Pensacola, Florida
Tuesday July 23rd 2019

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The Buzz 5/2/19

Bedlam Hours The Pensacola City Council last Thursday approved an ordinance that would force Bedlam, the city’s only bottle club, to close at 3 a.m. rather than at 5 a.m., which it has done for the past 28 years. For the measure to become law, it will have to pass a second council vote in May.

Attorney Joe Hammons, who represented Bedlam owner George Overby, told the council, “Bedlam is open two days a week between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.  If you close him at 3 [a.m.], you’re essentially taking away the operation of the business.”

He pointed out that Overby has cooperated with local authorities and has hired off-duty police officers to provide security when the bar begins to shut down around 4:30 a.m. The attorney said the statistics show there’s no difference in the number of incidences between 4 and 5 a.m. than 2-3 a.m. or 1-2 a.m. He added, “It doesn’t make sense just to target the bottle club.”

The sponsor of the ordinance, Councilwoman Ann Hill, said she felt it was important for Bedlam to “make its hours fit into the safety concerns of the community.” Hill said she heard complaints about Bedlam from residents of Southtowne, the apartment complex that opened nearby in early 2018, during a town hall meeting in December.

Councilwoman Sherri Myers was the lone vote against the ordinance, citing she felt it wasn’t fair to target one business. Councilmen P.C. Wu and Gerald Wingate didn’t attend the meeting.

United Way Expands On Thursday, April 25, United Way of Escambia County’s Board of Directors approved a motion to incorporate Santa Rosa County into the organization’s service area. This came at the request of United Way Worldwide, who approached United Way of Escambia County about assuming the territory.

“We stand ready to serve our neighboring county and to ensure its residents have access to the services and resources they need,” said Laura Gilliam, president and CEO of United Way of Escambia County.

“There is a natural relationship between Escambia and Santa Rosa counties given their geographic proximity,” Gilliam added, “Sixteen of the 30 agencies currently receiving grant funding from United Way of Escambia County provide services to both counties.”

United Way of Escambia County currently serves more than 313,000 people. Expanding services to include Santa Rosa County will increase that number to more than 480,000 individuals between the two counties. In 2018, the organization generated financial resources over $2.5 million and coordinated more than 45,000 hours of volunteer service.

City Recruits Lovoy At his May 22 press conference, Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson said he had spoken with Escambia County interim administrator Amy Lovoy regarding the prospects of coming to work at the city on April 15, shortly before she turned in a resignation letter later that day amid a flurry of other top-level resignations and a state investigation into the county’s Emergency Medical Services.

“If she applied,” Robinson said Monday during a morning press conference, “she’d be the best applicant we had in that application pool.”

Before taking on the interim administrator role, Lovoy was a longtime budget director for the county. Robinson said of Lovoy, “She understands public accounting and public budgeting and does it very well.”

Mayor Robinson added that City Administrator Chris Holley, unhappy with the city’s list of applicants for the assistant budget director position, was already speaking with Lovoy about the job.

“All of the sudden last week, I heard the challenges that were going on over at the county and did reach out to Amy and said, ‘Is this something you’re interested in?’ And she said, ‘It possibly could be,’” Robinson recalled.

The mayor said he was “kind of surprised” that Lovoy would take the assistant position. He said that it would be two to three years before she took over for Budget Director Dick Barker.

“I didn’t necessarily think it was going to be something that Amy was looking for,” Robinson said, later saying he’d like her on the city’s bench. “If I had the opportunity to get someone of her caliber, I’d be more than happy to bring her along.”

Coughlin Departs Also Assistant County Administrator Matt Coughlin has turned in his 90-day notice of resignation on Monday, April 22.

Inweekly had received several reports that Coughlin, the former commanding officer of NAS Whiting, had no interest in serving as acting administrator. The buzz is Mayor Grover Robinson will let Coughlin return to his old job as assistant director of the Pensacola International Airport. Airport Director Dan Flynn is in DROP. City Administrator Chris Holley in February told the media that Flynn would be retiring “in a year or so.”

Gillum Settles Ethics Case Former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum agreed last Wednesday to pay a $5,000 fine in a settlement reached with a state ethics-commission attorney, who agreed to drop four of five charges of ethics violations related to trips to Costa Rica and New York, a boat ride around the Statue of Liberty and a ticket to the Broadway hit “Hamilton.”

Florida Commission on Ethics’ advocate Elizabeth A. Miller told Administrative Law Judge E. Gary Early that she and Gillum’s lawyer, Barry Richard, had reached an “amicable settlement agreement.”

In January, the ethics commission unanimously found probable cause that Gillum, as Tallahassee mayor, violated state ethics laws for allegedly accepting gifts from Tallahassee entrepreneur Adam Corey and undercover FBI agents posing as developers. Corey had been a close friend of Gillum and lobbied city officials.

Speaking to reporters following the brief court session, Barry Richard stressed that Gillum had entered into negotiations with Miller at the judge’s behest. Later Wednesday, Gillum issued a statement describing the end of the case as “vindication. The results confirm what I’ve said all along—the facts matter, and I never knowingly violated any ethics laws.”

