The Buzz 11/7/19
A Great Effort
After raising almost $1.8 million for local charities, Panhandle Charitable Open (PCO) founder John Peacock last week announced that the organization would close down its operations after 18 years. That announcement came at the PCO’s event Thursday morning after the organization delivered more than $300,000 in contributions to over 27 different charities.
Established after the death of his son John at the age of 17, Peacock said the PCO started as a way to try to make something good out of that terrible tragedy. Since its inception almost two decades ago, the PCO has grown from a small golf tournament to a three-day event spanning two days of golf at two area golf courses and sellout crowds at its fundraising dinner.
“When we started the PCO, we really just wanted a way to channel our loss into some way of helping the community,” said Peacock. “Over the years, the community has continued to respond with such generosity to this event, even setting a record this year for the most money raised in our history.”
Peacock said that the all-volunteer board and event committee for the PCO has made it possible to channel every dollar raised to local charities but that all events have a lifecycle.
“I’m so grateful to all the volunteers who have worked tirelessly year in and year out on this event and all the charities we support, but after almost two decades, I feel we have stretched as far as we can with our volunteers and our community support,” he said.
Most recently, the primary charities supported by the Panhandle Charitable Open include the Council on Aging of West Florida, Gulf Coast Kid’s House, Children’s Home Society, Santa Rosa Kids’ House and Child Guardians, Inc. Dozens of other local organizations have also received contributions from the organization over the years.
Peacock noted that just because the Panhandle Charitable Open was ending, he hoped the community would continue supporting worthy causes that helped those in need.
“It is a bittersweet feeling to close the door on this chapter, but my wife Jerre and I are grateful to all the people who helped do so much good, for so many organizations, over the past several years. We look forward to seeing our sponsors, volunteers and supporters continue their philanthropy in other ways for this community.”
In an Inweekly/Political Matrix poll of 914 likely Florida voters, 56.1% support the legalizing of recreational marijuana for use as well as purchase. We also found the nearly the same amount, 54.5% support raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
When it comes to the issues of gun legislation, 80.1% say they want to leave the age at 21 instead of lowering it to the previous age of 18. This must be huge disappointment to State Rep. Mike Hill who has sponsored a bill (HB 6003) that would remove the prohibition on persons younger than 21 years of age from purchasing firearms.
Finally, we found that when it comes to issues like these they feel as though the decisions should be made by the voters through a ballot initiative, rather than by lawmakers in Tallahassee. The numbers on this were overwhelming with 78.4% wanting ballot choice leaving just 17.2% supporting Tallahassee making the decisions.
The persons sampled were likely Florida voters with a voting score of 100% for the general election cycles. The voters called were those only with landlines and were called using an Interactive Voice Response system during the hours of 3-5 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 3. The Margin of Error for this study is +/- 4.5% with a confidence level of 95%.
The Birmingham Business Journal reports Florida-based Blue Magma Residential acquired Heritage Apartment Homes in Pensacola for $17.8 million, or about $91,752.58 per unit, from John Mejia and Birmingham-based Providence Investments.
In 2014, Mejia acquired the complex for $11.6 million, or about $59,793.81 per unit. He made a nice $6.2 million profit for his five-year investment.
The 194-unit garden-style multifamily property on North Davis Highway features one-, two- and three-bedroom floors plans, along with a barbecue area, laundry facilities, a fitness center, clubhouse, two pools and a dog park.
Blue Magma is rebranding the property to The Park at Sterling Hills and plans to renovate the unit interiors and clubhouse.
Day of Outrage
On Monday, Oct. 28, approximately 50 people gathered around the bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. to express their anger with police violence against women of color. Known as the “Day of Outrage,” the nationwide event was held in over two dozen cities to protest the shooting death of Atatiana Jefferson by a police officer in Fort Worth, Texas. The 28-year old Jefferson was shot and killed in front of her nephew during a routine wellness check not long after the two finished playing video games in their living room.
The Pensacola event marked Jefferson’s death but also served as an open forum for those angry at last Friday’s news that the Escambia County Grand Jury recommended Detective Daniel Siemen not be indicted for the shooting death of Tymar Crawford.
Organized by the Pensacola Dream Defenders, the “Day of Outrage” began with a prayer by Jamil Davis, an organizer with Dream Defenders. In his opening prayer, Davis said “we call for reconciliation for our people—who have faced 400 years of oppression and enslavement in some form, shape or fashion and brutality by a system that was built on racism and white supremacy.” Davis’ prayer called for accountability within the city’s government and a healing for those who’ve been affected by violence.
