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4:44 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

Jacksonville GastroFest To Celebrate First Coast Food Culture

GastroJax board of directors Jessica Fields, Nathaniel Price, Kamron Perry, Rachel Henley and Erin Thursby launched their idea at the 2014 One Spark Festival.
Credit GastroJax

It’s full speed ahead for a Jacksonville food festival called GastroFest. The organizers have been granted nonprofit status.

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Politics
4:36 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

Scott Says Florida Has Reached His 2010 Jobs Goal

Credit State of Florida

  Gov. Rick Scott declared Friday that Florida has reached his 2010 campaign goal of creating 700,000 jobs within seven years, as the state's unemployment rate was posted at its lowest rate since May 2008.

Four years ago, Scott's jobs pledge was accompanied by the line "on top of what normal growth would be," a phrase abandoned by the governor shortly after he took office but not forgotten by Democrats.

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Community
3:17 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

'Hilariously Bad' Music Video About Jacksonville Going Viral

"In Jacksonville"
Credit YouTube

When Jacksonville City Councilman Jim Love worked with Laurence Walden to create a video to promote Jacksonville, he was hoping that a lot of people watch see it. He didn't expect that the video would be called "cringeworthy" as the Florida Times-Union reports." 

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Education
12:50 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

District Discusses School Boundary Changes With Community

Proposed New School Boundaries For Duval County
Duval Schools

A plan by the Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti to change magnet designations for five schools has been met with mixed reactions this week. WJCT went to one of the community meetings where the plan was vetted.

On Tuesday, Vitti spoke to parents and teachers at Butler Young Men and Women's Leadership Academy, one of the schools at the center of the changes. The struggling F school was recently transformed into the district's first gender-based traditional public school.

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First Read
8:41 am
Fri December 19, 2014

First Read: Friday, December 19, 2014

Duval Schools's graduation rate, Lynyrd Skynyrd and the NFL Network's Rich Eisen are all in the headlines today.  

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Closing The Loop
6:05 am
Fri December 19, 2014

Closing The Loop: Mary Johnson

Warren Miller interviews Mary Johnson on Closing the Loop

Mary Johnson, who bakes cupcakes at her boutique bakery in the Mandarin neighborhood of Jacksonville, was a nurse at a major hospital in Jacksonville, and the daughter of a career Air Force officer.

“I was just unhappy at work,” she says. “I was putting in long hours instead of being around my family, and I was stressed out. I would come home and do things like catering on the weekend. That made me happy.”

Cooking, and especially baking, was something with deep family ties.

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Community
5:16 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

Retired Jacksonville Diplomat: Cuba Prisoner Swap Just 'The Beginning'

Retired Chief of Mission John Caulfield hosts a U.S. Independence Day celebration in Cuba in this undated photo.
Credit United States Interests Section Havana

More elected officials are condemning President Obama’s decision to release Cuban prisoners in exchange for American contractor Alan Gross. Among the latest voices of opposition is Northeast Florida Congressman Ander Crenshaw (R-FL4). But others are cautiously optimistic about what could lead to better relations between the two countries.

Longtime diplomat John Caulfield headed the U.S. mission in Havana, Cuba, until last year, when he retired to Jacksonville. In Cuba, Caulfield says he saw firsthand the struggle of imprisoned contractor Alan Gross.

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First Coast Connect
4:38 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

Gov. Jeb Bush Faces Higher Scrutiny Since Announcing Presidential Aspirations

Former Gov. Jeb Bush (R)

The chances for another member of the Bush family to run for office may have increased, as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush declared official interest by attacking President Obama’s stance on relations with Cuba.

Bush announced this week he will explore a run for presidency in 2016, as well as call for a stronger embargo against Cuba.

“I don’t think we should be negotiating with a repressive regime to make changes in our relations with them until there are substantive changes on the island,” Bush told Miami Herold reporter Marc Caputo Wednesday morning.

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Education
12:46 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

Duval County Achieves Highest Graduation Rate To Date

Nikolai Vitti discusses newly released high school graduation and grades data at press conference.
Credit Rhema Thompson

More high school students graduated in Duval County in 2014 than ever before, newly released state data shows.

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Deemable Tech
8:28 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Ask Deemable Tech: How Can I Make A Photo Slideshow In Windows?

Credit Microsoft

Madelyn writes, "I want to make a photo slideshow with music for my friend’s upcoming 60th birthday party. Is there an easy way to make one in Windows?"

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Politics
7:24 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Republicans Blast Obama's Cuba Moves; Dems Cautious

President Obama Delivers A Statement On Cuba
Credit The White House / YouTube

TALLAHASSEE - President Barack Obama's decision to re-establish diplomatic ties with Cuba sparked a firestorm of protest among Florida Republicans and caution among Democrats, proving that the future of America's dealings with the island nation 90 miles away remains a sensitive issue in the state.

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First Read
6:57 am
Thu December 18, 2014

First Read: Thursday, December 18, 2014

Rep. Adkins, Wal-Mart and the Hart Bridge protesters are in the headlines today.

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First Coast Connect
9:11 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

From Rudolph To Santa, The Fascinating Origins of Holiday Symbols

Rudolph's story was first conceived as a promotional gimmick by 1930's adman Robert May.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

It’s the time of year when many of us bemoan the commercialization of Christmas. We mourn the loss of the “reason for the season.”

But actually, the symbols of Christmas and the entire ‘holiday season’ are in many ways a product of commercialization, says Nathan Rousseau, sociology professor at Jacksonville University and author of Society Explained.

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Community
5:34 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Help Needed To Feed Jacksonville Homeless Who Don't Live Downtown

Organizations that serve the homeless publicize their offerings Wednesday in Hemming Plaza.
Credit Jessica Palombo / WJCT News

As the city of Jacksonville works to revitalize its Downtown, several organizations are trying to keep up with the changing needs of its homeless population. WJCT visited Hemming Park today as a handful of nonprofits showcased the services they offer to unsheltered people.

At lunch time in Hemming Park, the paved square between the Downtown library and City Hall, throngs of people are passing through or ordering from food truck windows, while other sit on benches and socialize.

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Pension Debt
3:41 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Fernandina Lawmaker Adkins Wants Investigation Into Jacksonville Police and Fire Pension Fund

Rep. Janet H. Adkins, R-Fernandina Beach
Credit Florida House of Representatives Website

State Rep. Janet Adkins (R-Fernandina Beach) has asked Gov. Rick Scott for an investigation of the Jacksonville Police and Fire Pension Fund.

In a letter to Scott last week, Adkins asked for a review by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Chief Inspector General to see if any laws were broken in the handling of the pension fund.

"I simply believe that the public trust has been broken," said Adkins. "In order to ensure that our retired firefighters and our retired police officers and the taxpayers are protected, we need to restore that public trust."

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