Pensacola, Florida
Tuesday September 17th 2019


The Buzz 9/5/19

Crush the Crisis On Saturday, Sept. 7, West Florida Hospital will host “Crush the Crisis,” an opioid take-back event with the goal of collecting and properly disposing of unused or expired medications from the community.

Law enforcement officers from the Escambia County Sheriff’s Department will be on hand to take back medications from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. If you have any unused or expired medications, you are invited to drop them off at our Crush the Crisis tent that will be set up outside of the West Florida Hospital main lobby, 8383 N. Davis Highway.

Volunteers will be collecting tablets, capsules and patches of hydrocodone (Norco, Lortab, Vicodin), oxycodone (Oxycontin, Percocet), tramadol (Ultram), codeine, fentanyl (Duragesic), morphine, hydromorphone (Dilaudid) and oxymorphone (Opana). Needles, syringes, lancets or liquids will not be accepted.

West Florida Hospital is participating as part of HCA Healthcare’s first national “Crush the Crisis” opioid take-back day. More than 65 HCA Healthcare facilities across 15 states are uniting to collect unused or expired opioids for one day.

“Opioid addiction is a growing crisis not only in Escambia County but across our nation,” said Mark Stavros, Emergency Room Medical Director at West Florida Hospital. “Our goal for ‘Crush the Crisis’ is to raise awareness of the dangers of opioid addiction and educate our community about the proper disposal of these medications. Opioid addiction can happen to anyone, and we are providing this drop off opportunity confidentially and anonymously.”

To further help combat the nation’s opioid crisis, HCA Healthcare, the parent company of West Florida Hospital, partners with the National Academy of Medicine’s Action Collaborative on Countering the U.S. Opioid Epidemic, consisting of more than 50 organizations that share best practices and identify gaps in the safe treatment of opioid addiction.

Pitt Slip Deal The city of Pensacola may be preparing to finalize a long-term lease for its Pitt Slip property and in doing so wrap up a lingering lawsuit from the Ashton Hayward mayoral era.

“I think at this point, we’re very close,” said Mayor Grover Robinson in his Aug. 26 press conference.

Robinson said that the city expects to soon lease the downtown waterfront property—encompassing the site where the Fish House restaurant is located as well as the nearby marina—to Seville Harbour, Inc., which currently leases the property. The city previously suffered a legal defeat after Seville Harbour filed suit against the city over a lease dispute. The legal loss put the city on the hook for nearly half a million dollars of the plaintiff’s legal fees.

Under a proposed lease provided by the city on Monday, the $425,000 in legal fees the city owes to Seville Harbour will be waived in exchange for a 99-year lease and sharing the construction cost of a new breakwater to protect the marina. The city is slated to pay $350,000 on the breakwater construction, which, as per the lease, will run a total minimum of $2 million and be completed by December 2021.

Mayor Robinson said he viewed the breakwater as a public improvement as it would protect the marina, which would remain available to the public. He said a breakwater was necessary to protect the infrastructure of the marina.

“Otherwise, what we’ve seen is that people have put dock improvements in there and every time, they’ve gotten washed away by whatever storm came in,” Robinson noted.

The mayor said he’s hoping the improvements, and any subsequent developments on the site will help spur overall activity near the waterfront. The lease also specifies that the adjoining Bartram Park shall remain openly accessible to the public.

“Obviously, we’d love to see marine activity there and the opportunity for the people to engage on the waterfront,” Robinson said.

According to the proposed lease, which the Pensacola City Council will be taking a look at this month, the city will lease the Pitt Slip property, as well as the 94-slip marina, for the same rate it’s currently leased for—$46,161 annually, paid in equal monthly installments. That base rate will remain the same for a while, until 2045. From then until 2118, the annual base rent will increase to $96,016.20, again paid in monthly installments. The lease also allows for some Consumer Price Index adjustments beginning in 2050.

