The Summation Weekly - April 17, 2024

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Situated in the heart of historic East Hill at 1010 N. 12th Ave., lies one of Pensacola’s most mysterious and beloved architectural landmarks, the old Sacred Heart Hospital. Formerly Pensacola Hospital, the historic Sacred Heart Hospital opened its doors in 1915 as the first Catholic hospital in Florida. Boasting impressive late Gothic Revivalstyle architecture, it took only one year for Evans Brothers Construction to complete the entire building. The thriving hospital eventually outgrew the building, and was moved to a much larger and modernized facility, which is what we know today as Sacred Heart Hospital. The name was changed from Pensacola Hospital in 1948, and the historic Sacred Heart Hospital was added to the United States National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

Back in the hospital’s heyday, nurses would walk the wards tending to its around 150 patients—some say they still do. Over the years, there have been reports of numerous sightings of a ghostly apparition dressed in a nurse’s uniform, who still continues to roam the building. Today, the structure remains as both a medical and architectural landmark and houses a number of small businesses that serve as the heart of the East Hill neighborhood. The building currently serves as home to an eclectic mix of both old and new tenants, ranging from the beloved O’Zone Pizza Pub and private CPAs and attorneys to performing arts and yoga studios and more. We have brought you details on some of the bustling new businesses that now call the historic building home.

Lamonte Gelato

The makers behind Pensacola’s wildly popular pop-up dining experience, TROUBADOUR Dining Pensacola, returned to the local dining scene in February 2023 with the debut of their latest business venture, Lamonte Gelato. Owned by local husband-andwife restaurateurs, Alex and Ashley Lamonte, this authentic Italian-style gelateria offers an impressive lineup of artisanal small batch gelatos. Each gelato flavor is made from scratch by Alex himself, without the use of premade mixes, artificial flavoring, dyes or fillers. Some house specialties


include gelato truffles, fraps and affogatos. The menu also features handcrafted waffle cones, espresso drinks from the shop’s fully-stocked espresso bar and locally-roasted Alla Prima Coffee. A variety of dairy-free and gluten-free options are also available.

Lamonte Gelato is located in suite #133 and is open Wednesday through Sunday from 12 pm to 9 pm. Check out the full menu online at, or follow Lamonte Gelato on Facebook and @lamonte_gelato on Instagram.

A Mano Panino

Also the brainchild of local restaurateurs Alex and Ashley Lamonte, this new Italian-inspired sandwich shop made its debut in January alongside the couple’s existing gelato shop, Lamonte Gelato. The menu features 10 signature sandwiches with flavors inspired by the street food of Florence. Each of the sandwiches are made from scratch with fresh, all-natural ingredients and served on homemade schiacciata bread (an Italian flatbread similar to focaccia). The flavor profile for each of the schiacciata-based sandwiches are matched to an Italian classical music term. One customer favorite is the #9 Delicato Sandwich, which is the shop’s signature vegan option that includes balsamic roasted eggplant, marinated zucchini, sunflower seed and arugula pesto with giardiniera relish. You can order online and enjoy on the go, or dine-in at Lemonte Gelato. A Mano Panino is located in Suite #128 and is open Wednesday through Sunday from 12

pm to 4pm. View the menu and order online at, or follow @amanopanino on social media.

The Burrow

This neighborhood biergarten, cocktail lounge and eatery made its debut in early 2024 as the new extension of Pensacola’s popular Odd Colony Brewing Company. Meticulously crafted by co-owners Brett Schweigert and Blake Foster, The Burrow perfectly fuses the warmth and coziness of a rustic wilderness lodge with the unique vibe of a European biergarten to create an eclectic—and comfortably elevated—experience.

The restaurant and brewery are both nature and seasonally inspired, featuring earthy cocktails, campfire-inspired menu offerings and loads of Belgianstyle lagers. The inner quarters provide an intimate experience for dinner and drinks, while the 8,000-squarefoot outdoor biergarten is more laidback with picnic table seating and outdoor entertainment. The beer menu is offered both in the taproom and outdoor biergarten and primarily focuses on lagers. The eye-catching house food menu was cultivated by local chef Amy Potmesil, who has ties to many popular restaurants such as Union Public House, The Well and The Nest General Store. Her menu design complements the rustic, cabin-esque vibe, with hickory smoked menu items such as smoked mussels and wild boar meatballs. Other menu favorites include Bone Harvest lager boiled peanuts and the beer brined pork chop. The Burrow if located in Suite

#111 and is open Tuesday through Sunday (hours vary). Check out @TheBurrowbyOC on Facebook or @theburrow.oddcolony on Instagram.

A Curious Wine Shop

This quaint wine shop is packed with delightful curiosities, and of course, plenty of tasty wine. Owned and operated by husband-and-wife, John and Hilary Towns, A Curious Wine Shop celebrated its opening on January 23. The shop is located in a portion of the building that formerly served as the principal’s office for the Pensacola Private School of Liberal Arts, providing the perfect ambiance for the couple’s niche business concept. With Hilary’s extensive background in wine education and John’s profession as a geologist, the two have set out to not only make wine more accessible to the average consumer, but also to educate them on the stories and science behind the wines they drink. Hilary became a Certified Specialist of Wine through The Academy of Wine Educators in 2014 and, most recently, served as the Sommelier for Restaurant Iron here in Pensacola. The shop offers regular wine tastings during operating hours, but the main pillar of the business is Hilary’s self-curated wine tasting boxes, which include three bottles of wine and assorted education materials based on a specific theme. Each day, the shop showcases a different tasting box with relevant maps, rocks and aromas for customers to sample and explore. Private tasting classes are also hosted Tuesday through

Thursday, which can be booked for groups of 6 to 12 guests. The shop also offers a wine club subscription called the Wine Curiosity Club for $65 per month, which includes a featured tasting box (three bottles of wine with educational materials) and an invitation to the class monthly. A Curious Wine shop is located in Suite #221 and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 12 to 6 pm. For details, visit, or follow @drinkwinecuriously on Facebook and @a_curious_wine_shop on Instagram.

