Ryan Benk

REPORTER / HOST "Indie Endeavour"

Ryan Benk is a former WJCT News reporter who joined the station in 2015 after working as a news researcher and reporter for NPR affiliate WFSU in Tallahassee.

Originally from Miami, he graduated with a bachelor's in English literature from Florida State University. During his time in Tallahassee, Ryan also worked as a policy and research analyst for legislative-research firm LobbyTools.

Ryan left WJCT News in August 2018 to explore new pursuits. 

photos
Ryan Benk / WJCT News

Mental health professionals, advocates and those living with mental illness from across Florida converged at the Hyatt Hotel in Downtown Jacksonville this week.


Attendees of the Florida Mental Health Summit are hoping state lawmakers will reform mental health-care.

Ryan Benk / WJCT News

Amelia Island broke tourism records in July. Hotels and resorts are reporting a 4-percent increase in vacationers over last year.

The tourism hot spot an hour’s drive north of Jacksonville is contributing to another record-setting year for Florida.

Just between April and June, more than 160,000 visitors stayed in Amelia Island.

Ryan Benk / WJCT News

St. Johns River advocates and museum goers attended a first-of-its-kind symposium Saturday at Jacksonville's Museum of Science and History.

The event was focused on shaping the next generation of river enthusiasts.

Author and self-described springs advocate Rick Kilby took the older crowd back to a simpler time, when Kilby said the springs surrounding the St. Johns River were as clear as the memories he has of summer swimming trips. Since then, he said Florida has been too successful at attracting new residents.

AAA

A recent AAA survey found that close to half of Florida residents are not prepared for a possible hurricane.

The news comes as the first named storm of the Atlantic Hurricane Season barrels toward the Caribbean.

Ryan Benk / WJCT News

Ten pastors and their flocks will march along one of Jacksonville’s deadliest streets to pass out water bottles in the Saturday sun.

Organizers are hoping the gesture helps quench the violence plaguing their community.

Standing among hundreds of water bottles bearing the phrase “quench the violence,” on Thursday, 10 prominent Jacksonville preachers announced they'll take to the streets to plead for peace this weekend.

Ryan Benk / WJCT News

Today in Jacksonville, six alleged victims of childhood sexual abuse announced they are suing their former martial arts instructor decades after the alleged abuse occurred.

The suit would have impossible before a new Georgia law went into effect.

 


Jacksonville Humane Society

The city of Jacksonville Beach has banned the sale of cats and dogs that come from so-called puppy mills.

 

Jacksonville Beach is the 37th city in Florida to pass similar ordinances.

U.S. Navy

Three U.S. Navy submarines have been cleared for duty after a Jacksonville company performed unauthorized repairs on them.

Navy officials took the USS Minnesota, USS North Dakota and USS John Warner out of service after it discovered the company NuFlow had modified parts used in the fast-attack subs’ propulsion systems.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry
Shannon LeDuke / WJCT

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry says he opposes a draft water plan that includes a possible withdrawal of water from the St. Johns River.

The draft plan is part of a larger strategy to deal with a projected shortfall in central Florida drinking water.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry sent a letter opposing the St. Johns River withdrawals to the Central Florida Water Initiative, a consortium of water managers and stakeholders, the last day of extended public comment on its draft plan.

Rockefeller Foundation

The city of Jacksonville plans to participate in the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities program.

Mayor Lenny Curry plans to finalize the distinction applied for by former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown.

The Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities initiative is an effort to identify cities that show great resilience in the face of economic, social and environmental catastrophes, but may need some extra help to keep it up.

Curry’s spokesman Bill Spann says the new mayor is fully committed to the project.

Sandra Friend / US Department of Agriculture - Forest Service

The Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce is pulling its support for a an environmental offset sought by the St. Johns Riverkeeper.

The agreement included plans to breach the Rodman Dam in Putnam County in exchange for deepening the St. Johns River in Jacksonville.

 

Last week, the Riverkeeper announced plans to sue over the proposed St. Johns River dredging. Almost immediately, the JAX Chamber told the Florida Times-Union it no longer supports a compromise reached with the Riverkeeper eight months ago. St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman says the news came as a shock.

