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Frame The Importance of

Commercial Truck Insurance in Pensacola, FL

  • Let's face it - truckers in America have always been the backbone of our great country. They still are in modern times. On any given day, thousands of trucks traverse our highways and local roads, delivering goods and products on time so that businesses and consumers have what they need to live life. And while commercial trucking can be an incredibly lucrative way to make a living and put food on the table, it can also be risky and expensive.
  • Whether you're the owner of a fleet, an independent trucker, or have a business that uses big rigs to transport goods, you need commercial trucking insurance to protect you and your client's investments, shield you from liability, and more.
  • That's where working with a reliable truck insurance agency comes into play. Unfortunately, for many commercial truck insurance providers, serving the needs of truckers is low on the proverbial totem pole. At Independence Insurance Agency, nothing could be further from the truth.

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percent The Commercial Truck

Insurance Agency in Pensacola, FL You Can Trust

Much like you pride yourself on running a successful trucking business, Independence Insurance Agency prides itself on its years of experience providing truck insurance for hardworking men and women across the country. And in our experience, insurance rates for truckers are just too high - so high, in fact, that they eat away at their bottom line, making it more difficult to run a business and make a profit. Fortunately, at Independence Insurance Agency, we provide truckers the freedom they need from astronomically high insurance rates so they can stay on the road and keep driving America forward.

As one of the most trusted commercial trucking insurance agencies in the U.S., we understand the challenges that you face daily as a trucker. We also know how important it is to protect your business. That's why we go above and beyond to find you the best-priced coverage available, whether you're an operator, own a small fleet, a large fleet, or something in between.

Commercial Truck Insurance Pensacola, FL

We Put Truckers First Because Others Don't

 Truck Insurance Pensacola, FL

Truckers across the country choose to work with Independence Insurance Agency because we put their needs first before anything else. As experts in transportation insurance, we proudly offer a range of quality insurance products that are both practical and affordable for them. Our industry-leading carriers provide coverage that caters to the unique challenges faced by the trucking industry, ensuring that your business is protected at all times.

At our core, we are committed to finding the best possible price for your coverage without compromising the quality of service you deserve. The truth is, we understand how essential truckers are to the United States and take pride in making their insurance experience more streamlined and affordable.

One way we do so is by simplifying the insurance process. Our transportation specialists take the time to understand your specific needs and budget to tailor a comprehensive plan that works for you. You won't ever have to worry about cookie-cutter plans or uninterested agents when you work with our commercial trucking insurance agency. We take an educational approach to ensure that the entire big rig insurance process is quick, painless, and easy to understand. If there's something you don't understand, we're happy to take the time to explain. After all, the success and safety of your business are on the line.

Looking to the future, we are committed to providing innovative new products that cater to the ever-changing needs of truck drivers. As your one-stop shop for commercial trucking insurance, we are dedicated to your success, one policy at a time.

If you're a commercial trucker looking to ensure your rig, you can rest easy knowing that Independence Insurance Agency provides:

  • Affordable Trucking Insurance Plans for Any Budget
  • Exemplary Customer Service
  • Seasoned Transportation Specialists Who Customize Plans to Your Needs
  • A+ Carriers Across the Country
  • Simple, Easy Quote and Bind Process
  • Multiple Insurance Carriers Quoted to Find You the Best Rates
  • Truck Insurance for New Ventures

Call us or send us a message today to learn more about the best 18-wheeler insurance options for your trucking business.

chart The Commercial Truck

Common Types of Big Rig Truck Insurance in Pensacola, FL

At Independence Insurance Agency, we offer several types of insurance coverage for local, intermediate, and long-haul trucking needs. Here are just a few categories of trucking insurance coverage that our agency offers.

As the foundation of your insurance policy, liability coverage is required by law in most states in the U.S. It provides coverage for damage or injuries caused to properties or other people if your 18-wheeler is responsible for the crash. Without liability coverage, it's almost impossible to drive a truck or run a trucking business without major legal consequences.

Having physical damage coverage is an essential component that shouldn't be overlooked. This insurance is responsible for covering the expenses related to repairing or replacing your truck in situations such as accidents, theft, vandalism, and other damaging events. By having this coverage, you can rest assured that your business won't be affected significantly by unexpected incidents, and you can continue running your operations smoothly even in challenging times.

