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First Coast Connect

10/25/2017: Tracy Collins; 'The Book Of Isaiah'; Art (Re)Public

Wednesday on First Coast Connect, we spoke with Tracy Collins, also known to many around town as Tracy Dot Com. She previewed excerpts from her upcoming book detailing her struggle against alcoholism (01:24).

Author Tim Gilmore and illustrator Shep Shepard talked about Gilmore’s latest book regarding Jacksonville founder Isaiah Hart, “The Book of Isaiah” (34:57).     

Art (Re)Public founder Jessica Santiago told us about this year’s edition of the event (46:00).   

Tracy Collins

She’s the lovable local personality known to all as Tracy Dot Com. Tracy Collins has appeared on local television covering local events for years. Always with a smile and a bubbly personality, you’ve seen her covering many events around town for different media outlets over the years. But behind the smiles and the packed social calendar, Tracy was dealing with a problem she kept hidden, one affecting millions of Americans: Alcoholism.

Collins said binge drinking nearly killed her. She discussed the heavy, daily drinking that she hid from the public, friends and family. Collins turned 50 this month and at her birthday party, she revealed her problem to the world.

But, she’s gone further than that. Tracy Collins is writing a book about her journey called “Stumbling Into Sobriety.”

In her newfound sobriety she has started on a path toward a new life- and a new purpose.

‘The Book of Isaiah’

Chances are you’ve driven across the downtown bridge that bears his name many times.

But, it’s also likely that you probably don’t know the story of Isaiah Hart.

Hart was the founder of Jacksonville. And he was a complicated character, to say the least.

Here are just a few tidbits about him.

He built a 35-foot-tall monument as his tomb. He made his wealth by stealing and then reselling slaves and he left a share of his will to his slave girlfriend.

Hart helped the first mayor of Jacksonville kidnap another founders’ child and he left quasi-pagan sentiments in his will.

Hart’s fascinating story is told in a new book. “The Book of Isaiah” is written by well-known Jacksonville author Tim Gilmore.

Art (Re) Public

Jacksonville’s big downtown arts festival, Art (Re)Public, is set to be bigger and better than ever this year.

The inaugural event in 2016 made a big splash by creating huge murals on a variety of blank walls across the urban core district.

The 2017 artist lineup has been announced for this year, headlining 19 artists. The extended 12 day exhibition will land in downtown Jacksonville November 1st through the 12th with public art exhibits, a fashion design gala, a lecture series and an immersive digital art exhibit.

The goal is to designate Jacksonville’s downtown urban core as a nationally recognized Art District.

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.