O’Zone Pizza Pub

Although this popular dining spot has been a long-time tenant of the building, we would be amiss to not include it on our list. If you’re looking for an eclectic experience and really good pizza – look no further! Housed in the basement (or former morgue) of the old hospital building, O’Zone is notable not only for its delectable pies and selection of cold draft beers, but also for its many ghostly encounters. Rumored to serve as stomping grounds to some spooky resident ghosts, this laid-back pizza pub has become a popular dining and hangout spot for both locals and visitors. The pizza itself draws attention with its Roman-style crust, which is nothing like the other crust varieties you’ll find around town. Made daily, their tasty dough is unique in that it doesn’t quite qualify as handtossed, but isn’t exactly thin crust either; it lies somewhere in between, creating a unique flavor and texture that you’re sure to instantly fall in love with! Their menu offers a variety of signature pie options, as well as build-your-own pies. One local favorite is the Ponderosa Stomp, which comes topped with a cheddar-cheese blend, barbecue sauce, chicken, bacon, green peppers, green onions and drizzled honey. Gluten-free crust is also available, as well as many veggie-oriented toppings, including a vegan cheese. Pair your pie with a generous twenty-ounce pour of one of the many beer selections available on tap or a specialty

the bar. O’Zone Pizza Pub is located in suite #111 and is open
from 4
to 9
Check out the full menu online at ■ HEART
OLD SACRED HEART HOSPITAL BUSTLES WITH NEW BUSINESS visit Summation Weekly . com O’Zone Pizza Pub The Burrow A Curious Wine Shop Lamonte Gelato A Mano Panino This Community Newspaper is a publication of the Escambia-Santa Rosa Bar Association SERVING THE FIRST JUDICIAL CIRCUIT THE SUMMATIONWeekly USPS Publication Number 16300 Vol. 24, No. 16 April 17, 2024 1 Section, 8 Pages Section A, Page 1
cocktail from


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The current Spotlight on Art is the UWF Scholarship Recipient Show, featuring the work of Megan Gardner. Megan works in oils, acrylics and mixed media and will be showcasing many of her works during this exhibit running from April 5 to April 28. A reception is scheduled for Friday, April 12 from 5 to 7pm.

Gardner is currently working toward her bachelor’s in fine arts at the University of West Florida. Gardner’s focus involves themes of family, home and comfort. Utilizing expressive color and mark-making, Gardner explores how emotions and memories are held in images.

The next Spotlight on Art is the Big Tiny Art Show, featuring tiny art, no more than 4-by-4 inches, in a wide variety of mediums. The show

runs from April 28 to May 25. An opening reception at Blue Morning Gallery on May 4 from 5 to 7 pm will include hors d’oeuvres, mini treats and tiny goodies. Additionally, tiny hats are encouraged as a part of the celebration.

This show puts many artists center stage so make plans now to step into a world where size doesn’t matter, but creativity reigns supreme. And discover everything that makes Blue Morning Gallery, Pensacola’s premier art gallery.

Blue Morning Gallery is located at 21 Palafox Place, downtown Pensacola. The hours are Monday through Tuesday 10 am to 5 pm; Wednesday through Saturday 10 am to 8:30 pm; and Sunday 11 to 6. For information, call 850-429-9100 or visit the website at


Tickets are now available for Showtime, a musical revue of stage and screen presented by the Pensacola Children’s Chorus (PCC). Reserve your tickets for PCC’s final performance of the season at the Pensacola Saenger Theatre on May 10–12.

What: Showtime

When: May 10–12, 2024

Where: Pensacola Saenger Theatre

Times: Friday & Saturday at 7:30 p.m. | Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

Tickets: $15–64

During Showtime , audience members can expect a performance unlike any other. Witness ancient legends come to life as our singers transport you to the age of Hercules, Zeus and other mythical figures. The magic continues with a heartwarming tribute to beloved Disney songs that have charmed generations. From classics to modern favorites, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Prepare to be amazed as we dive into the whimsical world of wacky tongue twisters and zany nursery rhymes. Let your imagination run wild as our talented performers bring these playful tunes to life in a truly entertaining spectacle. Our youngest singers will steal your heart with touching songs about the power of friendship, celebrating the bonds that unite us all.

Grab your golden ticket and satisfy your sweet tooth as our singers deliver the sugar

rush you’ve been craving. Set your sights on the high seas as we set sail with a mischievous band of seafaring buccaneers. The adventure continues into the cosmos with catchy tunes about the moon and stars.

Who could forget the excitement of prom night? Satisfy your nostalgia as we transform the stage into a high school gym. Feel the rhythm of our selection of high-energy hits as we give you the royal treatment with the kings and queens of pop.

