Tropical Storm Erika is following a path that could end Florida’s 10-year run without a hurricane. Jacksonville City Council President Greg Anderson is proposing a solution to infrastructure woes on downtown’s Northbank. The Jacksonville organization that protects people from discrimination is struggling under an overwhelming case load.

It’s Friday, August 28, 2015. Welcome to WJCT First Read, your daily weekday morning round-up of stories from the First Coast, around Florida and across the country.

Here are 8 stories you might have missed.

Lindsey Kilbride

While a lot of University of North Florida students will spend the semester at desks, one photography student is spending a lot of her senior year working at the Museum of Contemporary Art, downtown.

Amanda Rosenblatt is the second UNF student to be chosen for the museum’s residency program.

Florida Department of Transportation

The new Arlington River Bridge on University Boulevard will open to traffic this weekend.

The Florida Department of Transportation says the new $11.5 million bridge will have sidewalks and bicycle lanes as well as decorative lighting, architectural railings and landscaping at both ends.

Plans call for traffic to be shifted from the temporary bridge to the new one sometime Saturday afternoon, weather permitting.

The final phase of the project, removing the temporary bridge and resurfacing the entire project, will begin soon.

Warren Miller

Carla Morello moved to Jacksonville Beach from New York as a child. She wasn't an athlete. But she had a career goal.

"I thought I was supposed to be a nurse,” Morello said. “I did that for a little while, then realized I didn't like it, didn't want to do it anymore. I went for a shift one night and turned around and came home. My husband said, 'what are you going to do?' I said, 'I have no clue, but give me a day to think about it and I'll figure it out.' I just made a list of what I like to do, and what I liked to do most was exercise. So I became a fitness trainer and aerobics instructor."

Morello worked as a trainer at a number of fitness centers and resorts in the area. Then an injury opened her eyes to yet another health-related profession — massage therapy.

Independent Living Center

Jacksonville residents are bracing for the possibility of a Category 1 hurricane. Many are buying water and stocking up on batteries.

For people living with disabilities, preparation involves more steps.

The Independent Living Resource Center has a new guide to help them keep an emergency from becoming a tragedy.

Jessica Palombo / WJCT News

A theater on Jacksonville’s Northside is looking for a new home. The Stage Aurora Theatrical Company was founded more than a decade ago to highlight the African-American experience and give people of color a performance venue.

We discuss the week's top news stories with our roundtable of local journalists: Paula Horvath, Florida Times-Union columnist; Tim Gibbons, Jacksonville Business Journal editor; Susan Eastman, Folio Weekly reporter; and A.G. Gancarski, Florida Politics reporter.

Topics include Tropical Storm Erika, this week's Florida Mental Health Summit, and local business and civic leaders pushing for Mayor Lenny Curry to lead a community discussion about the city's Human Rights Ordinance.

Florida could be a key state next year in the battle for control of the U.S. Senate.

But first, Florida voters will have to figure out who is running.

A poll released Tuesday by Quinnipiac University continues to show that voters know little about the candidates seeking to replace presidential candidate Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate.


As you prepare for hurricane season, don’t forget about your technology. Make sure to download apps now that can make it easier to get through the storm, and make sure to have what you need to keep your devices running during and after the storm.

Ray Hollister

The Jacksonville organization that protects people from discrimination is struggling under an overwhelming caseload.

The Jacksonville Human Rights Commission lost three workers last year due to city budget cuts, and funding isn’t increasing this year.

Ryan Benk / WJCT News

Jacksonville’s Black Chamber of Commerce says it has a 30-year plan to bring business back to the city’s Northside.

The chamber plans to reveal its proposal at a forum called the “State of Black Jacksonville” Friday evening.

Organizers say healing the economically unstable community can start with providing a warm smile and a strong cup of coffee.

On Thursday morning, Frank Lyons was serving coffee at his Point Coffee Shop on Moncrief Road.

Florida Public Radio Emergency Network

Tropical Storm Erika is following a path that could end Florida’s 10-year run without a hurricane.  State and county emergency-management officials are closely monitoring the storm’s predicted path.

Bob Pickering is a Flagler County emergency management technician. He says Erika’s current path puts her 35 miles off the coast of Cape Canaveral early next week. That could mean a wet, windy Monday and Tuesday for the First Coast.

But everything could change within the next two days.

Gary Nichols / U.S. Navy

A change to state law is making it simpler for military veterans to attend college regardless of where they call home.

In the past, veterans going to a public college or university were often considered non-residents.

But since the GI Bill only paid for in-state tuition, veterans had to pay the difference between in-state and the higher out-of-state rate from their own pockets.

VA Deputy Under Secretary for Economic Opportunity Curtis Coy, says Florida was one of the early adopters of the change that is now the standard nationwide.

Google Maps

State regulators Thursday approved a settlement that will clear the way for Florida Power & Light to buy — and ultimately shut down — a coal-fired power plant in Jacksonville.

A three-member panel of the Florida Public Service Commission signed off on the $520.5 million deal, little more than a month after FPL and the state Office of Public Counsel reached a settlement agreement. The Office of Public Counsel is an agency that represents consumers in utility cases.

Florida Department of Education

The State Board of Education decided Wednesday to once again ask lawmakers for record per-student funding for public schools — with the lion's share of the increase coming from local taxpayers.

Board members unanimously approved a budget request of nearly $20.2 billion for the main funding formula for public elementary and secondary schools in the fiscal year that begins next July 1. That would set a new benchmark for total funding, up from this year's $19.7 billion, as well as marking the highest per-student amount in state history.