Claire Heddles

REPORTER

Claire joined WJCT as a reporter in August 2021. She was previously the local host of NPR's Morning Edition ​at WUOT in Knoxville, Tennessee. During her time in East Tennessee, her coverage of the COVID pandemic earned a Public Media Journalists’ Association award for investigative reporting.

Claire grew up in the desert city of Tucson, Arizona and received a master’s in journalism from the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. As a student, her work with Al Jazeera's Contrast VR won a Webby award. After graduation, Claire worked at NPR as a national desk intern.

Claire’s work has aired nationally on NPR’s All Things Considered, and she has bylines at NPR, The Advocate Magazine and Truthout.

Outside of reporting, Claire enjoys trying new recipes and restaurants around Jacksonville, throwing pottery and spending time outdoors. You can contact Claire with tips, story ideas or comments at cheddles@wjct.org or on Twitter @claireheddles.

Ways to Connect

Claire Heddles / WJCT News

Rosemary Celenza bought her home on Broward Point peninsula 15 years ago, after realizing her dream of a waterfront home was impossible in the southern parts of the city where she had been living.

Photo of woman cleaning a table in a classroom
JON SUPER / ASSOCIATED PRESS

The St. Johns County School District’s mask mandate for employees and visitors expired Thursday, and Superintendent Tim Forson has not moved to extend it. 

Claire Heddles / WJCT News

Five of the city’s council members OK’d the latest draft of Jacksonville’s redrawn voting districts on Wednesday, and at least six more council members will take up the map Thursday afternoon. The new maps are set to take effect by next April

Bits of furniture, garbage cans overflowing
Fish Island Preserve

For those waiting weeks for weeks for yard waste to be picked up, help could be on the way. The Jacksonville City Council Finance Committee on Tuesday approved allocating $4 million for trash pickup from the city’s federal COVID relief dollars. 

Claire Heddles / WJCT News

Jacksonville’s main library Downtown is closed indefinitely “for upgrades” as it hosts the city’s state-run COVID antibody treatment clinic. 

MATT SLOCUM / ASSOCIATED PRESS

Duval County’s COVID testing positivity rate fell to 10.6% last week, the lowest rate in almost three months. The county-wide positivity rate is inching closer to the 8% threshold set by the Duval County School Board for lifting the district’s student mask mandate. 

Public Domain

JEA’s Board of Directors approved a $3 million purchase of land on Jacksonville’s Southside to build a water purification testing facility. The facility is expected to cost $40 million and will include a visitor center, where the city-owned utility will try to sell the public on the idea of drinking water that was formerly sewage.

At least 270 people have died from overdoses so far this year in Jacksonville; 271 people had died from an overdose at the same point last year

Claire Heddles / WJCT News

About 25 people gathered in front of City Hall ahead of Tuesday’s Jacksonville City Council meeting to remind Mayor Lenny Curry of his promise more than a year ago to remove the Monument to the Women of the Confederacy in Springfield Park. 

News Service of Florida

Despite his threat to withhold about $22,000 a month from Duval County Public Schools, Florida’s Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran has not yet withheld any state funds from the district in response to its student mask mandate.

Sky LeBron / WJCT News

The sponsor of a citizen review board proposal said to expect a rewritten version and Jacksonville City Council vote by the end of 2021. Councilman Garrett Dennis introduced the citizen review board ordinance almost a year ago, proposing a council-appointed board to review police misconduct claims after JSO’s internal investigations end. 

KATHERINE HOBBS / WJCT NEWS

Thursday marks one month since a free, state-run monoclonal antibody treatment clinic opened in Jacksonville. As of Wednesday, 5,603 people have been treated between the city’s original Bay Street location and its current Downtown Public Library location.

Jacksonville City Hall
Brendan Rivers / WJCT News

Jacksonville City Council will vote this month on the proposed spending plan for the upcoming year. Council is set to discuss the budget Sept. 14 and finalize it Sept. 28 before the new fiscal year starts Oct. 1.  

Steinmetz / Submitted

A longstanding women’s surf competition is coming to Jacksonville Beach this fall. The Super Girl Surf Pro contest has taken place in San Diego the last 15 years and is a World Surf League qualifying series competition. This is the first time the contest is coming to the East Coast.

Heather Prediletto / Submitted

St. Johns County Schools had recorded 881 COVID cases as of Thursday — more than 25 times the number of cases in the district after the first 14 school days of the 2020 school year. By the end of the third week of 2020-2021, just 35 students and staff had tested positive.

SYDNEY BOLES / WJCT News

Duval County school district officials are standing firm on the district’s emergency mask mandate, despite the Florida education commissioner’s threat to withhold $22,000 dollars a month in state funds.

Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran
Florida House of Representatives

The Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) Board could lose board funding as soon as Thursday, according to a letter sent to Duval County Schools officials by Florida’s education commissioner.

Claire Heddles / WJCT News

Gov. Ron DeSantis told reporters in Jacksonville Monday that his office plans to appeal Friday’s court ruling that school districts can require masks.

Outside of the Duval County Public Schools building
Sky Lebron / WJCT News

There have been 1,187 reported COVID cases at Duval County Public Schools since the start of the school year, but that number does not include cases at the district’s public charter schools. COVID cases district-wide are well over 1,200 when including the numbers reported by the handful of charter schools that share their data.

AP Photo/John Minchillo

The city-funded Neptune Beach testing site ran out of rapid COVID tests Tuesday through Wednesday, just two weeks after Jacksonville City Council allocated $4 million in American Rescue Plan dollars to cover free testing countywide.

Claire Heddles / WJCT

Jacksonville officials won’t be rushing the redistricting process after receiving Census Bureau data four months later than usual. In a meeting Tuesday, the City Council’s redistricting committee approved a timeline for Jacksonville to have new voting districts by mid-April, after the next School Board election in March.

Duval County Public Schools headquarters
CYD HOSKINSON / WJCT NEWS

At least 3,586 students have opted for virtual learning this school year, according to a Duval County Public Schools (DCPC) spokesperson. This number is expected to continue climbing as the district processes applications from a brief open enrollment period last week. More than 1,400 students enrolled in Duval Virtual Instruction Academy (DVIA) before the school year started August 10.