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Author: Staff Reporters

County Commissioners stand for what’s right

How refreshing! Emboldened to defend what God cares about, they no longer fear what man can do to them when they defend God’s position on Issues! 

When man’s law diametrically opposes God’s, civil disobedience is justified. It’s about time Christians and churches no longer shut their mouths fearing criticism. “God does not give His children the spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind!” II Tim. 1:7. Hallelujah!

Shay Moran and I joined the Fort Walton group to the pro-life march in the 70’s in Washington, D.C.  To see the busloads of pro-lifers from all over America was exhilarating! 

We were blessed to hear the testimony of Dr. Bernard Nathanson, an atheist Jew converted miraculously to Catholicism. He was responsible for 75,000 abortions, known as the Abortion King! An avid pro-life advocate, he authored several books including “The Hand of God.” Glory to God!

God bless us all as only He can.  Maranatha!
Chrys Holley

Sand pit solution could ease wastewater treatment fears

Years ago, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ordered Milton to stop discharging treated wastewater into the Blackwater River by 2025. The city bought property for a new plant and began working to fund the project.

But in the past couple of years, residents near the proposed plant began raising concerns that it still was too close to the river and any mishaps might threaten Cooper’s Basin, the river and area groundwater.

Critics began lobbying the Milton City Council to find a different site for the plant – especially when they learned the proposed location is not big enough for a spray field or rapid-infiltration basin system to disperse the effluent on site.

The city realized this, of course, and had begun negotiations with Santa Rosa County to acquire 100 acres to build an additional RIBS. But county commissioners shared the critics’ concerns about the city’s proposed site for the plant and tried to convince the city to build the plant on the 100 acres instead.

The city was willing, but to move sewage to the county’s property, it would need a lift-station and pump; City Manager Randy Jorgensen said that extra expense was going to cost about $9 million.

City staff began haggling with the county, hoping it would help alleviate the cost of moving sewage to the county site BUT – and it’s a big one – for whatever reason, negotiations ended with no agreement whatsoever.

The city returned to its original plan – build the new plant on the Cooper’s Basin site and acquire the 100 acres from Santa Rosa County in exchange for future sewer service credits.

And nobody is happy. The city is under pressure to get something done; it is running out of time to meet the EPA and FDEP mandates. Critics believe the city should be trying to find a new location for the plant regardless of the state and federal deadlines.

And city and county officials who had tried to resolve the matter are nursing bruised feelings and pointing fingers at one another for failing to make a deal.

Enter Ates, a sixth-generation resident of the Milton, an entrepreneur whose interests include landfills and who, perhaps not coincidentally, is running for Santa Rosa County Commission.

Last week, Ates presented a solution that seems entirely too good to be true – which it may prove to be. His idea, though, is simple: Instead of building RIBS on the 100-acre site, why not pump treated wastewater from the existing plant to a nearby dirt pit, which would function as a natural filtration basin while the city builds its new plant on the site acquired from the county?

The pit, which has a 3-acre bottom, could filter up to 2 million gallons of water a day, Ates said, more than enough to accommodate the city’s needs while it plans and builds the new plant.
Jorgensen told the Milton City Council last week that, while he did not want to endorse Ates’ plan until the city and DEP engineers check the science, it did have merit.

So, many questions remain. Like, have other utilities used sand pits to disperse effluent? And why didn’t somebody think of this idea sooner?

To be honest, we are skeptical. Ideas that seem too good to be true usually are. On the other hand, Ates may be demonstrating the kind of creative problem-solving that makes him a strong candidate to sit on the county commission.

Crash on US 29 in Molino proves fatal

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the vehicle rolled multiple times and the driver was ejected. The driver was declared deceased on scene by Escambia County EMS.

In addition to the driver, there was also a 16 year old male passenger in the vehicle at the time. He was transported by ambulance to Sacred heart Pediatrics ER but only had minor injuries.

The driver was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash, but the passenger was.

Santa Rosa County Animal Services Seeks Medical Fosters for Kittens

According to the SRCAS, ‘kitten season’ is the time of year when more kittens are being born, usually lasting from April to October. Each season, the shelter sees hundreds of newborn kittens. Kittens do not become available for adoption until they are at least eight weeks of age and healthy.

While the shelter does its best to save each one, they do not have adequate resources to care for them all and rely on foster homes to take in several litters during this time.

