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First Coast Connect

11/3/2017: Media Roundtable; Rotary's Mike Williams Visonary Scholars; ArborEATUM

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The JAXChamber Leadership Trip this week has many local business leaders and elected officials in Toronto, Ontario hearing about how they revitalized their downtown.

Friday on First Coast Connect, our weekly Media Roundtable with guests Folio Weekly editor Claire Goforth, Florida Times-Union reporter Tessa Duvall, Jacksonville Business Journal editor Timothy Gibbons and WJCT reporter Ryan Benk (01:10).       

We met South African ophthalmologist Dr. Bayanda Mbambisa who is in Jacksonville as part of the Rotary Club’s Mike Williams Visionary Scholars program. Bill Sorenson also joined us. He’s co-chair of the committee (35:54).       

Ahead of Saturday’s annual ArborEATUM fundraiser for the Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens we were joined by Board of Directors President Lawrence Geirum and board member Melinda Simmons (46:00).   

Media Roundtable

Our panel discussed areport released by the March of Dimes that gave Jacksonville a failing grade for having a high preterm birth rate. They also discussed why Duval County will not be a participant in a statewide solar energy co-op and the JaxChamber Leadership Trip this week to Toronto.

Rotary’s Mike Williams Visionary Scholars

They’re a group of opthamologists from faraway lands.They’re in to Jacksonville to train for a week. When their visit to the First Coast wraps up, they’ll take back visionary eye improvement techniques to their home countries.

It’s all due to the Mike Williams Visionary Scholars program, part of the Rotary Club of Jacksonville’s International Service Project.

After Jacksonville they go to New Orleans for the National Academy of Opthamology Meeting.


It’s your chance to enjoy a beautiful outdoor setting, plus food and drinks from some of the best places in town at the fourth annualArborEATUM Food and Wine Fest. A Sammy Haggar signed guitar is up for grabs at the silent auction.

Nearly 20 restaurants, caterers and local craft brew masters will be on hand.  

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.