Davis closed his prayer by adding, “We cannot reform a system [that has a] foundation that has already been built on broken and tattered disarray.”
Dream Defender organizer Ieshia Williams then took the megaphone and read from the organization’s mission booklet, “Freedom Papers.” Williams said, “We deserve better … We deserve real safety over our cities, our states, our homes, our schools, our workplaces and our community centers. By virtue of being born, each of us has an absolute right to people-centered humane justice.”
Until Freedom, a national social justice organization, originally called for the “Day of Outrage” to “Demand justice for Atatiana Jefferson and the countless black women killed at the hand of police violence.”
Local organizers throughout the country tailored their events to address the issues of each community. Members of Dream Defenders and the NAACP read the names of African American women, young and old, shot and killed by police officers. Readers also told their stories, including that of Atatiana Jefferson, along with many more.
Ellison Bennett, former president of the Pensacola chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Council, was one of the last people to speak.
“I came here today to support the Dream Defenders and Tymar Crawford’s family,” said Bennett. He was far from alone. Also present were several representatives from Pensacola’s civil rights organizations—including the NAACP and Movement for Change—as well as members of Crawford’s family.
The event lasted an hour and ended peacefully with a call-and-response song led by the Dream Defenders. “When I say, ‘Which side are you on, my people? Which side are you on?’ You say, ‘We’re on the freedom side!’”
“Ready? Let’s go!”
D4 Town Hall
With a drizzly evening raining down outside, Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson and District 4 City Councilman Jared Moore hunkered down inside the Vickery Community Center Tuesday for a town hall with area constituents.
Over the course of the town hall, citizens were able to ask questions and bring up issues of concern to the elected officials, acting as what Councilman Moore described as “eyes on the street.” Much of the conversation centered on traffic and road-related issues, but there was also talk of landscaping, education and the private ownership of streets.
One of the residents in attendance Tuesday night was former city councilman Rhett Anderson, who offered up this nugget—“Progress produces problems that need to be foreseen.” Among the issues he brought up was a traffic uptick on Summit Boulevard, just outside the Vickery Center.
Mayor Robinson said that the city planned to put in a crossing area with a light near the fire station on Summit—“when that light blinks you’re supposed to stop”—and that the designated crossing would slow traffic and make the roadway safer for pedestrians.
The mayor also steered the conversation toward the concept of making the city more walkable, or pedestrian-friendly.
“We can encourage ways to be more walkable,” Robinson said, explaining that the effort would require “changing behavior patterns.”
Noting that the notion of walkability is more associated with the urban area of downtown, one man in attendance questioned whether city officials and were overly catering to the downtown crowd—“There’s much more to Pensacola, the city of Pensacola, than downtown.”
Robinson disagreed, contending that issues like walkability were relevant throughout the city and also pointing to efforts to engage individual neighborhoods and energy expended in areas away from downtown, such as bringing ST and its associated aviation technician jobs to the Pensacola International Airport and surrounding neighborhoods.
“I don’t think this is just a downtown thing,” Robinson said.
Councilman Moore spoke directly to CivicCon’s relevance throughout the city, saying many of the themes addressed in the events were much broader than any particular area of Pensacola.
“Certainly a lot of CivicCon has centered on urban design, but it’s not limited to that,” Moore said, offering up as examples presentations pertaining to selecting a new superintendent of schools or dealing with the opioid crisis.
Another issue that arose was the lack of blooms on the crate myrtles along Summit. “Are we not pruning them and feeding them?” an attendee asked. “I keep waiting for some nice full blooms. They’ve been there for years.”
Robinson explained the previous administration had outsourced much of the work like landscaping, and thus the city had limited control over such issues and that was presenting “maintenance challenges.”
“We’re working on creating some crews,” the mayor said, explaining that there were plans to begin handling such tasks in-house and as needed.
Discrimination in Schools
The Emerald Coast Equality LGBTA Democratic Caucus will host the educational public forum “Forces That are Driving Discrimination in Florida’s Schools” at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 1, at the West Florida Public Library, 239 N. Spring St.
