and reveal the total number of grants and amount of each grant to be awarded in 2019 at 4:30-6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 14, at Pensacola Yacht Club, 1897 Cypress St. The announcement will be made at 5:30 p.m.

League of Women Voters Pensacola Bay Area will host a discussion titled “Preventing Gun Violence in Our Area” at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, March 16, at Tryon Branch Library, 1200 Langley Ave. The panelists will be Rodney Jones, NAACP; Malcolm Thomas, Escambia County Schools; and Joshua Timo, Escambia County Sheriff Office. Coffee will be available at 10:15 a.m.

The City of Pensacola Parks and Recreation Department will celebrate the opening of the new inclusive playground at Hitzman-Optimist Park, 3221 Langley Ave. at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 16.