Celebrate America and pay tribute to members of our armed forces. To conclude the evening, we hope you’ll join us in celebrating our graduating seniors as we send them off to forge their own paths in life. It’s a bittersweet moment filled with pride and the promise of new beginnings.

Showtime will also feature members who have joined the Pensacola Children’s Chorus through a program funded by the Escambia Children’s Trust. A taxpayer-funded children’s services agency, the Trust focuses on providing impactful services to Escambia County’s most vulnerable youth.

Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by visiting the Saenger Theatre box office or online at PensacolaSaenger. com. Pricing starts at $15.00, and streaming options are also available. For additional information, visit


Palette Productions frequently brings outof-town artists to Pensacola to conduct artists workshops, and artists from all over come to take the classes. From June 10 to June 14, Jacqueline Sullivan is coming back to Pensacola from Cincinnati, Ohio. This is a wonderful opportunity for Pensacola artists and aspiring artists to learn more about their passion for the visual arts.


With significant population growth expected in the Florida panhandle in the coming decades, the critical question of balancing development with environmental protection looms large. To address this challenge head-on, a workshop titled “Escambia/Santa Rosa 2040” is set to take place at the downtown Pensacola Public Library on Tuesday, April 23, starting at 5 p.m.

The workshop aims to shed light on the potential impact of surging population growth on land use and water quality in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. Participants will have the opportunity to delve into two growth scenarios for 2040, presented by 1000 Friends President Paul Owens, developed in collaboration with experts from the University of Florida’s Center for Landscape Conservation Planning and Center for Coastal Solutions.

Owens will outline the stark differences in outcomes based on whether the counties continue current growth patterns or opt for more compact, sustainable development. The discussion will also explore policies to promote environmentally responsible development, drawing on insights from local leaders and planning professionals.

Following the presentation and a question-and-answer session, Christian Wagley, the Pensacola-based Coastal Organizer for Healthy Gulf in Florida and Alabama, will lead a walking tour highlighting nearby examples of compact, bay-friendly development. Attendees can gain firsthand insights into how sustainable practices can be integrated into urban planning.

The event is organized by 1000 Friends, Florida’s leading nonprofit advocate for environmentally and fiscally sustainable development. Generously supported by a Community Grant from the Pensacola and Perdido Bays Estuary Program, this initiative underscores the commitment to safeguarding water quality and enhancing communities through thoughtful land-use strategies.

Event Details:

• Title: Escambia/Santa Rosa 2040

• Date: Tuesday, April 23

• Time: 5:00 p.m. CT

• Location: Pensacola Public Library, 239 N. Spring Street, Pensacola, FL

For media inquiries or further information, please contact Haley Busch at

About 1000 Friends of Florida:

1000 Friends is Florida’s leading nonprofit, nonpartisan advocate of environmentally and fiscally sustainable development. We work tirelessly to promote policies and practices that safeguard our natural resources while enhancing the quality of life for all Floridians.

About the Pensacola and Perdido Bays Estuary Program:

The Pensacola and Perdido Bays Estuary Program Pensacola and Perdido Bays Estuary Program serves as a trusted source for residents, businesses, industry, and the community on issues relating to preserving, restoring, improving and maintaining the natural habitat and ecosystem of the bays, estuaries and watersheds of Pensacola and Perdido Bays.

About Healthy Gulf:

Healthy Gulf is a nonprofit organization committed to protecting and restoring the natural resources of the Gulf of Mexico. Through advocacy, education, and community engagement, Healthy Gulf works to ensure a sustainable future for Gulf Coast communities and ecosystems.

About the University of Florida’s Center for Landscape Conservation Planning:

The University of Florida’s Center for Landscape Conservation Planning is at the forefront of research and innovation in landuse planning and environmental conservation. Collaborating with stakeholders across the state, the center develops science-based solutions to pressing environmental challenges.

About the University of Florida’s Center for Coastal Solutions:

The University of Florida’s Center for Coastal Solutions’ mission is to develop and deliver the best available science and tools that support decision-making for a healthy and resilient coastal future.


Some kind words and feedback from Sullivan’s last class include:

• “Jacqueline was masterful at knowing when to let student discover on their own and then when to offer advice.”

• “I learned so much from basics to advanced.”

• “Jacqueline is phenomenal at teaching. She knows artists and what they want and exactly how to impart the information.”

Don’t worry about bringing paint with you; Sullivan supplies all the Golden acrylic colors.

For more information about Sullivan’s workshop and her career, visit

Discover the vibrant world of abstract art and unlock your artistic potential with Sullivan’s workshop, which will delve into the fundamentals of abstract painting, empowering students to explore new levels of creative freedom. Gain a deep understanding of acrylics and pastes to add depth and dimension to your paintings. With Sullivan’s expert guidance, you’ll learn through hands-on experience and personal instruction, making this class suitable for all skill levels, including beginners. Say goodbye to muddy hues and hello to stronger, more personal masterpieces.



Escambia County has been awarded a $1.4 million grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation National Coastal Resiliency Fund to enhance native dune vegetation on Pensacola Beach and Perdido Key. The Board of County Commissioners approved the award at the April 4 BCC meeting.

The project will work with public and private landowners to plant an approximately 30-foot-wide strip of native vegetation at the base of the existing dune line on Pensacola Beach and Perdido Key, enhancing dune resiliency and improving habitat.

