Tag Archives: Pensacola

The Bay Bridge project picks up speed as the new year begins

MacKenzie Kees

Opinions Editor

 This artist’s rendering shows the Pensacola side of the planned Bay Bridge. Photo courtesy of www.pensacolabaybridge.com

This artist’s rendering shows the Pensacola side of the planned Bay Bridge.
Photo courtesy of www.pensacolabaybridge.com

One reason many non-resident students come to UWF is Pensacola Beach’s beautiful emerald Gulf waters and powdered-sugar beaches. The easiest access to the beach is crossing a three-mile bridge.

The “Three-Mile Bridge,” or Pensacola Bay Bridge, is nearing the end of its 50-year design life, and contractors are already vying for the opportunity to construct its replacement, a nearly $500-million dollar project slated to begin in late 2016 or early 2017. A project that has been brewing since January 2011, reconstructing the Bay Bridge was deemed necessary when it failed to reach the proper sufficiency rank after its last inspection in 2010.

The structurally deficient Bay Bridge lacks a bicycle and pedestrian lane and is considered to be a safety hazard, according to the Florida Department of Transportation. Other concerns published in the Pensacola Bay Bridge PD&E Study include a projected increase in average daily traffic from 59,200 vehicles per day to 68,500. This increase in future traffic demand will surpass the bridge’s current capacity threshold.

By July 2016, the FDOT will choose the project’s contractor out of the remaining five proposals submitted, according to FDOT’s timeline. If the contractor chosen completes the new southbound bridge within 860 calendar days, a $15 million dollar bonus will be awarded as a financial incentive to insure apt progress is made.

“It’s a chain of events that we’re looking to expedite so we can have the newer structure completed,” FDOT Spokesman Ian Satter told the “Pensacola News Journal.” (Taken from a PNJ story published on Oct. 14, 2015.)

Other modifications to come with the bridge include a new boat launch in Gulf Breeze’s Wayside Park and a ferry service connecting Pensacola to Santa Rosa Island.

“The numbers from the PD&E study indicate that the bridge would be 15-20 feet higher,” Gulf Breeze City Manager Edwin “Buzz” Eddy told the “Pensacola News Journal.” (Taken from a PNJ story published on Feb. 13, 2015.) Eddy said the new six-lane bridge would also be “twice as wide,” and “vehicles will be able to drive underneath the bridge.” This design concept attempts to create more space in order to alleviate the negative impacts the project may have for local shops near the bridge.

The Bay Bridge replacement project is expected to be one of the biggest road construction developments in the local area’s history. Providing important regional access for commuters, the Bay Bridge has been a crucial link between Gulf Breeze and Pensacola since its original conception in 1960.

Avoiding the bridge to take the nearest detour route to Gulf Breeze from Pensacola would add an extra 27 miles to the trip, which is impractical for commuters and residents alike. The new Bay Bridge will reduce delay times, so residents and commuters will rejoice.

For more information about the Pensacola Bay Bridge project, visit http://www.pensacolabaybridge.com/.

Hoverboards banned from UWF campus

Claudia Carlson

Staff Writer

 

The latest trend amongst kids and students alike seems to be bringing conflict to college campuses and public places in general: hoverboards.

What exactly is a hoverboard, and why is there such a stigma around this seemingly harmless and fun toy? Well, first of all, the name “hoverboard” is actually deceiving: A hoverboard does not actually hover, but instead is a two-wheeled, self-balancing board that you ride by leaning one direction or another. Reports have been release about hoverboards blowing up while charging, or people falling off and seriously harming them.

Hoverboards were one of the most popular Christmas gifts of 2015, mainly for kids, but you see people of all ages riding them. You can even spot people riding them here on the UWF campus, “hovering” around from class to class.

You won’t see anyone hovering on the UWF campus anymore. An email from University News was sent to all UWF faculty, staff, and students on Friday, enacting a ban on hoverboards anywhere on campus effective immediately. This comes just days after an email was sent banning all hoverboards from residence halls.

The email from University News read, “Effective immediately, the possession, use, or storage of electronic equipment such as Hoverboards, Swagways, IO Hawks, Skywalkers and any similar devices is prohibited anywhere on the University of West Florida Pensacola Campus, including in residence halls and apartments. This applies to all members of the campus community, and has been enacted to mitigate potential on-campus safety hazards.”

