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First Coast Connect

6/14/2017: Opioid Pilot Program; Dig Local Network; 'Topdog/Underdog'; Christopher Houlihan

  Today on “First Coast Connect,” we discussed a Jacksonville City Council ordinance to fund a opioid epidemic pilot program with Councilman Bill Gulliford a and Dr. Raymond Pomm (00:59), medical director with Gateway Community Services and River Region Community Services. Dig Local Network director Devon Rich and its board Vice President Brittany Norris (30:35) told us about their three urban gardens and an event coming up on Sunday. Actors David Girard and Terrence Scott (37:35) talked about the upcoming production at the 5 and Dime Theatre and we spoke with acclaimed classical organist Christopher Houlihan (44:12), who is performing Wednesday night at the Jacoby Symphony Hall.   


Opioid Pilot Program   

It’s an aggressive new attempt to combat this city’s opioid crisis. Jacksonville City Council will soon consider funding a six-month pilot program to help treat opioid addiction with nearly $1.5 million. Gulliford introduced the bill Tuesday and asked for emergency passage. He hopes it will be approved in committees next week and passed in two weeks. The six-month pilot would start intervention in the emergency room with trained peer specialists who can educate and coordinate recovery, detox and follow-up services. The public health crisis is severe. Jacksonville Fire and Rescue officials say they’re responding to overdoses every few hours, many from Fentanyl and heroin.

Dig Local Network 

It’s an innovative way to combat this area’s food deserts, and provide everyone better access to healthy, and locally sourced food. Dig Local Network manages three farmers’ markets at the beaches. They also teach kids gardening in a unique after-school program. At 12:30 p.m. Sunday the “Toast & Roast: A locally-sourced, celebration of family,” will be held at the Royal Palm Village Wine and Tapas in Atlantic Beach. It will include an afternoon pig roast and several vendors and educators.


It’s a dark comedy revolving around two brothers: Lincoln and Booth. Their father chose the names as a twisted joke shortly before deserting them. The choice of naming the children after an assassin and his target foreshadows how tumultuous the relationship between Lincoln and Booth would become. Both orphans, they have relied on each other for survival and company. Now in their 30s, both men struggle to make a new life away from poverty. “Topdog/Underdog” won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2001. It opens at The 5 and Dime Theatre Friday and runs through July 2.  

Christopher Houlihan

He’s one of the most acclaimed classical organists in the country. The Los Angeles Times proclaimed him dazzling and seductive and called him “the next big organ talent.” Houlihan is in Jacksonville for the 2017 American Guild of Organists Southeastern Region Convention. He’ll be performing the closing recital 8 p.m. tonight at the Jacoby Symphony Hall at the Times-Union Center. His program will include the world premiere performance of Hannah Lash’s “Ludus”, composed specifically for Houlihan.

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.