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First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross

5/26/2017: Media Roundtable; Book Fairs; Florida Folk Festival


  Today on “First Coast Connect,” it was our weekly media roundtable with Florida Times-Union columnist Mark Woods, A.G. Gancarski from Florida Politics, Daily Record reporter David Cawton and Jacksonville Free Press contributing writer Charles Griggs (01:05). We also heard about a movement to bring more book fairs to Jacksonville schools with Ellen Wiss from Read USA and Karen Sawyer (31:28)  from Scholastic books, and folk singer and Jacksonville native Tom Shed (45:42) told us about this weekend’s Florida Folk Festival.  


Media Roundtable

Our panel discussed JAXPORT’s getting $17.5 million in federal funding for deepening the shipping channel in the St. Johns River, funding problems for Florida State College at Jacksonville and the City Council’s electing Anna Lopez Brosche president over Vice President John Crescimbeni.    

Book Fairs  

According to a recent study, Duval County public school 8th graders from low-income communities are half as likely to be proficient in reading and math as their more affluent peers. One factor: 61 percent of low-income families have no books for children in their homes. Wiss, founder of Read USA, a nonprofit headquartered in Jacksonville, is working to change those statistics by bringing back book fairs to local schools. Read USA brings Scholastic book fairs to schools in low-income areas by partnering with local businesses. Each student receives a $15 voucher for the books. Scholastic then matches 50 percent in book fair sales to stock classroom libraries. The book fairs were held this week at six elementary schools.

Florida Folk Festival

The 65th annual Florida Folk Festival is this weekend in White Springs. It stretches across 200 acres at Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park in White Springs. It’s the largest state-run folk festival in the nation, where festival goers can dance, dine and deep dive into Florida history. More than 200 musicians will play on 10 stages. Artists include Ben Prestage, a one-man band specializing in swamp blues; Melanie, one of three women to perform at Woodstock in 1969; Billy Dean, a Grammy-winning country crooner who’s sold more than 12 million records; and Tom Chapin, brother of the late Harry Chapin and former host of the ‘70s Saturday morning TV show “Make A Wish.”

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