The email also mentioned other colleges and universities that have banned the use of such products on their campus as well. These universities include American University, Boston College, Vanderbilt University, Louisiana State University, University of Alabama, and the list goes on. Safety concerns and fire hazards are the main reasons cited for the bans on campuses across the country.

Students on campus have differing opinions on how hoverboards should be handled. Junior, Juliann Laird says she feels that if skateboards are allowed on campus, so should hoverboards. “I don’t know a lot about hoverboards, I think they’re cool, but childish. I don’t see the danger in hoverboards, but I think they should only be allowed to be used outside,”.

“I see people occasionally riding them on campus and it’s weird, but it looks hilarious and fun, so go for it dude,” Laird said.

Students and kids are not the only ones testing out hoverboards. Reality star and former Real Housewife of Beverly Hills, Brandi Glanville, was injured when she fell off a hoverboard, resulting in a hairline fracture and six stitches on her hand. The star captioned a photo of her injured arm: “Swollen paw 6 stiches I’m officially done with iWalk slash hover board.”

Sophomore, Conner Blake says he thinks that hoverboards are unnecessary on campus, especially with all the reports of people getting hurt and the devices blowing up. “There is no need for people to use hoverboards, or whatever they are called, on campus,” Blake said. “UWF’s campus is so easy to navigate and walk from class to class, use your two legs.”

“I think the University banning hoverboards in residence halls is a great first step. If one were to explode in a dorm room or a classroom, not only would you be putting students and faculty at risk, but there is also a chance the whole building would burn down. I just don’t think it’s wise to allow them on campus,” Blake said.

A much younger, hoverboard lover had an opinion on college students and their use of hoverboards on campus. Delaney Williams, 11, of Gulf Breeze, says she believes that hoverboards were made as a toy for kids, not for people to use to get around to class.

“Hoverboards are toys that are fun to ride around, but that’s all that they are, a toy. They can be dangerous if people don’t actually know how to ride it, which is why only kids should stick to using them,” Williams said.

What do you think about hoverboards being banned on the UWF campus? Tweet me your view: @claudcarlson.

Boneheads: New restaurant open for business near campus

Sara Agans

Staff Writer

The new Boneheads inside the Argonaut Village. Photo courtesy of the Pensacola News Journal.

 

Location, price and taste are just a few of the important concepts that run through a college student’s mind when it comes to finding a place to eat. Just last month, the Boneheads franchise, based in Atlanta, opened up for business in the Argonaut Village.

Argonaut Village is located at the northeast entrance to UWF and is said to be expecting to open a few more restaurants this year by the middle of March. (Taken from a Pensacola News Journal story on Oct. 18, 2015).

Kendrick Hobbs, owner of this Boneheads restaurant and a UWF alumnus, said the restaurant has a “fast-casual” concept, meaning that the customers get the best of both worlds: the experience of both a fast food restaurant and a dine-in restaurant.

A customer first places his or her order at the front counter with the cashier; then sits at a table and an employee will bring the food out.

With the quick service and the affordable prices of a fast food restaurant, the feel of a dine-in restaurant, the fresh food made to order on real plates with real silverware, it is the best of both worlds.

“I really think our food speaks for itself,” Hobbs said. “Any of the pictures you see are our actual plates that you’ll get. It’s not Hollywood; we took a plate and we took a picture of it and put it on our menu. So presentation and quality of the food is the most important thing to us, and the experience. You come in here, you have a nice atmosphere, and you have nice customer service at an affordable price. I don’t think there’s anything better than that.”

Boneheads specialties include grilled skewers, tacos, burritos, and a variety of grilled fish and piri piri spiced chicken. On average, it is about $12 a plate, per person.

Jessie Drossos, Kendrick Hobbs’s aunt and the general manager/catering manager of Boneheads, said, “I am very proud of Kendrick. I wasn’t really sure about the concept at first, but it is great food. And the fact that it’s at UWF, which is really special to him, it’s awesome. I’ve been very impressed.”

