Buzz – 12/26/19
New UWF Degree
The University of West Florida is launching a Bachelor of Science in Construction Management beginning in Fall 2020, pending approval from the Florida Board of Governors. The UWF Board of Trustees approved the program at its quarterly meeting held on Dec. 5.
The proposed program currently operates as a specialization in building construction within the Bachelor of Science in Engineering Technology program. Dr. George Ellenberg, provost and senior vice president, says repositioning it as a stand-alone degree will increase the program’s visibility and provide students and potential employers with a better understanding of the education and training graduates receive from UWF.
“We are responding to local workforce demand for the construction management industry, and this offering will help satisfy many of those needs,” Ellenberg said. “Students and potential employers can be assured that this will be a rigorous program that prepares graduates for a career in the field.”
Housed in the Department of Administration and Law in the College of Education and Professional Studies, the new program will consist of 120 semester hours, taught in the traditional face-to-face format. Students will graduate prepared for various positions in the building construction and general contracting industries, including construction management, supervision, inspection and estimation.
“The Northwest Florida community will benefit greatly from the addition of this program,” said Dr. William Crawley, dean of the UWF College of Education and Professional Studies. “Alongside building construction occupations, our area is growing, and we have the opportunity to retain our graduates’ local talent. Equally important, based on the caliber of our other programs, potential employers can have confidence in hiring the students and alumni of the building construction management program in the future.”
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts more than 11% growth in construction management related occupations through 2026 with an annual median wage for construction managers of $93,370. In addition, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity projects more than 12% growth in construction management jobs in the state of Florida through 2026 with an annual median wage of $79,850. In the local counties of Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton, construction of buildings and specialty trade contractors ranked among the top 20 fastest growing industries.
For more information about the Bachelor of Science in Construction Management, visit uwf.edu/construction.
On Tuesday, Dec. 10, the Navy posthumously awarded Wings of Gold to all three Sailors killed during the Dec. 6 shooting at Naval Aviation Schools Command aboard Naval Air Station Pensacola.
Acting Secretary of the Navy the Honorable Thomas B. Modly proclaimed Ensign Joshua K. Watson as a naval aviator and Airman Mohammed S. Haitham and Airman Apprentice Cameron S. Walters as naval aircrewmen.
“It is my honor today to present the Wings of Gold to the families of these three American heroes who were among the first to respond to horrific attacks upon our own naval family and, tragically, were also our Sailors who made the ultimate sacrifice in protecting their brothers and sisters in arms,” said Modly. “Although this authorization pales in comparison to their immense bravery in the line of fire, this winging represents the symbolic achievement of the coveted goal that all three came to Pensacola to accomplish—to join the long line of naval aviators, flight officers and aircrewmen who have served the cause of freedom so valiantly for over a century.”
He added, “Airman Haitham, Airman Walters and Ensign Watson represent the highest virtues of naval aviation and undoubtedly belong in that great fraternity of selfless service to our Navy, our department and our nation.”
Student naval aviators are selected based on their aptitude for flight training. A recent U.S. Naval Academy graduate, Watson possessed the education, skills and tenacity required of naval aviators and was set to begin the rigorous training toward earning his coveted Wings of Gold. Naval aircrewmen, often said to be the Navy’s “guardian angels,” undergo some of the Navy’s most physically challenging training. Candidates must be comfortable in the water and pass demanding physical fitness standards. Both Haitham and Walters possessed the strength, skill and determination required of the Navy’s aircrewmen.
ST Wants More
The city of Pensacola has been working toward a four-hangar maintenance repair and overhaul (MRO) facility at the airport for years. Dubbed Project Titan, the $260 million project currently has one hangar complete, and the city’s tenant and corporate partner in the project, ST Engineering, is ready for more.
On Dec. 16, Mayor Grover Robinson announced that work on phase two of the Titan project will soon commence. He said, “We’re glad to have hangar one, but we’re ready to get two, three and four going.”
The remaining work at the airport will run $210 million. The funds are coming from a collection of sources, including $66 million in oil spill recovery money from Triumph Gulf Coast. The city is also still working to secure a remaining $4.8 million for the project.
Bill Hafner, chief integration officer with VT Mobile Aerospace Engineering, oversees ST’s operations at Pensacola’s airport, and he too is ready for more space.
“We need this space; we need this growth. The opportunity is there,” Hafner said, joining the mayor for the weekly presser at Pensacola City Hall.
Hafner relayed promising projections surrounding the aviation industry, particularly the MRO sector. He detailed how air travel, both passenger and freight, is on the rise and is expected to continue to grow. Meanwhile, major aircraft manufacturers are looking at 10-year-long backorders on planes.
“I can tell you right now, FedEx and UPS, two of our largest customers—everything that’s got wings is flying, because they have all those boxes coming into the country for Christmas,” Hafner said. “Many of our customers are bringing equipment out of retirement. They’re taking things out of mothballs and putting them back into service because the manufacturers simply can’t get new equipment out there fast enough.”
What this means for the MRO industry is expanded opportunities because older aircraft are being brought out of retirement to meet the demand.
“It all trickles down, folks, and those planes need to be maintained,” Hafner said.
Hafner said that once the MRO campus at the Pensacola airport is completed, the company will need approximately 1,700 employees to fill maintenance and other positions. With an eye toward that need, the company is partnering with local schools, like George Stone and Booker T. Washington High School, to train students for the industry.
“As far as locating folks down here, there’s been great response. In fact, we have a much easier time recruiting and hiring in Pensacola than we do in our other locations,” Hafner said.
Since Mayor Robinson announced that the city of Pensacola had been the target of a cyberattack, the city has largely recovered communication capabilities, as well as other city functions, and is currently working to get fully back on line.
