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OUTTAKES | Vol. 5, No. 15, April 14, 2005
(Okaloosa Power)

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by Rick Outzen

LOCUSTS POCUS "Rick, Navy Boulevard is flooded. The water is heading right towards your office," my landlord Burton Ritchie shouted to me over the phone during the torrential downpour the night of Wednesday, April 6.

By the time I reached the Independent News' westside office scrunched between the Psychedelic Shack and Domino's Pizza, water up to my knees filled the shotgun building. With the help of Burton's Psychedelic Shack staff, I unplugged computers and yanked the waterlogged hard drives off the floor. Water flowed out of every crevice. Papers floated all over the place. The only dry spots were the desktops. It proved as bad a disaster for this weekly paper as Hurricane Ivan.

We later pieced together that an Escambia County crew cleared around the nearby stormwater drainage system, but left behind the limbs and debris. So, an already saturated area that didn't flood during Hurricane Ivan or within recent memory looked like a new bayou off Pensacola Bay.

Thanks to the generosity of friends, we set up a temporary office to publish the Independent News, while we wait for IN's new digs at 124 S. Palafox Place to finish being renovated.

So, please accept our apologies, if for the past few days you've been unable to reach us. We've wrestled with phones, faxes, computers and Internet access.

Miraculously, most of the equipment still works, although it took a day for us to clean up the old swampy office and move our dwindling possessions, which were moved by IN's editor and art director and a 30-foot U-Haul. Ivan already forced us to downsize and economize some.

Because of the flood waters, this April 14 issue is a 32-pager. Our staff lost valuable time that we couldn't make up in two days. We beg your understanding, but we refuse to throw in the white towel.

So far, we actually have a better work record than the U.S. Postal Service, which was out of commission for weeks in some areas because of Ivan.

During the past six years, we have battled fire, wind, famine and now floods.

Bring on the locusts. No biggie.

SWF HOT The feedback on the April 7 cover story "SWF" poured in. The article seemed to strike a chord with 20-something readers. Some saw themselves in the interviews. Others disagreed with the portrayal. Many tried to guess who the six young women were, including the model photographed for the story.

The story sprang from an evening walk with my own 20-something daughter, Cat. We talked about the trials and tribulations she and her friends were experiencing as they tried to move back to Pensacola, after college.

At the same time, Quint Studer was busy introducing the Community Maritime Park to the Pensacola City Council and the chamber of commerce leaders were making noise about the need to keep young talent here. It made perfect sense to talk to the very people who will benefit greatly from a new park and other developments.

Neither Cat nor her friends were interviewed for "SWF." There was no scientific selection process, but there were several keys points that I heard throughout the interviews and from other 20-somethings that have talked or e-mailed me since.

Pensacola needs to create better paying and more diverse jobs for young people. The call centers and hospitality industry jobs just don't cut it. We need to develop first-time homebuyer programs that will work for them. As the housing market soars, the 20-somethings are being left behind.

I hope the area's local government and business leaders are listening.

SPECIAL CAMPS Arthritis is the No. 1 cause of disability in the nation. More than 66 million Americans, 1 in every 3 people, have arthritis. In Florida, about 16,000 children live daily with arthritis.

The Northwest Region of the Florida Chapter Arthritis Foundation has organized its to first ever "Kids Arthritis Camp" for children ages 6 to 12. The three-day Wild, Wild West Camp is scheduled July 21-23 at Miracle Camp in partnership with the Nemours Children's Clinic.

If you interested in helping or know a child who would enjoy this camp experience, contact Theresa Mepham at 432-4348 or 800-578-7183.

The lung association's Northwest region has its own summer camp, too. It is holding its second annual "Asthma Camp for Kids Luncheon and Auction" from 11 a.m.-1 p.m Friday, May 6 at Carrabba's. The admission price is $35 per person and includes a salad, entree, wine and dessert.

Steve Nissim, WEAR sports reporter, is the guest speaker.

You can visit the group's Web site at and click on the teddy bear icon to see all of the exciting silent and live auction items to bid on.

All proceeds from the luncheon help children battling asthma to attend an asthma camp and participate in asthma programs right here. Call 478-LUNG (5864) or 800-LUNG-USA for more info.

Rick Outzen is Independent News publisher.