The Buzz – 12/5/19
“Most of ’em are the old-timers who were around during the depression,” said Rick O’Connor. “They called ’em Hoover’s chicken.”
Sea turtles, too, can be on the menu, particularly their eggs. O’Connor, who now serves as the Sea Grant extension agent for Escambia County, recalls a surreal scene during his time working in Dauphin Island off Alabama’s coast in the late 1970s and early 1980s—“We had a guy come up and say, ‘What’s going on with the sea turtles? We can’t find the eggs anymore—they make the best pies and cakes.’”
O’Connor presented a lecture this month outlining the region’s turtle-particulars and the risks posed to the species by a black-market trade often linked to Southeast Asia. The presentation wrapped up this year’s The Science Hour series, presented throughout the year by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Escambia County Extension.
Turtles—a lot of different types—call Escambia and the surrounding area home.
“It’s very wet; it’s very humid; it’s very muggy. And turtles love it,” O’Connor said, pointing out that the region also has plenty of rivers and streams in which the turtles travel. “There’s all these different highways for turtles to move on.”
Florida, as a whole actually, is quite popular with turtles. And the Southeast United States in general, O’Connor noted, is one of two turtle “hotspots” on the planet, with the other being Southeast Asia.
Insofar as species diversity for turtles, the U.S. ranks the highest with 88 different varieties of turtles. Florida ranks fifth in species diversity with 38 different varieties, just after Brazil and ahead of a collection of Southeast Asia nations rounding out the top 10 list.
Within the state of Florida, 15 different types of turtles are found in the panhandle region. Narrowing it down further, six are only found in the eastern panhandle, and four are only found in the western panhandle.
Three types of turtles are only found in the Escambia-Santa Rosa area within Florida. They are the spiny soft-shelled, the Alabama red-bellied and the Mississippi Diamondback Terrapin.
The Diamondbacks—which, like all turtles in the state, enjoy some level of protection—are pretty hot in the pet trade right now. A man was recently pulled over with a truck full of them up in North Carolina. It’s unsure if the turtles were collected in Escambia, but the scene seemed suspicious.
“He had $17,000 of cash in his pocket,” O’Connor said.
The soft-shelled turtle also faces some risks. They’re among the varieties sometimes found headed out of the country at places like the Tampa airport.
“They’re very popular as a food item,” O’Connor said of the soft shells. “There’s a lot of black-market stuff going on with these guys.”
Florida offers protections to all varieties of turtles. The state lists three as imperiled—the alligator snapper, the Barbour’s map and the Suwannee cooter. Other types, the state allows for possession of up to one turtle per person per day for non-commercial purposes in recognition that there are people who consider the animals a food source.
Locally, people can have up to two turtles of species like the box turtle and Escambia map turtle. The gopher tortoise, however—that so-called “Hoover’s chicken”—is completely off-limits.
Only found in the Southeast U.S., the gopher tortoise’s habitat is feared to be shrinking due to increasing development.
“They were basically gone in Louisiana, “ O’Connor said, noting that the turtle was also disappearing from Mississippi. “Most of them they’re finding now are on the military bases.”
But the gopher tortoise is still around in the Escambia region. Their burrows can sometimes be found even in long-developed areas. O’Connor said, “I still see these occasionally in East Hill.”
Before the Pensacola City Council held its special workshop on Tuesday, Nov. 26, Councilwoman Sherri Myers had withdrawn her name, leaving only District 4’s Jared Moore and District 7’s Jewel Cannada-Wynn on the ballot for council president.
After the meeting was called to order, Moore asked to speak. He said, “What I have to say could probably make this process quick. Anyway, what I’d like to say is just that I would rather rescind my name from the ballot at this time, as well.”
Moore said he appreciated the nomination and hoped to one day serve as council president. He added, looking a Cannada-Wynn, “I came in convinced who I wanted to support for that position—not because of a box on the demographics checklist that would be marked, or even because it’s your last year, but the caliber of character you’ve demonstrated that I’ve seen up close here over the last year. So I’d rather rescind my name and then support Ms. Cannada-Wynn as our president for the next year.
