Ryan Benk

REPORTER / HOST "Indie Endeavour"

Ryan Benk comes to WJCT from Tallahassee, where he worked as a news researcher and reporter for NPR affiliate WFSU. Originally from Miami, he graduated with a bachelor's in English literature from Florida State University. During his time in Tallahassee, Ryan also worked as a policy and research analyst for legislative-research firm LobbyTools before returning to public radio at WJCT.

Ryan also edited fiction and poetry for Miami-Dade College's Miambiance magazine, and he produced a short film titled "The Writer."

When he’s not tracking down news, Ryan likes watching films, writing fiction and poetry, and exploring Florida's natural beauty.

Ryan is also the host of "Indie Endeavor."

Ryan Benk / WJCT News

Jacksonville’s Black Chamber of Commerce says it has a 30-year plan to bring business back to the city’s Northside.

The chamber plans to reveal its proposal at a forum called the “State of Black Jacksonville” Friday evening.

Organizers say healing the economically unstable community can start with providing a warm smile and a strong cup of coffee.

On Thursday morning, Frank Lyons was serving coffee at his Point Coffee Shop on Moncrief Road.

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Ryan Benk / WJCT News

Mental health professionals, advocates and those living with mental illness from across Florida converged at the Hyatt Hotel in Downtown Jacksonville this week.


Attendees of the Florida Mental Health Summit are hoping state lawmakers will reform mental health-care.

Ryan Benk / WJCT News

Amelia Island broke tourism records in July. Hotels and resorts are reporting a 4-percent increase in vacationers over last year.

The tourism hot spot an hour’s drive north of Jacksonville is contributing to another record-setting year for Florida.

Just between April and June, more than 160,000 visitors stayed in Amelia Island.

Ryan Benk / WJCT News

St. Johns River advocates and museum goers attended a first-of-its-kind symposium Saturday at Jacksonville's Museum of Science and History.

The event was focused on shaping the next generation of river enthusiasts.

Author and self-described springs advocate Rick Kilby took the older crowd back to a simpler time, when Kilby said the springs surrounding the St. Johns River were as clear as the memories he has of summer swimming trips. Since then, he said Florida has been too successful at attracting new residents.

AAA

A recent AAA survey found that close to half of Florida residents are not prepared for a possible hurricane.

The news comes as the first named storm of the Atlantic Hurricane Season barrels toward the Caribbean.

Ryan Benk / WJCT News

Ten pastors and their flocks will march along one of Jacksonville’s deadliest streets to pass out water bottles in the Saturday sun.

Organizers are hoping the gesture helps quench the violence plaguing their community.

Standing among hundreds of water bottles bearing the phrase “quench the violence,” on Thursday, 10 prominent Jacksonville preachers announced they'll take to the streets to plead for peace this weekend.

Ryan Benk / WJCT News

Today in Jacksonville, six alleged victims of childhood sexual abuse announced they are suing their former martial arts instructor decades after the alleged abuse occurred.

The suit would have impossible before a new Georgia law went into effect.

 


Jacksonville Humane Society

The city of Jacksonville Beach has banned the sale of cats and dogs that come from so-called puppy mills.

 

Jacksonville Beach is the 37th city in Florida to pass similar ordinances.

U.S. Navy

Three U.S. Navy submarines have been cleared for duty after a Jacksonville company performed unauthorized repairs on them.

Navy officials took the USS Minnesota, USS North Dakota and USS John Warner out of service after it discovered the company NuFlow had modified parts used in the fast-attack subs’ propulsion systems.

Shannon LeDuke / WJCT

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry says he opposes a draft water plan that includes a possible withdrawal of water from the St. Johns River.

The draft plan is part of a larger strategy to deal with a projected shortfall in central Florida drinking water.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry sent a letter opposing the St. Johns River withdrawals to the Central Florida Water Initiative, a consortium of water managers and stakeholders, the last day of extended public comment on its draft plan.

Rockefeller Foundation

The city of Jacksonville plans to participate in the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities program.

Mayor Lenny Curry plans to finalize the distinction applied for by former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown.

The Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities initiative is an effort to identify cities that show great resilience in the face of economic, social and environmental catastrophes, but may need some extra help to keep it up.

Curry’s spokesman Bill Spann says the new mayor is fully committed to the project.

Sandra Friend / US Department of Agriculture - Forest Service

The Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce is pulling its support for a an environmental offset sought by the St. Johns Riverkeeper.

The agreement included plans to breach the Rodman Dam in Putnam County in exchange for deepening the St. Johns River in Jacksonville.

 

Last week, the Riverkeeper announced plans to sue over the proposed St. Johns River dredging. Almost immediately, the JAX Chamber told the Florida Times-Union it no longer supports a compromise reached with the Riverkeeper eight months ago. St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman says the news came as a shock.

Kirk Olson / Ghost Crab

The health of the St. Johns River is generally improving, but scientists are concerned about some recent negative trends. Those are the takeaways from this year’s State of the River Report, presented Friday morning at the University of North Florida.

Lead scientists Radha Pyati and Lucinda Sonnenberg presented findings to a crowded ballroom at UNF’s Environmental Symposium. Sonnenberg, Director of the Millar Wilson Laboratory at JU, says the main takeaway is the need for more data.

U.S. Navy / Flickr

U.S. Navy officials are investigating a Jacksonville-based company after it says the vendor made unauthorized repairs to parts for three nuclear submarines.

 

The Navy says incorrect welding was discovered during routine checks to the subs’ propulsion systems.

As our partners News4Jax report, Jacksonville-based company NuFlo is under investigation for making unauthorized repairs to pipes that funnel steam in the submarines’ propulsion systems.

Tiphne Hollis Foundation / Facebook

Five years after the shooting death of 16-year-old Tiphne Hollis in Jacksonville, her family is still seeking justice.

 

Her mother, along with the help of the foundation started in her daughter’s name, continues to canvass the community to keep awareness alive.

Tiphne Hollis was murdered while riding in the backseat of a car in Jacksonville’s Westside in March of 2010. Her mother, Shanda Whitaker-Ward, says it feels like she lost her daughter just yesterday.

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