Bar-b-que Grill Masters Cook Up Their Best To Compete For the Title
By: Kelly Woodard
The Kansas City Barbeque Society is challenging Pensacola’s best backyard barbeque teams to show off their skills at the 6th Annual “Smokin’ In the Square” BBQ Cook-off this Friday, March 6th from noon to 9 pm and Saturday, March 7th from 10 am to 7 pm in Seville Square located in the heart of downtown Pensacola.
Professional barbecue teams from around the U.S. will gather to compete at the first barbecue contest locally to be sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society (KSBS). Professional teams will be competing for prize money and points.
Local barbecue enthusiasts also will be competing for prize money and bragging rights in the Backyard competition which will include chicken, ribs, pork and brisket. Only 15 team spots remain in the local’s category, so register quickly.
KCBS will provide representatives for the contest and access to certified BBQ judges who have been trained in how to judge world-class barbeque, all while using a blind judging process that is fair and void of personal knowledge of teams being judged. All categories of BBQ will be judged on three different criteria: taste, appearance, and texture.
Southern style BBQ cooks don’t fret! KCBS judges are trained in a manner that allows them to appropriately judge ALL types of barbeque, from St. Louis and Texas styles to Memphis and Carolina styles. The KCBS holds contests in every region of the country, and as a result all styles receive the same fair, unbiased, trained judging process.
Think you have what it takes to be known as the ultimate ‘finger licking’ Kind of BBQ? The Back Yard Team entry fee is $175 and includes a 15x15 work area with power and water. In addition to the main event, teams can also choose to enter the Friday Night Seafood Competition for an additional $25.
The Smokin' In The Square sponsor, Eager Beaver Tree Service, will be providing each Backyard Team with 3 pork butts to prepare for sampling by the public. The Backyard Team with the most donations in their "charity jar" will be the winner of the People's Choice event. This event will be on Saturday from 11 am to 3 pm.
The public is invited to share in the fun and to visit with the cook teams to see the variety of techniques and equipment. All the while families can enjoy the entertainment provided by a variety of local talent that you won't want to miss. There will be vendors on site to help satisfy your appetite for BBQ, as well as arts and crafts by local artists. All proceeds will benefit local charities.
While you are enjoying the best BBQ on the coast, gather your friends and enter the Smokin’ Cornhole Tournament from 11:45 am to 3:30 pm on Saturday. The entry fee is $20 per person, and each team will consist of two people. The tournament will be a 3-game, single elimination cornhole tournament in which players play to 21 points with cancellation scoring. There is no penalty for going over 21 points, and there is no skunk rule. Participation in the 2015 Smokin’ Cornhole Tournament will provide 5 qualifying points towards the 2015 Gulf Coast Cornhole Series.
First place winners in both divisions will automatically qualify to participate in the Gulf Coast Cornhole Series Championship Tournament in October. First and second place winners will win cash and prizes. (Masters: 1st place: $200; 2nd place: $100 / Rookies: 1st Place: $100; 2nd place: $50).
Be sure to purchase your Raffle Tickets for $5 each or $20 for 5 for your chance to win some fabulous prizes including:
Grand Prize: $2,500 value; Pinch-A-Penny Pools, LARGE Green Egg & patio set
2nd Prize: $1,345 value; Hammer Stahl (21 pc) Cutlery Set
3rd Prize: $399 value; Gander Mountain (14.3 gal) Yeti Tundra 65 Cooler
Admission to the event is free! For more information or to register your team for the event, visit www.smokininthesquare.com or call 850-516-2622.
Community Outraged Over Dr. Convicted Of Preying On Minors Continuing Practice
By: Kelly Woodard
A community is in an uproar after local doctor and convicted sex offender, Dr. Brian Mitchell Lee, was sentenced to two years of community control and 13 years of probation after soliciting sex from what he thought was a 14 year old boy. Although Lee will be forced to register as a sex offender, he will be allowed to keep his medical license and continue to practice medicine, even on minors.
Lee, a family doctor and owner of Perdido Bay Family Care, began communicating online with an individual whom he believed was a 14-year-old male, who in fact was an undercover investigator. The conversations turned explicitly sexual, and Lee was apprehended after traveling to meet the "boy" for intercourse.
After his January 2014 conviction, word of Lee’s guilt shocked the small community he lived and worked in. Perdido Key resident, Jamie Thornton, said, “It’s scary to think that someone that we all knew and respected in this community could do something so despicable. I still can’t believe it.” Thornton’s neighbor, Shannon Williamson, agreed adding, “To think that so many people trusted him and allowed him to treat their children as a doctor is chilling. I guess you really never know who people are behind closed doors.”
Lee’s defense attorney Patrece Cashwell urged the court to take all of the Dr.’s upstanding work in the community as a family physician into account rather than his “lapse in judgment”. State Attorney’s pushed for jail time at Monday’s sentencing, but instead the court went with the lesser sentence rather than the recommended sentence of 45 months in state prison.
In a written statement, Lee admitted that he felt that some of his under aged patients were “cute”, and went on to say, “I do have an attraction to adolescents I know that’s true. So it's probably safe for me not to treat those patients.”
Although Lee admitted to having problems with pedophilia, the court granted him the ability to keep his license to practice medicine out of his private practice, Perdido Bay Family Care, a fact that has left residents reeling. Perdido Key resident, Katie Atkinson said, “Justice was not served. This man is disgusting and needs help. It won’t be a surprise to see someone with no remorse and an admitted issue turn up as a repeat offender.” Former patient, Stephanie Barrington agreed adding, “He shouldn’t just lose his license, he should be in prison. Period.”