The council voted unanimously for Cannada-Wynn, who has announced she would not seek re-election.
“I just want to thank this council for their support,” said Cannada-Wynn. “Over the years, we have worked together for the betterment of our community for this city. We have done great things here as a city council, and I actually want to thank you for entrusting that leadership to me.”
Councilman P.C. Wu, who chaired the meeting in the absence of Council President Andy Terhaar, voiced his support and admiration for the incoming president, noting that she had attended his swearing-in ceremony when he took over as the president of the Florida League of Cities.
“I cannot tell you the day that I got installed as president for League of Cities, to look over and see this marvelous woman there,” said Wu, “but my admiration is for her emotional stability, her persistence, her intelligence, her charm, her leadership. It is just my honor to cast my vote for you because I have utmost admiration for you.”
The vote for the vice president was also by acclamation. After Myers and Councilman John Jerralds withdrew, Moore was elected without opposition.
“I could not have scripted this better when I walked in here with my opening statement because everything has flowed exactly perfectly, and I commend you for your actions,” said Wu. “Mr. Jerralds, you have been an exemplary councilman. You have earned this position. It is not coming to you by default but is coming for you because of your actions and how you have conducted yourself.”
The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), West Florida Chapter, announced recipients of the 2019 National Philanthropy Day awards during its annual luncheon.
The late Rob Zitzewitz and his wife Judie were named the 2019 Outstanding Volunteer Fundraisers of the Year. This award is for individuals with a proven track record of ongoing, significant time and commitment for one or more organizations.
Karoline Barkley was named the 2019 Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy of the Year. This award recognizes services by an individual or a group of young people ages 10-23 who demonstrate outstanding commitment to the community through direct financial support, development of charitable programs, volunteering and leadership in philanthropy.
Gulf Power Foundation was named the 2019 Outstanding Charitable Foundation of the Year. This award honors a family or business foundation that demonstrates outstanding commitment through financial support, innovation, encouragement and motivation of others to take leadership roles in philanthropy and national, international and/or community involvement.
United Way of West Florida was named the 2019 Philanthropic Service Organization of the Year. This award recognizes a community-based organization that is not otherwise connected to a foundation or business, whose grant programs, donations and charitable activities significantly enrich the community.
Hill-Kelly Dodge and Ascend Performance Materials were both named the Philanthropic Businesses of the Year. This award honors a corporation or business in Northwest Florida that demonstrates outstanding commitment through financial support, encouragement and motivation of others to take leadership roles toward philanthropy and community involvement.
Julian and Kim MacQueen were named the 2019 Philanthropists of the Year. This award recognizes exceptional generosity and civic responsibility demonstrated by significant financial contributions to charitable organizations in the community.
The late Sally McConnell was named the 2019 Outstanding Fundraising Professional of the Year. This award is given to a fundraising professional of at least five years who has been involved in the Association of Fundraising Professionals Chapter, shaping and molding not just their nonprofit of employment but the profession as a whole.
In an InWeekly/Political Matrix poll of 533 likely Republican voters living Escambia District 5 voters, we found that Larry Walker has the lead for the re-election for his ECUA race over challenger Hope Lunsford by 12 percentage points. The incumbent received 37.7% of the votes, Lunsford 23.5% and 38.8% were undecided.
In the 2016 GOP primary, Walker garnered 60% of the vote in a race against Jim Taylor. Four years earlier, he received 76% of the vote in a three-person race.
Gulf Breeze Will Do
A group of Gulf Breeze women formed Gulf Breeze Will Do (GBWD) to serve as a funding tool to help other nonprofit organizations and individuals who are trying to make a difference in the Gulf Breeze and Pensacola Beach communities.
Grant funding is provided by collective annual membership dues, all of which are distributed back to the community. Every member has a vote on which organizations receive grant funding.