SRCAS wants people to know that if they come across a litter of kittens, they should not bring them to the shelter. According to a press release from SRCAS, kittens younger than eight weeks have the best chance of survival with their mothers. Instead, wait six to eight hours for the mother to return. If the mother does not come back during that time, then they can assume care for them.

After someone takes the kittens, they are responsible for their care. If they cannot keep them, they should find a safe home that can bottle-feed them and get appropriate veterinary care until they can find adoptable homes. Bringing kittens to the shelter should be a last resort.

To learn more about ‘kitten season’ and what to do if you find kittens can be found online at www.santarosa.fl.gov/812/Found-Kittens. SRCAS says that even if someone cannot foster, they can still help by donating time as a volunteer, money, or something from the SRCAS Amazon Wish List. 

4-H programs announced for Santa Rosa County

The class is open to youth ages eight to 18 years old. The class will begin with the basics of how to decorate a cake. According to UF/IFAS, students will learn how to make their own icing and how to use five different decorating tips.

Each participant will decorate their own cupcakes to take home. Students will need to plan to bring their own snacks and lunch for the day, as lunch is not provided. The cost is $30 and includes use of all decorating tools, icing, cupcakes and instruction. Register online at www.eventbrite.com/e/4-h-cake-decorating-101-class-tickets-313822239767.

From July 5 to July 8, UF/IFAS will host a 4-H survival skills day camp at the extension office on Dogwood Drive. The event will run 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily. The day camp is open to ages 12 to 18. In this day camp, 4-H members will learn to properly use a knife, build a fire and cook on the fire. Participants will also learn first-aid skills and food preservation. The cost is $80, and space is limited. Register online at www.eventbrite.com/e/4-h-survival-skills-day-camp-tickets-266356448307. All participants will need to enroll as a 4-H member. The instructions to enroll are online.

From July 18 to July 22, a 4-H life lessons day camp will be held. The day camp will run daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the extension office on Dogwood Drive. This event is also open to ages 12 to 18 and will include lessons on how to set a table, how to change a tire, how to sew, how to check a car’s oil, how to read a map, how to balance a checkbook, how to shop smartly, how to cook a few easy meals, how to adjust recipes, how to can and preserve food, and how to make and follow a budget.

Santa Rosa County 4-H will be working with several experts in their fields to assist with the youth learning these life lessons. The cost is $100. Register online at www.eventbrite.com/e/life-lessons-day-camp-tickets-266338795507.

The second Saturday of each month from Aug. 2022 to Jan. 2023, there will be a 4-H Family Freedom Garden series.

From 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Dogwood Drive extension office, UF/IFAS will teach families how to grow at their own homestead. The cost is $75 per family. The events take place on August 13, September 10, October 8, November 12, December 10, and January 14.

To find more information on what each month offers and register online at www.eventbrite.com/e/4-h-family-freedom-garden-series-tickets-349647494067.

For more information or questions about these programs, call UF/IFAS Santa Rosa County Extension, 850-623-3868.

Duke Field chaplain’s office expands team

“Chaplain Adkison is the right fit for our team,” said Lt. Col. David Daus, 919th SOW lead chaplain. “His prior experience as a communications officer at Duke Field gives him a good understanding of our mission.”

Adkinson grew up in Warner Robins, Georgia, where he immersed himself in his military community.

“I have loved the military ever since I was a little kid,” said Adkison. “My father was in the military, and I just knew I wanted to do something big too.”

Early on in life, Adkison faced tremendous pain and grief when his two brothers died from muscular dystrophy.

After bearing witness to his brothers’ failing health he experienced emotional guilt and shame, which later strengthened his resolve to join the military. “I struggled with, why me, why did both of my brothers suffer for muscular dystrophy, but I did not,” said Adkison.

His younger brother said in one of their conversations before passing, “You know, it sure would be cool if you were a soldier,” said Adkison. “This was a pivotal moment for me.”

Adkison first enlisted in the Army and later switched to the Air Force where he became a flight commander and later an interim squadron commander. He is now approaching 21 years of military service.

Adkison’s endeavors to help people later drove him to the chaplain corps in 2020.

“I love building relationships and hearing other people’s stories,” said Adkison. “I want members to feel comfortable to come around, share a laugh, have a good time, and realize they have a friendly face here to talk too.”

Additionally, the chaplain’s broad military background and personal hardships allows him to connect on many levels.

“I can relate to people who are hurting and struggling after a death of someone close to them or missing important life events during deployments,” said Adkison. “Since I was eight years old my father and I have gone on an annual hunting trip and I missed this, Thanksgiving, my wife’s birthday, my 10 year anniversary, Christmas, and both of my oldest daughter’s birthdays.”