ECUA Terminates Deal Effective April 30, ECUA terminated its contract with Santa Rosa County for the transportation and processing of recyclables. According to the county’s public information office, Santa Rosa is working with ECUA on a new contract for processing and seeking to replace the transportation services within the next few weeks.

Recyclable material degrades if not sorted and stored properly. Therefore, recycling will be diverted to the Central Landfill for disposal until a new transportation vendor is under contract. The county encouraged residents to maintain good recycling habits. And as part of the franchise agreements with the county, all waste haulers will still be required to collect recyclables separately, so residents will see no change in their existing services.

Schools to Hire Guards Escambia County School District last week announced that it would be hiring campus security officers for public elementary schools beginning in August 2019.

“These campus security officers, or CSOs, will serve to protect students in our schools during the school day, 10 months a year,” Escambia County School Superintendent Malcolm Thomas said. “The district will be working with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office to ensure high-quality individuals with the appropriate skills, temperament and abilities are selected.”

Applicants will apply through the Escambia County School District. The campus security officer job description and list of applicant qualifications have been posted on the ECSD website.

The school board approved the job summary for the position in mid-April—”The purpose of this position is to provide security and safety services for the school campus and protecting the life and wellbeing of students, staff and visitors. There shall be no law enforcement authority except to the extent necessary to prevent or abate an active assailant incident.”

The Sheriff’s Office will be responsible for training, to include a background screening, psychological evaluation and polygraph test. Applicants will be required to complete 150 hours (approximately two months) of training. The first class is expected to begin in June 2019, and trainees will be paid during the training.

Campus security officers will also be required to complete the fingerprinting and drug screening requirement that ECSD requires of all school district employees before being placed in a school. Those selected will have a starting salary at $30,600, plus benefits, for a 10-month position.

Superintendent Thomas added, “We are hoping retired military and retired law enforcement officers, who have maintained their weapons’ permits and skills, will see this opportunity as a new way to continue to serve our community and protect our students.”

No Fowl Play Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan recently took to Facebook to defend the honor of one of his deputies. Apparently, some Facebook users had accused the deputy of pulling out his service revolver and cold-bloodedly killing a chicken in an alleged drive-by shooting.

The sheriff dispelled the rumor and chastised the critics with a video that clearly showed the patrol vehicle striking the fowl as it tried to cross the road. His message—don’t believe everything you see or read on Facebook.

Summer Job Fair Premier Island Management Group will host its Summer Job Fair 3-6 p.m., Thursday, May 9, at Portofino Island Resort, 10 Portofino Drive.

This no-cost event is open to the public. Job seekers will have the opportunity to speak directly to hiring managers seeking individuals to fill open full-time, part-time and seasonal positions.

Positions in food service, housekeeping, concierge, sales, adventures, retail, spa, front desk, courtesy patrol, maintenance and recreation are currently open at Portofino Island Resort, Beach Club, Premier Adventure Park, Premier Dolphin Cruise, Lucas’, Aqua Spa, Envie Boutique and more.

Job seekers are encouraged to bring a list of references, recent job history and education details. They should dress in business casual attire. For more information, contact Miriam Baker, miriamb@premierisland.com.

NAM-Opoly Game Board game lovers will enjoy the new National Naval Aviation Museum–Opoly game. The game can be purchased exclusively from the Museum’s Flight Deck Store.

“We were thrilled about the idea and started designing the board in November 2018,” said Donald Watson, Museum Foundation digital media specialist. “Months of planning went into the development, including concept inspiration, testing and graphic design.”

The concept and rules of the National Naval Aviation Museum–Opoly are the same as the traditional Hasbro Monopoly game. Instead of properties like Boardwalk and Park Place, this version uses museum exhibits like the Blue Angels Atrium and Battle of Midway and Homefront U.S.A. Other places featured in the new game—Pensacola Beach, Perdido Key, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. The custom game pieces are inspired by elements of naval aviation, including a model F-18, captain’s hat, life preserver and helicopter.

Proceeds of the game will benefit the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation. To learn more, visit navalaviation.com.

Walk for Mental Illness Awareness The Pensacola chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness will hold their 2019 Walk for Mental Illness Awareness 8 a.m., Saturday, May 18, starting at Blue Wahoos Stadium. The walk serves to raise awareness in our community on mental illness as well as raise money to fund much-needed programs.

“We seek to raise awareness of the plight of our friends and loved ones living so bravely with mental illness,” said Linda Finkelstein, president of NAMI Pensacola. “Underserved, misunderstood and at the bottom of the totem pole in terms of public dollars allocated for research and treatment—our friends and loved ones deserve better.”

The walk is the major annual fundraiser for NAMI Pensacola. Monies raised through sponsorships, team and individual participation provide training, peer support, family support and educational programs to the community free of charge to those that so desperately need them.