Among the recipients were The Arc Gateway, $4,494, to purchase iPads for their music program; Gulf Breeze High School Track Team, $10,000, to purchase track and field pole vaulting landing pads and equipment; Gulf Breeze Elementary School, $9,980, to purchase music instruments and band equipment for the fifth grade band; and Gulf Breeze High School Mathematics Department, $9,938.79, to purchase “smart boards” for math classrooms.
Gulf Breeze Will Do has awarded more than $300,000 to initiatives in the Gulf Breeze and Pensacola Beach communities since its inception in 2014. The 2020 Membership Drive is currently underway. Annual dues are $250 per person, and membership is open to women 18 years of age or older. To join, visit gulfbreezewilldo.org.
Holiday Open House
Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northwest Florida (RMH) has its annual Holiday Open House 4-7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 10. Sweet treats will be provided as well as house tours. Santa will make a special appearance, and holiday family photo opportunities will be available courtesy of Foto2Go, Appleyard Agency and Digital Now.
During the Holiday Open House, and throughout the month of December, you can help our families have a happy holiday season by selecting a tag from the RMH giving tree. Those who contribute will receive a limited-edition Ronald McDonald House ornament for their donation. For additional information on the giving tree, please contact Morgan, email@example.com.
December Food Drive
FoodRaising Friends and the UF/IFAS Extension Family Nutrition Program are hosting a food drive through December. Each month will have an emphasis on a specific healthy food. December’s donation is whole grain cereal.
As FoodRaising Friends’ primary focus is providing low-income families with free nutritionally dense foods, the organization is hoping to improve donations by choosing healthier options for the recipients.
Donations can be dropped off at the UF/IFAS Extension office, 6263 Dogwood Drive in Milton. For more information, contact Trevor Parrish, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jazz Pensacola is calling arts and crafts exhibitors to submit applications for the 2020 Pensacola JazzFest, taking place April 4-5 at Seville Square in historic downtown Pensacola.
Application forms can be downloaded at jazzpensacola.com. Only original art and handmade crafts will be accepted. No commercial/mass-produced products will be accepted. All entries are $200 for a 10′-by-10′ canopy or smaller. All fees go to support Pensacola JazzFest, a free event for the community.
Jazz Pensacola is a nonprofit organization of business and professional people, musicians, teachers, students and listeners working together for the purpose of advancing jazz music and education in Pensacola and the surrounding area.
Mark Your Calendar
Baptist Heart & Vascular Institute and Faith Health Network will host A Heart for Life community health fair 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, Cobb Center, 601 E. Mallory St. Free health screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and weight will be offered, along with limited benefit screenings. Once screened, attendees can meet with a clinical team member to review their results as needed. Local vendors will be present to share health and community resource information.
The Technical Coordinating Committee of the Florida-Alabama Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) will meet o8:30 a.m. Monday, Dec. 9, Pensacola City Hall, 222 W. Main St.
TPO Citizens’ Advisory Committee will meet at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 10, iPensacola City Hall, 222 W. Main St.
The TPO will hold a public meeting at 9 a.m., Wednesday, Dec. 11, Tiger Point Community Center, 1370 Tiger Park Ln, Gulf Breeze.
The Florida SBDC at UWF offers the “Starting a Business” workshop from noon-4 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 11, at Synovus, 125 W. Romana St. The fee is $50 (required, non-refundable online payment). To register, visit sbdc.uwf.edu and click on “Training & Events.”
Escambia County and District 3 Commissioner Lumon May will host the third annual Holiday Youth Extravaganza at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13, at Brownsville Community Center, 3200 W. De Soto St.
The Great Gulfcoast Arts Festival (GGAF) is proud to support art programs and outreach in our communities by offering grants to local arts organizations. Each year, GGAF awards grants to local nonprofit organizations in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties for community arts projects. Applications for 2020 Grants are being accepted through Dec. 9 and are available at ggaf.org/grants.