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First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross

6/13/2017: JaxPort-Rubin; Portland Murders; 'Elvis Ignited'; First Coast Connect Book Club


Today on “First Coast Connect,” JaxPort spokesperson Nancy Rubin (01:08) told us about a new proposal by port officials for the deepening of the St. Johns River channel that would cut about $200 million from its cost. Founder and director of The Global Workshop Matt Colaciello (22:33) remembered the murder victims of an attack by a white supremacist in Portland. We spoke with author Bob Kealing (35:36) about his new book “Elvis Ignited.” First Coast Connect Book Club blogger Stacey Goldring was joined by Desiree Bailey (46:13) of the San Marco Book Store.    



JaxPort has long wanted to deepen the shipping channel of the river down to 47 feet to allow bigger cargo ships. They’d like to reduce the project in size from 13 to 11 miles. That’s a cost reduction of about 30 percent- from $ 700 million to $484 million. JaxPort’s argument is the money spent on this will be worth it, saying more cargo coming through the port means more jobs for the region. Critics of the plan say the port’s projections are overly optimistic. They’re skeptical the First Coast will see a return on investment.

Portland Murders

On May 26, two men were murdered by a white supremacist on a train in Portland. A third was wounded but survived the knife attack. They were standing up to a man spewing hate speech at two young women on the train, one of whom was wearing as hijab. The younger of the two, Taliesin Namkai Meche had ties to a local teacher and activist. Meche was Colaciello’s student for a semester in Indonesia. Colaciello said he wants to remember Meche by getting more people to fight against hate crimes and white supremacy in the U.S.

“Elvis Ignited”

It’s one of Elvis Presley’s best-known songs, his first million-seller and his first hit to top the charts. The classic “Heartbreak Hotel” was co-written by Jacksonville singer-songwriters Tommy Durden and Mae Axton.

It happened in a little house on the West side owned by Axton.

That’s just one of the many fascinating stories about Elvis and his connections to Jacksonville and Florida that Kealing explores.

First Coast Connect Book Club

Bailey spoke about how the book store decides what books they will sell, book trends and what most recently has become popular reading in Jacksonville. Bailey has just returned from a major book expo in New York City where she was able to meet several well-known authors.  

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