In December, the county was primed to hand off the properties until officials learned that Pensacola could be planning a recycling center—“a dirty murf,” County Administrator Randy Oliver explained—on the sites. Hoping to see the property developed differently, the county balked at the hand-off.
“We just need to get a better understanding,” said Commissioner Grover Robinson, prior to hearing the city’s response Jan. 12.
The commissioners had gotten the dirty-murf notion from a radio interview conducted with Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward. Commission Chairman Wilson Robertson was armed with a recording of the broadcast, and the rest of the board felt the mayor had been perfectly plain in the interview.
“There was a clear expression on the mayor’s part that he was interested in using it as a dirty murf, or murf, or something,” said Commissioner Gene Valentino.
John Asmar, the mayor’s chief of staff, said the city had no intention of placing a dirty murf—a recycling facility—on the sites.
“Obviously, our target is in manufacturing and distribution,” Asmar said of the city’s plans.
But the commission wasn’t satisfied.
“When I asked the mayor in my office on Monday if he said that, he said ‘no,’” Commissioner Kevin White told Asmar. “But the tape says differently.”
White said he would feel “comfortable” if the commitment to not place a recycling center on the properties was put into writing.
“We have no intent in a recycling center—it’s on the record,” Asmar confirmed.
“—or dirty smurf, or anything of that nature?” clarified Chairman Robertson.
The rest of the commission began to crack up.
“There’s no dirty smurfs,” laughed Robinson. “Smurfs are the little blue things.”
“They’re just as toxic, though,” said White.
Assured by Asmar that there would be no dirty murfs—or smurfs—the county board seemed appeased.
“Send the message to the mayor that we trust him, John,” said Chairman Robertson. “No matter what the tape says, we’re sure you’re going to do the right thing.”
SMART MONEY Students in Escambia County’s public high schools were recently given some new hope thanks to the generosity of Quint and Rishy Studer. The local philanthropists—and owners of the Blue Wahoos baseball team—have announced a new college scholarship.
“College education is the ticket to success,” said University of West Florida President Judy Bense, during the Studer’s announcement event for Pensacola Pledge. “Today we celebrate hope and that 40 lives will be changed forever.”
The Pensacola Pledge is the Studer’s offer of $1 million for scholarships. The sum should enable 40 local students to attend either the University of West Florida or Pensacola State College for four years.
Farriel Moore just moved to Pensacola from Panama City. He has considered joining the service after high school graduation.
“The chances of going to college would be very slim without the Pensacola Pledge,” Moore said. “Going to college would mean everything to me.”
If Moore were to be awarded a scholarship through the Pensacola Pledge, he would like to pursue a career in physical therapy.
Not only will the scholarship give students the chance to excel academically, but it will boast local universities.
“The Pensacola Pledge is a great opportunity to keep our talent at home,” said Superintendent, Malcolm Thomas.
The Pensacola Pledge is also open for others in the community to donate. If interested in adding to the scholarship, please contact Kyle Marrero, vice president for university advancement at UWF, at 474-3306 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CAMPAIGNS REPORT FUNDRAISING EFFORTS The Escambia County Commission candidates are gearing up for the Republican and Democrat primaries.
The District 1 Republican primary has incumbent Wilson Robertson, who has raised $56,260 to date, against challenger Jesse Casey who has raised $21,209. In the last reporting period that ended Dec. 31, Robertson brought in $4,550 and Casey $3,120. Both Robertson and Casey have met the petition requirement to run for the seat.
There is no Democrat primary in District 1 or 5, but District 3—the seat held by Marie Young, who has announced her retirement—will have a Democrat primary. Lumon May is the top fundraiser with $31,018. His $9,468 in the last three months tops the fundraising efforts of all county commission candidates, Republican or Democrat, in any race.
May is challenged in the Democrat primary by Annie Thomas-Walker ($790 last quarter and $1,090 year-to-date) and Jewel Cannada-Wynn ($708 last quarter and $705 year-to-date). Lumon May is the only candidate in the race to have met the petition requirement to run for the office.
In the District 5 race, challenger Sam Archer shows cash receipts of $81,850, with $6,150 in the last quarter, to incumbent Kevin White’s $9,625 ($4,675 last quarter) and fellow political newcomer Jim Taylor’s $8,049 ($1,949 last quarter).
Archer is following the Rick Scott campaign formula that saw Scott spend $70 million of his own money to get elected Florida’s governor. The political newcomer has loaned his campaign $74,000—more than the commissioner’s annual salary of $73,351. White has not met the petition requirement to run for his seat.