Pensacola, Florida
Wednesday June 19th 2019

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The Buzz 5/23/19

Setting A Record Pensacola resident and Pearl Harbor Survivor Frank Emond will join the record books on May 27 as the world’s oldest living conductor when he conducts the Pensacola Civic Band at the Fourth Annual Pensacola Memorial Day concert. This event, sponsored together by the Pensacola Civic Band and the City of Pensacola will be 5 p.m. Monday, May 27 in the Hunter Amphitheater at the Community Maritime Park.

The Memorial Day program led by Pensacola Civic Band director Don Snowden will entertain the audience with a number of patriotic selections. Emond will narrate his Pearl Harbor experience while the Pensacola Civic Band plays Jay Bocook’s “At Dawn They Slept.”

Then, Mr. Emond, at 101 and 6 days, will conduct the band in Sousa’s “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” setting a Guinness World Record as the oldest living conductor. This year’s concert is also a donation location for Manna Food Bank. For more information, please visit pensacolaremembers.org.

‘Seven to Save’ List Last week, the historic preservation nonprofit The John Sunday Society released its 2019 “Seven to Save” list, highlighting seven at-risk local historic sites.

“In recent years, Pensacola has lost irreplaceable buildings like the John Sunday House and the historic Hallmark School,” said Teníadé Broughton, the society’s president. “Unfortunately, there are still many important historic structures at risk unless the community takes steps to ensure their future.”

The John Sunday Society was formed in 2016 to save the 1901 residence of the African-American business leader and politician, John Sunday, that was located on the corner of Romana and Reus streets. Mayor Ashton Hayward backed the demolition and ordered the city attorney to not challenge a judge’s ruling against an Architectural Review Board’s decision that would have possibly saved the house. A permit was granted within hours of the ruling, and demolition happened before the society could act legally.

The Hallmark school demolition had no legal challenges to its permit. The mayor’s wife was a silent partner in the group that bought the site from the school district, but she was reportedly bought out when the News Journal investigated the connection.

The “Seven to Save” list included: Pensacola USO Building, 25 S. Spring St. (built 1941); Pensacola Vocational Building, 215 W. Garden St. (1941); Washington Jr. Gymnasium, 806 W. DeSoto St. (1939); W.E. Plummer House, 215 N. Reus St. (1885); Old Mount Olive Baptist Church, 415 N. Alcaniz St. (1928); Hygeia Bottling Works, 1625 N. Palafox St. (1936); and Smith Bakery, 432 W. Belmont St. (1918).

“These places and spaces have each played critical roles in Pensacola’s story,” said Broughton. “Each of them is more than 75 years old and historically and/or architecturally significant. We should do everything we can to protect and preserve these sites for future generations.”

Meanwhile, The Florida Trust for Historic Preservation last Thursday announced the 2019 Florida’s 11 to Save, the most threatened historic properties in the state, at its Florida Preservation Conference in Pensacola. Being named to the list means the sites will be part of the Florida Trust’s advocacy and education efforts and may pave the way for collaborative efforts to identify custom solutions for each property.

None of the John Sunday Society’s structures made the list. However, the Fidelis Community Center east of Jay in Santa Rosa County did. The center was built in 1925.

New Name To better align and represent the true personality of the region and more closely identify with the Emerald Coast, the West Florida Regional Planning Council has changed its name to Emerald Coast Regional Council (ECRC).

CEO Austin Mount said, “We have a rich history as WFRPC, but we have long surpassed the traditional roles of a regional planning council, and we want our brand to communicate that.”

The ECRC staffs Florida-Alabama, Okaloosa-Walton and Bay County Transportation Planning Organizations as well as the Bay, Gulf, Holmes and Washington Regional Transportation Partnership and the Northwest Florida Regional Transportation Planning Organization.

“The challenges faced by communities across our region have become more numerous and complex,” said Mount. “Regional councils must evolve to effectively partner with municipalities and counties to create innovative solutions to current and future problems. Our evolution is evident with our partners as we continue to build strong relationships and relevancy across the region.”

The mission of the Emerald Coast Regional Council is to preserve and enhance the quality of life in Northwest Florida by providing professional technical assistance, planning, coordinating and advisory services to local governments, state and federal agencies, and the public.