Adkison is married with three children and expressed his favorite activities with his family are hunting, fishing, taking his two jet skis on the water and telling dad jokes.

He shared one of his recent favorites from his dad-stash of funnies.

“A mushroom walks into the bar.”

The bartender yells to the mushroom, “Get out!”

The mushroom says, “Why? I’m a fungi,” chuckled Adkison.

Airmen do not have to be religious or be of the same faith to receive help from a chaplain or religious affairs Airman.

For more information about the services offered by the 919th SOW chaplain team, download the 919th SOW mobile app and look under the ‘IRON’ icon. Contact the chaplain’s office by phone at 850-883-6984. Walk-ins are also welcome.

Florida TaxWatch assesses educational attainment in Florida, Presents benefits of postsecondary learning and training

The report also identifies effective workforce development programs throughout the state and offers policy considerations to help replicate that framework.
Florida TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic M. Calabro said, “Florida’s strong and exceptionally quick recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic has secured its place as the 15th largest economy in the world.

This is no minor feat and certainly worth celebrating, but we must remain focused on the future, making strategic investments in education and training opportunities beyond high school to ensure those who call the Sunshine State home can develop the specialized skillsets required to find gainful employment, remain self-sufficient, and compete in tomorrow’s marketplace.

“It makes sense for individuals to prepare themselves, and it makes sense for our state as well. This report shows that improving educational attainment across all demographic groups would result in an annual earnings boost of $53.6 billion, increase the state’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by $58.9 billion each year, and raise tax revenue by $4.7 billion annually. Creating opportunities for learners will really benefit all of us.
“In order to maintain and ultimately raise Florida’s enviable global standing – while also bolstering the services our society relies so heavily upon, such as nursing and teaching – local leaders and policymakers have to prioritize affordable, accessible, and effective workforce development that will reinforce the education-to-workforce pipeline.
“To meet our talent targets today and tomorrow, we should focus on a broad array of degrees, certificates, apprenticeships, and value-added postsecondary training efforts, ensuring that all demographic groups throughout the state have the opportunity to achieve success. Florida TaxWatch is proud to support this important effort through this latest report and others in our extensive portfolio of research.”
“The findings in this Florida TaxWatch report affirm FCAN’s mission that, for the state to reach its full potential, students outside the mold of the ‘traditional’ post-secondary student cannot be left behind,” said Charleita M. Richardson, Executive Director of the Florida College Access Network. “It is imperative for Florida to close the attainment gap among these groups.”

In 2019, under the SAIL (Strengthening Alignment between Industry and Learning) to 60 initiative, the Florida Legislature set a goal to ensure 60 percent of working-age Floridians pursue postsecondary learning by the year 2030. As of today, FTW notes 6.6 million state residents need education or training beyond high school in order to reach this SAIL to 60 goal. Ten years from now, as the state’s population grows, that threshold will rise to 6.9 million. In 20 years, it will be 7.4 million.

According to FTW, 43 percent of the working-age population in Florida currently holds an associate’s, bachelor’s, or graduate degree. However, degree attainment rates for Hispanic and Black demographic groups are behind the statewide average, at 38 percent and 31 percent respectively. And while degrees are most often pursued by women, aligning with trends across the nation, more men have non-degree credentials than women. Moving forward, growing populations and demographic shifts will present opportunities to increase the state’s specialized workforce.

FTW highlights that, though Florida’s traditional college- and working-aged populations have grown by approximately seven percent and twelve percent respectively since 2010, annual enrollment in postsecondary institutions has declined by 12 percent in that same timeframe. Enrollment among White and Black demographics declined by 25 percent from 2010 to 2020, but despite the overall trend, Asian and Hispanic enrollment actually increased, with the Hispanic demographic almost doubling enrollment over a 20-year period.

As might be expected, the top 60 percent of earners in Florida possess higher educational attainment rates, including 22 percent with a graduate degree, 31 percent with a bachelor’s degree, and 11 percent with an associate’s degree. When adjusting different demographics’ educational attainment rates, FTW found that 954,500 more Whites, 809,000 more Hispanics, 564,000 more Blacks, and 13,900 more Asians needed to be receiving degrees in order to match these target levels. This same research indicates that improving educational attainment across all demographic groups would derive an aggregate earnings boost of $53.6 billion, increase Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by $58.9 billion, and raise tax revenue by $4.7 billion annually, in addition to improving individual health, social fulfillment, and more.