Empty Chair The board of the Emerald Coast Utility Authority only has four members. The policy-making body of the area’s largest water utility has been missing its fifth member since District 3 board member Elvin McCorvey passed away in January.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has yet to appoint McCovey’s replacement, and ECUA board members expressed their frustration at its Aug. 27 board meeting.

“I think we ought to bombard the governor’s office with requests to fill this seat,” said chair Lois Benson. “We’re just making important decisions that one-fifth of our community is not represented on. I have texted (Congressman) Matt Gaetz, who is close to the governor, on a number of occasions. I’m out of options, but we sure need to not let this go.”

District 4 board member Dale Perkins echoed the chair’s sentiments, “I was really sad today when we chose our attorney without one-fifth of the population having a say, and more importantly, it’s an under-represented minority population in that district and a lot of times doesn’t have a say.”

ECUA executive director Steve Sorrell has announced his retirement, and the board is in the process of selecting his replacement.

“I think that the most important decision we’re going to make in many years, on this board, is coming up with the choosing of a new executive director,” said Perkins. “I think that we need to have that person here when we chose the executive director.”

District 1 board member Vicki Campbell agreed, “It is a tragedy that we don’t have representation for one-fifth of Escambia County. I’ll keep pushing, but I hope that our administrator heard Mr. Perkins when he asked him to stick around until we do this.”

Gulf Power Work Beginning Sept. 9, Gulf Power crews working on the network improvement project will begin work on Jefferson Street between Intendencia and Government Streets. Due to the proximity to the Southtowne complex, this work will take place during daytime hours.

Vehicle traffic will be managed for disrupted driving patterns/temporary lane closures during this time by traffic control workers.

New Area Code Amid concerns that the 850 area code will “exhaust” in 2022, state regulators are considering a proposal that could lead to an additional area code in Northwest Florida, according to the News Service of Florida.

Staff members of the state Public Service Commission will hold a workshop Sept. 6 after receiving a petition aimed at addressing a shortage of remaining phone numbers in the region served by the 850 area code. That region includes cities such as Tallahassee, Pensacola and Panama City.

The North American Numbering Plan Administrator, an organization that works on area code planning, filed a petition in June with the Public Service Commission saying that the 850 area code will “exhaust” during the first quarter of 2022. The petition recommends approval of what is known as overlay, which would involve assigning a new area code to the same area covered by the 850 area code.

Constituent Days State Rep. Jayer Williamson (R-District 3) has initiated monthly Constituent Service Days for Central Santa Rosa County on the second Thursday of each month at the Santa Rosa County Economic Development Office, 6491 Caroline St., Ste. 4 in Milton. The first day will be 10 a.m.-noon on Thursday, Sept. 12. Constituents do not need an appointment for Constituent Service Days, and meetings are held on a first-come, first-served basis.

Rep. Williamson’s Constituent Service Days for South Santa Rosa and North Okaloosa, held on the first Tuesday and third Thursday respectively, will also continue. However, the events will be held 10 a.m.-noon to be consistent with the new Milton location. For additional information on any of the District 3 Constituent Service Days, please email

CLIMB Children ages 6 to 12 whose parents have cancer are encouraged to enroll in a special support program available to them at Sacred Heart Cancer Center in Pensacola. This free program is called CLIMB, which stands for Children’s Lives Include Moments of Bravery.

CLIMB combines conversation and art in group meetings to help children identify and appropriately express complex feelings related to having a parent with cancer. The next series of CLIMB sessions will begin on Sept. 10.

For six weeks, participants will meet on Tuesdays from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Sacred Heart Cancer Center, 1545 Airport Blvd. in Pensacola. The final class in this series will meet on Oct. 15. A screening process must be completed prior to enrollment. Registration is required.

CLIMB was developed by The Children’s Treehouse Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the emotional support of children whose parents have cancer. For more information, call Sacred Heart Cancer Center social workers Alli Browne, 416-1606, or Blair Edgar, 416-2679.

