Kevin Meerschaert

Producer, "First Coast Connect"

Kevin Meerschaert is back at WJCT after two years, rejoining the station as producer of First Coast Connect.

Kevin was a reporter for WJCT News from 2001 until 2014. He previously worked at public radio stations in Salisbury, Maryland;  Evansville, Indiana; and Ypsilanti, Michigan. He won several awards for reporting and was the recipient of the 2007-2008 Media Community Leadership award from Mental Health America of Northeast Florida.

Kevin was born and raised in Michigan, earning his degree in political science from Eastern Michigan University. 

When not at work, you may run into Kevin on Saturday mornings walking around the Riverside Arts Market or in a local park.

Kevin Meerschaert

According to a study released in February by The U-S Department of Veterans Affairs an estimated  22 veterans commit suicide every day.

In Florida, one out of four suicides is committed by a veteran. 

Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown says the suicide rate among veterans is astounding. "I cannot - we cannot - stand by and watch this number tick any higher. These men and women are the defenders of our freedom. It's our responsibility to take action."

Kevin Meerschaert

The Jacksonville City Council is expected to vote on emergency legislation Tuesday night to grant the noise waiver while also monitoring of decibel levels from the concert at Metropolitan Park and nearby neighborhoods.

The next concert scheduled to take place at Met Park is the Welcome to Rockville event.

Some neighbors across the St. Johns River have complained about concerts  at Metropolitan Park being too loud.

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

Tigers are coming back to the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.

Zoo officials broke ground on the new $9.5 million Tiger Exhibit today thanks in part to a $3-million donation from former Jaguars owners Wayne and Dolores Barr Weaver.

The exhibit will include at least six tigers including a pair of Sumatran tigers that will be used for breeding.

Other Asian animals in the exhibit will include critically endangered Viscayna warty and babirusa pigs, Asian small-clawed otters and wrinkled and wreathed hornbills.

Kevin Meerschaert

The bill uses $1.5 Billion in unspent funds from the previous fiscal year to increase the frequency of maintaining  city right-of-ways.

Another $300,000 in savings from a JEA customer fuel credit will be used to reactive streetlights that were shut off in industrial areas.

Businesses were concerned that shutting the lights off created a hazard for their employees. The city had also heard many complaints from residents about the condition of the right of ways.

Mayor Brown said "The legislation will have an immediate impact on the community"

Kevin Meerschaert/WJCT

UPDATE 6:30 PM From the City of Jacksonville Emergency Operations Center 

Kevin Meerschaert

Local officials kicked off National Community Development Week with the opening of an outdoor fitness zone at the James Weldon Johnson Family YMCA. 

Over $ 150,000 in Community Development Block Grant, or CDBG funds were used to purchase and install the exercise equipment along with a walking trail.

The city has received more than $373-million in CDBG funds since 1975. Last fiscal year the grants were used to help fund various projects from connecting 69 homes to water and sewer lines to the demolition and clearance of over 500 unsafe structure.

Jacksonville Transportation Authority

  Residents from the three Southbank condominiums want to see the Jacksonville Transportation Authority change its plans for Riverplace Boulevard.

JTA has long planned to use Riverplace as part of its Bus Rapid Transit, or BRT system. The BRT uses dedicated bus lanes and technology that turns traffic lights green to quickly move passengers.

Kevin Meerschaert

Jacksonville City Council Vice-President Bill Gulliford says the city should dip into into the city’s banking fund to buy the Haverty-Godbold Building.

The building at the corner of Laura Street and Duval Street is owned by the Police and Fire Pension Board. The city rents the building to house the Public Defenders office.

The city can buy the property for $14 million in May - but if it doesn’t, it doesn't have another chance to purchase until 2017, and the cost would increase by about $1.5 million.

Beth Meckley

The Jacksonville City Council has approved legislation to restore some city services that were eliminated during last year’s budget process.

The frequency of city right-of-way maintenance will increase and streetlights in industrial areas will be reactivated.

The $1.45 million for the right of ways comes from discovered unspent funds from the previous fiscal year. The $300,000 to turn back on the streetlights comes from a JEA customer fuel credit.

Council members say the services are essential for the city to provide.

National Humane Society

  Animal rights groups like the Humane Society say dogs left chained alone often become aggressive and dangerous.

In March of 2011, 17-month old Dylan Andres was mauled to death by a neighbor’s dog in Jacksonville when the toddler wandered into their yard.

He had walked away from his mother as she was unloading groceries from the car. The neighbor’s rottweiler had been chained to a pole while owner was away.

Animal rights group have been pushing for legislation to ban unattended dog tethering.

Embraer

Hundreds of local and state officials gathered today for the ribbon cutting of Brazil-based Embraer’s aircraft assembly facility at Jacksonville International Airport.

The A-29 Super Tucanos will be used by the U-S Air Force in Afghanistan.

The aircraft will be used to conduct advanced flight training, aerial reconnaissance and light air support operations.

F-DOT

 St. Johns County residents can hear next month the latest information about the proposal to extend State Route - 9B from I-95 to the St. Johns Parkway.

The first two legs of 9B will run from I-295 to I-95 in Duval County.

According to Florida Department of Transportation (F-DOT) reports, there has been a need for a limited access highway in the area since the mid-70’s.

Kevin Meerschaert

    Business leaders and elected officials from across Northeast Florida gathered today for an economic summit hosted by Jax Chamber.

Much of the discussion was about how the counties can work together to maintain a strong business climate.

Officials from six area counties talked about the budget problems they had to face the past few years, but all say things are now starting to turn around.

One of the main issues was transportation and the need to work together to get major projects funded and built.

Jaxport

    Korea-based Hanjin shipping will not be building a terminal at Jaxport.

    Port officials say it was a mutual decision based on changes in the world economy.

Instead of building a terminal, Hanjin will be part of an alliance of Asian shipping lines using Jaxport on a rotating basis.

Through this agreement, a total of fifteen carriers with service between the East Coast and Asia will do business in Jacksonville.

Kevin Meerschaert

Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown has signed into law legislation to reinvest 11-million dollars for economic projects.

Nine-million will be allocated for development in the downtown area.

The other two million will be used for projects elsewhere in the city.

The money comes from savings after refinancing bonds.

Brown says the dollars will be used to encourage private investment in Jacksonville.

Pages