For trucking companies, the goods they transport are crucial to their operations. To protect these goods from damage, loss, or theft while in transit, cargo insurance is essential. This coverage provides much-needed peace of mind for both you and your clients, allowing you to reimburse clients for any losses sustained while protecting your reputation and brand identity.

Non-Trucking Liability Insurance is designed to cover property damage or bodily injury that may occur during personal time when the driver/truck is not under dispatch. This coverage can be applied with or without a trailer and is added to a commercial policy as an endorsement.

While Independence Insurance Agency has built a reputation of excellence in serving the needs of truckers, we also offer general liability. Also known as Truckers General Liability, this coverage insures for bodily injuries or property damage that happen due to business activities that are NOT the cause of operating a truck. It covers accidents that occur in parking lots, rest stops, also while loading or unloading. General liability can also cover losses related to theft and vandalism. Most brokers and shippers will require this coverage to work with you.

Bobtail insurance is a type of coverage that is comparable to non-trucking liability, which is designed to offer protection when driving a truck without a trailer attached. This is commonly referred to as "bobtailing." With bobtail insurance, the tractor is covered at all times, even when it is not attached to a trailer, regardless of whether or not the truck is under dispatch.

Trailer interchange insurance is a must-have if you're involved in a trailer interchange agreement. This essential coverage offers protection for trailers owned by other parties that you're using under a contractual agreement. It covers damages caused by collisions, fire, theft, and vandalism, providing assurance to all parties involved.

Curious whether our commercial truck insurance agency in cityname, state offers additional coverage? The following options can be bound in your insurance policy:

  • Business Interruption Insurance
  • Reefer Breakdown Insurance
  • Occupational Accident with Contract Liability Insurance
  • Rental Reimbursement Insurance
  • Underinsured or Uninsured Motorist Insurance
  • Towing Insurance
  • Electronics Insurance
  • Much More

Three plus 3 Safe Driving Tips to

Lower the Cost of Truck Insurance in Pensacola, FL

Keeping your drivers safe on the road is crucial not only for their own well-being but also for the safety of other motorists and the financial stability of your business. The Department of Labor has identified the trucking industry as one of the most hazardous sectors in the U.S. In fact, trucking and logistics fleets are known for their high injury and fatality rates. By improving how safely your truckers drive, you can help reduce expenses related to claim payouts, accidents, and insurance premium hikes.

Whether you own a large fleet or you're the owner and operator of a single rig, keep these safe driving tips in mind to help lower your insurance costs.

Implement Preventative Maintenance Plans

Ensuring the safety of your drivers begins with the safety of their vehicles. Trucks and tractor-trailers that do not receive regular maintenance, such as oil and brake pad changes, are more likely to experience breakdowns while on the road. Telematics devices provide real-time insight into engine and odometer data, including fault codes.

This information enables your mechanics to create comprehensive preventative maintenance schedules based on mileage, history of previous breakdowns, days, and more. Additionally, they can receive immediate notifications for critical fault codes. By implementing routine maintenance and proactive repair schedules, you can ensure that your vehicles are in top condition, minimizing the likelihood of breakdowns, which can help reduce the cost of trucker insurance.

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 Trucking Insurance Pensacola, FL

Practice Defensive Driving

This approach aims to mitigate the risk of fatal crashes and injuries by proactively identifying and responding to potentially dangerous situations and making informed decisions while driving. By adopting defensive driving techniques, drivers can reduce their likelihood of accidents, thereby minimizing the need for expensive repairs, claim payouts, and increased insurance premiums.

Some of the easiest ways for you or your drivers to practice safe driving include:

  • Be Wary of Blind Spots: Operating a reefer or tractor-trailer means driving high off of the ground, which can make visibility limited, especially in blind spots. To check your blind spot, look over your shoulder and out of your windows while changing lanes.
  • Be Ready for Emergencies on the Road: It's important for drivers to be ready for unexpected situations when driving, especially during long trips. They should be equipped to handle emergencies such as poor driving conditions or big rig breakdowns.
  • Use the Three-Second Rule: Truck drivers should try to maintain a three-second gap between their vehicle and the car in front of them. This means that the truck driver should reach a certain point on the road three seconds after the car in front of them has passed that same point.
  • Always Use Right and Left Turn Indicators: It's important for drivers to always use their turn signals when changing lanes or exiting highways, even if they don't see any other cars around. This is not only required by law, but it also reduces the chances of accidents occurring on the road.
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 Commercial Liability Insurance For Truckers Pensacola, FL

Find Ways to Prevent Distracted Driving

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), distracted driving is the primary reason behind truck driver accidents. Any activity that takes a driver's attention away from the road or the steering wheel is considered distracted driving. Distractions can come in various forms, such as eating while driving or gazing at a billboard outside the window. However, the most frequent form of distracted driving is the use of cellphones, specifically texting while driving.