Beach Trolley Returns The Santa Rosa Island Authority (SRIA) will launch their free open-air trolley service along Pensacola Beach starting Friday, May 24, at 4 p.m. The 2019 Pensacola Beach Island Trolley will run daily from 4 p.m. to midnight through Labor Day on Sunday, Sept. 2.

Three trolleys will operate concurrently. Each trolley makes 35 stops between Park West near the entrance gate to Gulf Islands National Seashore and the entrance to Portofino Island Resort near Park East.

The energy-efficient open-air trolleys run on clean diesel fuel and are outfitted with a GPS device that electronically tracks its location, updating its position every 30 seconds.

Visitors can access the real-time trolley schedule four ways:
•Visit the “Trolley Tracker” at visitpensacolabeach.com/trolleytracker
•Call 850-602-9384 and enter the trolley stop number
•Text SRIA (space) and the trolley stop number to 41411
• Scan the QR code posted at each trolley stop with a smartphone

The trolley system, funded by the SRIA, is free to all riders. To see a map of all trolley stop locations, or for more information, go to visitpensacolabeach.com/trolley-information/.

ECAT Free Summer Escambia County Area Transit’s Summer Wheels Youth Pass Program also will launch Memorial Day weekend and run through Labor Day weekend. The program will include free unlimited rides for Summer Wheels Pass holders, ages 18 and under.

During last year’s Summer Wheels Youth Pass Program, 739 individuals were issued passes, and 10,952 trips were taken. The free bus programs provide youth with the opportunity to explore Pensacola, travel to summer jobs, visit all county libraries and participate in summer camps. ECAT also offers free training for those who are new to the bus system to help read the Ride Guide, plan trips and review safety.

In addition to the Summer Wheels Program, Escambia County students, grades K-12, are now able to use their county-issued student library cards as a free bus pass year-round on all ECAT buses and trolleys.

To receive a free Summer Wheels Pass, bring your kids and their photo IDs to ECAT’s main office, located at 1515 W. Fairfield Drive, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. For more information about ECAT and its routes, visit goecat.com.

Blue Ducks May Return After a brief appearance, then disappearance, Blue Duck Scooters may be coming back to town. At his May 13 weekly press conference, Mayor Grover Robinson said that the city was currently in discussions with the scooter company—which rents out scooters for short-term use—about the particulars of any agreement that would allow them to operate in Pensacola.

The mayor said that tentatively, the scooters will be available in areas of town with lower-speed roadways, such as downtown. Riders will not have to have a license but will need to be at least 16 years old. The use of helmets has not been discussed.

City discussions with Blue Duck Scooters have centered on licensing fees and insurance (the company will carry the insurance and indemnify the city), as well as hours of operation. Robinson said that Blue Duck would be shutting down operation by 10 p.m., in part because the company didn’t want people riding the scooters drunk.

“They felt like people may ride them to bars, but they didn’t necessarily want them riding afterwards,” he said. “We felt like that was a good idea.”

Because Blue Duck intends to make the scooters available at Pensacola State College, Robinson said he was concerned about the surrounding higher-speed roads, such as Ninth and 12th avenues, as well as Tippin Avenue.

“I think there’s some geo-fencing that they can do with that,” he noted, suggesting the company could technologically and geographically restrict use of the scooters.

The mayor said that the details of any arrangement with Blue Duck are still being finalized and that he hopes to be able to have a potential ordinance allowing for the use of the scooters in the city before city council’s next meeting so that it can be approved by mid-June. He conceded that such a timeline is “ambitious.”

Peace Talks Pensacola officials met with their counterparts in Gulf Breeze earlier this month. Mayor Robinson said discussions centered on a variety of topics, including environmental initiatives involving Pensacola Bay and the challenges of operating municipal golf courses.

The two municipalities also met to discuss the potential for working together, along with Gulf Power, in an effort to run power lines underground.

“Gulf Breeze would like to do more under-grounding in their urban area; we would like to do more downtown,” he said. Also on the table was a discussion about Gulf Breeze’s success in attracting tech start-ups and Pensacola’s desire to do the same.

“We did talk about that, in hopes of growing that,” the mayor said.

But, in addition to any specific thing, the meeting between Pensacola and Gulf Breeze was meant to go some distance toward healing old wounds and establishing common ground where the entities can work together.