APP for Air Force A team of University of West Florida students has been awarded a $25,000 grant to develop an app that will help the Air Force Special Operations Command at Hurlburt Field better gather and share information.

The grant was awarded to UWF students Christian Kaman, Daryl Meade and Lloyd Mageo by the Small Business Innovation Research program, which encourages domestic small businesses to engage in federal research/research and development that has the potential for commercialization.

The students developed the concept for the app during UWF’s Hacking for Defense, or H4D, course held from May to July. The app, called the Enhanced Situational Awareness Process, will be developed by 2enovate, a company Kaman founded.

The ESAP features a web-based, interactive dashboard that is fully customizable based on user preferences and mission requirements, a mobile application allowing users to better gather and report data, speech-to-text functionality and integration with Microsoft Outlook calendar to track external engagements. The information is updated nearly in real time and can be viewed by a supervisor at the home organization almost immediately.

“It’s not just a software solution,” Meade said. “It’s a holistic approach to data gathering and dissemination.”

The student team conducted more than 40 interviews with potential beneficiaries and stakeholders during the H4D course.

“What I like to see out of the class is the students growing in their soft skills—the organization, the teamwork, the communication,” said Dr. Dallas Snider, an associate professor at UWF and chair of the Department of Information Technology.

Kaman said he and his team would like to get more students involved in helping develop the product, which would give them valuable hands-on experience.  H4D is part of a national program, and beginning Oct. 1, H4D will be funded by the U.S. Department of Defense as part of the National Security Innovation Network.

IMPACT 100 IMPACT 100 Pensacola Bay Area is holding a Finalists Announcement at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 11, at Palafox House, 192 N. Palafox.

During this event, 15 nonprofit organizations will be announced as finalists from IMPACT 100’s five focus areas—Arts & Culture; Education; Environment, Recreation & Preservation; Family; and Health & Wellness. Attendees will also receive information outlining each finalist’s grant proposal.

Finalists will have the opportunity to present their project at the IMPACT 100 Pensacola Bay Area Annual Meeting on Sunday, Oct.13, where final voting will take place. With 1,166 members this year, IMPACT 100 will award $106,000 each to 11 nonprofit organizations in our community.

College Fairs Pensacola State College is hosting College Fair 2019 at three PSC campuses. Escambia and Santa Rosa high school juniors, seniors and their parents are invited to meet representatives to ask questions about admissions requirements, financial aid, scholarships, academic programs, student life and housing. Pensacola State students also are invited to learn more about transfer opportunities and requirements.

The times, dates and locations of College Fairs 2019 are:
•South Santa Rosa County Schools—4-5:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 8, PSC South Santa Rosa Center, Bldg. 51, 5075 Gulf Breeze Parkway.
•Escambia County Schools—6-7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 9, PSC main campus, Bldg. 3, Hartsell Arena, 1000 College Blvd.
•North Santa Rosa County Schools—6-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 10, PSC Milton campus, Bldg. 4000, L.I.F.E. Fitness Center, 5988 Highway 98.

Representatives from more than 65 colleges and universities are expected at the event. For more information, visit

Mark Your Calendars 4-H will host an open house and awards showcase from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 7, UF/IFAS Extension Office, 6263 Dogwood Drive in Milton.

The Escambia County Marine Advisory Committee will host a meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 9, to  provide input on the design for the Galvez Public Boat Ramp Improvement Project. The meeting will be held at the Escambia County Central Office Complex, 3363 W. Park Place, Room 104.

Gateway Review Board will meet at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 10, in the Hagler-Mason Conference Room, 2nd Floor, Pensacola City Hall.

Planning Board will meet at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 10, in the Hagler-Mason Conference Room, 2nd Floor, Pensacola City Hall.

DIB Finance Committee will meet at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 10, Bowden Building, Room #2, 120 Church St.

DIB Parking & Traffic Committee will meet at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 12, Bowden Building, Room #2, 120 Church St.