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First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross

8/16/2017: Trump GOP Reaction; The Great American Solar Eclipse; Neighborhood Newspapers; 'Hometown'


  Today on “First Coast Connect,” we discussed the negative reaction from several Florida Republican politicians to President Donald Trump’s most recent comments on the Charlottesville tragedy and possible reaction to Jacksonville’s considering removing Confederate monuments from public places with University of North Florida political science Professor Matt Corrigan (1:06). Ahead of Monday’s Great American Eclipse, we were joined by Jacksonville University associate physics Professor Brian Lane; NASA Solar System Ambassador Bharath Muthyala; Museum of Science and History planetarium Director Eddie Whisler and Dr. Arun Gulani, Director of the Gulani Vision Institute (16:09). Resident News publisher Seth Williams talked about the importance of neighborhood and small-town newspapers (34:20), and WJCT television producer Carlos Bouvier gave us a preview of Thursday’s edition of “Hometown.” (42:32)  

Trump GOP Reaction

Some prominent Republicans in Florida on Tuesday harshly criticized President Trump after he blamed “both sides” for Saturday’s violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and former Gov. Jeb Bush strongly rebuked Trump’s comments on Twitter. Meanwhile, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry warns neo Nazis and white nationalists may protest in the city, but he’s telling them they’re not welcome. The Jacksonville City Council, like Charlottesville’s, is looking at taking down Confederate monuments from public places of honor and perhaps moving them to museums.

The Great American Solar Eclipse

On Aug. 21, a solar eclipse will be visible from any spot in the contiguous U.S. While it won’t be total eclipse in Jacksonville it should still be a good show, as 91 percent of the sun will be covered by the moon’s shadow at its peak. The eclipse will begin in Jacksonville 1:16 p.m, peak at 2:47 p.m. and end at 4:11 p.m. Officials want to remind people it can be very dangerous to look at an eclipse directly. They suggest using special solar eclipse glasses or indirectly viewing the eclipse, for example, by building a pinhole camera or attending an eclipse event at the University of North Florida or the Timuquan National Park. NASA will also be providing a live stream on its website.        

Neighborhood Newspapers

A Pew Research study found that as of 2016, 82 percent of Americans express a lot or some confidence in local news organizations, while far fewer feel that way about news on social media. Williams is the publisher of Resident News, a Jacksonville company that publishes a number of neighborhood papers. He said while Jacksonville isn’t a “small town,” his hyperlocal newspapers focus on the neighborhood issues that likely wouldn’t be addressed in larger publications.

WJCT’s ‘Hometown’

The latest episode of WJCT-TV’s “Hometown” airs 8 p.m. Thursday and features segments on Dr. Alfredo Quinones, known at “Dr. Q” and his story of illegally immigrating to the U.S to eventually become one of the nation’s prominent neurosurgeons; the Dream Day Celebration for children with life-threatening illnesses; the Springfield Throwback Baseball Game; and local businesses Good Dough and Urban Mining.          

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