Ella Cornell, UWF sophomore majoring in health science and a member of Alpha Delta Pi, said, “I like it here. It’s clean and organized, and the menu looks fresh, and it’s cool that it’s right by campus. It’s affordable and has good portions of food. I love the grilled zucchini. Definitely come check it out. It’s easy to come between classes if you are on campus, and the food comes out quick.”

Boneheads is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. You can check out the restaurant’s website or Facebook page for more information.

Trump is full of himself, not real solutions

Kelsi Gately

Staff Writer

Republican candidate, Donald Trump speaks to thousands at the Pensacola Bay Center. Photo by Kelsi Gately.

 

I am by no means a supporter of Donald Trump, one of the 11 main candidates campaigning to be the Republican nominee for president in the 2016 election. On Wednesday, I attended the Trump rally at the Pensacola Bay Center where he addressed both supporters and non-supporters about why he is right choice to be our nation’s next president.

However, I was sadly mistaken to think I would actually hear Trump’s real stance on the issues America faces. Instead, I waited in line for an hour to sit for another hour, to listen to Trump talk about himself and criticize his opponents and the media.

I have not been not a Trump fan since he announced he was running, and I was hoping by attending I would change my view. Before attending, I went to Trump’s website and looked at some of his positions to have a better understanding of his views. I agree that we need to have better services offered to our veterans and that we need to work hard to get big business in America instead of outsourcing labor to other countries. But Trump didn’t speak on these issues for all but five minutes of his hour-long speech.

I don’t understand why someone would want to vote for someone who doesn’t understand how to make Congress to work together. Congress is the body who makes the majority of the decisions. The President simply proposes what he or she wants to do, and Congress has to vote on it.

There were thousands of people who attended the rally, and many were UWF students. Current supporter of both Ben Carson and Donald Trump, UWF student Kevin Perez attended to give his support. Perez says he believes it is important for a candidate to defend their beliefs and have a conservative stance in running the country.

“I think that nations will respect us more if we have a backbone to say no to things that we do not want,” said Perez, senior communications major. “I believe that as a superpower, we should be leaders, not followers, in the world. Heck, even Putin gave Trump respect.”

Yes, Trump has a backbone, but he is not going to be able to run a country the way he runs his businesses. He cannot go and fire anyone he wants in Congress, because “we the people” are the ones who put them in office. The next few months are going to show what the citizens of the United States want, and hopefully we are able choose someone who will make a difference in Washington.

City Hall filled with red in support of Human Rights Ordinance

HRO1

Student Government Association President for UWF, Daniel McBurney, speaks on behalf of the Human Rights Ordinance in discussion at City Hall on Monday.
Photo by Cassie Rhame.

Cassie Rhame

Staff Writer

Pensacola City Hall was filled with passionate advocates Monday as it held a workshop discussing the adoption of a Human Rights Ordinance proposed by the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union).

The proposed ordinance “would prohibit discrimination in work and public accommodations based on race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, and military status,” according to the Facebook page. Sponsored by Councilman Brian Spencer, the proposal brought in heavy debate.

Advocates and non-supporters alike sat outside the conference room for three hours awaiting the discussion. More than 100 people flooded the halls, and council was forced to move this portion of the workshop to a larger room.

Once the human rights portion began, the room was satiated with red as supporters dressed in the color to show their approval of the ordinance.

“I came in support because the more people you have, the more impactful it will be,” said Christian Sutton, UWF advertising coordinator of the Gay-Straight Alliance and pre-law sophomore.

Currently, Florida law protects against discrimination, but the issue, as those who support the ordinance said, comes with its lack of being fully inclusive. The prime change that would come into effect with the proposal is the expansion of the definition of public accommodation.

The definition of public accommodation is vague with a limited list of protections and does not cover all public places.

“People can technically be discriminated against by public places like hotels, restaurants and bakeries,” ACLU coordinator Sara Latshaw said during her presentation.

Latshaw also said that close to 60 percent of Floridians currently are covered by an inclusive Human Rights Ordinance similar to the one being proposed. A specific number was not given of the amount of complaints received by the ACLU for discrimination, but Latshaw said most stem from housing.

