Motorists may notice an increased number of FDOT vehicles on state routes as maintenance and operations staff respond to winter weather conditions. If icy conditions are detected, FDOT crews will deploy various tankers, bridge deck sprayers and other equipment to apply anti-icing products on bridges and overpasses to prevent ice from bonding to the pavement surface.
FDOT will collaborate with state and local law enforcement to evaluate roads for closure if icy conditions make it challenging to maintain a drivable roadway. Motorists are encouraged to use all available information and follow law enforcement closure announcements until weather conditions improve before venturing out in your vehicle
A year after the COVID-19 pandemic, poetry is again having its moment with the launch of Issue VI of the Blackwater Literary Journal at both the Milton High School and Clyde L. Gracey Community Center.
This issue is a literary collection of prose and poetry that explores values and sentiments unique to Santa Rosa County. Milton’s Poet Laureate Marc Livanos’s belief is that you have the right to feel what you feel.
Dozens of writers including teenagers throughout Santa Rosa County submitted their writings for Issue VI.
The Santa Rosa County Writers’ Guild members Glenda Frazier and Patricia Packett volunteered to critique resident submissions from Gulf Breeze to Milton, students from grades 9-12 and teens from the Community Center’s Poetry Workshop. The poems highlight the creative spirit of the region.
Issue VI was dedicated to Leslie Briggs, an honors English teacher at Milton High School. Briggs spearheads the coordination and collections of the student poetry at the high school.
The publication also featured a Special Acknowledgement to Milton Resident Robert Hill, a 50-year veteran of the airwaves and host of Choice 106.9FM and WRNE 980AM.
Milton’s Poetry Laureate also presented the All-County Writer’s Award plaque winners for best book to Glenda Frazier on “Poems that Bleed” and to student Jeremiah McPherson for his poem “Note to Self.”
It is with great sadness that our family is saying goodbye to our loved one, James Ralph Fletcher, age 64, who passed from this world to be with our Lord on Wednesday, January 5, 2022, after a short illness. Fletch, as he was known to family and friends, was born on June 2, 1957 to James H. and Marian Jean Fletcher, West Paducah, Kentucky. He is preceded in death by his parents and grandmother, Connie Hughes. He is survived by his only sister, Sheila Broxson, his niece, Tippi Lampa (Ed) and great nephew, T.J.Hallmark (Savanna).
Fletch received his degree at University of Kentucky. His professional life included: Meteorologist at WBKO-TV, Program Director at WLBJ Radio, both in Bowling Green, Ky, former editor and publisher at Freedom Communication, Halifax and retired from Gannett (Santa Rosa Press Gazette, Milton).
He loved to cook and one would think he was a professional chef by the appearance and taste of his recipes. He could answer any question about the Bible and explain why.
Fletch was such an extraordinary man. He treated everyone he knew like family. He was admired not only by family and friends, but by all he met. He was known for his quick wit, his infectious smile and kind and compassionate spirit.
His mutual relationship was with Chablis. They both loved each other more than life. She was Fletch’s four-legged fur baby and he was “well, her everything”.
He was given the gift of life on loan to us for 64 wonderful years. Thanks to you brother and uncle for all your laughter, love and always being available when we needed you! We love you so much and so proud of you. While holding his hands, and with our kisses and tears, our Lord said to him, “It is time to come to your heavenly home.” Until we see you again Fletch! We love you.
A 39-year-old man who gave a Milton address when he was arrested Saturday has been charged with DUI, marijuana possession, possession of drug equipment and child neglect following an 11 a.m. crash in Escambia County.
William Nathan Hawthorne was in a car involved in a collision at U.S. Highway 29 and E. Kingsfield Road in Escambia County. When a Florida Highway Patrol trooper arrived, Hawthorne was unconscious, had agonal breathing and was blue in the face.
The trooper administered Narcan, after which he quickly regained consciousness, according to the FHP report.
Hawthorne had a 6-year-old child in the car at the time he allegedly rear-ended a truck that was stopped in traffic in front of him, the report said.
The President’s List includes students with nine or more credits in the semester who earned a grade-point average of 3.8 to 4.0 in college-level courses during the semester. The Dean’s List includes students with nine or more credits in the semester who earned a GPA of 3.5 to 3.79 in college-level courses during the semester.
“I would like to congratulate all of our students who have achieved the distinction of being named to our President’s and Dean’s Lists for the Fall 2021 semester,” said NWFSC President Dr. Devin Stephenson. “The entire NWFSC community celebrates these students for all of their hard work and dedication.”
On Thursday, Jan. 13, the Santa Rosa County Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the use of $51,000 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds as incentive pay to provide each active Santa Rosa County volunteer firefighter with a $1,000 relief stipend.
“Many of our rural residents are served by volunteer departments,” said Commissioner Colten Wright, District 5.
“These volunteers continue to serve the residents of Santa Rosa County and they put their own health and well-being at risk every day. These men and women are one of our greatest assets and this is just a small way to say thank you.”