The project is modeled on the successful 2016 Perdido Key Dune Restoration project. It will complement the upcoming Santa Rosa Island Authority planting project and the larger Panhandle Dune Ecosystem Project managed by FWC. Select areas north of the primary dune will also benefit from asphalt debris removal and the installation of dune species to restore habitats impacted by vehicles and past storms. “Together with our partners, we’re hoping to enhance nearly 15 miles of

primary dune in Escambia County,” said Samantha Pitts, Environmental Program Manager for Escambia County. “Not only will this help create a more resilient dune system for future storms, but it will also enrich species and habitat diversity within the dunes themselves.”

Escambia County will host at least one public meeting to gather stakeholder input on the design process and develop a dune management handbook to help gulf-front owners maintain and preserve dune systems on their property. The handbook will include species profiles, permitting information, and basic maintenance recommendations. Information on public meetings will be announced at a later date. Planting work is expected to begin in spring 2025. Visit for more information and follow Natural Resources Management Department at

on Facebook and Instagram for project updates.

Escambia County has completed the Jackson Creek Floodplain Restoration Project, restoring a section of Jackson Creek and the surrounding floodplain, along with planting 4,100 trees in the area.

The project included significant ecosystem restoration and invasive species removal, which improved wetland habitat and provided natural stormwater treatment for the Bayou Chico watershed. A floating litter trap was also added to catch trash and other debris and help prevent it from flowing into connecting waterways including Bayou Chico.

“Enhancing the quality of our local waterways is essential to continuing to improve our overall quality of life in Escambia County,” District 2 Commissioner Mike Kohler said. “The restoration of Jackson Creek has numerous benefits, from stormwater treatment and flood mitigation to habitat restoration and water quality improvements. I’m excited to complete this incredibly important project, and I look forward to continuing to make stormwater and water quality improvements throughout District 2.”

Visit the MyEscambia YouTube channel to watch a video highlighting the Jackson Creek Floodplain Restoration Project.

Approximately 5,700 cubic yards of earth were excavated through the restoration project, and the creek’s bank was restored through the addition of 197 feet of toe wood and a clay core berm. Plant cuttings were also used to provide erosion control and help stabilize the soil as the cuttings grow into mature plants.

Through the project, Jackson Creek was restored to its original wetland state, providing for increased nutrient removal of stormwater flows prior to discharge into Jackson Creek and ultimately Bayou Chico.

This project was managed by the Escambia County Natural Resources Management Department. For more information about active projects throughout Escambia County, visit

The Jackson Creek Floodplain Restoration Project was funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund, which includes funding designated for projects that benefit the natural resources of the Gulf Coast that were impacted by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. This project was one of five projects selected for funding as part of the Bayou Chico Restoration Project, with a goal of increasing biodiversity and productivity along with improving habitat and water quality within the Bayou Chico watershed.

On Saturday, April 27, enjoy An Evening of Jazz at Historic St. Joseph Catholic Church in downtown

(Harry & David). Doors open at 6 pm. For information, tickets, and table reservations, call Val (850-637-5698) Marge (850-436-6461) Grace (850-206-9338).

• Featuring: GROOVE FAMILY

prize/raffles (Harry & David);

Pensacola at 140 W. Government St., FL 32502. Live, local jazz artists will feature a DJ Stefon, The Groove Family Jazz Band and 11 other jazz entertainers/enthusiasts. The fundraiser includes dancing, food, drinks, a silent auction and door prizes/raffles
JAZZ BAND • Mystery emcee
DJ Stefon • Ferne of North 2 South Ballroomers
8 local jazz rendition artists including St Joseph’s Father Pat LaPointe
3 local jazz music enthusiasts
Charcuterie boards/shrimp cocktail, drinks, dancing
at 140 W. Government St., FL 32502
Attire For tickets $25/table reservations, contact Val (850-637-5698) Marge (850-436-6461) Grace (850-206-9338). AN EVENING OF JAZZ AT HISTORIC PENSACOLA CATHOLIC CHURCH’S FUND-RAISER
• Silent auction • Saturday, April 27 • Doors open at 6 pm
• “Dressy”
COMMUNITY NEWS THE SUMMATION Weekly April 17, 2024 ◆ 3




$525,000 IN SUPPORT

The Florida Blue Foundation, the philanthropic affiliate of Florida Blue, is honoring nine recipients doing exemplary work in their local communities to improve health outcomes and increase access to health care services and support.

The Florida Blue Foundation announced the winners at its annual Sapphire Awards ceremony on April 3 in Orlando. The awardees will share $525,000, allowing each to continue focusing on ideas and solutions aimed at improving health at the local level.

“Our Foundation recognizes the important role community-based initiatives play in strengthening neighborhoods and improving overall health and well-being,” said Susan Towler, executive director of the Florida Blue Foundation. “We applaud these nine recipients for their commitment to improving health outcomes and ensuring families have the resources, support, and care they need to live their healthiest lives.”

Each program, organization, and individual honored with a Sapphire Award was selected following a thorough external review process for leadership, innovative ideas, demonstrated outcomes, and excellence. In addition, they all have a track record of improving people’s health and quality of life.

Below are the organizations that were honored:

• Lift Orlando (Orlando) is a place-based nonprofit community development organization working with residents, business leaders, and community partners in the West Lakes community and ZIP code 32805. Its team works to empower residents to create long-term sustainability for their families, while also investing in resources, programs, services, and partnerships that address social determinants of health, and provide cradle-to-career education, and health and wellness services and support. The organization received a first-place award and $100,000.