“Overall, I think it was just trying to build a better relationship,” Robinson said. “Let’s face it, Gulf Breeze and the city of Pensacola really did not talk for a few years. There were some ugly issues with natural gas and a variety of other things that happened there, and from our standpoint, we wanted to just keep continuing to figure out ways we could work together.”

Graffiti Bridge Town Hall Pensacola City Councilman Jared Moore is hosting a town hall to discuss the future of the 17th Avenue trestle, also known as the “Graffiti Bridge,” 6-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 28, at the Studer Community Institute, 220 W. Garden St.

Anyone with an interest in the trestle is invited. A charrette-style Town Hall will detail available solutions and explore opportunities to tailor them to the distinctive site.

“With the new Pensacola Bay Bridge landing to be finalized in the coming years, now is the time for our community to weigh in on ways to prevent continued safety and traffic issues,” said Moore in a press release.

Recent CivicCon speaker Peter Kageyama identified Graffiti Bridge as one of Pensacola’s important landmarks that fosters a personal connection to this unique place. The meeting will conclude in time for those with tickets to the Art Garfunkel concert the same evening.

Moore quipped, “Before you head over to hear Bridge Over Troubled Water, come out and voice your ideas for our troubled bridge.”

Virtual Exchange Escambia and Santa Rosa County students who are interested in cross-cultural communication are invited to apply to a fully-funded U.S. Department of State virtual exchange.

The Experiment Digital is a great opportunity for students to get to learn about people in Algeria, Iraq and Yemen and requires only three to four hours a week between June 24-Aug. 18. Because the exchange takes place virtually, students participate from wherever they have a computer. When students are done, they will officially become U.S. Department of State International Exchange Alumni, a boon for their resumes and college applications.

Current high school students and students who are graduating from high school this year are eligible. This is a free program, and there is no application fee. The application and more information are at experiment.org/digital.

Ping Pong on Palafox Zarzaur Law has partnered with the Pensacola Table Tennis Club and City of Pensacola Parks and Recreation Department to host a community ping pong tournament event from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday, June 8, at the intersection of Palafox and Romana streets.

“Ping Pong on Palafox” will include a table tennis ping pong tournament for all ages and levels, games, refreshments for players and more. The round robin tournament will kick off at 10 a.m. with kids’ age groups and adult divisions with cash prizes for winners. Players can be anywhere from kids and novice recreational weekend players all the way to competitive club members. The first 50 players to sign up for the tournament will also receive a swag bag.

Businesses, organizations and groups are encouraged to create teams of four, bring their tent, coolers and signs and battle for bragging rights and be the tops in team table tennis. All entry fees will go to Gulf Coast Kid’s House. For event details and to sign up for “Ping Pong on Palafox,” visit zarzaurlaw.com/ping-pong-on-palafox or call 444-9299.

Andrade Town Hall State Representative Alex Andrade is set to host his second Town Hall meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 5, at Brownsville Community Center, 3200 W. De Soto St.

“There are many facets of being a state representative,” said Andrade, “and one of those is educating my constituents on what the Florida Legislature has done to make their lives better and how to adjust to new laws.”

Andrade will be joined by County Commissioner Lumon May and School Board Member Dr. Laura Edler. The discussion will focus on updates of local regulations and education laws that passed during the 2019 Legislative Session. Each official will speak on specific issues relating to their jurisdiction.

“I’m looking forward to a robust conversation with elected officials and our constituents. Now that my first Legislative session is over, all of my focus is on those who I represent,” said Andrade.

Mark Your Calendar CareerSource Escarosa will partner with The Urban Development Center to host the 2019 Work Connect Youth Job Fair from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Wednesday, May 29, at 321 N. DeVilliers St. This no-cost event is open to the youth between ages 16-24. Job seekers will have the opportunity to network with over 20 employers. Job seekers are urged to dress professionally and bring plenty of resumes. For more information, visit careersourceescarosa.com.

The University of West Florida Center for Cybersecurity is accepting registration for its 2019 UWF Pathways to Cyber Student Camp. The camp is from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., June 17-21, in the Studer Community Institute Building, 220 W. Garden St., Ste. 250. Any rising high school student or 2019 high school graduate is eligible. The camp is free of charge. Only 30 spots are available. To register, visit uwf.edu/cybercamp or contact 474-2999.