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Wednesday Morning Headlines: Mark Jacobs

17TH AVENUE FLYOVER

The Florida Department of Transportation held an open house last night to present illustrations of the upcoming 17th Avenue flyover and roundabout project for the first time, while giving the public a platform to give feedback and ask questions.  Project engineers, managers and other personnel from FDOT were on hand at the Studer Community Institute building for the informal meeting to mingle with residents eager to learn more about the estimated $23 million project. The project will require the reconstruction of the intersection at Gregory Street and Bayfront Parkway at 17th Avenue. It is intended to improve the northern landing of the Pensacola Bay Bridge and 17th Avenue intersection and will include the removal of a traffic signal currently at 17th, to be replaced by the flyover structure and roundabout.  FDOT officials hope the project, which is folded into the construction of the new Pensacola Bay Bridge, is completed by the summer of 2021.

BRIDGE NAME

Two sides don’t appear to be getting any closer to naming a new bridge in Escambia County.  A public meeting was held last night to discuss what to name the new Pensacola Bay Bridge.  The current bridge is named for former state Senator Philip Beall, but some want the new bridge named for Chappie James, who was the first black four-star general.  James’ supporters say he’s a real-life hero who deserves the honor, but Beall’s grandson says they’re trying to tear down his grandfather’s name.  Another meeting is slated tonight at 5:30 at the Gulf Breeze Community Center.

MILTON MAYOR/TPO

The Milton city council voted to remove Mayor Heather Lindsay from a seat on the Transportation Planning Organization Board. It’s been a hot topic since Lindsay accepted an assistant city attorney position with Pensacola. Lindsay planned to resign from the TPO to avoid any perceived conflict of interest and was going to step down after she started her new job later in June. That would keep her on the board through today’s TPO meeting, something some councilmembers had a problem with. They made a motion to add the issue to Tuesday night’s agenda. Lindsay vetoed the council’s decision. Council members then voted to override that veto. Councilwoman Mary Ellen Johnson will be Milton’s new representative on the TPO board.

SELL SCHOOL

Steps are being taken to find a new owner for a historic building in Santa Rosa County.  The school board voted last week to have the former Berryhill Elementary School in Milton appraised for a possible sale.  The school opened in 1926, but it sits on land that was the home of the sheriff’s office in 1845.  The school building has been vacant for months since a new administrative building opened on US 90.   

OLF-8

Plans to develop a former Navy site are moving forward in Escambia County.  A committee involving county and Navy officials recently announced they have chosen three finalists to develop the OLF 8 site.  The county got the 600-acre site on Nine Mile Road from the Navy in exchange for land in Santa Rosa County.  The Escambia County Commission will discuss the three finalists at a meeting next month.  

DRUG IMPORTATION BILL

Florida residents could gain access to cheaper prescription drugs from Canada and other countries under legislation signed Tuesday by Gov. Ron DeSantis, if the federal government gives it the go ahead. The bill establishes two programs to safely import FDA approved prescription drugs into the state for the benefit of consumers and public programs.  The bill requires both programs to seek federal approval or cooperation prior to importing prescription drugs. DeSantis said his administration is currently working closely with the White House and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to submit its plan for the importation of prescription drugs for their consideration.

ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN

A petition with over 100-thousand signatures seeks to put an assault weapons ban in the Florida Constitution. State Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith says the petition is necessary because the Republican-controlled House is ignoring a critical public safety issue. The amendment would prohibit any semi-automatic rifle or shotgun capable of holding more than ten rounds of ammunition at once.  Those who already own these type of weapons could legally keep them if they are properly registered with Florida Department of Law Enforcement within a year.

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