ELISE COASTAL DINING Downtown Pensacola’s newest restaurant earned a nomination as one of the best new restaurants in the country from the James Beard Foundation. The Beard Awards are the most prestigious food honors in the United States, bestowing medals upon chefs, restaurants, cookbook authors and journalists. Elise Coastal Dining is among 33 Best New Restaurant contenders and among three in Florida, including The Refinery in Tampa and Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill in Miami.
CONNIE BOOKMAN The executive director of Pathways For Change has been named to “Social Work Today” magazine’s “10 Dedicated and Deserving Social Workers” list. Bookman is the founder of Pathways For Change, an organization that provides education, prevention, and intervention for people who are substance abusers and/or live criminal lifestyles in the Pensacola area.
SEVILLE QUARTER The Pensacola entertainment icon was given the Liberty Award by the Pensacola Chapter of Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge for its support of numerous non-profits. Seville Quarter has opened its doors consistently to help groups with their fundraisers. This award is well-deserved. Kudos to the Mitchell family.
PENSACOLA STATE COLLEGE The Anna Lamar Switzer Center for Visual Arts scored a major coup by landing the works of internationally-known contemporary artist Christo. Pensacola State College is one of only three venues for this retrospective of drawings and objects, after Metropolitan State College and Bemis Arts Center in Omaha, Neb. The show “Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Prints and Objects” is on display at the Anna Lamar Switzer Center for Visual Arts through March 25.
HARVEY ALMORN UPDYKE, JR. The Dadeville, Ala. man was arrested last week for poisoning two heritage oak trees at Toomer’s Corner, a symbol of tradition in Auburn, Ala. Updyke grew up in the Milton area and had only lived in Dadeville about six months before his arrest. ESPN reported that Updyke, an Alabama fan, has a daughter named Crimson and a son named Bear. Police have said neither offspring was involved in the crime.
ESCAMBIA PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICT The School Board will require, effective August 2011, any high school or middle school students who participate in extracurricular activities, athletics and campus parking submit to random drug testing as a condition of having those privileges. The IN understands that being “tough” on drugs wins votes, but wouldn’t the money be better spent protecting the teachers and good students in the classrooms? Chess clubs and school bands aren’t the problem.
SCOTT WALKER The Wisconsin governor wants to break the state employee and teachers’ unions. Last month, he pushed through a $140 million spending package and a series of tax cuts. Now Walker says he has a $3.6 billion budget deficit, which must be partially covered by making state workers pay half of their pension costs and at least 12 percent of their health care costs. If Scott gets his way, the unions will lose bargaining rights for anything other than pay. There is strain in the right wing of the Republican Party that is out to destroy unions, and teachers are taking the brunt of its venom.