Guest speaker Carol Cleaver will cover an explanation of the differences between charter schools and voucher schools, the legislation involved in determining which schools receive preference and the effects that these legislative decisions are having on Florida’s children. Cleaver will be joined at the end of her presentation by representatives from the Escambia Education Association for a question-and-answer session.
Cleaver, vice president of Emerald Coast Equality, is the chair of the political action team for the Escambia Education Association. She is also a teacher for the Escambia County School District. Cleaver has served as a delegate at the Florida Education Association Assembly, the National Education Association Assembly and the NAACP national convention.
The public is invited to learn more about public education and what actions can be taken to help Florida’s school children. There is no cost to attend. However, reservations are requested and can be made at mobilize.us/escambiadems/event/148848/. For more info, visit Emerald Coast Equality LGBTA Democratic Caucus on Facebook.
Pensacola State College dental hygiene students will provide free dental sealants to children 15 years and younger on Saturday, Nov. 9, at the Warrington campus. Along with sealants, children can receive exams and cleanings at the event set for 8 a.m. until noon. Children must be accompanied by parent or legal guardian.
Dental sealant is a thin, plastic coating applied to the chewing surfaces of teeth to prevent tooth decay and is mostly applied to the teeth of children. Linda Lambert, Pensacola State dental hygiene program director, said there are two primary reasons the college offers the free dental sealants.
“Well, it’s a requirement for our students to treat children,’’ she explained. “And it’s a way for our students to give back to the community.”
The Warrington campus is at 5555 W. U.S. 98, Pensacola. To register to receive free dental sealants for your child, call 850-484-2236.
Parking Open Forum
The DIB is seeking public input on concerns surrounding the current and future state of public parking in downtown Pensacola for our 2020 cohesive and comprehensive parking plan of action.
Please come and share your thoughts, ideas, questions or concerns with our parking team. Let your voice be heard and be a part of making Pensacola a great place to live, work, play and park. The meetings are 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7, and 9 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 19, Bowden Building, Room #1, 120 Church St.
Mark Your Calendar
Community Redevelopment Agency will meet 9 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 7, at the Ernie Lee Magaha Government Building, 221 Palafox, Board Chambers.
Environmental Advisory Board will meet 2 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7, at Pensacola City Hall, 222 W. Main St., Whibbs Conference Room, First Floor.
BCC Public Forum will meet 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7, at the Ernie Lee Magaha Government Building, 221 Palafox, Board Chambers. BCC Regular Meeting will follow at 5:30 p.m.
Pine Forest United Methodist Church will be hosting its 30th Annual Arts and Crafts Festival and Car Show from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9, at 2800 Wilde Lake Blvd. The day features over 180 arts, crafts and other vendors, food and live music. Free admission. Proceeds used for community ministries. For more information, visit pineforestumc.org.
The Northern District of Florida Bankruptcy Bar Association will host a free legal clinic for anyone who may need to file bankruptcy or who is owed a debt 9-11:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 9, at the Fricker Resource Center, 900 N. F Street.
Mr. Robbins Neighborhood will hold its third annual Super Bowl Bonanza 4:30-9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9, at Cordova Lanes Bowling Center. Tickets and sponsorships can be purchased at mrrobbinsneighborhood.org/superbowlbonanza. The fundraiser will benefit the programs “Game Plan Camp” and “The Playbook, ” which serve students from underfunded schools and low-income neighborhoods.
The Pensacola MESS Hall is hosting Science Uncorked 6-8 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 10, at 116 N. Tarragona St. Attendees will enjoy a showcase of the activities that engage learners of all ages in science exploration. Funds raised through the event will support the Pensacola MESS Hall. Tickets are for sale online at pensacolamesshall.org/uncorked.
DIB Finance Committee will meet 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov.12, at the Bowden Building, Room #2, 120 Church St.
Santa Rosa County will hold a RESTORE public meeting 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12, at the Santa Rosa County Administrative Complex, Commissioners Meeting Room, 6495 Caroline St. The current plan and general information about the RESTORE Act is available at santarosa.fl.gov/restore.
The Pensacola State College Veterinary Technology Program Open House is set for 3-7 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 13. Visitors will have the opportunity to meet the Vet Tech Program instructors and tour the college’s state-of-the-art facility in Building 3200, 5555 W. Highway 98.
The first St. John’s Talks for 2019-20 series will be “Old Warrington Village Watchman’s Diary Talk” by Dr. Norman Haines, 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14, St. John’s Episcopal Church, 401 Live Oak Ave.