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First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross

4/18/2018: Interim JEA CEO; Distracted Driving; Voices Unearthed; Melanie Lawson


Wednesday on First Coast Connect we spoke with Florida Politics reporter A.G. Gancarski regarding the JEA Board of Directors hiring Aaron Zahn as interim CEO (01:10).

Local attorney Wayne Hogan told us about April being national Distracted Driving Awareness Month (28:15).

Hope McMath from Yellow House talked about a new project at the house called Voices Unearthed (38:39).

WJXT anchor Melanie Lawson told us about next week’s She is Fierce! Spring event (46:00).


JEA Interim CEO  

The JEA Board of Directors Tuesday named former fellow board member Aaron Zahn as its interim CEO.

That was after rejecting naming an inside candidate with far more experience, JEA CFO Melissa Dykes.

Zahn was appointed by Mayor Lenny Curry to the board in January of this year, and approved by City Council in late February. Just a few months later, he stepped down from the board to apply for the utility’s interim CEO job.

He beat out Dykes for the company’s top spot, even though she has more than two decades of experience in the utility industry.

Distracted Driver Awareness

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 37,461 people died on US roads in 2016. Of those deaths, 3,450 were caused by distracted driving.

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and local attorney Wayne Hogan is working to get the word out to put away the smartphone when on the road.

Hogan’s distracted driving presentations are available year-round for teens and adults.    

Voices Unearthed

After her exit as the director of the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, Hope McMath turned her talents from leading a very traditional cultural institution to starting something a little edgier.

Yellow House is McMath’s new project, and it’s a center for not just art exhibits, but also a convener for those working on social change.

One example is Yellow House’s current exhibit, "Voices Unearthed.”

Melanie Lawson

She wakes up thousands of viewers each morning as the talented a.m. anchor on WJXT 4… our news partner News4Jax.

Melanie Lawson is also a wife, mom and fierce female leader here on the First Coast.

She’s also the featured speaker next week at the She Is Fierce! Live Spring event in 5 Points.


Kevin Meerschaert can be reached at, 904-358-6334 or on Twitter at @KMeerschaertJax.