The 51 volunteer firefighters are members of all-volunteer departments which include Berrydale, Munson, Jay, Allentown and Harold.
According to the Santa Rosa County Firefighters Association, eligible volunteer firefighters have had no disciplinary actions against them since March 1, 2020, were categorized as active duty during the entire quarantine period and responded to over 20% of the calls dispatched.
The Santa Rosa County Economic Development Office (SREDO) received final approval Jan. 13, on an agreement that will enable Element Outdoors to lease a 20,000-square-foot building in Milton.
The Iowa-based maker of outdoor and hunting apparel will bring 10 new high-paying jobs back to Santa Rosa County where the company was launched.
“We’re very pleased that Element Outdoors is moving home to where it all started,” said Commission Chairman Bob Cole, District 2. “This one company demonstrates that Santa Rosa County is both a great place to launch a new business as well as to expand an existing one.”
Company vice president Chris Nallick and his wife, Angie, created Element Outdoors as a direct-to-consumer business in 2013. In 2019, the company joined with Xpedition Enterprises and moved to Decorah, Iowa.
Nallick says the move is based on the availability of the facility, easier distribution, and lower operating costs. He expects more growth will follow as companies affiliated Xpedition Enterprises make the move as well.
“It’s great to welcome Element Outdoors back to Santa Rosa County,” said Erica Grancagnola, assistant director of SREDO. “We clearly have a strong affinity with the company’s leaders and its target customers. It’s especially gratifying to see a company that ‘grew up’ in Santa Rosa County finds it attractive to return.”
SREDO has leased the facility at 7999 Armstrong Road from Terhaar and Cronley since 2015. Under the agreement approved by the county commission, Element Outdoors LLC will sublet the facility from SREDO at cost plus insurance and taxes.
He has risen through the ranks at Santa Rosa County Board of County Commissioners to being named assistant county administrator this past June.
If you had not heard of Brad Baker before 2020, you definitely knew him after – or at least saw the results of his coordinated response efforts. Throughout that challenging year, he led the county emergency management office’s longest-ever running activation from early March, when a resident became one of the first in the state to test positive for coronavirus and later sadly became Florida’s first COVID fatality.
Through his relationships with state and local officials, and his strong ties to the community, Brad crafted a different approach to the COVID response, putting county resources toward assisting partners including the department of health and local private health care providers so they could continue to provide services to patients through telehealth technology. He worked tirelessly with leaders in the faith-based community to set up testing sites and food drops throughout the county to be assured the needs of our residents were being met.
The onset of Covid was followed by the April tornado, the 2000-acre Five Mile Swamp Fire in May, and finally Hurricane Sally, a high Category 2 storm that caught national weather officials by surprise. Throughout these simultaneous disasters, Brad kept county residents calm, informed and safe – becoming a familiar face to many through his live social media updates.
After playing a major role in leading Santa Rosa County through 2020 and into 2021, Brad oversaw one of the most underestimated challenges public health and safety leaders throughout the country have ever faced – the local rollout of COVID vaccinations. To find the manpower necessary to handle the massive volume of calls, Brad coordinated appointment schedulers from other county and constitutional offices as well as recruited retired employees and volunteers from the community. He organized the largest vaccine distribution site in northwest Florida and personally administered shots to individuals to help protect our county from the pandemic.
Amid the pandemic and its recovery, Brad simultaneously was overseeing the Santa Rosa County Animal Shelter, which – like many animal rescue organizations – was suffering from staffing shortages and an overabundance of animals needing care. Under his management, the staff coordinated a multitude of new programs and innovative solutions bringing the shelter for the first time to a no-kill status.
In his personal life, Brad stays committed to his community, serving as the Allentown Fire Chief for approximately 15 years, often rising from sleep to respond to emergencies in north Santa Rosa County. As a fifth-generation Santa Rosan, Brad adds peanut and cotton farming as well as cattle ranching to his repertoire.
A longtime member of Living Truth Church, Brad serves as the organization’s director of safety and security and spent many weekends following tropical activity with his fellow members assisting the elderly and less fortunate in the community with home repairs and other unmet needs.
Following changes in administration at the Board of County Commissioners, Brad took on the role of assistant county administrator when asked, helping the interim county administrator oversee close to 450 staff who serve the needs of approximately 185,000 citizens and hundreds of thousands of visitors 24 hours a day.
Santa Rosa Medical Center (SRMC) is proud to welcome Santa Rosa County’s first baby of 2022. The first baby, Orion Isaiah, was born Jan. 3 to Kerstin Kent and Michael Dunn in Santa Rosa Medical Center’s Baby Suite. Both mom and baby are recovering well. SRMC presented Kerstin and Michael with a basket of items donated by the hospital, hospital staff and area businesses. Items ranged from gift certificates to items for mom and baby.
Applicants must pass a criminal history check, have no fish or wildlife law violations and possess a valid, working email address.
To learn more about becoming a contracted nuisance alligator trapper and to apply online, visit MyFWC.com/Alligator and click on “Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program.” Applications must be received by Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. For more information, email FWCGator@MyFWC.com.