• The Promise Fund of Florida (West Palm Beach) aims to reduce health disparities by helping improve access to timely breast and cervical cancer resources and treatment for women in south Florida. The Promise Fund of Florida is committed to helping women overcome financial and cultural barriers to care and reduce deaths from late-stage breast and cervical cancer. This organization received a second-place award and $50,000. Lakeview Center (Pensacola) is a behavioral health care provider serving adults and children with mental illnesses, substance use disorders, and intellectual disabilities. Programs and services include outpatient counseling, psychiatry, substance misuse support, trauma care, support for those with serious mental illness and job placement services. This organization received a third-place award and $25,000.

Below are the programs that were honored:

• Food Rx is a program led by Feeding Tampa Bay (Tampa) that provides food prescriptions to adults with diet-related health conditions in Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, and Polk counties. The first food pharmacy in the state, Food Rx gives patients a prescription to visit a food pharmacy co-located at the site of their medical appointments. Feeding Tampa Bay received a first-place award for this program and $100,000.

• The Inclusive & Healthy Futures program led by YES Institute (Miami) aims to reduce youth suicide and bullying in south Florida through communication and education. By including both youth and those who care for them in the programming, YES Institute is mitigating bullying, decreasing suicide and self-harm, and creating a positive impact on the lives of young people and their families. This program received a second-place award and $50,000.

• The Endeavour Elementary School program, led by Brevard Health Alliance (Melbourne), provides mental health support, medical care, and dental and vision services to more than 700 at-risk students through an on-site clinic. The school-based site is the first of its kind in Brevard County. This program was honored with a third-place award and $25,000.

Below are the individuals who were honored:

• Carolyn M. Tucker, PhD, is the Florida Blue Endowed Chair in Health Disparities at the University of Florida (Gainesville). She has dedicated her career to developing, implementing, and demonstrating the long-term impact of programs to promote health equity, mental well-being, and food security in low-income communities in Jacksonville and Gainesville. Tucker was recognized for her research, leadership, and commitment to her work, her community, and to her field. Tucker received a first-place award and $100,000, which will be directed to her work at the University of Florida.

Candace Hodgkins, PhD, LMHC, is the president and CEO of Gateway Community Services (Jacksonville), an organization that provides addiction treatment for adults and adolescents in Northeast Florida. She is a contributing author on numerous published scientific articles and is active in research that informs the addiction community on evidencebased interventions to assist people in their recovery. Hodgkins was honored with a second-place award and $50,000, which will be directed to Gateway Community Services.

• Barbara Fradkin, BSW, CCM, is a Social Worker, Certified Care Manager, and the Co-chair of the Brevard Parkinson’s Alliance (Melbourne), a nonprofit organization that supports individuals, caregivers and families who are impacted by Parkinson’s Disease. Barbara’s goal is to reach as many people as possible with Parkinson’s and help them throughout their journey. Since joining the Alliance in 2017, resources for funding and support groups have doubled, and awareness of resources has increased. Fradkin was honored with a third-place award and $25,000, which will be directed to the Brevard Parkinson’s Alliance.

The Florida Blue Foundation introduced the Sapphire Awards in 2005 to recognize excellence and innovation in community health leadership and programs across Florida. Since then, the Foundation has given out 148 Sapphire Awards, totaling $7.5 million.

Florida Blue Foundation presented the 2024 Sapphire Awards during its annual two-day Community Health Symposium. This year’s event focused on local solutions designed to address critical health issues affecting Floridians and attracted 700 people from the health care, government, higher education, and nonprofit sectors. The event featured national and statewide speakers, panel discussions, and networking opportunities focused on improving health at the community level.

About Florida Blue Foundation Florida Blue Foundation enables healthy communities by making grants, building coalitions, and embracing solutions that create a meaningful impact in our communities. More than 8 million Floridians have received services because of our community investments since its founding in 2001. Florida Blue Foundation is committed to improving health equity by impacting food security, advancing mental well-being, growing healthy communities, and addressing health disparities. Florida Blue Foundation is a trade name of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Foundation, Inc., an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more information, please visit

About Florida Blue Florida Blue, the leading health insurer in Florida, has been providing health solutions to residents of Florida for nearly 80 years. Driven by its mission of helping people and communities achieve better health, the company serves more than five million members and all 67 Florida counties. Headquartered in Jacksonville, Fla., with nearly 8,900 employees, it is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. For additional information visit


The Escambia County Board of County Commissioners is pleased to recognize Samantha “Sam” Mitchell, Maintenance Technician in the Facilities Management Department, as the April 2024 Employee of the Month. The board recognized Mitchell’s selection at the April 4 BCC meeting.

Mitchell began her career with Escambia County on Aug. 29, 2022. Her duties as a Maintenance Technician include performing specialized repairs, installation, and maintenance on county equipment, fixtures, facilities, and associated systems. She regularly monitors and performs preventive maintenance to county facilities to ensure continued and uninterrupted operation.

“It has been my pleasure working for Escambia County,” said Mitchell. “I appreciate my supervisors for believing in me, and I am truly honored to be the Employee of the Month.”

Shortly after joining the Facilities Management Department, one of Mitchell’s first assignments was to paint various county buildings. Mitchell completed her tasks thoroughly and on time, and her supervisors received positive feedback from county departments on her professional demeanor and outstanding craftsmanship. Mitchell’s pride in her work and willingness to take on new tasks demonstrates her commitment to excellence for Escambia County staff and citizens.