To be a part of Ending the Silence on mental illness in the Pensacola community by becoming a sponsor, please contact Linda Finkelstein at namipensacola@gmail.com. To form a walking team or to register to walk, visit namipensacola.com.

Mark Your Calendars Pensacola Youth will be protesting government inaction on climate change from 10 a.m.-noon, Friday, May 4, in Plaza Ferdinand, at the corner of Palafox and Government streets.

Residents in the Barrancas area will have the opportunity to dispose of yard debris and other items free of charge Wednesday, May 8, during the West Barrancas Neighborhood Cleanup. Only residents in the designated cleanup area can participate in the neighborhood cleanup. Items left at the curb outside of the cleanup area will not be collected. The general cleanup area is south of Bayou Chico, north of Barrancas Ave., east of Old Corry Field Rd. and west of Rue Max St. All debris must be at the curb directly in front of your residence by 7 a.m. on the day of the cleanup. Please keep tires and paint cans separate from all other debris.

The Florida SBDC at UWF is presenting “Protect Your Small Business Property; Know Your Rights” 9 a.m.-noon, Thursday, May 9, at The Greater Pensacola Chamber, 890 S. Palafox St., Ste. 202.  Attorney J. Nevin Shaffer will discuss the “dos” and “don’ts” when it comes to a business venture. Please pre-register at sbdc.uwf.edu. It’s free.

Michelle Suskauer, president of The Florida Bar, will be the guest speaker at the Escambia-Santa Rosa Bar Association meeting noon-1 p.m. Thursday, May 9, at V. Paul’s Italian Ristorante, 29 S. Palafox. The public is invited to attend. The cost, which includes lunch, is $15 for Escambia-Santa Rosa Bar Association members and $18 for nonmembers. For reservations, email esrba@esrba.com.

Travel Matters National Travel and Tourism Week 2019 will take place May 5-11. This year’s theme is “Travel Matters,” a recognition of the innumerable ways in which travel enriches lives and strengthens communities.

“The Pensacola Bay Area community has been the foundation of the hospitality and tourism industry’s success. Over two million travelers visited the destination last year thanks to residents that focus on enriching our area’s quality of life,” Visit Pensacola President Steve Hayes said. “In support of the visitors, the industry employees over 24,000 people, accounting for 18 percent of jobs and $427 million in wages in our local economy. Travel directly connects and affects each one of us in the community, and I’m excited to celebrate our joint successes in the coming weeks.”

National Travel and Tourism Week 2019 will focus on the positive effects of travel, from health and family benefits to community connection and economic development. Here’s a look at the week’s events.

Hospitality Olympics: 8:30–11 a.m., Monday, May 6, Blue Wahoos Stadium, 351 W. Cedar St. The Hospitality Olympics is a time for industry personnel to come together in a fun environment to celebrate the industry and get to know one another better. Teams will compete in several games for the Hospitality Olympics Cup.

Partner Workshop: 8-11:30 a.m., Tuesday, May 7, Skopelos at New World, 600 S. Palafox St.  This half-day educational seminar will focus on the ins and outs of hospitality and tourism marketing, including creative messaging, digital ADA compliance, Majority Opinion Research and more.

Hospitality Hero Award Ceremony & Luncheon: 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Wednesday, May 8, Pensacola Grand Hotel, 200 E. Gregory St. For the fourth year, Visit Pensacola will host its Hospitality Hero awards during the week’s annual luncheon. Hospitality Hero awards are dedicated to front-line team members who go above and beyond to create the Pensacola Experience. Categories include attractions/venues, lodging, restaurant/dining and shopping.

Tourism Gives Back: 3-5 p.m., Thursday, May 9, Studer Community Institute Building, 220 W. Garden St. For the second year, Visit Pensacola will host Tourism Gives Back, a day for the industry to come together to contribute to the community that we know and love. This year, they will assemble Pensacola Experience Summer bags that will be donated to underserved middle school children throughout Escambia County. Supplies and monetary donations are welcomed and may be dropped off at 1401 E. Gregory St. They are currently seeking donations for the following—sunscreen, books, art supplies, lip balm, toiletries hats, non-perishable snacks, sunglasses and attraction tickets.

Rally for Tourism: 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Friday, May 10, 500 S. Palafox St. Travel Rally Day will take to the streets this year. Join Visit Pensacola to spotlight the positive impact tourism has on the Pensacola Bay Area. They will be gathering at the corner of South Palafox and Main streets.

All events are public. For more information on National Travel and Tourism Week, visit visitpensacola.com.

Reduced Adoption Fees
The Escambia County Animal Shelter is offering a special reduced adoption fee of $40 for all dogs and puppies and $20 for all cats and kittens through Friday, May 31.

Adoption fees include spay or neutering services, microchip, heartworm test and the initial vaccinations, including rabies vaccinations. Escambia County residents will be required to purchase a license at the time of adoption. This is an additional $11 over the adoption fees and is paid separately.

The Escambia County Animal Shelter is located at 200 W. Fairfield Drive and is open noon-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. For more information, contact the shelter at 595-3075.