News

Cyd Hoskinson

U-S Senator Bill Nelson says he's co-sponsored a bipartisan bill that would prevent the Federal Aviation Administration from closing nearly 150 air traffic control towers around the country, including 14 in Florida.

Nelson was in Jacksonville on Friday meeting with regional airport officials.       

One airport on the FAA's list is the Northeast Florida Regional Airport in St. Augustine.

Cyd Hoskinson / WJCT

The University of North Florida is throwing itself a big party tonight to celebrate the success of a 4-year long fundraising campaign that exceeded its goal by $20 million. 

The goal of UNF’s Power of Transformation fundraiser was to raise $110 million by the end of 2012.  University President John Delaney says it was a gamble.

"We announced in 2009 that we were going to kick off a capital campaign and we debated - because that was in the throes of the recession - whether or not we should go forward with it."

David Luckin

There is plenty to do in the Jacksonville area this weekend - here are a few suggestions. Don't forget your sunscreen if you're outdoors!

1. Shannon Miller Lifestyle Women's 5K Run/Walk & Children's 1 Mile Fun Run - Jacksonville Landing,  Saturday April 13, 8:00am

2. Jacksonville and the World Arts Film Festival at the Museum Of Contemporary Art - Saturday/Sunday April 13-14, 2013 

WLRN

The Florida House has passed a bill that would preempt local living wage ordinances and a similar version is making its way through the Senate.

The House measure would not allow local governments to mandate that their vendors pay employees more than a set minimum or provide them with special work-related benefits.

Working parents know the drill. Every spring it's a scramble to find quality, affordable summer camps for their kids. The best camps fill up quickly, cost a lot, and it can be a logistical nightmare to try to schedule your kids in several different camps that fit their interests over the long summer break.

Kevin Meerschaert

More awareness, less stigmatism and learning the warning signs are some of the ways people can help work to reduce the number of suicides by veterans.

According to a report by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 22 veteran suicides occur every day nationwide.

The City of Jacksonville's Military Affairs, Veterans and Disabled Services department teamed with the University of North Florida to talk about the problem at the 2013 Veterans Suicide Awareness and Prevention Summit.

Many told their stories about losing friends and relatives to suicide.

Will Dickey / The Florida Times-Union

Jacksonville's inaugural One Spark Festival is set spark up downtown next week, and no one's happier about it than financial backer Peter Rummell.

The former CEO of the city's St. Joe Company says he's hopeful One Spark will become synonymous with the First Coast.

"You think of the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, or SXSW in Austin, Texas," says Rummell. "This event has that same potential."

The $74.3 billion budget passed by the Florida Senate this week includes $10.4 million for St. Johns River restoration, $144 million for UNF, and $1 million for the St. John River Ferry.

Cyd Hoskinson / WJCT

Denver, Colorado-based Community Development Institute today took over the day-to-day management of Jacksonville's Head Start and Early Head Start programs.

The programs had been run by the Jacksonville Urban League until yesterday, when the federal Office of Head Start suspended the organization for a minimum of thirty days citing a pattern of safety violations at some of the child-development centers.

Kevin Meerschaert

The following is a reporter's log from WJCT senior staff reporter Kevin Meerschaert, detailing his experience visiting two internet cafes after Governor Rick Scott signed a bill to close those establishments in the state.

Only a few minutes after news got out that Governor Rick Scott had signed the bill, about a half dozen women were walking out of the Hardwired Internet Cafe on the Southbank Riverwalk in Downtown Jacksonville. One turned and locked the door. The sign that said the cafe was open 24-hours a day/7 days a week remained. 

Neptune Beach City Buildings Go Green

Apr 10, 2013
City of Neptune Beach

Hardly anyone looks forward to opening up their electric bill at the end of the month, but city leaders in Neptune Beach were pleasantly surprised with a recent statement.

The charge was just $6.15.

Thanks to a grant from the U.S Department of Energy, the city was able to install solar panels on its government buildings, cutting down on the amount of electricity needed to power the facilities. The project was finished last November, and Neptune Beach mayor Harriet Pruitt says she's pleased that it's been successful.

Kevin Meerschaert

Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown joined city employees and volunteers Tuesday to clean up the area around the historic baseball park.

It was part of the first Mayors Day of Recognition for National Service. Over 800 Mayors from around the country participated in similar events encouraging citizens to give back to their communities.

James P. Small Park was selected for his historic significance.   Open in 1912 and rebuilt in 1936 it served as Jacksonville's primary baseball park until Wolfson Stadium was built in 1954.

State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory

Decades before a certain span in Alaska won the dubious honor, a bridge project in Jacksonville was  tagged a "bridge to nowhere."

The Mathews Bridge, which opened to traffic in the spring of 1953, was initially derided by skeptics, who said no one would use it.

Before the bridge was built, the Arlington neighborhood was accessible to many only by ferry.

Creator Series: MomentStrong

Apr 10, 2013
Liz Pierce / Moment Strong

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

Liz Pierce and her partners have created MomentStrong, a mobile app designed to help users with health and wellness issues such as dieting, smoking, drinking, exercise or stress.

Kevin Meerschaert

    The Jacksonville City Council has approved an 18-month sliding reduction of the city’s mobility fee.   

    The fee is paid based on a formula of how much a new development is expected to affect transportation.    