While the city has confirmed that the attack involved ransomware, officials have been otherwise tightlipped about the specifics surrounding the attack. That trend continued at mayor’s Dec. 16 press conference, with the mayor citing an ongoing investigation as the rationale for not elaborating.
“We cannot discuss specifics of the attack,” Robinson said.
Some apparent details regarding the attack have emerged, though. An FDLE email surfaced briefly online and confirmed the use of the MAZE malware, and a cyber security blog also reportedly made contact with the cyber attackers responsible for the attack and confirmed the ransom ask was $1 million.
Mayor Robinson would not confirm or discuss any of these points on Monday.
“I can’t confirm anything,” Robinson said, explaining that the investigation into the attack is ongoing. “We’ve been advised by those that are investigating this not to discuss details in the press.”
The mayor would also not say if the city had communicated with the hackers.
“I think they’ve reached out to—” the mayor said, before PIO Kaycee Lagarde interjected.
“That would be part of the investigation that we can’t talk about,” Lagarde said.
The mayor said that the city had not been able to figure out if any personal or private data belonging to residents or customers of the city had been compromised in the attack.
“We believe they were not, but again, we can’t confirm that,” the mayor said.
Officials have engaged an outside tech firm, at a cost of $140,000, to assess the post-attack technical landscape at the city. The city will also be pursuing insurance to cover any future cyberattack events.
New Team Member
The city of Pensacola has hired a risk manager. Ryan Fitzgerald started work at the city last week and comes to Pensacola from Layette, La., where he served as risk manager for the Diocese of Lafayette. His first assignment will be looking into cyber security insurance options.
“I’m sure cyber insurance is going to be the first thing he looks at, so we’re ready for him to get on board and take a look at that,” Mayor Grover Robinson said.
Questions for Lawmakers
WSRE is accepting questions from the public for legislators who will appear on “Legislative Review: Dialogue with the Delegation,” airing at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 9. The program will also be simulcast on NewsRadio 92.3 FM and 1620 AM.
Questions may be submitted in advance by email to email@example.com. Each question must be accompanied by a name and city of residence. Questions will also be accepted by phone during the broadcast.
Moderated by Jeff Weeks, “Legislative Review” features a panel discussion with the local legislative delegation responding to constituents’ questions on budget and policy topics. The following legislators of the Northwest Florida delegation have been invited to participate—Sens. Doug Broxson (District 1) and George B. Gainer (District 2); and Reps. Mike Hill (District 1), Alex Andrade (District 2), Jayer Williamson (District 3) and Mel Ponder (District 4).
WSRE presents a live broadcast of “Legislative Review” as a community service before and after each legislative session. Florida’s 2020 legislative session convenes on Jan. 14.
Work is set to begin next week on the replacement of all of the roofs within the Gulf Islands National Seashore’s Perdido Key Area, as well as all of the park’s entrance stations. The work will temporarily close some facilities while work is begin completed. Any closures will be posted on the park’s website as necessary.
The work will replace asphalt shingle roofs on restrooms, picnic pavilions and administrative structures with standing-seam aluminum roofs. The new aluminum roofs are more sustainable, reducing the park’s recurring repair costs. In addition to the facilities at the Perdido Key Area, all of the park’s entrance stations will receive new aluminum roofs. In addition to the added sustainability of these new roofs, they will be redesigned to improve the visitor experience during inclement weather.
The roof replacements are funded by park entrance fees. Revenue from entrance fees remain with the NPS and helps ensure a quality experience for all who visit. At Gulf Islands, 76.5% of entrance fees are retained by the park and are devoted to maintaining facilities that directly serve visitors. Learn more about how fee dollars are at work at the park by visiting nps.gov/guis/planyourvisit/yourfeesatwork.htm.
The contract for this work was awarded on September 15, 2019, to Reasor Building Group, LLC for $406,000. The roof replacement project is expected to be completed in Spring 2020.
Gallery Night Themes
The Gallery Night Pensacola board has announced the dates and themes for the 2020 year.
The schedule is as follows:
Jan. 17 – Lunar New Year
Feb. 28 – Pensacon
March 20 – Dancin’ In the Streets
April 17 – Gallery Night 5k
May 15 – Cars, Stars & Stripes
June 19 – Throwback to the ‘80s
July 17 – Blues, Jazz & Soul
Aug. 21 – Back 2 School Blowout!
Sept. 18 – College Tailgate Night
Oct. 16 – Halloween Carnival
Nov. 20 – Pensacola Heritage
Dec. 18 – Christmas Movies
Sydney Robinson, Gallery Night director, said the chosen themes were a collaborative effort between the board and results from polling Facebook fans.
“As our nonprofit events continue to grow, we wanted to create a group of unique themes, improving on popular months from 2019 as well as incorporating some brand-new ideas like our upcoming Gallery Night 5k,” said Robinson. “In 2020, visitors will notice a strong focus on local culture and history, as well as our continued dedication to highlighting art of all mediums. Whether you are a longtime Gallery Night fan or a first-time visitor, we want to bring you a unique and engaging experience each and every month.”
Havana Night Gala
On Jan. 17, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Florida will host one of Pensacola’s most beloved events, their annual Big Gala presented by the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office at Skopelos at New World.
Palm fronds, mojitos, bongo drums, hand-rolled cigars and salsa dancers will set the stage for the Big Gala 2020: Havana Night.
Guests can expect a seated hand-crafted dinner from chef Gus Silvos, live entertainment from Mr. Big and the Rhythm Sisters, alongside Fred Astaire Dance Studio of Pensacola, chances to win and a live and silent auction. Festivities will begin at 6 p.m., and dress for the evening is black tie. Tickets are $175 and can be purchased by calling 433-5437.