Sydney Boles

Newsletter Editor/Community Engagement Editor

Sydney is WJCT's Newsletter and Engagement Editor, and she's joining WJCT News from Ohio Valley ReSource, a collaborative of NPR stations covering Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia; where she was a producer and reporter, covering economic issues in the Appalachian coalfields.

Sydney is from upstate New York and received a Masters of Journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. 

Her bylines include NPR, the Ohio Valley ReSource, Rolling Stone Magazine, and Southerly Magazine.  

Sydney Boles can be reached via email at sboles@wjct.org, or on Twitter at @sydneyboles.

Ways to Connect

Gold Rush Inn
News4Jax

The Jacksonville City Council has passed a bill to create a new code enforcement board with the power to shut down businesses deemed a public nuisance. 

If signed by Mayor Lenny Curry, the bill would create a nine-member review board will have the power to declare a business or property a public nuisance and then work with the property owners to address the issues. 

The board will also have the authority to issue fines and eventually shut down businesses that don’t comply. 

Riverside business owners were told construction will take two weeks.
Joslyn Simmons / WJCT

Jacksonville may impose a tax on gasoline to fund up to $930 million in improvements to roadways, drainage and transit, according to WJCT News partner The Florida Times-Union, which reported Wednesday that Mayor Lenny Curry has been meeting with City Council members.

A city excavator moves piles of trash at the LaVilla tent tity Tuesday.
Sydney Boles / WJCT News

Clad all in black, including a black face mask, a man named Daryl was handing out trash bags to the residents of the tent city that occupies a LaVilla block near Downtown Jacksonville Tuesday morning.

Closed sign
Liz Ferla via Flickr

The Northeast Florida Regional Council says the area ended 2020 with a GDP that was 3.4% lower than 2019’s. The region lost more than 40,000 jobs during the pandemic. But with more residents of the First Coast receiving their coronavirus vaccines, the economy is expected to start returning to normal. 

Gov. Ron DeSantis in Ocala
Courtesy Gov. Ron DeSantis

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis confirmed Friday he will lower the age requirement to receive the coronavirus vaccine some time in March.

Fencing is going up around the Lavilla tent city.
Sydney Boles / WJCT News

Citing health and safety violations, the city of Jacksonville is fencing off a LaVilla block near Downtown where homeless people have been living in an informal tent city. 

Hurricane Irma damage
GERALD HERBERT / ASSOCIATED PRESS

A group of nonprofit organizations, businesses and nonprofit organizations aimed at ramping up permanent disaster response in Duval County shared its progress Thursday with the Resilient Jax working group. 

Gateway Town Center Vaccination Site
Sydney Boles / WJCT News

A federally run COVID-19 vaccination site opened Wednesday at Gateway Town Center on the Northside. The site is operated by FEMA, but the shots are being administered by 139 military personnel, many of them from Naval Hospital Jacksonville.

Brooklyn Owen is a transgender activist from Jacksonville.
Brooklyn Owen

The 2021 Florida Legislative Session is just getting underway, but candidates for state senate are already beginning to plan for the next election in 2022. The first candidate to file for District 6, which includes Jacksonville, is 20-year-old Brooklyn Owen, who is transgender. 

What to do with this statue of Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith remains in limbo.
News Service of Florida

Kirby-Smith Middle School community members have moved a step closer to potentially choosing a new name for the school. 

Democratic Party Chair Daniel Henry
DUVAL COUNTY DEMS

Duval County Democratic Party Chair Daniel Henry confirmed Monday that a complaint has been filed against him by fellow Democrat, Jacksonville City Councilman Garrett Dennis. 

Melanin Market
Melanin Market

Jacksonville's largest outdoor marketplace showcasing Black-owned businesses, arts, and culture is back this Saturday, February 27. 

News4Jax

A new coronavirus vaccination site is opening in Jacksonville at Edward Waters College. The Historically Black College will distribute about 200 doses of the Moderna vaccine per day and will prioritize residents of the New Town neighborhood where the school is located. 