Assuming you or your driver's rigs are equipped with dual-facing cameras, try reviewing footage of an unsafe driving incident. Coach your drivers on ways to correct their unsafe behaviors or look up ways to do so yourself if you're the one operating the big rig. The bottom line is that when your drivers aren't distracted, they drive safer. And when they drive safer, the cost of 18-wheeler insurance in cityname, state can be reduced.

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 Commercial Truck Insurance Quote Pensacola, FL

Ensuring the safety of your drivers begins with the safety of their vehicles. Trucks and tractor-trailers that do not receive regular maintenance, such as oil and brake pad changes, are more likely to experience breakdowns while on the road. Telematics devices provide real-time insight into engine and odometer data, including fault codes.

This information enables your mechanics to create comprehensive preventative maintenance schedules based on mileage, history of previous breakdowns, days, and more. Additionally, they can receive immediate notifications for critical fault codes. By implementing routine maintenance and proactive repair schedules, you can ensure that your vehicles are in top condition, minimizing the likelihood of breakdowns, which can help reduce the cost of trucker insurance.

 Low Priced Commercial Truck Insurance Pensacola, FL phone Call Now

This approach aims to mitigate the risk of fatal crashes and injuries by proactively identifying and responding to potentially dangerous situations and making informed decisions while driving. By adopting defensive driving techniques, drivers can reduce their likelihood of accidents, thereby minimizing the need for expensive repairs, claim payouts, and increased insurance premiums.

Some of the easiest ways for you or your drivers to practice safe driving include:

  • Be Wary of Blind Spots: Operating a reefer or tractor-trailer means driving high off of the ground, which can make visibility limited, especially in blind spots. To check your blind spot, look over your shoulder and out of your windows while changing lanes.
  • Be Ready for Emergencies on the Road: It's important for drivers to be ready for unexpected situations when driving, especially during long trips. They should be equipped to handle emergencies such as poor driving conditions or big rig breakdowns.
  • Use the Three-Second Rule: Truck drivers should try to maintain a three-second gap between their vehicle and the car in front of them. This means that the truck driver should reach a certain point on the road three seconds after the car in front of them has passed that same point.
  • Always Use Right and Left Turn Indicators: It's important for drivers to always use their turn signals when changing lanes or exiting highways, even if they don't see any other cars around. This is not only required by law, but it also reduces the chances of accidents occurring on the road.
Commercial Truck Insurance Pensacola, FL phone Call Now

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), distracted driving is the primary reason behind truck driver accidents. Any activity that takes a driver's attention away from the road or the steering wheel is considered distracted driving. Distractions can come in various forms, such as eating while driving or gazing at a billboard outside the window. However, the most frequent form of distracted driving is the use of cellphones, specifically texting while driving.

Assuming you or your driver's rigs are equipped with dual-facing cameras, try reviewing footage of an unsafe driving incident. Coach your drivers on ways to correct their unsafe behaviors or look up ways to do so yourself if you're the one operating the big rig. The bottom line is that when your drivers aren't distracted, they drive safer. And when they drive safer, the cost of 18-wheeler insurance in cityname, state can be reduced.

 Truck Insurance Pensacola, FL phone Call Now

check light FAQs About

Independence Insurance Agency

If you're looking for a commercial trucking insurance agency for your business, chances are you have some questions - and we've got answers. Keep reading to learn more about some of the most commonly asked questions we hear from truckers like you.

Why go with a "jack of all trades" when you can work with specialists who focus exclusively on transportation insurance? We have excellent relationships with major trucking insurance carriers and, as such, can provide the best assistance and reasonable rates.

Typically, companies will look at claims that date back three years or less.