Even though Latshaw admitted an increase in complaints had not occurred in Pensacola, she also stated a problem with prejudice is always present. She made sure to clarify that religious organizations and institutions would be protected in the ordinance.

“This [ordinance] allows us to better track where the issue lies and lends itself to clarity,” Latshaw said.

“I am mostly concerned with job discrimination and living situations,” said Emily Williams, UWF graduate in gender studies. “I haven’t run into a lot around here, but I just want this passed to make it easier for people who do come across it.”

“Fair housing passed in 1983, which is why it only covers physical disabilities,” Councilwoman Sherri Myers said. “This means people with mental disabilities can be discriminated against. We need to make sure we have an inclusive process that protects those who can file a claim.”

Myers, who has advocated for human rights throughout her career, was in support of the concept, but said she had concerns regarding the private cause of action portion.

“I see things that are lacking in this … one is fines. What are the penalties?” Myers said.  “I want effective enforcement.”

The proposal would also add sexual orientation to be protected individually as opposed to being broadly covered under “sex” explicitly as it is now. A sexual orientation claim that does not involve harassment, for example, currently is not guarded against.

Many public members shared personal testimonies of being denied service by hospitals and homeless shelters for their sexual orientation.

Although those dressed in red were overwhelming in number, not everyone was there to show support.

The first member of the public spoke ill of the ordinance and compared the red clothing to “the blood shed by Jesus Christ.”

Harry and Merry Beatty from Navarre came nearly 40 miles to speak against the proposal. “The good Lord has the final say,” Harry said. “Just because the world is changing doesn’t mean I need to go with the conformity.”  

The most concerning factor of the ordinance as expressed by the opposing public was the introduction of unisex bathrooms in these places of accommodation.   

“I got several calls today, and most of them were concerned with bathroom use,” Councilman Larry Johnson said. “I do not believe being transgender makes someone a pedophile or predator … I support this ordinance.”

The opposition tried to make clear that they are not against the transgender community, but are simply concerned for the children. Many expressed anxiety at the possibility of pedophiles dressing as a transgender to gain access to the opposite sex’s bathroom.

Supporters in red were angered by this fear, and said they feel it is simple discrimination.

Much of the disapproval came from those like the Beatty family as well, worried about the clash between religious freedom and sexual orientation. “It’s unnatural,” Merry said. “I don’t want to be forced to go against my beliefs, and I would not hire someone like that.”

Pensacola public figure and former priest Nathan Monk stood before the city council and shared his disappointment in those opposing the ordinance.

“If you say that you don’t hate someone while punching them in the face, it’s hate,” Monk said. “Fortunately for everyone here, your religion has absolutely no bearing on the law.

“I have full faith in our council that they will make the right decision … people like those on my left, who have failed time and time again just like you will fail now,” Monk said.

Daniel McBurney, UWF student body president, and Devin Cole, president of the UWF Gay-Straight Alliance, attended in support of the ordinance, as did UWF professor of psychology Susan Walch.

“I’m here for social justice,” Walch said. “I think this is a step towards making Pensacola a place that is inclusive of everyone and respectful of humanity.”

The ordinance will be voted on as early as next month, but has more discussion and work to be done. To follow the progress, follow the ACLU’s Facebook page.

You can view a video of the workshop on the City Council’s website.

 

Food trucks are great for the community, but opponents have city council scared to act on ordinance

 

People gather in lines for food trucks.
Photo courtesy of manahawkinfleamarket.com.

Tristan Lawson

Staff Writer

Pensacola’s City Council has been debating and postponing the proposed food truck ordinance for about three years now. The most recent council meeting, on Thursday, was the second reading of what is the closest they have come so far to successfully passing an ordinance that would allow mobile food vendors to operate in Pensacola.

However, restaurateurs, restaurant property developers, and multi-million-dollar restaurant groups appeared and voiced their opinion of the proposed ordinance and successfully scared the crap out of our timid city council.

At the meeting, the unruliest and blatantly disrespectful people were people opposed to the ordinance. One person in attendance was forcibly removed by police for shouting at the city council. Opponents often scoffed at speakers’ arguments, shook heads at councilmembers’ comments, and used obvious body language to signal their disdain for the proposed ordinance. While all claimed to be in support of the free market, entrepreneurship, and the American dream, after the behavior they displayed and their constant opposition to the ordinance in any form, one is left to wonder if they really understand what those things mean.