    For the next nine months 75-percent of the fee will be waived. The waiver falls to 50-percent for the six months after that, and then 25-percent for the final three months of the waiver.

Kevin Meerschaert

After repeated disruptions at Tuesday nights city council meeting by supporters of concerts at Metropolitan Park, Council President Bill Bishop cleared the room.

During public comment, "public displays" like signs, boos, shouting and applause are prohibited under council rules.

The public was sent out of council chambers into the Lynwood Roberts and Donald Davis rooms and brought in to speak three at a time.

After about 90 minutes, Bishop let everybody back in, but reminded them to abide by  the rules.

Tuesday, the Federal Government suspended the Jacksonville Urban League's management of Head Start and Early Head Start programs, citing potential health and safety risks for children and staff.

The decision came after Florida Department of Children and Families Northeast Regional Director David J. Abramowitz sent a letter to Urban League president Richard Danford, detailing a "consistent pattern of licensing violations indicating a disregard for the wellbeing of the children the facilities are to serve."

This year’s City of Jacksonville Veterans Summit will focus on the growing problem of veterans’ suicides.

According to a recent U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs study, an American veteran commits suicide once every 65 minutes in this country - about 22 per day.

Here on the First Coast, about 25% of the population is either active or retired military, so this is a serious public health and policy issue.

Cyd Hoskinson / WJCT

89.9 WJCT is participating in the American Graduate project supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.  The goal of American Graduate is to reverse the national drop out crisis by identifying and then addressing the factors that cause students to leave school early.

"I’m Vivica Brown.  I’m the principal over our youth development programs as well as Weldon Academy which is at the old James Weldon Johnson Building.

File photo

It could be the financial windfall that keeps the St. Johns River Ferry running.

State Senator Aaron Bean and State Representative Janet Adkins have requested up to $1.5 million be set aside in the state’s 2014 budget to keep the ferry afloat.

The funds would be used for repairs and maintenance while the boats are in dry dock.

Jacksonville Suns

1. The Jacksonville Suns continue their quest for a sixth Southern League title tonight as they face off against the Jackson Generals at 7pm at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. Check out their full 2013 schedule here.
 

Cyd Hoskinson / WJCT

Nearly a thousand people, the vast majority of them women, gathered at the University of North Florida’s Fine Arts Center for the second annual Generation W Conference today.

The gathering was a veritable empowerment zone for women of all ages: from those just starting out in life to those who'd been there, done that and were ready to move on to something new.

Generation W founder Donna Orender:

"It starts with yourself.  You have to believe you have the capability."

Mark Garlick -Science Photo Library via New Scientist

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson says when President Barack Obama's proposed federal budget is released next week it will include about $100 million to jump start a program scientists say is the next step towards establishing a permanent space colony.

The plan is for NASA to capture an  asteroid with a robotic spacecraft and tow it back toward Earth where it can be placed in orbit around the moon.

Then, astronauts aboard an Orion capsule, powered into space by a new monster rocket, would travel to the asteroid.  

Laney Griner

If you spend any time on the Internet, you probably recognize the photo of the chubby-cheeked toddler pumping his fist with a look of smug satisfaction.

It turns out, that picture was taken on Ponte Vedra Beach. Jacksonville native Laney Griner, 37, took the photo of her then 11-month old son, Sammy, in 2007.

Kevin Meerschaert

According to a study released in February by The U-S Department of Veterans Affairs an estimated  22 veterans commit suicide every day.

In Florida, one out of four suicides is committed by a veteran. 

Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown says the suicide rate among veterans is astounding. "I cannot - we cannot - stand by and watch this number tick any higher. These men and women are the defenders of our freedom. It's our responsibility to take action."

A week after saying that marriage should be between a man and a woman, Senator Bill Nelson has changed his position on gay marriage. "The civil rights and responsibilities for one must pertain to all," says Nelson. "Thus, to discriminate against one class and not another is wrong for me."

Kevin Meerschaert

The Jacksonville City Council is expected to vote on emergency legislation Tuesday night to grant the noise waiver while also monitoring of decibel levels from the concert at Metropolitan Park and nearby neighborhoods.

The next concert scheduled to take place at Met Park is the Welcome to Rockville event.

Some neighbors across the St. Johns River have complained about concerts  at Metropolitan Park being too loud.

Lamborghini Sold At JSO Auction

Apr 4, 2013
Chris Mills

With all of the expensive cars and luxurious jewelry lined up, it looked like an episode of MTV Cribs, but it was more like an episode of Cops.

Today, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office held an auction selling at least 30 vehicles and thousands of dollars in jewelry that was once owned by convicted felons.

The Sheriff’s Office has several car and jewelry auctions each year to raise money for various programs and investigations the Sheriff’s Office are working on.

Florida Times-Union

The Financial News & Daily Record and the Florida Times-Union are reporting that real estate trust firm SouthEast Holdings has bought the old Barnett Bank and the historic Laura Street Trio buildings in Downtown for $3 million. Financial backing for purchase came from Stache Investments Corp, headed by Jaguars owner Shahid Khan.

Cyd Hoskinson / WJCT

School Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti’s plan to create what he calls "a college going culture" in each of Duval County's public high schools may have to be scaled back if state lawmakers get their way.

Vitti wants more students to participate in the dual enrollment program where students can take college classes and earn college credits for free while they're still in high school.

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