Lee will have to register as a sex offender and go through a sex offender treatment program. He is to have no contact with minors outside of work, but as a doctor he’s allowed to treat them. However, in order for Lee to treat any minors, he is required to disclose his sex offender designation to their parents and must have a staff member present while he is examining the minor.
Florida State Attorney Bill Eddins is appealing Circuit Judge Terry Terrell’s decision to lessen Lee’s sentence. Judge Terrell said upon sentencing that Lee’s “good work as a doctor” in the community had weighed on his decision as well as a few other issues. Eddins said he intends on pursuing a stricter sentence based on, “the reasons given by the court do not match up under the law with the proper reasons for the judge to give a more lenient sentence.”
There is no word yet on what sentence the State will pursue, but Barrington said, “As a mother, I won’t rest until justice in this community has been served.”
The Hip Pocket Deli, A Piece Of Iconic Pensacola Says Goodbye For Good
By: Kelly Woodard
One of Pensacola’s iconic eateries, The Hip Pocket Deli, said goodbye forever Tuesday, as it was torn down for future road projects.
Owner Chris Varazo said that the state has been trying to buy the property from him for years, and he held out as long as he could. But the Florida Department of Transportation finally acquired the property through eminent domain. “There wasn’t anything I could do. I guess my time with this place is just up,” Varazo said.
For 22 years, the Hip Pocket Deli served delicious homemade food that kept locals coming back for more. “This place was always my dream,” said Varazo. “It’s a family place that has served the community we love for many years. It will be hard to say goodbye.”
James Avery was a Hip Pocket Deli regular, and said that the restaurant wasn’t just a place to get a sandwich, but a piece of Pensacola history. “There are just places in Pensacola that become an icon. Joe Patti’s… McGuire’s…Jerry’s Drive In. All places that just scream Pensacola. If you ask me, Hip Pocket Deli will always be on that list.”
Varazo said that he plans on opening another small restaurant eventually, but for now the Hip Pocket Deli still has his heart. It still has Pensacola’s heart as well.
Pirates, Gypsies, and Knights Gather For Fun At the Gulf Coast Renaissance Faire
By: Kelly Woodard
Go Medieval this spring as the Gulf Coast Renaissance Faire comes to town this Saturday and Sunday, March 7th and 8th at the Pensacola Interstate Fairgrounds. Founded in 2001 by Steve Melei, the Gulf Coast Renaissance Faire brings Pensacola’s roots, which began in the mid 1500’s renaissance era when Tristan de Luna first explored these shores, to a new generation of Gulf Coast residents.
Thousands will gather to witness the spectacle of armored combat, the thunderous clash of jousters, the swirl of a dancer's costume, and to sample the wares of merchants who have traveled from afar. Patrons are encouraged to come in costume, as the event seeks to forge new bonds between the past and present.
In addition to amazing food, entertainment and period goods that will be available for patrons to enjoy, the stars of the popular History Channel show, ‘Full Metal Jousting’, will be on hand to sign autographs, take pictures, and give demonstrations of the intensity of the medieval sport of jousting.
Need a little more one on one time with these real life knights? Then purchase your ticket for Dinner With A Knight. You can dine with Shane Adams, host of Full Metal Jousting and Captain of the Knights of Valour & World Champion Jouster. Dinner will be held at McGuire’s Irish Pub after the Renaissance Faire. Ticket for the dinner includes VIP admission to the Renaissance Faire for both days for one person, and a digital photo of your dinner experience with Shane Adams.
The price for this special VIP package is $250 and includes dinner & beverages of your choice from the McGuire’s menu up to $50. Ticket quantities for this event are extremely limited so buy yours now!
In addition to all the jousting and knight action, be sure to check out the jugglers, magicians, and gypsy dancers as well as Pirate Festival events. Watch as the Gulf Coast’s best “swashbucklers” prepare for battle as only pirates could with sword fights and walking the plank. Then, after the mutiny is over, you’ll have a chance to meet your favorite pirates and get some awesome tips on how to be as vicious as Blackbeard himself.
The Faire goes on rain or shine. Come and meet Their Majesties, see fabulous characters and experience a historically good time! Faire hours are 10am to 6 pm.
Tickets for the event are just $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 5-11, and children under 5 are free.
For more information, call 850-572-1407.
Gov. Rick Scott Officially Suspends 11th Grade Standardized Test
By: Kelly Woodard
Governor Rick Scott issued an executive order on Tuesday to suspend the 11th grade Language Arts Florida Standards Assessment Test. This comes after an investigation by Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart that concluded that Florida is oversaturated with standardized tests.
Students were originally scheduled to take the test this spring (from March to May), but controversy surrounding the newly created test caused several Superintendents from around the state, including Malcom Thomas (Escambia County) and Tim Wyrosdick (Santa Rosa County), to suggest several ideas to Governor Scott including using the results from the Florida Standards Assessments test as a baseline for future scores, to freeze school grades until the 2016-2017 school year, and eliminating the 11th grade English and Language Arts Florida Standards Assessment.
Scott said in a press conference, “It was brought to my attention by teachers, parents, and students that there were far too many test, and I agree. I would like to thank Commissioner Stewart for leading an investigation of standardized testing and helping to determine which tests can be eliminated.”
Sen. John Legg, R-Lutz, introduced a bill earlier this year to reduce testing time to no more than 5 percent of a student’s classroom time, a concept that Gov. Scott agrees with. “We do need standardized testing, but I feel that our children will greatly benefit from more hands on learning and one on one teacher/student interaction.”
The Florida Education Association said the order is a good “first step,” marking rare agreement between Scott and the state's top teachers union.
Governor Scott wants the test suspended until Florida lawmakers have an opportunity to consider new laws to eliminate the mandate.