News

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.

Creator Series: BLOOM Design Hostel

Apr 3, 2013
Emily Moody / BLOOM

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

Local business owner Emily Moody’s creation is the BLOOM Design Hostel.

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

Tigers are coming back to the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.

Zoo officials broke ground on the new $9.5 million Tiger Exhibit today thanks in part to a $3-million donation from former Jaguars owners Wayne and Dolores Barr Weaver.

The exhibit will include at least six tigers including a pair of Sumatran tigers that will be used for breeding.

Other Asian animals in the exhibit will include critically endangered Viscayna warty and babirusa pigs, Asian small-clawed otters and wrinkled and wreathed hornbills.

Hens in Jax

Advocates of urban agriculture in Jacksonville are pressing the City Council not to chicken out (author's note: I had to do it) and to legalize domestic hens in residential areas.

A group called Hens in Jax is leading the charge.

CBS News

Following a cover story in Forbes last month, Jaguars owner Shahid Khan stopped by CBS's This Morning today to discuss his life story.

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.

Pages