We proudly work with more than 20 carriers to provide our clients with the most advantageous options at competitive prices, catering to the needs of owner-operators and big fleets alike.

Permit filings are typically done by insurance companies on the next business day. Federal (FMCSA) filings are completed online and updated immediately, while some states may take up to three weeks to process.

Independence Insurance Agency: Committed to the Trucking Industry

There's no question about it - you've got to protect your staff, your rig, and your trucking business with insurance. But choosing the right insurance partner isn't always easy. Thankfully, with Independence Insurance Agency by your side, you can rest easy knowing you're covered no matter where the road takes you. If you're in need of a commercial truck insurance agency in Pensacola, FL that caters to truckers like you, pick up the phone and contact one of our transportation specialists today. That way, you can get back on the road with confidence tomorrow.

 Trucking Insurance Pensacola, FL

Latest News in Pensacola, FL

Raymond House - the namesake - is gone, but Ray's goes on

It was only 4 p.m. Friday, but Ray's Lounge was filled from one cozy end to the other. Grown folks having cocktails, laughing, a few playing pool, chatting and doing a little reminiscing too. There wasn't a mournful vibe in longstanding nightclub at the corner of East Baars Street and North Davis Highway.No, it was a celebration of life for the club's namesake, Raymond House. The official celebration of life was only hours earlier at St. Anthony's of Padua Catholic Church just up the street on Davis Highway.House...

It was only 4 p.m. Friday, but Ray's Lounge was filled from one cozy end to the other. Grown folks having cocktails, laughing, a few playing pool, chatting and doing a little reminiscing too. There wasn't a mournful vibe in longstanding nightclub at the corner of East Baars Street and North Davis Highway.

No, it was a celebration of life for the club's namesake, Raymond House. The official celebration of life was only hours earlier at St. Anthony's of Padua Catholic Church just up the street on Davis Highway.

House, whose club was a friendly and lively oasis for generations of African-Americans in Pensacola, died Nov. 27. He was 93 years old.

"This is definitely a celebration," said his son, Mario House. "He was one of the forefathers of Black-owned businesses in Pensacola. It's been going 50 years now."

"More than that," said his brother, Herman House.

Going on 60 years now.

Mr. House slowed down a bit as he got older and turned the club over to Herman and Mario and their brother-in-law Ricardo Johnson a few years back.

House, with his wife Gwen's support, purchased what had initially been Tom's Tavern on Gonzalez Street in the 1960s and rechristened "Ray's" shortly afterward. Raymond House had been a patron of Tom's, but was looking for something for himself. He moved the club to its current location in the 1970s when Interstate 110 came through town.

"I was drinking and spending money in a club that wasn't my place," he told the News Journal in 2015. "So I bought it." His club gained popularity as Ray's Soul City. It's also been known as Ray's Speakeasy.

But...

"It will always be Ray's," Johnson said.

For decades, the club has been a mainstay among African-Americans in Pensacola, bringing in top musical acts, hosting fashion shows, DJs, dance parties and cookouts. It was and is known as a "grown-ups club" - most of its patrons, including on this crowded afternoon, are well-fashioned folks upwards of 40 years of age. It's a place to play dominoes and pool. To laugh and dance and pitch woo - old-timers know - into the wee wee hours.

House was known as "The Boss" at Ray's, but the title doesn't hint at his heart and compassion for those in need, those hurting. That's what truly defined him, said Margaret Ramsey.

"Back during the day, he would feed people, he would get people out of jail, give them a few dollars, he'd try to steer you right," she said. "He saved people's lives, and I was one of those he saved."

Ramsey is 78 years old and works at Ray's serving drinks. House hired her when she was only 23 - more than a half-century ago.

"When my husband passed, I lost it and would spend all day drinking liquor, sitting here partying, not a worry in the world," she said.

House knew her partying habits, her reckless lifestyle, could lead to no good.

"He said that if I'm going to be in here all the time, he would give me a job," Ramsey said. "He did. He was a good man. And I don't sugarcoat nothing. I tell it like it is. He cared for people, and he did things to help people. I know. I've seen it."

Downtown Pensacola brewery is saying goodbye, but a popular brunch spot is taking its place

Pensacola is getting a Miramar Beach-based fan-favorite brunch spot in the former Secret Sagittarius Bierwerks & Scra...

