First Read: Thursday, December 19, 2013

Dec 19, 2013

School grades, Union Cty. Sheriff Jerry Whitehead, and Pastafarians are in the headlines today.

Welcome to WJCT First Read, your daily weekday morning round-up of stories from the First Coast, around Florida, and across the country. We'll also preview some of WJCT's upcoming news programming.

Duval schools improve in annual school grades: Seventy-one percent of Duval County's public high schools earned an 'A' or a 'B' grade from the state this year, the most in district history. (WJCT)

Clinton health initiative meet in Jax: The first local meeting of the Clinton Health Matters Initiative yesterday featured remarks from Florida Surgeon General Dr. John Armstrong. (WJCT)

State minimum wage set to increase: Starting on the first of the year Florida's minimum wage will increase 14 cents to $7.43 an hour. (Jacksonville Business Journal)

Union County Sheriff Jerry Whitehead dead at age 60: The longest serving sheriff in the state of Florida, Union County's Gerald M. "Jerry" Whitehead died yesterday from cardiac failure after a brief illness. (News4Jax)

Florida lawmakers destroyed redistricting documents: Legislators say they destroyed documents related to state redistricting prior to last week's Florida Supreme Court order to release all documents related to the process. (Tampa Bay Times)

Florida Medicaid expansion looks less likely as elections near: Formerly a proponent for expansion, Governor Rick Scott appears to be backing off his position on Medicaid as he ramps up campaigning. (Florida Center For Investigative Reporting)

Florida has highest homeowner insurance rates: Florida and Louisiana lead the nation in homeowner insurance rates with an average premium in Florida of $1,933 per year. (Fox News Latino)

Dunn trial documents are public record according to appeals court reversal: A state judge has thrown out an order from a Jacksonville judge limiting the materials that can be released to the public related to the murder case against Michael Dunn, accused of shooting Jacksonville teen Jordan Davis last year. (Florida Times-Union)

Flying Spaghetti Monster joins Festivus pole, nativity in Tallahassee: Florida State Capitol management has approved a holiday display in the building's first floor rotunda from the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, also known as Pastafarians. (Florida Today)

Today on First Coast Connect, special guest host Dan Leveton looks at the effects of mental health and depression during the holiday season with Ellen Williams, behavioral health administrator with Baptist Health.

You can get all the latest headlines online at, on our Facebook page, and on Twitter @WJCTJax. You can follow Patrick Donges on Twitter at @patrickhdonges.