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First Coast Connect

3/22/2018: Baker Correctional Visitors; Floyd Norman; Glaucoma; A Brush With Nature & The Specktator

Will Dickey
The Florida Times-Union
The Baker Correctional Institution in Baker County.

Thursday on First Coast Connect we spoke with Florida Times-Union reporter Ben Conarck about his investigation into how visitors to Baker Correctional Institution are treated (01:02).

Ahead of his appearance in Jacksonville next week we heard from legendary Disney and Pixar animator Floyd Norman (27:46).

With World Glaucoma Week just ending we heard about some new treatments for sufferers with Florida Eye Specialists Dr. Kathryn Friedl and patient Carol Matthews (38:30).

Ahead of this weekend’s A Brush With Nature event at the Jacksonville Arboretum we spoke with painter Randy Pitts and Board Chair Patty Miller.

Kerry Speckman told us what’s coming up this weekend and next week in the world of entertainment.  (46:00)    

Baker Correctional Visitors

Female visitors to the Baker Correctional Institution in Sanderson say they have been strip-searched when they have arrived at the prison to see friends or family, according to Florida Times-Union news partner.  

Correction officials in Tallahassee recently mandated a crackdown on visitors to cut down on the amount of contraband entering the prison.

But an investigation by the Times-Union found the crackdown is not producing much success and prisoners are still far more likely to get their contraband from staff and guards at the jail.

Floyd Norman

If you've seen classic films like Sleeping Beauty, The Jungle Book or the Toy Story movies, you've seen the work of legendary animator Floyd Norman.

The 81-year-old Norman became the first African-American animator for the Walt Disney Studios back in 1959.

In the decades since, he has helped many bring Disney and Pixar classics to life. Everything from The Jungle Book, Robin Hood, Mulan, to the Toy Story movies, and Monsters, Inc.

He’s also worked on animated TV shows like Fat Albert and The Smurfs.

Norman speaks in Jacksonville on March 29th at FSCJ South as part of the Cultural Council/VyStar International Artist Lecture Series.


Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases in which damage to the optic nerve leads to progressive vision loss. It is the second leading cause of blindness in the world, and it affects more than three million Americans. Although widespread, glaucoma is undiagnosed in 50 percent of the general population.

But some new treatments for the disease are seeing some success. An innovative new treatment is called the MicroPulse Laser, which can aid people with hard-to-treat glaucoma.

A Brush With Nature & The Specktator

A Brush with Nature is an event being hosted by The Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens and First Coast Plein Air Painters.

Visitors to the Arboretum can watch the painters as they work.

Admission is free, with donations to the arboretum encouraged, and all works of art created at the event are available for sale with proceeds benefiting the Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens and First Coast Plein Air Painters.

The “Plein Air” Tradition, or “En Plein Air,” is a French term meaning “in the open air.” Since the mid-19th Century and the advent of portable painting supplies like the paint tube and “box” easels, artists have taken to the outdoors.

Kerry told us about several upcoming events including this weekend’s Collective Con at the Jacksonville Fairgrounds, Saturday’s Gastrofest at MOSH, Friendship Fountain and the River City Brewing Company and Dennis Miller’s appearance Sunday at the Florida Theatre.  

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.