Melissa Ross

Host/Producer, "First Coast Connect"

"First Coast Connect" host/producer Melissa Ross joined WJCT in 2009 with 20 years of experience in broadcasting, including stints in Cincinnati, Chicago, Orlando and Jacksonville. During her career as a television and radio news anchor and reporter, Melissa has won four regional Emmys for news and feature reporting. 

As executive producer of "The 904: Shadow on the Sunshine State," Melissa and WJCT received an Emmy in the documentary category at the 2011 Suncoast Emmy Awards. "The 904" examined Jacksonville’s status as Florida’s murder capital.

WJCT’s "First Coast Connect" has received multiple national awards from Public Radio News Directors Inc. for best call-in program.

Prior to joining WJCT, Melissa spent three years in the corporate communications field at Jacksonville’s Dalton Agency. During her stint at Dalton, she was cast in the HBO film "Recount" playing — what else? — a reporter!

Married with two children, Melissa is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and Communications. She also writes for the Florida Politics blog. 

Ways to Connect

Frank Murry via St. Augustine Government

A St. Augustine nonprofit is educating the public on the city’s role in the civil rights movement during the 1960s.

The Anniversary to Commemorate the Civil Rights Demonstrations, or ACCORD, has worked for years to preserve St. Augustine’s history surrounding civil rights.

News4Jax

Downtown Jacksonville’s Andrew Jackson statue was vandalized twice last week.

As First Coast Connect host Melissa Ross reports, the statue is the latest of several monuments across the South to be tagged with the words “Black Lives Matter.”

Someone tagged the base of the statue Sunday with the phrase “Black Lives Matter” and “Justice 4 D” before it was scrubbed off.

Earlier in the week someone also put a fake Native American head on the statue.

Jeb Bush officially launched his presidential campaign in Florida this week becoming the eleventh major candidate seeking the Republican nomination.

During an appearance on WJCT's “First Coast Connect,” Matt Corrigan, professor of politics at the University of North Florida, gave his thoughts on Bush’s candidacy.

Corrigan wrote about Bush in his book, “Conservative Hurricane: How Jeb Bush Remade Florida.”

Corrigan says Bush’s campaign is going to be a fascinating test in two ways.

Excel23 / Wikimedia Commons

Jacksonville residents will have the opportunity to make their recommendations to the city Tuesday night concerning the redevelopment of a downtown icon.

The city’s Downtown Investment Authority is asking for ideas on the redesign of the Jacksonville Landing during a public forum.

The Downtown Investment Authority hired a team of urban design experts to share plans for the Landing’s redesign.

rutherford in sheriff uniform
City of Jacksonville

Duval County Sheriff John Rutherford has been a vocal critic of Mayor Alvin Brown and a supporter of his hand-picked successor Mike Williams in the Jacksonville mayor and sheriff's races.

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office

Public safety has emerged as a major issue in Jacksonville’s super close mayor’s race, with incumbent Mayor Alvin Brown defending his approach to this core function of government, while challenger Lenny Curry has hammered Brown’s administration on the issue of violent crime. A recent school bus shooting incident reinforced the narrative.

In particular, the Curry campaign has pounded the messaging that Brown “cut 147 police officers” from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

State Department

As the U.S. and Cuba edge closer to an agreement to restore full diplomatic ties, a retired State Department official who served as the senior diplomat in Cuba says Florida is well-positioned to take advantage of the historic changes.

Murphy Stidham / WJCT News

With one week to go till Election Day, endorsements are flying in the Jacksonville mayoral race between Alvin Brown and Lenny Curry.

Former Mayor John Delaney is throwing his support behind Curry.

Delaney, now president of UNF, says he’s stepping off the sidelines in the mayor’s race to endorse Curry over incumbent mayor Alvin Brown believing City Hall needs a fresh take.

In particular he cites the city’s finances as the reason for his endorsement of his fellow Republican.

Mark Foley / Florida House of Representatives

Lawmakers walked out of Tallahassee three days early — but now they’re coming back.

The state House and Senate will go into a special session on June 1 to try to pass a budget and come to terms on health care funding.

After abruptly adjourning three days early, the Florida House and Senate have tentatively agreed to a special session from June 1 to June 20 to hash out lingering budget issues.

The House and Senate were at odds over whether to expand Medicaid in the state to cover low-income patients.

STEM2 Forum

There’s a new initiative in Jacksonville focused on science, technology, engineering, math and medical programs.

The new STEM2 Hub, and an upcoming STEM2 Forum, are designed to help more students succeed.

Over the past decade, jobs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) have grown at a rate three times faster than non-STEM jobs.

Momentum will continue over the next decade as STEM jobs will grow at a staggering rate of 17 percent.

www.wayman.org

A coalition of clergy groups in Jacksonville is sounding the alarm about violent crime on the city’s streets.

This as the city of Baltimore is cleaning up after riots that erupted after an African-American man died in police custody, his spine nearly severed.

Faith leaders worry the same type of unrest is just under the surface here in our area.

However Pastor Mark Griffin of the city’s A.M.E. Ministers Alliance says he disagrees with calls to institute a 9 p.m. curfew in Jacksonville’s high-crime neighborhoods.

  The founders of One Spark look to the next phase of the crowdfunding festival. The third annual crowdfunding festival is undergoing an independent audit to determine its impact. Co-Founder Elton Rivas joins us with more.

Then later, Going Green looks at sustainable fisheries.

Understanding the importance of fisheries conservation, responsible and sustainable commercial fishing practices, sourcing local seafood and traceability that ensures seafood either purchased by restaurateurs, or sold to consumers, is the real deal.

The Supreme Court assumes the bench today to hear historic oral arguments on same-sex marriage.

As this dramatic hearing plays out in Washington, the LGBT equality movement has come to Jacksonville in a big way, as activists push for a comprehensive human rights ordinance.

At the same time, that T in the LGBT acronym, transgender, is getting renewed awareness and understanding after Bruce Jenner’s landmark interview on his transition with ABC’s Diane Sawyer. 

This morning, we’re discussing it all as we welcome Dan Merkan, chair of the Jax Coalition for Equality.

The All-Nite Images / Flickr

Nationwide, Democrats have made raising the minimum wage a rallying cry.

Recently, the minimum wage debate has become an issue in the city's mayor's race.

Last week Mayor Alvin Brown joined a local restaurant owner to say he supports an increase in the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

Brown said he'll work with state lawmakers to get an increase to the state's minimum wage which is $8.05 an hour.

Bills to raise the wage have gone nowhere in Tallahassee so far.

Flikr / Creative Commons

Democratic Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown joined the owner of an Avondale restaurant Friday to voice support for increasing the minimum wage.

Ian Chase owns Fox Restaurant. Chase and Brown told reporters they support raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, saying it would lead to thousands of new jobs in Florida.

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