St. Augustine's City Hall is pictured during Nights of Lights.
BILL BORTZFIELD / WJCT NEWS

The St. Augustine City Commission voted Tuesday to begin allowing public gatherings starting this spring. Events are slated to include arts shows, athletic events and music festivals. 

News4Jax

The Jacksonville City Council plans to hold a public meeting Thursday to discuss access to nutritious food in the New Town neighborhood. 

The meeting comes following reporting from WJCT news partner The Florida Times-Union, which revealed the lengths that residents of the northside neighborhood must go to reach a grocery store. 

National Humane Society

A bill in a Tallahassee house committee would increase penalties for leaving dogs tethered and unattended in Florida. 

File photo of Mayor Lenny Curry.
Sydney Boles / WJCT News

The city of Jacksonville has received $28.9 million from the Federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program to go towards rent and utility payments for struggling families. 

A volunteer at a drive through coronavirus testing site.
Walmart

The Biden Administration announced Friday it would partner with Florida to open four new community vaccination centers, one of which will be in Jacksonville.

File photo of a food distribution event.
LYNNE SLADKY / ASSOCIATED PRESS

Between March and November of 2020, the nonprofit food distribution organization Farm Share handed out more than a hundred-million pounds of food across the Sunshine State.

Firefighters pose at a previous year's "Fight for Air Challenge" event
American Lung Association

On March 27, roughly 40 firefighters are set to climb the stairs of Jacksonville’s TIAA Bank Field to raise awareness about cancer among firefighters. 

File photo of a food distribution event.
LYNNE SLADKY / ASSOCIATED PRESS

Multiple food nonprofits are distributing free produce and non-perishables in the Jacksonville area this week for people experiencing food insecurity.

Jacksonville Jaguars / Via Jacksonville Daily Record

The Jacksonville Downtown Investment Authority voted unanimously Wednesday to approve environmental exploration on land next to Metropolitan park by Jaguars owner Shad Khan’s development company, Iguana Investments.

The tent city in Jacksonville's LaVilla neighborhood near Downtown is pictured on Tuesday.
Sydney Boles / WJCT News

The city of Jacksonville has successfully relocated 48 people from a Downtown tent city into temporary shelters following the announcement of a major rehousing initiative, but a Downtown encampment remains.

A person receives a vaccine shot in this file photo.
LYNNE SLADKY / ASSOCIATED PRESS

African Americans make up 29% of the population in Duval County, but just 14% of vaccinations, according to the latest numbers from the state’s Department of Health (DOH). 

That’s an improvement from two weeks ago, when African Americans made up 11% of vaccine recipients. 

The Bee Friends Farm store is opening in Murray Hill in late February.
Bee Friends Farm

The Jacksonville-based Bee Friends Farm is expanding, with a new brick-and-mortar store opening later this month. 

Girls Inc. Participants
Girls Inc.

Amber Ferrell, 17, is a varsity cheerleader, a member of the National Honors Society, and among the top in her class at Jacksonville’s William M. Raines High School. She attributes her achievements to her own hard work, of course, but also to an afterschool program called Girls, Inc. 

UF Health Campus
UF Health Jacksonville

The CEO of UF Health Jacksonville said Thursday it may be a few weeks before his hospital  receives more doses of coronavirus vaccines. 

BILL BORTZFIELD / WJCT NEWS

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry announced Thursday a $26.8 million investment towards phasing out septic tanks in three Northside neighborhoods. It’s on top of a $30 million investment made in 2016, and still far short of estimates of the project’s total cost. 

In this Feb. 8, 2021, file photo, Florida seniors have their temperatures taken before receiving the second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Jackson Health System in Miami.
Marta Lavindier / Associated Press

With new vaccine sites opening and information evolving, here’s a current rundown of where shots are available throughout the First Coast along with how to make an appointment.

City Council members met to discuss hate speech in city hall after a Jacksonville resident flashed what can be interpreted as a hate symbol in a recent council meeting.
Sydney Boles / WJCT News

Jacksonville City Council members are holding a series of conversations after a speaker at a recent council meeting flashed a hand gesture that is associated with white supremacists. 

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