News

Kevin Meerschaert

The bill uses $1.5 Billion in unspent funds from the previous fiscal year to increase the frequency of maintaining  city right-of-ways.

Another $300,000 in savings from a JEA customer fuel credit will be used to reactive streetlights that were shut off in industrial areas.

Businesses were concerned that shutting the lights off created a hazard for their employees. The city had also heard many complaints from residents about the condition of the right of ways.

Mayor Brown said "The legislation will have an immediate impact on the community"

Kevin Meerschaert/WJCT

UPDATE 6:30 PM From the City of Jacksonville Emergency Operations Center 

Jeffery Spear/In Good Taste Press

This week marks the 500th anniversary of Juan Ponce de Leon's arrival in Florida. On April 2nd, 1513, the land we know today was claimed as a Spanish territory - they named it La Florida, or "the land of flowers."

It's no coincidence, then, that author and food marketing expert Jeff Spear chose April 2nd to release his new book about the culinary history of northeast Florida, The First Coast Heritage Cookbook

Cyd Hoskinson / WJCT

Tobacco Free Florida Week turns five years old this month.

The program, Tobacco Free Florida, is a statewide cessation and prevention campaign that educates people about the dangers of smoking, and provides self-help resources for smokers who are trying to quit.

The Florida Department of Health reports the initiative, which is funded by the state's tobacco settlement fund, has helped more than 72,000 people quit smoking through its "Three Ways to Quit" program:

Kevin Meerschaert

Local officials kicked off National Community Development Week with the opening of an outdoor fitness zone at the James Weldon Johnson Family YMCA. 

Over $ 150,000 in Community Development Block Grant, or CDBG funds were used to purchase and install the exercise equipment along with a walking trail.

The city has received more than $373-million in CDBG funds since 1975. Last fiscal year the grants were used to help fund various projects from connecting 69 homes to water and sewer lines to the demolition and clearance of over 500 unsafe structure.

April is the "awareness month" for a lot of things. Autism, jazz appreciation, even Confederate history (only in the Southern states, of course.)

But April also marks Sexual Assault Awareness Month in the U.S., and since it's estimated 1 in 3 women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime, awareness is key.

We highlighted the topic on First Coast Connect by speaking with UNF criminology professor and author Dr. Jennifer Wesely. 

Sen. Aaron Bean Releases Alternative To Medicaid Expansion

Apr 1, 2013
State Sen. Aaron Bean (R), District 4.
Aaron Bean

In a possible alternative to expanding Medicaid, a Senate committee Tuesday is expected to take up a proposal aimed at helping low-income Floridians get health services --- while turning down billions of dollars in federal money.

The proposal, which Senate Health Policy Chairman Aaron Bean has helped draw up, would create the "Health Choice Plus Program" and would target adults whose incomes are below 100 percent of the federal poverty level.

Alimony-Overhaul Sponsor Proposes To Girlfriend At State Capitol

Apr 1, 2013
Florida House of Representatives

 Originally published Friday, March 29th, by WFSU.

Proposals before the Florida House Finance and Tax Subcommittee usually deal with property or retirement. But on Thursday the committee’s chairman, Rep. Ritch Workman, made a different kind of proposal, the kind that involves a diamond ring.

Amusement Park Proposed For Shipyards Property

Apr 1, 2013
Google Earth

Jacksonville's former shipyards could soon become a lot more exciting thanks to a plan that's quickly gaining traction with city officials.

Houston-based amusement park developer Funtime, Inc. is eyeing the 40-acre plot as the site of a new mixed-use development, with some resident, office and commercial space. The big attraction, though, will be an amusement park anchored by a 150-foot tall riverfront roller coaster.

Creator Series - J.A.M.S.

Mar 29, 2013
Alex Hayward/J.A.M.S.

Each week, WJCT's Rebecca Farmer highlights one of the creators participating in Jacksonville's One Spark Festival.

Cyd Hoskinson / WJCT

A bill making its way through the Florida legislature would require school districts to include parents in the creation of individual education plans (IEP) for their special needs children. 

The legislation would not only make school districts more responsive to parents, it would also give parents greater access to programs they think would do a better job of meeting their children's needs.

Duval County School Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti acknowledges the need for a law like this one.

Jacksonville Transportation Authority

  Residents from the three Southbank condominiums want to see the Jacksonville Transportation Authority change its plans for Riverplace Boulevard.

JTA has long planned to use Riverplace as part of its Bus Rapid Transit, or BRT system. The BRT uses dedicated bus lanes and technology that turns traffic lights green to quickly move passengers.

Kevin Meerschaert

Jacksonville City Council Vice-President Bill Gulliford says the city should dip into into the city’s banking fund to buy the Haverty-Godbold Building.

The building at the corner of Laura Street and Duval Street is owned by the Police and Fire Pension Board. The city rents the building to house the Public Defenders office.

The city can buy the property for $14 million in May - but if it doesn’t, it doesn't have another chance to purchase until 2017, and the cost would increase by about $1.5 million.

Beth Meckley

The Jacksonville City Council has approved legislation to restore some city services that were eliminated during last year’s budget process.

The frequency of city right-of-way maintenance will increase and streetlights in industrial areas will be reactivated.

The $1.45 million for the right of ways comes from discovered unspent funds from the previous fiscal year. The $300,000 to turn back on the streetlights comes from a JEA customer fuel credit.