Kirk Olson / Ghost Crab

The health of the St. Johns River is generally improving, but scientists are concerned about some recent negative trends. Those are the takeaways from this year’s State of the River Report, presented Friday morning at the University of North Florida.

Lead scientists Radha Pyati and Lucinda Sonnenberg presented findings to a crowded ballroom at UNF’s Environmental Symposium. Sonnenberg, Director of the Millar Wilson Laboratory at JU, says the main takeaway is the need for more data.

U.S. Navy / Flickr

U.S. Navy officials are investigating a Jacksonville-based company after it says the vendor made unauthorized repairs to parts for three nuclear submarines.

 

The Navy says incorrect welding was discovered during routine checks to the subs’ propulsion systems.

As our partners News4Jax report, Jacksonville-based company NuFlo is under investigation for making unauthorized repairs to pipes that funnel steam in the submarines’ propulsion systems.

Tiphne Hollis Foundation / Facebook

Five years after the shooting death of 16-year-old Tiphne Hollis in Jacksonville, her family is still seeking justice.

 

Her mother, along with the help of the foundation started in her daughter’s name, continues to canvass the community to keep awareness alive.

Tiphne Hollis was murdered while riding in the backseat of a car in Jacksonville’s Westside in March of 2010. Her mother, Shanda Whitaker-Ward, says it feels like she lost her daughter just yesterday.

Peter Haden / WJCT

The St. Johns Riverkeeper announced Tuesday it plans to sue the Army Corps of Engineers over its proposal to deepen the St. Johns River.

The Army Corps of Engineers says dredging the St. Johns River is a positive economic move for Jacksonville, but St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman says its plan ignores the project’s deep environmental impact.

Baptist Clay Medical Campus

Baptist Health is asking Florida healthcare regulators for permission to build a 100-bed hospital in Clay County.

A county-wide assessment by the Health Planning Council of Northeast Florida shows access to healthcare is severely lacking in the area.

Baptist is proposing a facility that would employ around 400 people and serve 100 patients. It would be on the same property where the company first set up shop about two years ago.

Station Four

A large donation from Jacksonville philanthropists is helping Rotary International toward its goal of eradicating polio.

On Monday at the Omni hotel, former Northeast Florida Rotary Governor Tommy Grimes announced a very generous gift.

“Delores Barr Weaver and J. Wayne Weaver have made a $250,000 donation to the eradication of polio,” Gilmore said.

Tuesday marks an entire year since Africa last reported a case of the disease.

It’s a warm Friday afternoon on Florida State University’s campus in Tallahassee. Maintenance workers are cleaning the sidewalks with pressure washers in front of one of the school’s campus coffee shops. Students here are reacting to the university’s attempt to “clean up” its iconic Osceola emblem.

Sophomore Carlene Gonzalez-Brown isn’t sure why the university felt the need to change the logo. She feels more emotionally connected to the classic Osceola head but she admits ultimately what and where she studies is more important than the logo that represents the school.

Florida lawmakers on the Senate Criminal Justice Committee are preparing legislation to patch some of the holes in the state’s criminal justice system that led to the premature release of two Franklin County inmates. The Florida Department of Corrections, Law Enforcement and the Clerks of Court all agree – one of the major problems with the state’s prisoner release procedure is lack of uniformity.

Unlike their national counterparts, Florida State Parks are staying open even though Congress failed to pass a budget Monday. But, that doesn’t mean state parks will be immune to the squeeze of a federal government shutdown.

After a newspaper’s investigative series questioned the effectiveness of Florida’s Sexually Violent Predator Program, the Department of Children and Families commissioned an independent study to gauge its effectiveness. The results of that study were debated by lawmakers and policy experts during a joint Senate session Tuesday.

Monday marked the 15th year the state of Florida has memorialized kids who went missing in the Sunshine State. Officials say the number of missing children is receding but there’s more work to be done.

Florida’s fishing industry is one of the largest in the country and that includes fishing tourism. A new study shows the tourism has an almost $5 billion economic impact in the state.

Pages