In addition, Mitchell played an instrumental role in refurbishing the Davisville

Community Center in 2023. She took the lead on the project and, alongside a team of fellow county staff members, completed numerous improvements to the community center, including repainting the building’s entire exterior, rebuilding four front gates, painting and repairing fencing, completely rebuilding the wheelchair ramp, replacing dry rotted siding, and installing new metal skirting to cover the building’s crawl space. The project began in May 2023 and wrapped up by the end of July 2023, at a total cost of approximately $5,000 for materials and in-house labor. The same work would have cost more than $30,000 for a contractor to complete, meaning Mitchell’s initiative saved Escambia County approximately $25,000.

“Sam is a dedicated and fast learner who does not shy away from new tasks that will develop her skills in other areas of her field,” said Facilities Management Director Rob Hogan. “Her bright outlook on her work and collaborative nature make her a positive influence with her peers and the departments she works with.”

Outside of her role with Escambia County, Mitchell enjoys spending time with her family outdoors, especially camping. She also enjoys fishing with her father and has passed her love of fishing on to her children.

The Escambia County Board of County Commissioners commends and congratulates Samantha Mitchell on her selection as the April 2024 Employee of the Month.


Escambia County Parks and Recreation recently added a new 18-hole disc golf course at Lexington Terrace Park, along with completing additional improvements to the popular regional park and dog park.

The new disc golf course offers recreational opportunities for all ages and adds another amenity to this beautiful 38-acre park, which features a playground, community center, picnic pavilions, open play areas, a dog park and more.

“I’m happy to have more amenities on the west side that everyone can enjoy,” District 2 Commissioner Mike Kohler said. “I’m already getting great feedback from disc golf enthusiasts who have checked out the course, and I hope that residents in District 2 and throughout the county will take advantage of this exciting new feature at Lexington Terrace Park.”

The course is open from sunrise to sunset and is free to use, but players must bring their own discs. The disc golf course includes new signage with a map of all 18 holes, along with the official rules of disc golf and QR codes for those interested in learning more about the game.

In addition to the new disc golf course, Parks and Recreation completed landscaping improvements throughout the park and

installed a new pavilion and play features at the dog park. A new playground was also installed at Lexington Terrace Park in 2023.

Escambia County Parks and Recreation Director Michael Rhodes said the new disc golf course is especially exciting because it provides a low-cost recreational opportunity that is accessible to all ages and skill levels.

“You’ve got folks playing who are 7, 8, 9, 10 years old, all the way up to retirees in their 80s,” Rhodes said. “Anyone can play it. I’ve seen guys out here with their buddies, I’ve seen people out here alone, and I’ve seen whole families playing.”

The disc golf course also offers a fun, low-impact way to exercise and enjoy being outside, Rhodes said.

“You’re not riding around on a golf cart, you’re walking,” Rhodes said. “If you play the full 18 holes, you’re going to get good exercise in. We’re very excited to provide this new amenity at an Escambia County Park, and I look forward to seeing people of all ages getting outside and enjoying a fun game of disc golf with the whole family.”

Lexington Terrace Park is located at 900 S. Old Corry Field Road. To learn more about the park and its amenities, visit the Escambia County website.


Escambia County’s Community Redevelopment Agency invites the public to three meetings to provide input to shape the future of the Warrington Redevelopment Plan.

The remaining meetings will be held April 16 and May 28 at 5:30 pm at the Lexington Terrace Community Center, 700 S. Old Corry Field Road. One or more Escambia County Commissioners may be in attendance. Meetings will cover the following topics: (previous) April 9 meeting: Overview and making the case to update the Warrington Redevelopment Plan.

• April 16 meeting: Recap the April 9 meeting and seek public input on objectives, strategies, and capital improvements for Warrington.

May 28 meeting: Review the final draft of the redevelopment plan; last chance for public input on the draft plan.

The Warrington Redevelopment District was Escambia County’s first designated redevelopment district under the state of Florida’s Community Redevelopment Act of 1969. The Escambia County Board of County Commissioners adopted the district in 1995. Currently, the district covers an area of approximately 2.68 square miles and borders the Brownsville and Barrancas Redevelopment Districts to the north and east, respectively.

For questions or more information, contact Max Rogers, Development Program Manager, at or 850-595-3499. For
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TALLAHASSEE — Pointing to a “strong interest in obtaining finality,” Florida Power & Light on Monday asked the state Supreme Court to speed up consideration of a renewed fight about a 2021 settlement that increased the utility’s base electric rates.

FPL asked justices to “expedite” an appeal filed last week by a coalition of groups challenging the Florida Public Service Commission’s approval of the rate settlement.

The commission approved the settlement in 2021, and rate increases began to take effect in 2022. But in a somewhat-unusual move, the Supreme Court last year sent the case back to the commission because justices said the regulatory panel had not shown why the settlement “is in the public interest and results in rates that are fair, just and reasonable.”

The commission responded in March by issuing a more-extensive order backing the settlement. That led the coalition, made up of the groups Florida Rising, the Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida and the League of United Latin American Citizens of Florida, to appeal the new order to the Supreme Court.

In its motion Monday seeking expedited handling of the case, FPL said the “appeal involves a narrow set of issues warranting this (Supreme) Court’s swift resolution.”

