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

The JAXPORT Board of Directors has named Miami's Deputy Port Director Juan Kuryla as its new CEO.  

Kuryla was one of eight candidates who met with Board members. Prior to the final vote, the list was cut down to three earlier on Monday.

Board members say they were impressed with him energy and vision.

Kuryla replaces Paul Anderson who left JAXPORT earlier this year to take charge of the Port of Tampa.

Board members did express concerns that Kuryla might leave if the top job becomes available in Miami in a few years.

First Place Sports

First Place Sports is sponsoring a 3-5 K fun run Monday evening at 6:30PM in front of their store at the St. Johns Town Center.

It's part of a national effort by independent running stores to help the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.

YMCA of Florida's First Coast.

Healthy Kids Day is an annual event meant to kick start physical activity and learning during the summer months when children are out of school.

More than 1,900 Y's across the country are participating including all YMCA of Florida's First Coast locations.

The event on Saturday, April 27 is free and open to the entire community. It will run from 10:00AM to 2:00PM.

Sen. Marco Rubio's office

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio says the bipartisan immigration reform bill he’s co-sponsored will beef up border security and deal with the undocumented population in a tough but humane manner.

Rubio spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate Thursday to push for passage of the bill, and dispel some myths he says opponents have been spreading.

Kevin Meerschaert

The One Spark Festival kicked off Wednesday to big crowds and enthusiastic support.

One Spark Executive Director Elton Rivas says the time has never been better for such an event, and that it will continue in the coming years.

  Attendees are encouraged to register online at One Spark's website, then check in at the event to validate your account.

Kevin Meerschaert

The historic Jacobs Jewelers Clock has returned to the corner of Laura and Adams streets after a major restoration.

The clock was restored to how it looked when it was originally installed at the company’s original location on Bay Street shortly after the Great Fire of 1901.

  It was moved to its current location along with Jacobs Jewelers in 1930.

Mayor Alvin Brown says the clock is an important symbol of Jacksonville’s history.

One Spark

Tens of thousands of people are expected to be in downtown Jacksonville for the One Spark Festival and other events through (including a Carrie Underwood concert, a performance by comedian Lewis Black and Jacksonville Suns baseball) this weekend.

Parking will be at a premium around the One Spark Festival area. A free shuttle bus will be in service running from Everbank Field to Hemming Plaza. You can also park for free behind the Prime Osborn Center and take the Skyway. The Skyways hours will be extended into Sunday.    

City of Jacksonville

The Jacksonville City Council Rules Committee wants to know if Environmental Quality Chief Vince Seibold was let go because he publicly expressed concerns about reorganization plans involving his department.

Seibold told the Environmental Protection Board, or EPB, about potential problems with moving environmental control under Public Works.

The administration says Seibold was let go because he had requested a member of the General Counsel's office to prepare a document for the EPB without the consent or acknowledgment of her superior, Cindy Laquidara.

Kevin Meerschaert

Environmentalists around the state are protesting two bills in the legislature they say will lead to more algal blooms in the St. Johns River and other waterways.

Kevin Meerschaert

A partnership including the city of Jacksonville and downtown hotel are teaming to give the Players Championship more of a presence  in downtown Jacksonville.

The Players Alliance also includes JEA, JTA, JAXPORT, the Jacksonville Aviation Authority, The Jaguars, the Gator Bowl Association, Florida's First Coast of Golf and Orange Peel Entertainment.

It will all kick off with a party on the Shipyard's property that will include music, food and golf related events  May 3. A golf-theme will be part of the ther May 1 Art-Walk.

Cyd Hoskinson

U-S Senator Bill Nelson says he's co-sponsored a bipartisan bill that would prevent the Federal Aviation Administration from closing nearly 150 air traffic control towers around the country, including 14 in Florida.

Nelson was in Jacksonville on Friday meeting with regional airport officials.       

One airport on the FAA's list is the Northeast Florida Regional Airport in St. Augustine.

Kevin Meerschaert

More awareness, less stigmatism and learning the warning signs are some of the ways people can help work to reduce the number of suicides by veterans.

According to a report by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 22 veteran suicides occur every day nationwide.

The City of Jacksonville's Military Affairs, Veterans and Disabled Services department teamed with the University of North Florida to talk about the problem at the 2013 Veterans Suicide Awareness and Prevention Summit.

Many told their stories about losing friends and relatives to suicide.

Kevin Meerschaert

The following is a reporter's log from WJCT senior staff reporter Kevin Meerschaert, detailing his experience visiting two internet cafes after Governor Rick Scott signed a bill to close those establishments in the state.

Only a few minutes after news got out that Governor Rick Scott had signed the bill, about a half dozen women were walking out of the Hardwired Internet Cafe on the Southbank Riverwalk in Downtown Jacksonville. One turned and locked the door. The sign that said the cafe was open 24-hours a day/7 days a week remained. 

Gov. Scott Signs Internet Cafe Ban

Apr 10, 2013
State of Florida

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Gaming centers also known as "Internet cafes" are now illegal in Florida.
 
Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill Wednesday that bans up to 1,000 storefront operations across the state.

The new law took effect immediately after Scott signed the bill.

However, state officials say they will leave enforcement of the new law to local law-enforcement officials.  The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office says it will enforce any criminal statutes as required by state law when any such law becomes effective.

Kevin Meerschaert

Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown joined city employees and volunteers Tuesday to clean up the area around the historic baseball park.

It was part of the first Mayors Day of Recognition for National Service. Over 800 Mayors from around the country participated in similar events encouraging citizens to give back to their communities.

James P. Small Park was selected for his historic significance.   Open in 1912 and rebuilt in 1936 it served as Jacksonville's primary baseball park until Wolfson Stadium was built in 1954.

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