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First Coast Connect

4/11/2018: JEA Unions; Emerald Necklace; Charity Burn; Library Week

Wednesday on First Coast Connect we spoke with JEA employee unions leaders Randy Hilton, President of the local Professional Employees Association and Valerie Gutierrez, President of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2358 about their opposition to a possible sale of the utility (01:01).  

In our latest Going Green segment we spoke with Groundwork Jacksonville CEO Kay Ehas about the proposed Emerald Necklace (29:58).

Donna Fenchel, the owner of several local Orangetheory Fitness franchises and Flagler College’s Leslie Gordon talked to us about an upcoming fundraiser for Volunteers in Medicine (38:30).

We heard about how the Jacksonville Public Library is commemorating National Library Week from Assistant Director of Community Relations Chris Boivin (46:00).        

JEA Unions

Union leaders come out swinging against the idea of selling JEA.

A group of local union heads representing employees at the city’s publicly owned utility have released a joint statement. It asserts that the privatization of JEA would “have severe, harmful, and long term detrimental economic impacts on all stakeholders.”

The contentious issue of selling off the utility has roiled City Hall and sparked acrimonious debate.

Supporters of the idea say it could help Jacksonville financially while opponents see the proposal as short-sighted with potential long-term damages.

Emerald Necklace

More than 100 years since it was originally envisioned by famed architect Henry Klutho, Groundwork Jacksonville has taken the first step toward building the Emerald Necklace.

If completed, the Emerald Necklace will encompass approximately 14 miles of trails, greenspace, parks and waterways that will encircle the city’s urban core and link at least 14 urban neighborhoods and downtown to Hogans Creek, McCoys Creek, the S-Line Rail Trail and the Northbank and Southbank Riverwalks.

Charity Burn

It’s a seven-day local charity burn that includes getting a workout at Orangetheory Fitness while raising money for Volunteers in Medicine. Orangetheory will donate a sum for every minute participants reach their splat point, which is when their heart rate has exceeded 84% of their maximum heart rate.

Gordon is this month’s Women with Heart, raising funds for Volunteers in Medicine.  

National Library Week

It’s National Library Week, which is your chance to celebrate a cultural treasure: America’s public libraries.

The Jacksonville Public Library has several events planned at all branches, including First Coast Connect Bookclub meetings.

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.