“Unfair,” “unjust,” “probably illegal” and “should be forbidden” were among the many phrase the opponents used to speak of the ordinance and the concept of food trucks in general. Many scare tactics and outlandish theories came out of the woodwork during this open forum. Apparently the clearly written ordinance that only applies to food trucks and mobile food vendors would also open the doors to mobile retailers, mobile tattoo trucks and even mobile bong shops! This is not only false, but if the people opposed to the ordinance would have taken the time to read it, they would know that nothing in the ordinance allows this.

One statement made by the owner of Seville Quarter was perhaps the most telling thing said, revealing the true intentions of established restaurants in downtown Pensacola in preventing this ordinance passing. “They are looking for something to give them rights,” he argued. “They will become stakeholders.”

This conversation is not about food trucks. This conversation is about maintaining control and the status quo for the interests of large and extremely wealthy restaurant groups and owners in the downtown district. It is about dominance over a market, and it is about preventing people from entering the game. Essentially they are fighting against all of the things they claim to be for: the free market, entrepreneurship and the American dream.

They claim not to be afraid of competition… so why fight the ordinance? They are afraid; they are terrified, and I will tell you why.

If you want to open a restaurant in any part of the country, you had better have a few thousand dollars. A hood vent system alone will set you back anywhere from $18,000 to $36,000. The cost of small wares, dishes and silverware can add up quickly, and restaurants’ budgets for these items sometimes run into the tens of thousands of dollars. Opening a restaurant is not cheap, and it is a risky business where it is very common to not even make a profit for the first few years of operation. The margins are small and the work is demanding.

However, restaurateurs are not infallible. Many of the problems in restaurants are caused by mismanagement and unrealistic expectations by owners who do not fully understand the logistics of operating a restaurant and have even less understanding of what their employees go thorough to get the job done.

So what does all this mean? Well, despite what wealthy restaurateurs and multimillionaires who just want to play with their money by investing in restaurants want you to think, food trucks are a good thing. A GREAT thing… for the community and the local economy.

Competition has been the root of some of the most progressive innovations to ever happen in our country. Not only does it push chefs to cook better food, source locally, and appeal more to the tastes and desires of their patrons, but it also adds new ideas to the culinary melting pot of our community. It pushes management to improve service standards and provide a better experience to their customers. It also pushes more competition between brick and mortar operations.

Competition also applies to the workforce, and with more restaurants and more foodservice options come more jobs and demand for higher wages. And since many college students depend on service jobs to make money while in school, this is something to pay attention to. Your boss will have to promote you and give you a raise when your manager quits to open his or her own business.

Many of the restaurants in our city are corporate-owned or franchise businesses where much of the profits go out of the local economy to a corporate headquarters to be distributed amongst shareholders. Food trucks purchase their product locally, live locally, and are working-class people who flip that dynamic on its head by redistributing their profits back into the community by buying local fish, shopping for fresh local produce, and going directly to the customers in our community who need good, affordable, healthy food.

Another thing to consider is what many people in the restaurant business complain about: stagnant wages, inconsistent hours, no job security, no benefits and no opportunities for advancement. Food trucks provide restaurateurs the ability to get started in the business without selling their house or taking a loan that will take 20 years to pay off. It provides chefs, bakers, and baristas with the chance to be their own boss and be in control of their own destiny. And there is nothing more American than that.

Even if none of this applies to you, options are good. Food trucks are an affordable, convenient and modern way to get great food. Many of the most progressive and cutting-edge cities in the United States have a vibrant food-truck community… and they are not restaurant deserts. They are also home to some of the best restaurants in the country who employ the best chefs and some of the highest paid wait-staff.

Basically, not only are food trucks good business, they are good eats. So when this issue comes up at the next city council meeting, make sure you show up and tell the guys in the designer suits and expensive Italian leather shoes that you want them to shut up and stop crying, and tell the guys in work shirts, checkered pants, and clogs to keep up the good work and don’t stop fighting!
Chef T. is a UWF student and a working-class culinary professional proudly serving the community for 12 years.