Pensacola is getting a Miramar Beach-based fan-favorite brunch spot in the former Secret Sagittarius Bierwerks & Scratch Kitchen early next year.

Secret Sagittarius just took over Pensacola’s former Big Top Brewery space at 21 W. Romana Street in February, but owner Edward Brown Sr. said that there is potential for Secret Sagittarius to eventually reopen in a different location.

“We really enjoyed it, but it just wasn’t lucrative enough and we got an offer we couldn’t refuse,” Brown wrote in a statement. “We may open again here in Pensacola within (the) next year or so, exploring locations.”

Secret Sagittarius kept much of the original space’s design, but added new house-made beers, such as the Aries 88 Imperial Ale, Papa’s Brown Ale and Not Krispy Kreme white stout.

Now, Bistrology is planning to open to the public sometime early next year, bringing downtown Pensacola a brunch spot that accounts for every detail of the dining experience.

What is Bistrology?

Bistrology, a Miramar Beach daytime restaurant that recently opened in July, serves detail-driven dishes from the aesthetics to the flavor. The name was derived from two components: the “bistro” portion meaning a small restaurant, and the "ology: meaning the science of the bistro, Bistrology co-owner Jonatan Torres told The Destin Log, a sister news organization of the News Journal, in September.

Crafting the menu alongside co-owner Henry Guerrero, the menu fuses the flavors of Europe and Latin America with American culture. Although this is Torres’ first restaurant, his family ran a restaurant in Europe.

The owners put their artistic eye into every aspect of the restaurant, from the logos to the decorations and menu.

What’s on the Bistrology menu?

True to the bistro name, the menu has a range of options suitable for every coffee lover's taste, from the bold cold brew, to the sweet, spiced cinnamon latte or decadent affogato served in a martini glass. Bistrology also sells its beans wholesale, including blends from Colombia, Guatemala, Ethiopia, Costa Rica and Rwanda.

If coffee isn’t your speed, the restaurant offers a variety of fresh juices, smoothies, milkshakes and homemade sodas. And true to the Bistrology experience, each drink comes with its own ornate flair from the lavender lemonade garnished with orchids, to the Lemon Mint Oasis decorated with brown sugar and peppermint on top with dehydrated lemon and a fruit popsicle inside.

If you thought the beverages were a sight to see, wait until you catch a glimpse of the food items, like the gargantuan pancake towers. Dishes like the Pancake Cinnamon Roll come intricately layered with flavors that give you “the taste of autumn in every bite.”

“Here's what makes it special,” the menu states. “Each pancake is crowned with the delicious finish of a Cinnamon Roll, which melts over your pancakes for an unparalleled flavor explosion. And, of course, we can't forget the sweet cream cheese topping that completes this unique culinary experience.”

Those looking for something more on the savory side can indulge in a “Spanish Fussion” stuffed croissant, filled with Spanish Serrano ham, scrambled cheesy eggs with a bed of spring mix, arugula and candied cherry tomato, or a benedict trio where diners can choose three different egg benedicts to taste, including the Shrimp Benedict, Bacon Crown, Spanish Ham Heaven and Benedict North Pacific.

The restaurant also leans in lunch items, such as a variety of special burgers. One interesting option being the special “Burguer ‘Patacon’” made with a juicy 7-ounce patty of premium angus beef, exclusive secret sauce, bourbon bacon glaze, fresh tomato and arugula along with perfectly sunny side up egg.

“A burger that will change your perception of what’s possible with a plantain,” the menu states.

There are also a wide variety of homemade desserts “made with love as grandma did” like the mango mousse, tress leches and showstopping tiramisu, that comes presented as a flowerpot.

“Original Tiramisu Recipe, learned by our Dessert Chef in the city of Veneto, Italy,” the menu states.

For more real-time updates and information, follow Bistrology on Facebook and Instagram or take a look at the full menu on the restaurant’s website.

Bridging the gender gap in STEM: Pensacola women strive to inspire next generation

PENSACOLA, Fla. -- There will be nearly 800,000 new jobs in STEM fields by 2031.But experts are hoping to close the gap on the number of women filling those roles compared to their male counterparts.WEARThe National Science Foundation reports women make up about 34 percent of STEM related jobs.The women WEAR News spoke with say there's a lot of fun in science and technology.Science, technology, engineering and math -- or STEM -- has been growing over the years. There’s still one element that continues...