“The parties have had the better part of three years to consider the legal issues on appeal and have already engaged in extensive briefing and oral argument before this court,” the motion said. “The (Public Service) Commission did not reopen the evidentiary record in the remand proceedings, so the issues before this court will necessarily be limited to a review of the commission’s explanation and conclusions reached in the supplemental (last month’s) final order.”

With the settlement set to expire at the end of next year, FPL said the outcome of the appeal also could affect plans to seek approval in 2025 for revised rates.

“A final determination by this court regarding the supplemental final order prior to FPL’s upcoming 2025 rate case filing will mitigate the potential for regulatory uncertainty and customer confusion during FPL’s 2025 rate case proceeding,” the motion said.

Base-rate issues are closely watched, as they involve billions of dollars, make up large portions of customers’ monthly bills and help determine utilities’ profitability.

FPL reached the four-year settlement with the state Office of Public Counsel, which represents consumers in utility issues, and other parties including the Florida Retail Federation, the Florida Industrial Power Users Group and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

After approval by the commission, the FPL settlement led to a $692 million rate increase in January 2022 and another $560 million hike in 2023. The wide-ranging settlement also included such things as allowing increases in 2024 and 2025 to pay for solar-energy projects. FPL last week filed a proposal at the Public Service Commission that seeks a go-ahead for 12 new solar-energy facilities that would start operating in 2025 under the settlement.

The coalition of groups, represented by the Earthjustice legal organization, has not filed an initial brief detailing its objections to the March order. But in the past, it has objected to a series of issues, including the size of the rate increases and FPL not meeting energy-efficiency goals.

Even if the Supreme Court agrees to FPL’s motion, it could be months before a decision is issued. The motion included a proposed schedule to file briefs and requested that oral arguments, if needed, be held in September.



TALLAHASSEE — A Leon County circuit judge Tuesday refused to put on hold a lawsuit filed by Florida State University against the Atlantic Coast Conference, as a big-money battle between the university and its longtime conference continues to play out in two states.

After an all-day hearing, Circuit Judge John Cooper denied a request by the ACC for a stay of the lawsuit. Cooper’s decision came five days after a Mecklenburg County, N.C., judge rejected a request by FSU to dismiss — or put on hold — a separate lawsuit filed by the conference against the university.

The two rulings leave a tangle of legal issues in the battle, which centers on media rights and could end with Florida State leaving the conference. The issues are being closely watched in college athletics, which is undergoing major conference realignments.

FSU filed its lawsuit Dec. 22 in Leon County challenging what it describes as more than $500 million in penalties if it wants to exit the conference. But the day before the Leon County case was filed, the conference filed a lawsuit in North Carolina against FSU about many of the same issues.

Attorneys for the ACC argued Tuesday that Cooper should issue a stay in the Leon County case, at least in part because the North Carolina lawsuit was filed first. The ACC is based in North Carolina.

But Cooper said the ACC had rushed to file the lawsuit in North Carolina after finding out that Florida State was on the verge of filing its case in Leon County. He called the ACC case “anticipatory litigation” that amounted to “forum shopping” — essentially trying to file a lawsuit in a friendlier legal venue.

Cooper said that took away a presumption that the North Carolina case should have priority. The judge said he was not deciding that “Florida State’s right it its allegations” in the overall lawsuit.

“I’m just saying the motion for a stay should be denied,” Cooper said.

But the ruling leaves the two cases moving on separate tracks. Louis Bledsoe, chief business court judge in Mecklenburg



TALLAHASSEE — A federal appeals court is looking at whether Florida could legally challenge Biden administration immigration policies, after a district judge sided with the state in a fight spearheaded by Attorney General Ashley Moody and Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals this week ordered the state and the Biden administration to file briefs about whether Florida has legal standing to challenge what are known as “parole” policies related to undocumented immigrants being released from detention after crossing the country’s southwest border.

The order came after the U.S. Supreme Court last year ruled that Texas and Louisiana did not have standing to challenge federal immigration-enforcement policies. The U.S. Supreme Court case involved policies related to arresting migrants.

“That decision raises several significant questions about Florida’s standing in these cases,” Monday’s appeals-court order said. “Questions that the parties may consider answering include the extent to which the (U.S. Supreme) Court’s reasoning in Texas with respect to arrest and prosecution policies applies to the parole policies at issue in these cases.”

Moody and DeSantis have made a highprofile issue of criticizing the federal government’s handling of immigration issues. As examples, the DeSantis administration has directed flights of migrants from Texas to Massachusetts and California and has sent Florida law-enforcement officers to the Texas border with Mexico.

The state filed a lawsuit in September 2021 challenging Biden administration policies. The lawsuit ultimately led to two rulings last year by U.S. District Judge T. Kent Wetherell that said policies, known as “Parole Plus Alternatives to Detention” and “Parole with Conditions,” violated federal law.

must show standing before judges have jurisdiction to decide cases. So if Florida didn’t have standing, Wetherell couldn’t have ruled in its favor.

Wetherell, a former state appellate judge who was appointed to the federal bench by former President Donald Trump, quickly issued a decision supporting his earlier rulings that Florida had standing. In part, he drew distinctions between the Florida and Texas cases.

“The policies at issue in these (Florida) cases do not involve arrest or prosecution, but rather explain how DHS (the U.S. Department of Homeland Security) will exercise its statutory ‘parole’ authority … with respect to aliens who are already in DHS custody after arriving at the southwest border,” Wetherell wrote. “Nothing in Texas (the U.S. Supreme Court opinion) held that federal courts cannot adjudicate the validity of non-detention/parole policies like these.”

