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First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross

9/29/2017: Media Roundtable; Help For Puerto Rico And Haiti; AARP-YMCA Run; Kevin O'Connor


Friday on “First Coast Connect,” our weekly Media Roundtable featured Mark Woods from The Florida Times-Union, Charles Griggs from the Jacksonville Free Press and WJCT reporter Lindsey Kilbride (01:53).

We heard about an event this weekend at the Jacksonville Landing to help Puerto Rico victims of Hurricane Maria and also spoke with author Steve Werlin, who wrote “To Fool the Rain: Haiti’s Poor and Their Pathway to a Better Life.”

Jacksonville Historical Society president Alan Bliss and Jacksonville attorney Michael Fisher with the Haitian advocacy group Fonkoze spoke about Haitian relief (28:31).              

Jacksonville AARP Field Coordinator Justine Conley talked about an upcoming race in downtown Jacksonville in conjunction with the YMCA (39:40).

Ahead of his appearance this weekend at the Jacksonville Home and Patio Show we spoke with “This Old House” host Kevin O’Connor (43:56).


Media Roundtable

Our panel discussed the surprise announcement by Edward Waters College President Nat Glover that he will step down next May. They also discussed the Jacksonville City Council approving the new budget, including hiring 100 new police officers. There was also discussion of City Councilmember Reggie Gaffney publicly apologizing for his confrontation with police over a stolen license plate report that was recorded on video.    


Help for Puerto Rico And Haiti

Puerto Rico has 3.4 million people without power, food, or water on an island 100 miles wide. These are U.S. citizens, and advocates are putting out the call here on the First Coast to come together as a country and help our fellow Americans on the island.

One big event we want to tell you about: Come to the Jacksonville Landing from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Oct 1, and drop off hygiene products, utilities, food, and clothing. This event is sponsored by the Puerto Rican and Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

With all the attention on Puerto Rico right now, it’s important to remember the struggles of millions of others in the Caribbean like Haiti.

The island is still recovering from a devastating series of natural disasters.This fall, the Department of Homeland Security is poised to send 59,000 Haitians who benefit from a program called “temporary protected status” back to an island that has yet to recover from those disasters, including Hurricane Matthew last year, and a deadly cholera outbreak.


The YMCA and AARP are presenting “ALL AGES: One AMAZING Adventure” at 8 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 4.

The race registration deadline was going to be Friday, Sept. 29 but it has been extended due to Hurricane Irma.

The adventure will take place in downtown Jacksonville and promises to “disrupt” your perspective on aging, community and abilities.

Each team of six must complete a series of physical and mental challenges in order to be the first to cross the finish line. Team members must be age 30 years and better to participate. Four out of six team members must represent a different decade.


Kevin O’Connor

It’s one of the most popular and longest running shows on PBS. Host of “This Old House,” Kevin O’Connor will be appearing at 6 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday at theJacksonville Home and Patio Show at the Prime Osborn Center.

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