PENSACOLA, Fla. -- There will be nearly 800,000 new jobs in STEM fields by 2031.

But experts are hoping to close the gap on the number of women filling those roles compared to their male counterparts.

WEAR

The National Science Foundation reports women make up about 34 percent of STEM related jobs.

The women WEAR News spoke with say there's a lot of fun in science and technology.

Science, technology, engineering and math -- or STEM -- has been growing over the years. There’s still one element that continues to need change: The number of women in the industry.

"A lot of my struggle in high school was our entire science department was men, like all of our teachers were," Mikayla Swatscheno, a biochemistry major said.

Mikayla Swatscheno is a second-year chemistry student at the University of West Florida. She says she spends time teaching young girls about science and technology.

"I don't think anybody should have to be limited by not seeing somebody like them in programs so its really important for people to have pioneered AMD have been in those programs," Swatscheno said.

The National Science Foundation reports women make up about 34 percent of STEM workers.

Enrollment numbers from UWF reflects that gap in men and women studying STEM-related degrees.

Dr. Karen Molek is the chair of chemistry at UWF. She says while the number of women in stem is growing, representation still matters.

"If they do not see female faculty they will not see anyone who they can identify with and say if they can do it I can do it," Dr. Molek said.

Dr. Molek says exposing girls to STEM-related fields at an early age is crucial.

WEAR News spoke with Megan Pratt from Pensacola MESS Hall. She says the MESS Hall tries to expose everyone to STEM projects.

"We have girl camps because they weren't signing. The boys signed up faster," Megan Pratt, Pensacola MESS Hall executive director said.

"You never know what's going to spark someone's interest and we also really need strong role models because most people can name famous male scientists but I challenge you to name a female scientist that isn't Marie Curie," Pratt said.

All the women WEAR News spoke with say they're excited for the future of the STEM industry.

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Dr. Molek says anyone can be successful can be in the industry with the right support.

Pensacola's top agency on homelessness needs a new leader. Why the right hire matters.

The search will soon get underway for a new executive director to head up Opening Doors Northwest Florida, Pensacola’s lead agency on homelessness prevention.Community leaders and others who work with people who are homeless and the agencies that serve them say it’s important to find the right person for...

The search will soon get underway for a new executive director to head up Opening Doors Northwest Florida, Pensacola’s lead agency on homelessness prevention.

Community leaders and others who work with people who are homeless and the agencies that serve them say it’s important to find the right person for the job, especially now that Opening Doors is restructuring the way it operates.

Opening Doors has long been Northwest Florida’s Continuum of Care, which is a local planning organization that coordinates funding for housing and other services for homeless people and families, including dispersing federal funding.

The agency’s executive director for the past decade, John Johnson, resigned two weeks ago. The president of Opening Doors' board of directors, Dr. David Josephs, said they haven’t advertised the position to replace Johnson yet, but intend to by the end of December.

“We're in this process of governance consultation from (the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) regarding the structure of the CoC and so it will be clearer, for instance, the role and functions of the executive director and what the Board would really want the Executive Director to focus on,” Josephs said. “We want some clarity with that governance structure so that we can clearly say, ‘OK, here are the main things the executive director of the Continuum of Care needs to be focusing on,’ so that for the new executive director the priorities are really clear.”

Answering whether the board will conduct a national search for the new director, Josephs said they are discussing "multiple options" and that a national search may be helpful if there are no local candidates.

Restructuring Opening Doors is one of the recommendations from Joe Savage, a senior regional advisor for the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, who visited Pensacola this spring to help the community better address homelessness.

Savagerecommended that Opening Doors split its nonprofit service from its role in administering federal money for homelessness to prevent potential conflicts of interest that could send a red flag to the government and prevent funding opportunities from flowing into the community.

Opening Doors is now working with a HUD technical advisor to bring the organization more in line with federal guidelines, including creating a separate governance board to oversee the CoC.

Josephs said they want a new executive director who can continue the work that has already begun and keep funding priorities in line with outcome based federal guidelines like the ALL-IN strategic plan launched by the White House in May to end homelessness. The plan also sets a goal to reduce homelessness 25% by 2025.

