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First Coast Connect

Proposed Jacksonville panhandling law; teen mental health crisis; USS Orleck museum; What’s good Wednesday

Adam Atnip, who is homeless and lives in his car, accepts money from a driver as he panhandles on May 10, 2022, in Cookeville, Tenn. Tennessee is about to become the first U.S. state to make it a felony to camp on local public property such as parks. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Mark Humphrey
Adam Atnip, who is homeless and lives in his car, accepts money from a driver as he panhandles on May 10, 2022, in Cookeville, Tenn.

Jacksonville may soon make it illegal to panhandle on city streets. An ordinance that would amend the city's traffic code would make it unlawful to loiter and panhandle at any designated roadway. Both the driver and the panhandler would face $100 fines for each violation. A fourth violation would lead to arrest for either party. City Council members say the ordinance change makes roads safer; however, critics say the law criminalizes poverty.


Teen mental health crisis

Kirsten Freitag Murray spoke with us about hosting a special panel discussion at WJCT Studios on Thursday evening called Fresh Eyes on Wellbeing.

This event focuses on the well-being and needs of teens. It will explore pathways to resolving trauma, developing connections to strengthen and support individual and community resilience, and the role that everybody plays in this topic.

The event will feature clips from the new Ken Burns program, "Hiding in Plain Sight: Youth Mental Illness." Viewers can learn more about this discussion in WJCT studios at "Hiding in Plain Sight" airs at 10 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 26 and 27 on Jax PBS. The program can also be streamed on

Guest: Kirsten Freitag Murray, executive director, Hope Street Inc.

USS Orleck museum

The USS Orleck arrived in Jacksonville in March. The Navy Destroyer vessel is docked Downtown just to the east of the Main Street Bridge. It is opening to the public as a naval ship museum. Guests will experience the ship’s bridge, combat information center, division commander’s stateroom, galley, wardroom and mess decks. Guests will also be able to climb into one of the main guns of the ship.

Guest: Jim Webb, executive director, Jacksonville Naval Museum.

What’s good Wednesday 

  • Award-winning children’s book author Jennifer Swanson will be at The BookMark at 9 a.m. on Saturday to sign copies of her latest children’s picture book, "Footprints Across the Planet." 
  • The St. Johns County Public Library System is presenting “The Living Library” at 2 p.m. Sunday at The Waterworks in St. Augustine, which is aimed at creating a conversation on culture, knowledge and compassion. The event will allow attendees to hear from experts in various fields. Speakers will discuss and answer questions on topics that include fire rescue, sustainable and locally sourced food, ballet, astronomy and the history of textile arts in Northeast Florida. 
  • The Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition’s CEO, Fay Johnson, joined us for a conversation on the campaign that has contributed to decreasing infant mortality rates in our area. The campaign, which is sponsored by the National Healthy Start Association, works to increase awareness of the high rate of infant mortality in our community, with a particular focus on addressing racial equity in birth outcomes. 
  • Women Writing for (a) Change Jacksonville announced the opening day of the AND JUSTICE FOR ALL Art Exhibition on Saturday, bringing artists, writers, community leaders and community members together on the theme of JUSTICE. The event is free and open to the public, with an additional ticketed Preview Party and Champagne Reception Friday night. Tickets are available on the organization’s website. This group has brought together more than 35 local women artists to comment on the theme of what “justice for all” really means. This is in response to women’s books being banned, teachers' voices being suppressed and constitutional rights being taken away. 
  • The Sound Healers Collective will host the Community Sound Bath Meditation Experience at 7 p.m. Friday in Johansen Park in Atlantic Beach. The event will benefit the Jacksonville-founded nonprofit Yoga 4 Change. The event will be the first of its kind for Jacksonville and will start with a 30-minute yin yoga class. It is followed by a 45-minute meditation accompanied by various sound healing instruments. 
  • Chef Chriss Brown from Empowered Kitchen spoke with us about theCome Together Music and Food Festival in Ndani Village this Saturday. The neighborhood celebration will feature local vendors, musician Katz Downstairz and food trucks from across the First Coast. The festival is free and open to the public.
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Gary Autry is joining WJCT from Florida State College at Jacksonville as a production intern for the fall 2022 semester. A native of the First Coast, Gary is finishing his bachelor’s degree in communication and media this fall.