Around the State
The Bay County Commission added another penny to the county's bed tax, according to the Panama City News Herald. The extra money will be used for Bay County's beach renourishment program.
Houston-based Sterling Chemicals Inc. bought Cytec Industries' Pace fibers plant. The roughly 350-employee plant is one of only two U.S. producers of acrylic fiber. No layoffs are planned.
Due to the surge in oil exploration in the Gulf of Mexico, Halter Marine Group is looking at the possibility of reopening its Panama City shipyard if business conditions warrant. A decision is not in the immediate future.
Regions Financial Corp. of Birmingham, Ala., completed its $40 million acquisition of Panama City-based Florida FirstBank. The bank will change its name to Regions Financial sometime in the second quarter and will be listed on Nasdaq as FFPC.
Pensacola's two-county area ranked 14th statewide in government contracts last year, earning $124.3 million for 545 contracts, according to the Pensacola News Journal. Much of the money went for construction work at the new Naval Air Technical Training Center at Pensacola Naval Air Station.
Pensacola was among the areas nationwide hit by a bogus letter promising parents cash refunds for sending copies of their children's birth certificates and Social Security cards. The phony letter offered refunds to parents who bought Gerber baby food between 1980 and 1988. Criminals apparently were using the Social Security numbers to illegally obtain drivers licenses and credit cards, law enforcement officials say.
Escambia and Santa Rosa counties had average dropout rates of 3.06% and 2.86%, respectively, below the state's 5% average. The University of West Florida's Alternative Educator Training Program is the nation's only master's program aimed at teaching educators how to deal with at-risk students.
First National Bank of Santa Rosa will enter Escambia County by building a branch on Airport Boulevard in Pensacola.
Stating it would have cost taxpayers millions in reprinted directories and state publications, Tallahassee/northwest Florida received the recommendation of the Public Service Commission to keep the 904 area code. If the PSC recommendation holds, Jacksonville/northeast Florida will have permissive dialing (callers can dial either 904 or 850) for a year, beginning June 30, 1997, but must use the 850 area code after June 30, 1998.
Florida farmers, who grow about half the nation's fresh winter fruits and vegetables, were hit with $300 million in crop losses from the mid-January freeze. The losses resulted in up to 50% higher prices nationally.