“President (Joe) Biden's All-IN plan, which speaks to all of that, to actually end homelessness, not to mitigate homelessness,” said Josephs. “We have a few more meetings of coordinating the COC and then we'll post the position and hopefully we'll find a candidate that has the passion for this.”

Josephs said they hope to hire an executive director by the first part of next year, depending on the candidates. He expects the restructuring of the CoC to wrap up next spring.

Why the new hire matters

Across city and county lines in Northwest Florida, community leaders say homelessness is impacting individuals, families and neighborhoods. People from all walks of life are struggling for a variety of reasons, from a lack of affordable housing to mental health and addiction issues.

The results can be seen in a variety of ways, from people couch surfing with friends and family, to others living in their cars or camping in the woods, like the hundreds of people staying on vacant private and county-owned property in Brent and other places throughout Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.

“It's just a huge issue and nobody seems to really know what to do,” said Escambia County Administrator Wes Moreno. “We need somebody who can lead the way and create a partnership with the city and the county and community partners and guide us along the way.”

County and city leaders have been working together and separately trying to address homelessness. Federal experts say the best approach is one where community leaders are on the same page and an efficient CoC can help with that by establishing a plan and setting priorities, especially if the governing board is made up of a variety of community stake holders.

“I think someone that understands best practices, that has seen what right looks like, I think would bring immense value to us,” said Pensacola Mayor D.C. Reeves, who invited Savage to come to Pensacola. “It's OK for us to rely on people's expertise who know how to get these things done. This is not a topic for which there's any room for ego or territorialism. It's too important to helping those in need in our community and it's too important to our quality of life and how this is managed. Whether you're a business owner or a resident this issue affects everybody. I think that we have to be in lockstep as a city, as a county, as a COC and as all of these service providers who are passionate about helping people. We’ve got to get on the same sheet of music.”

Both the city and the county are working on public safety ordinances that address people standing in and around roadways. The city is also evaluating the possibility of a low-barrier shelter, while the county looks at ways to provide transitional housing.

While collaboration among community leaders is key, others say it’s also important among service providers. They want an experienced leader at the CoC to get all homeless service providers on the same Homeless Management Information System data collection system, weed out duplication of services and implement coordinated entry, among other goals.

Chandra Smiley is CEO of Community Health Northwest Florida, which provides medical care for the indigent and others. Thousands of people who are homeless are treated at Community Health each year, and Smiley has been working with local leaders to help streamline services.

In case you missed it:Executive director of Pensacola's lead agency on homelessness resigns. What happens now.

“I don't know that we've ever really done a good job at identifying where there are duplication of efforts and where are there gaps in services,” Smiley said. “Understanding who are the members of the Continuum of Care, where does one start and one stop and another provider pick up, I think that's important. The other thing is leveraging not just federal funds but there are a plethora of funding opportunities out there that somebody who understands the need and understands the challenges can go out there and bring additional dollars into our community.”

Connie Bookman, founder and CEO of Northwest Florida Homeless Reduction Task Force, agrees the CoC needs an experienced leader who is savvy at helping service providers train on HMIS, improve their outcomes and access more dollars to help get people off the street.

“The task force has two major goals,” Bookman said. “One is to have more access to HMIS, and that our COC will be a seamless entry for anyone experiencing homelessness. For a new director to have the mindset of there are no closed doors, that's why it's called Opening Doors, right? If you're experiencing or have a threat of homelessness, how do you access the system? Because it's impossible many times for lots of organizations, but our COC should be the leader in that.”

Laura Gilliam is president and CEO of United Way of West Florida. She also worked for United Way in Huntington, West Virginia, before moving to Pensacola. Gilliam said the CoC there worked hard to get on the same page and as a result was able to provide more brick and mortar shelter and reduce homelessness in their community.

“It wasn't a perfect CoC, it went through some struggles, but they had a very engaged board and there was a lot of trust on the part of the agencies that they were able to develop over time,” Gilliam said. “That community, which is smaller than this one, had fewer individuals listed as homeless, got over $3 million in HUD funding, and the same year we (Pensacola) got $871,000. When you're getting the data, when you're got a Continuum of Care that's working together and you've got people using HMIS, then you're showing what the need is in the community.”

