First Coast Connect With Melissa Ross

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Hosted by Melissa Ross, First Coast Connect is an hour-long call-in program that features local newsmakers, civic and community leaders, artists and people planning a variety of events across Northeast Florida, along with a weekly roundtable of local journalists.

First Coast Connect host Melissa Ross

First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross is sponsored in part by Baptist Health and North Florida TPO.

The monthly First Coast Success segment is sponsored in part by Iberiabank.

Sign up for "What's Good Wednesdays!" Get fresh, sparkling midweek updates and ramblings from Melissa Ross and First Coast Connect producer Heather Schatz every Wednesday afternoon.

The monthly First Coast Connect Book Club is hosted by WJCT contributor Stacey Goldring.


Fletcher High School and Douglas Anderson School of the Arts will remain closed thru at least next week, due to outbreaks of COVID-19. Officials from the Duval County Public School (DCPS) board said it had no choice but to shift these schools to virtual learning because of the percentage of positive cases.

David Luckin/WJCT


More than 19,000 early votes had already been cast in Duval County by 3 p.m. Monday – and that’s on top of the more than 77,000 who have already voted by mail.

Early voters wait in line Monday at the Regency Branch of the Jacksonville Public Library.

Vice presidential Democratic nominee Kamala Harris will be campaigning in Jacksonville this evening, as Florida kicks off the first day of early voting.



Wednesday night, First Coast voters heard from four congressional candidates at two events.


Meanwhile, President Donald Trump and Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden are courting Florida voters with a virtual Town Hall and campaign stop in Miami, respectively.






On this week’s Friday Media Roundtable, we discussed some of the top stories in Northeast Florida, including:


Vote here sign
Bill Bortzfield/WJCT News



Florida officials extended the voter registration deadline until 7 p.m. Tuesday due to an “unprecedented” surge in traffic to the state’s voter registration portal on Monday, which caused site outages and triggered a lawsuit. Voting rights adocates claim the extension wasn't enough. A judge will hear the case Thursday.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jacksonville Jaguars and Mayor Lenny Curry’s administration are brokering a deal to finance Shad Khan’s proposed development of Lot J near TIAA Bank Field.

(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

On this week’s Friday Media Roundtable, we discussed some of the top stories in Northeast Florida, including:

Electrify America


This week is National Drive Electric Week, a nationwide celebration of the many benefits of all-electric and plug-in hybrid cars, trucks, and motorcycles.


COVID-19 testing photo

Some local physicians have formed the Northeast Florida Population Health Consortium, which is aimed at improving our public health and tackling serious health inequities in this community.






This week, students at Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) who opted for in-person education returned to brick and mortar school five days a week. Parents continue to express concern over the DCPS COVID-19 dashboard and say they want more information as schools continue to quarantine students and employees who have been exposed to a classmate or colleague with the virus

EVAN VUCCI / Associated Press

President Donald Trump paid no income taxes in 10 of the last 15 years due to losing much more money than he made, according to a New York Times investigation of tax information it obtained.



On this week’s First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross’ Friday Media Roundtable, we discussed some of the top stories in Northeast Florida, including:


President Donald Trump is holding a rally in Jacksonville Tuesday night, Sept. 24. Anyone who attends must sign a waiver acknowledging that they run the risk of contracting COVID-19 and cannot sue the president or his campaign if they get sick. 

Photo by Taylor Wilcox on Unsplash


As the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths continues to rise, the concern for childrens’ safety at schools is growing, as well.

Sky Lebron / WJCT News


Professors from the University of North Florida and Florida State College at Jacksonville have formed a coalition of academics to work with other local advocates to ask the mayor and City Council to pass the “People’s Budget” for Jacksonville.


Cyd Hoskinson / WJCT News


Four former superintendents of Duval County Public Schools are banding together to urge voters to support the half-cent sales tax referendum to build safe, secure and modern schools in Duval County.  




On this week’s First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross Friday Media Roundtable, we discussed some of the top stories in Northeast Florida, including:



 A new report finds Florida is sliding deeper into an affordable housing crisis.

Lucio Eastman / Wikimedia Commons



Duval County students are being transitioned back into classes five days a week.  

A voter casts his ballot
David J. Phillip / Associated Press


Florida has spent tens of millions of dollars to increase voting security since the 2016 election. Every county in the state has been audited. Five full-time cyber specialists have been hired. And nonpartisan groups are preparing responses to a variety of scenarios should Election Day chaos ensue.

Evan Dvorkin /Unsplash


Bars and taprooms across most of Florida were allowed to reopen Monday for onsite consumption at 50% occupancy.



On this week’s First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross Friday Media Roundtable, we discussed some of the top stories in Northeast Florida this week, including:


A medical marijuna nursery is pictured in this file photo.
Gerald Herbert / Associated Press



Edible medical marijuana products have been approved, four years after Florida voters approved the legalization of medical marijuana. 





Florida’s reported COVID-19 numbers are beginning to trend downwards.  

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

As the 2020 presidential campaign heads into its final stretch, activists in Duval County are demanding increased access to mail-in ballots.