Erica Protsman

Intern

Erica Protsman is a student at the University of North Florida. In December of 2015, Erica will be graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Communication, with a focus in Multimedia Journalism and a minor in Spanish. She is the Vice President of ESPN3 at the University of North Florida, where she coordinates team meetings and events for students in the club. Erica currently is an intern here at WJCT and plans to be a news reporter upon graduation.

Erica is a member of the St. George Island’s Mission Team. She has traveled to Guatemala and Nicaragua for the past 9 years, where she coordinates the Children’s Vacation Bible School and assists with the medical clinic.

Erica is currently a server at J. Alexander’s, but in her free time, Erica likes to relax at the beach, decorate her apartment, grab a burger at MShack and take long naps.

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office / Twitter

The five-day search for missing Jacksonville toddler Lonzie Barton has turned into a homicide investigation. That’s what Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Investigations Director Tom Hackney said Tuesday afternoon.

The 21-month-old boy was reported abducted early Friday morning by his mother’s boyfriend, William “Ruben” Ebron, who is now the main suspect in the investigation.

Hackney says Ebron has been misleading and unhelpful when talking to officers. But he does have a constitutional right to say as little as he chooses.

Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition

Florida’s infant-mortality rate is dropping, according to recently released state data. The report also shows Duval County has made some recent strides in reducing the number of babies who do not survive.

But the county’s infant mortality rate continues to increase, year over year.

Duval County’s infant mortality rate has risen from 8.2 to 8.7 deaths per thousand live births. Though it’s rising, it’s still lower than a recent high of 10 deaths per thousand births in 2006.

Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition Executive Director Jennifer Gornto says a number of factors combine to affect the rate on the First Coast.

Patrick Donges / WJCT

The Schultz Center for Teaching and Leadership is reaching out to school districts around Florida in an effort to expand its client base beyond the First Coast.

The center hosts meetings and provides in-service training and development for teachers and school administrators.

On Thursday’s First Coast Connect, CEO Deborah Gianoulis said the center is becoming a resource for all types of educators.

Jacksonville Public Library

Duval County Public Schools and the Jacksonville Public Library are working together to ensure every kindergarten through fifth grade student receives a library card.

The partnership will allow children to check out books just for being a student in the county’s school system.


Erica Protsman

The University of North Florida Golf Complex could face competition for business.

The sports and entertainment facility TopGolf is planning to open in Jacksonville, only a few miles from UNF.


COJ Veterans Services / WJCT News

Jacksonville has received nearly half a million dollars in state grants to go toward military base projects.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said in a press release the grants will help toward the city’s goal of playing a larger role in the nation’s defense.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott  announced one grant will go toward an ongoing project to create a buffer at the Westside’s Whitehouse Naval Airfield.

A second grant will help with road improvements at Naval Station Mayport to help ease traffic congestion along State Road A1A.

Erica Protsman / WJCT News

Thousands of dogs and cats are turned into North Florida animal shelters each year.

The First Coast No More Homeless Pets is hosting what it’s calling a Super Pet Adoption event this weekend.


Erica Protsman / WJCT News

Severe thunderstorms hit Jacksonville Monday night, causing many homes and businesses on the city’s west and north sides to lose power from lightning strikes and falling trees.

Jacksonville City Hall, St. James Building
Ray Hollister / WJCT News

A new Florida law clarifies which types of grievances Jacksonville city employees can make before a human-resources board. The law brings the city charter in line with existing rules governing the civil-service board.

The board’s duty is to review grievances, appeals and whistleblower complaints by city employees.

Stig Nygaard / Flickr

Florida law bans kiteboarding within a mile of an airport runway. But last week, Governor Rick Scott signed an exception allowing the high-flying sport in Jacksonville’s Huguenot Memorial Park.

The park is across the St. Johns River from Mayport Navy base.

The statewide ban on extreme sports near airstrips took effect in October. That meant, popular kiteboarding spots in Huguenot park suddenly became off limits.

Fernandina Beach Representative and  sponsor of the new exemption, Janet Adkins, says one area of the park is particularly important for new kiteboarders.

US Department of Agriculture

On Tuesday, Florida kicked off its annual Summer Food Service Program in Jacksonville. The program provides free meals and snacks for underprivileged children.

The Jacksonville Children’s Commission is inviting children in need to get free lunches while they’re out of school.

Many children are in need of food during the summertime. Jacksonville Children’s Commission Spokeswoman Lavetta McCoy says the commission provides them with nutritious meals.

Erica Protsman / WJCT News

For the third year in a row, Forbes Magazine has named Jacksonville one of the top five cities in the nation to find a job.

Job seekers have many openings to choose from in the areas of finance and logistics.

More than 130,000 people have jobs because of the Jacksonville Port Authority.

Jessica Palombo / WJCT News

Jacksonville’s parks are in need of improvement, according to the annual survey by The Trust for Public Land. Jacksonville’s ranked among the 10 worst park systems in the nation.

Jacksonville came in 68th out of 75 cities in the survey.

Abby Martin, research coordinator for The Trust for Public Land, says some factors contributing to its low rankings are lack of resources like basketball hoops and dog parks. But the main factor is access.

Ray Hollister / WJCT News

With Memorial Day weekend coming up, the Coast Guard is advising all boaters to stay safe.

Chief Petty Officer Andrew Cohen, the Jacksonville command center supervisor said, “Make sure you have enough fuel on board, you know how to use your radio properly and how to read your GPS.”

“The more information you can give us, the easier it is for us to locate you,” Cohen said.

In addition to the helpful hints, the Coast Guard is also warning boaters against making hoax distress calls.