Most city, county and community leaders agreed they’d like to see a national search for the next executive director for Opening Doors. Gilliam also suggested creating a search committee made up of community stake holders to help identify candidates.

“We're all kind of working together and I think we've made some strides and some efforts to get ourselves in alignment, but you really still need that point of the spear and that point of the spear is really that executive director of the COC," Smiley said. “I think somebody coming in with no ties, just fresh and coming from an area where you know the Coc has been successful and maybe has some best practices to bring, I think that's who we need to go look for.”

Here's a look back at our top stories of the week

Here's a roundup of some our top stories from the past week that are available only to our subscribers.With a subscription to the Pensacola News Journal, you will receive full access to the work done by our journalists and photographers as they head out every day to help in...

Here's a roundup of some our top stories from the past week that are available only to our subscribers.

With a subscription to the Pensacola News Journal, you will receive full access to the work done by our journalists and photographers as they head out every day to help inform and explain the important issues affecting your community.

Bergosh texts show behind the scenes plotting to redistrict Perdido

Escambia County Commissioner Jeff Bergosh asked one of the county's top political donors to send other commissioners redistricting plans during the county's redrawing of its political boundaries in 2021.

Buried in the spreadsheet of more than 50,000 text messages from a backup of Bergosh's phone made in February 2022 are exchanges between Bergosh and The Lewis Bear Company CEO David Bear, where Bergosh asked Bear to send a proposal for new county districts to two other commissioners while telling Bear not to let him know what they said.

Full story:Bergosh texts illustrate behind the scenes plotting to redistrict Perdido

Fin & Fork permanently closes downtown Pensacola restaurant

Fin & Fork has closed its downtown Pensacola location, only two months after owner Matt Shipp filed a lawsuit against the restaurant’s previous owners.

In a direct message from a Fin & Fork social media page, Fin & Fork confirmed to the News Journal that it was the end of the chapter for the downtown location at 601 E. Gregory St.

“Sadly, Fin & Fork closed permanently on Sunday,” the message stated.

Shipp could not be reached for an official statement after multiple attempts by the News Journal.

Full story:Fin & Fork abruptly closes downtown Pensacola location 2 months after owners file lawsuit

Developer to build homes, not an RV Park, on Persimmon Hollow Road

The deeply-rooted Rich family appears to have emerged victorious from their battle to prevent developer Chris Brigham from locating an RV Park in the Persimmon Hollow Road community they have called home for more than a century.

Brigham, who at a September meeting of the Santa Rosa County Planning and Zoning Board had pledged to back off his RV Park plans after hearing from Persimmon Hollow community members, has announced his intention to build eight homes there instead.

If plans are approved by the Santa Rosa County Commission in December, the homes will be constructed on an approximately 2-acre lot at the intersection of Persimmon Hollow Road and Delta Drive.

Full story:The deeply-rooted Rich family has won the battle to protect its Persimmon Hollow lifestyle

Fire-damaged Patti's Gulf Coast Seafood reopens after year of renovations

It was about this time last year when Jonathan Patti watched his family’s Gulf Coast Seafood Market and Restaurant on Nine Mile Road go up in flames.

He vowed to rebuild better than ever, and this holiday season he's making good on that promise with a renovated restaurant.

After operating out of a food trailer since February and a year of construction on a building deemed to be a total loss, the new, expanded sit-down restaurant will be able to seat close to 200 customers.

Patti said the temporary food trailer, which served up some of the restaurant’s classics like gumbo, fish baskets and cheese grits, was never meant to be a moneymaker, but to help carry the business into its next chapter.

Full story:After devastating fire, Patti's Gulf Coast Seafood market and restaurant is back in business

Looking to go indoor ice skating? Here's where and when to go in Pensacola

Florida and ice skating go together about as well as pineapple and pizza, but that doesn’t stop Floridians from throwing on a pair of skates and giving it a go anyway. Fortunately, fans have a place to indulge at the Pensacola Bay Center.

The Bay Center’s public ice skating sessions are already underway, and skaters are invited to come to any of their one-hour sessions, typically held on the weekends and after Ice Flyers home games.

Between now and Dec. 31, the Bay Center will host extended public ice skating sessions. Tickets start at $15 for anyone who needs to rent skates and $12 to bring your own.

Full story:Looking to go indoor ice skating? Here's where and when to go in Pensacola

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