In its order this week, the appeals court appeared to focus on that question.

“Though the Supreme Court’s opinion pointed out that such (parole) policies ‘arguably might raise a different standing question,’ it is far from certain that the sentence by itself ‘establishes that Texas does not control the resolution of the standing issue in these cases,’” the order said, partially quoting Wetherell’s decision. “Other questions include whether Florida’s quasi-sovereign interest is meaningfully different than the one asserted by Texas and how, if at all, Florida’s injury is redressed by vacatur of the challenged policies.”

In supporting its standing arguments, Florida has contended that undocumented immigrants move to the state and create costs for such things as the education, health-care and prison systems.

County, reached a different conclusion about venue when he denied Florida State’s motion to stay the lawsuit filed by the ACC. Bledsoe wrote Thursday that the “ACC did not engage in improper conduct or ‘procedural fencing’ in filing this action in North Carolina. Accordingly, considering all of the facts and circumstances surrounding the filing of this action and the Florida action, the court concludes, in the exercise of its discretion, that the ACC’s choice of forum is entitled to deference on this record.”

Florida State on Tuesday filed a notice of appealing Bledsoe’s decision. The ACC also could appeal Cooper’s denial of a stay. Cooper has scheduled an April 22 hearing on a motion by the ACC to dismiss the Leon County case.

Florida State essentially contends the ACC has shortchanged its members through television contracts, with FSU widely viewed as wanting to move to a more-lucrative conference such as the Big Ten or the Southeastern Conference.

If Florida State leaves the ACC, it would have to pay a $130 million to $140 million withdrawal fee, Jim Cooney, an attorney for the conference, said during Tuesday’s hearing.

But FSU alleges it also could lose hundreds of millions of dollars because it would be forced to forfeit media rights through 2036. The lawsuit makes a series of allegations, including that the potential penalties would be an “unreasonable restraint of trade” and would “violate Florida public policy and are unconscionable.”

“This is Florida’s money. This is Florida State’s team. This is Florida State’s media rights, and it’s for the next 12 years,” Peter Rush, an attorney for the university, said.

But Alan Lawson, a former Florida Supreme Court justice representing the ACC, said the university breached a contract by filing the lawsuit. “By suing the Atlantic Coast Conference and challenging those documents, they violated the contract,” Lawson said. “So, when the Atlantic Coast Conference filed its action in North Carolina, it was an action to protect its rights under the contract.”

— News Service Assignment Manager

Tom Urban contributed to this report.

The Pensacola-based judge issued the rulings before the U.S. Supreme Court decided the Texas and Louisiana case. U.S. Department of Justice attorneys, who have long argued that Florida did not have legal standing, took the dispute to the Atlantabased appeals court.

After the U.S. Supreme Court decision, the appeals court in February directed Wetherell to consider again whether he had “jurisdiction” in the Florida challenge. Plaintiffs


TALLAHASSEE — Tommy Gregory, a lawyer and Air Force veteran who chairs the state House Judiciary Committee, was named Friday as the next president of State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota.

Gregory, R-Lakewood Ranch, was chosen by the school’s Board of Trustees to succeed President Carol Probstfeld, who announced last year that she will retire July 1. The board also considered two other finalists after a months-long search.

“The college has great momentum to continue its successful path forward,” Probstfeld, who has served as president since 2013, said in a prepared statement. “I look forward to working with Tommy as I transition to retirement and to helping the college community prepare to welcome the new president.”

A news release from the college said the “next step” is to finalize a contract, with the goal for Gregory to begin the position on July 1. Gregory, who was first elected to the House in 2018, is the second lawmaker tapped to become a state-college president in the past year. South Florida State College trustees in June selected St. Cloud Republican Fred Hawkins to serve as the school’s president.

The finalists for the State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota job took part in campus forums in late March, and Gregory touted his two decades in the Air Force. He said that included serving as an instructor and course director.

But after the Supreme Court ruling against Texas and Louisiana, Justice Department attorneys filed a brief last year contending the appeals court should reject Florida’s arguments for similar reasons.

“In United States v. Texas, the Supreme Court held that two states lacked standing to challenge DHS’s immigration enforcement policies because they lacked ‘a legally and judicially cognizable’ injury where their alleged injury were costs associated with having more noncitizens in their states. Florida similarly fails to satisfy the ‘bedrock constitutional requirement’ of standing,” the Justice Department brief said.

“I personally prepared 2,000 students for a variety of paths that they were going to accomplish in the military, including deployments,” Gregory said during a March 26 forum at the college’s Venice campus, Gregory said a president of the college would have to be active in the surrounding community.

“I think the more that we advertise successes out there in the community, the more we attract students,” Gregory said.

Gregory, a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and the University of Texas School of Law, said being a lawmaker “wasn’t in my career plan.”

“It’s similar, actually, to serving as the president of a college,” he said during the forum. “You’re serving the community. You’re meeting people and networking in the community to find out what the needs are.”

Gregory said being a lawmaker has given him extensive experience in fundraising and that his knowledge of the state budget process would help him succeed as a college president.

The other finalists for the job were Martyn Clay, president of Hillsborough Community College’s Plant City campus, and Anthony Iacono, president of County College of Morris in New Jersey.

Gregory last year opened a campaign account to run again in November in Manatee County’s House District 72. No other candidates had filed paperwork to run for the seat as of Friday afternoon, according to the state Division of Elections website.

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