Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
First Coast Connect

1/18/2017:Female Ringmaster; Wellness Rx; F-35 Lightning II

Kevin Meerschaert
First female ringmaster at Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus Kristen Michelle Wilson with First Coast Connect host Melissa Ross.

Wednesday on First Coast Connect, we spoke with the first female ringmaster for Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus Kristen Michelle Wilson. We also spoke with George Maxey, executive director of the New Town Success Zone, and Dr. Ivan Porter, nephrologist at the Mayo Clinic, about a new collaboration and we heard from Colonel Brian Bell, commander of the 125th Fighter Wing of the Florida National Guard about the possible arrival in Jacksonville of the new F-35 Lightning II fighter jets. 

Kristen Michelle Wilson

After nearly 150 years, “The Greatest Show on Earth” is folding up its tents. The iconic Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus will shut down this spring after 146 years on the road. Wilson is the 39th ringmaster in circus history. She has been a performer for years including as a singer in her own band. The circus is seeking homes for those animals, and hundreds of circus employees will soon be looking for work. You still have one last chance to see the circus, it’s in town at Veterans Memorial Arena Thursday through Sunday.

Listen to this story on Redux

Wellness Rx

Wellness Rx is a collaboration between Mayo Clinic and the New Town Success Zone. The partnership comes after a recent health assessment identified health disparities as a major concern for Jacksonville. Porter  discussed the importance of wellness and key issues that the Mayo Clinic and Maxey addressed in the Community Health Needs Assessment.

F-35 Lightning II

The 125th Fighter Wing of the Florida National Guard is one of the top five choices to become home to the F-35 Lightning II fighter jets.

If selected, the F-35 should be arriving to the unit by 2022 and would replace its current airframe: the F-15 Eagle, which was produced more than 40 years ago. This update would assist the Florida Air National Guard in continuing its active role in both local and abroad missions.

With roughly 1,000 personnel, the 125 FW provides air defense for the southeastern U.S. while also standing by to intercept unknown aircraft at any time. Bell talked about the importance of the aircraft and what it could mean to Florida National Guard if they came to Jacksonville.  

Producer Kevin Meerschaert can be reached at, 904-358-6334 or on Twitter at @KMeerschaertJax.

Kevin Meerschaert has left WJCT for new pursuits. He was the producer of First Coast Connect until October of 2018.