Council members say the services are essential for the city to provide.

Cyd Hoskinson / WJCT

Things are slowly returning to normal in Brunswick, Georgia, where just one week ago a sleeping toddler was shot to death in his stroller as it was being pushed by his mother along a quiet residential street.

The fact that the crime took place in broad daylight brutally undermined the community's sense of safety and security.

National Humane Society

  Animal rights groups like the Humane Society say dogs left chained alone often become aggressive and dangerous.

In March of 2011, 17-month old Dylan Andres was mauled to death by a neighbor’s dog in Jacksonville when the toddler wandered into their yard.

He had walked away from his mother as she was unloading groceries from the car. The neighbor’s rottweiler had been chained to a pole while owner was away.

Animal rights group have been pushing for legislation to ban unattended dog tethering.

AroundMe / aroundmeapp.com

Are you doing some traveling this Spring? You may want to make sure you have your smart phone handy.

As Jax Computer Chic Elizabeth Pampalone told us in this week's Tech Tuesday segment on First Coast Connect, there are many new apps that can help to make your trip easier. If you're feeling adventurous, there are also some that help you explore new areas.

State lawmakers in Tallahassee are fast-tracking through the Legislature a proposal that would essentially eliminate permanent alimony in Florida, and also, presume most child custody arrangements begin with a 50-50 timesharing arrangement.

Senate Bill 718 does set guidelines for alimony based on the length of marriages. But permanent alimony would be virtually done away with, and instead would only last for a certain period of time, which would vary based on the circumstances of the divorce.

Embraer

Hundreds of local and state officials gathered today for the ribbon cutting of Brazil-based Embraer’s aircraft assembly facility at Jacksonville International Airport.

The A-29 Super Tucanos will be used by the U-S Air Force in Afghanistan.

The aircraft will be used to conduct advanced flight training, aerial reconnaissance and light air support operations.

Norma Lopez Molina/Orlando Magazine

Well-known personal injury lawyer John Morgan, of the Lake Mary-based law firm Morgan & Morgan, has joined the campaign to legalize marijuana for medical use in the Sunshine State.

F-DOT

 St. Johns County residents can hear next month the latest information about the proposal to extend State Route - 9B from I-95 to the St. Johns Parkway.

The first two legs of 9B will run from I-295 to I-95 in Duval County.

According to Florida Department of Transportation (F-DOT) reports, there has been a need for a limited access highway in the area since the mid-70’s.

You opted for that little bag of Baked Lays at lunch instead of the full-fat version, and felt virtuous. It's the healthier choice, right?

Not necessarily.  Some foods may LOOK healthy, but understanding how food products are made and reading labels closely (one hint: the less ingredients, the better) is key to understanding what's truly good for you.

Florida Times-Union

Three Florida teams have made it to college basketball's Sweet 16. 

The University of Florida made it to their third consecutive Sweet 16 appearance for the first time in school history, but no one could have guessed that the Gators would be sharing that stage with a first-time NCAA tournament team from their own backyard.

Bob Self/Florida Times-Union

It's been a little more than a year since billionaire Shahid Khan purchased the Jacksonville Jaguars for $770 million.

The purchase made the Pakistani-born businessman the first NFL team owner of an ethnic minority, and an instant celebrity here in Jacksonville. It also thrust him into the national spotlight with a profile on CBS's 60 Minutes, and a cover story in Forbes naming him the "new face of the American dream."

Kevin Meerschaert

    Business leaders and elected officials from across Northeast Florida gathered today for an economic summit hosted by Jax Chamber.

Much of the discussion was about how the counties can work together to maintain a strong business climate.

Officials from six area counties talked about the budget problems they had to face the past few years, but all say things are now starting to turn around.

One of the main issues was transportation and the need to work together to get major projects funded and built.

Jaxport

    Korea-based Hanjin shipping will not be building a terminal at Jaxport.

    Port officials say it was a mutual decision based on changes in the world economy.

Instead of building a terminal, Hanjin will be part of an alliance of Asian shipping lines using Jaxport on a rotating basis.

Through this agreement, a total of fifteen carriers with service between the East Coast and Asia will do business in Jacksonville.

They were the notorious slave ships ferrying Africans from their homeland into bondage on U.S. shores.

The Middle Passage, or the route the slave ships took, brought more than 10 million people to America who would become slaves. Two million more died in the ocean crossing. 

The Middle Passage Project is now working to place historic markers around the Florida coast, at ports where the slave ships docked. Future sites of remembrance include Amelia Island and St. Augustine.

Kevin Meerschaert

Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown has signed into law legislation to reinvest 11-million dollars for economic projects.

Nine-million will be allocated for development in the downtown area.

The other two million will be used for projects elsewhere in the city.

The money comes from savings after refinancing bonds.

Brown says the dollars will be used to encourage private investment in Jacksonville.

Bob Self/Florida Times-Union

The once gray storefront of Chamblin's Uptown bookstore in downtown is getting a splash of color thanks to local artist Shaun Thurston - a process captured in this article by the Florida Times-Union.

NASA

According to the American Geophysical Union

Voyager 1, launched 35 years ago, has left the solar system. 

However NASA says its not quite yet out of the neighborhood.

NASA has a nice web site where you can see photos and track where the Voyager space crafts are now. 

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