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First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross

10/5/2017: State Of The River; Peace Corps Prep; St. Simons Food And Spirits Festival; Fall Makery


Thursday on “First Coast Connect,” we heard about the 2017 edition of the State of the River Report with co-authors University of North Florida Chemistry Professor Dr. Radha Pyati and Associate Research Scientist Dr. Gerry Pinto at the Jacksonville University Science Research Institute (01:07).  

We were told about a new partnership between UNF and the Peace Corp called Peace Call Prep with UNF Peace Corp Prep Advisor Dr. Tim Robinson, and UNF alumnus and returned Peace Corp volunteer Frances Luna (24:53).    

Patty Crosby of Hospice of the Golden Isles spoke about this weekend’s St. Simons Food and Spirits Festival (32:30).    

We heard about the Fall Makery, a move to get more people to buy local products with The Makery co-founders Sara Flowers and Taryn Nilson. Along on hand were Sailors Siren co-owner Whitney Canney and Fish Lips Paper Design owner Kimi Chronis. They were joined by Kerry Speckman who talked about other upcoming events this month (42:03).  


State of the River

Some troubling news is out about the health of the St. Johns River. The 10th annual State of the River Report is out this week. The annual analysis of the health of the lower St. Johns River Basin shows some areas of improvement when it comes to pollution in the waterway. But other indicators are worsening.

Peace Corps Prep

It’s a program that began way back in the Kennedy administration. More than half a century later, the Peace Corps is still going strong. Now, the Peace Corps and UNF are launching a new partnership. It’s called Peace Corps Prep.

As students combine targeted coursework with hands-on experience they build the competencies needed to be strong Peace Corps volunteers or other intercultural fieldworkers.

St. Simons Food and Spirits Festival

The St. Simons Food and Spirits Festival is this weekend up on St. Simons Island, Georgia. It had been postponed due to Hurricane Irma. The festival features some of the best chefs and pit masters in the region as well as premium wines, spirits and craft beer.

Fall Makery and Kerry Speckman

The Fall Makery will be held 11 a.m. to 5 p.m Oct. 7, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 8, at The Glass Factory on Myrtle Avenue. It’s a curated market where independent makers, designers and creative entrepreneurs along with members of the local community can gather to inspire each other. It includes workshops, do-it-yourself demonstrations and music along with food and drink. Handmade, reclaimed and vintage items will be featured.

Kerry told us about several upcoming events including this weekend’s Florida Oktoberfest and Music Festival at Metro Park along with the Florida Georgia Line concert with Nelly and Chris Lane Oct. 12, at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. She also touched on the first ever Jacksonville Icemen ECHL game, which will be Oct. 14 at the Arena and an evening with Neil DeGrasse Tyson at the Florida Theatre on Oct. 17.         

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.