To overcome persisting barriers to postsecondary learning, FTW presents the following recommendations:

  • Promote academic readiness throughout the education system.
  • Connect current and future workers to data-informed career-planning resources.
  • Expect and facilitate learning pathways that allow students multiple ways to participate in postsecondary training and education.
  • Empower community-based solutions and partnerships.
  • Maintain and enhance affordability of training and education beyond high school.
  • Encourage the persistence of active learners and the return of “stop-out” students.
  • Design, implement, and advertise learning programs that offer multiple outcomes for student success.

Santa Rosa Sheriff’s Office employees arrested after internal investigation

A deputy and civilian clerk with the Santa Rosa Sheriff’s Office were arrested today and charged with one felony count of exploitation of the elderly.

Carl Scheel, III, a deputy and Alicia Scheel, a civilian clerk, were arrested after a month-long internal investigation. They have both been terminated from the agency’s employment.

Public Information Officer, Rich Aloy, issued a statement for the Sheriff’s Office that said, “Accountability and professionalism are important traits to be a member of the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office. We work hard to earn and maintain our community support. Sheriff Johnson is adamant that no one is above the law, that includes our own employees.

“Agency employees will always be held to high standards, both on and off duty,” Johnson said. “Although an arrest has been made, we are continuing this investigation and it remains very active.”

Santa Rosa County Animal Services “Cheaper Than Gas” adoption event

View adoptable animals at www.santarosa.fl.gov/405/Search-Adoptable-Pets and then make an appointment online to adopt.

According to SRCAS, adoption fees are always waived for up to two pets under Operation Furever Freedom, which is for veterans, active-duty military, reservists, and National Guardsmen, and the Hometown Heroes Adoption Program, which is for first responders including police, fire, EMS and 911 dispatchers. To qualify for the Operation Furever Freedom, a person must provide their active ID or DD 214 card.

For those wishing to provide a short-term foster for an animal at the shelter, SRCAS will provide vet care and additional supplies. Visit www.santarosa.fl.gov/727/Foster-Program for more information on the foster program.

Those who are unable to adopt, or foster may make a donation to SRCAS at www.santarosa.fl.gov/399/Donate-to-the-Shelter.  According to SRCAS, these donations help with stocking fostering supplies and providing medical care to shelter pets. Critical items can also be purchased from the organization’s Amazon Wish List and shipped directly to the shelter.

For more information on the adoption event, visit www.santarosa.fl.gov/387/Animal-Services.  

Milton man charged with myriad offenses following traffic stop

While reviewing Frate’s driver’s license, the sergeant found out that it was suspended and that he had some failure to appears.

According to Sheriff Bob Johnson, the sergeant walked back up to the car and told Frate to step out of the vehicle. Instead of getting out of the vehicle, Frate put the car in gear. The sergeant reached inside the vehicle to turn it off but before he could, Frate took off with the deputy’s arm still in the car.

The sergeant did not pursue as he did not want to further endanger the two year old, according to Johnson.

In a press conference held at the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office on June 7, Johnson called Frate a “scumbag.”

“And I am being nice when I say that,” Johnson said. “He has done a lot to only be 29.”

Johnson showed the body cam footage of the traffic stop incident during the press conference and it corroborated what Johnson had been saying. According to Johnson, Frate has 36 felony charges and 10 misdemeanor charges in his past and has had multiple failure to appears.

Back on May 3, Frate was arrested following an argument between Frate and a significant other that led to Frate to punch her in the face multiple times. This caused her to lose a tooth and have a busted nose. According to Johnson, Frate also choked the woman. Frate, according to Johnson, also committed fraud with the woman’s mother’s credit card and committed criminal mischief. Frate also sent a threatening text to the woman’s daughter.

He was out of jail on GPS from that prior case, when he allegedly committed the crimes he did on June 3.

Frate is charged with 11 violations of laws. Those 11 are battery, fleeing or eluding police, resisting an officer, public order crimes, contempt of court, fleeing or eluding police, resisting an officer, a moving traffic violation and three counts of lewd and lascivious behavior.

Most of those lewd and lascivious charges were brought about when Johnson and others at the Sheriff’s Office looked into Frate after he was arrested on the initial charges stemming from the traffic stop.

During his press conference, Johnson told the media that Frate is dangerous and needs to be in prison.

“He needs to stay in prison,” Johnson said. “Let’s get him a nice room at the Department of Corrections.”

Frate is being held on a $1.7 million dollar bond.


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