? A new, $7-million Waste Management plant is turning methane gas from Springhill Landfill into enough electric energy to power 4,000 homes. The 4.8-megawatt plant is the 100th renewable energy project nationwide for the Houston-based waste company. It's the first major green-power venture for power distributors Alabama Electric Cooperative of Andalusia and its Graceville affiliate, West Florida Electric Cooperative.
? MTC Technologies of Dayton, Ohio, has purchased Aerospace Integration Corp. for $41.3 million. AIC's George Gonzalez will continue as president and CEO. AIC, which employs 350, provides engineering and information technology services, primarily to the Department of Defense. MTC bought Manufacturing Technology Inc. of Fort Walton Beach in 2004 for $75 million.
ESCAMBIA/SANTA ROSA COUNTIES --
? Organizers of Rebuild Northwest Florida have decided to make permanent the temporary hurricane relief organization formed in the wake of the 2004 Hurricane Ivan strike, shifting focus from repairs to strengthening homes in advance of storms. A $20-million "home hardening'' effort is ramping up under the Hazard Mitigation Grants Program funded by Federal Emergency Management Agency. Rebuild Northwest Florida decided to hire Miles E. Anderson as executive director to replace volunteer co-executive directors. Anderson was previously a recovery manager and deputy state coordinating officer for the Division of Emergency Management, Florida Department of Community Affairs.
GADSDEN COUNTY --
? Gadsden County Community Hospital, closed since November by the Agency for Health Care Administration because of operating deficiencies, could reopen within a year under terms of an agreement between AHCA and the county. Among provisions: The county must correct deficiencies and reimburse $2.1 million owed by the former operator, Ashford Community Health Care Systems (now in bankruptcy). Up to $1.1 million spent by the county on hospital improvements, however, will be credited against the debt. An urgent-care center could open at an earlier date.
NORTHWEST FLORIDA --
? The Natural Resources Defense Council has named Florida's Emerald Coast, from Tallahassee to Pensacola, one of 12 BioGems -- unspoiled areas facing "tremendous pressure" from development. NRDC launched its BioGem initiative in 2001 to mobilize citizens to take action to protect exceptional ecosystems.
? The City Council has given the go-ahead for the Community Maritime Park, a $70-million downtown waterfront development. Opponents say the city should solicit other development proposals and are gathering signatures to force a vote.
? Impact 100, started two years ago to enroll 100 women to donate $1,000 a year to charity, has grown to 340 members, making it the largest and fastest-growing Impact-style organization in the country, says Wendy Steele, who founded the first Impact group in 2001 in Cincinnati. Pensacola's Impact under founding board President Debbie Ritchie awarded two $100,000-plus grants to non-profit organizations in each of its first two years and plans three $113,335 awards this year.
PENSACOLA BEACH --
? Fort Pickens, an 1834-erected fort used by Union troops in the Civil War that's part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, has opened to visitors for the first time since Hurricane Ivan struck almost two years ago. Getting there, however, still involves a boat ride or a seven-mile trek on foot or bicycle.