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UF campus funds approved; Jacksonville’s unsung history; Lenny’s Lawn; ‘The Move’

It’s being called a game changer for Jacksonville — a new University of Florida graduate school near Downtown that will focus on medical, financial and even artificial intelligence education.

The City Council gave its approval for the plan Tuesday night that will cost Jacksonville taxpayers $20 million initially and $50 million over three years, with another $50 million coming from the state and private investors. Critics have pointed out that $50 million is a lot of public money for a project we still know little about. For example, there’s no word yet where exactly the new campus will be in Jacksonville, only that it will be somewhere Downtown.

Councilman Al Ferraro, a Republican candidate for mayor, was the only “no” vote on the public spending for the new campus. He says there are just too many unanswered questions for taxpayers. Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry told Jim Piggot of our news partner News4JAx that the project isn’t being deliberately kept secret from the public.

Guest: David Bauerlein, Florida Times-Union reporter.

‘Bygone Jax: Our Unsung History’

In March 1863, two of the first Black regiments in the Union army were sent to occupy Jacksonville for the third time during the Civil War. Their mission: pester Confederate troops in the area, free enslaved people along the St. Johns River and enlist as many Black men as possible.

Despite their successful occupation of Jacksonville, the Union soldiers were ordered to withdraw after just three weeks. During that short span of time, media coverage of what transpired in Jacksonville helped turn the tide of public opinion on Black troops serving in the army. Seeing this as a chance to tip the scales in the Union’s favor, President Abraham Lincoln’s administration decided to move forward with the full-scale enlistment of Black troops.

When those troops first made their way up the St. Johns River in March 1863, they were two of just a handful of Black regiments serving in the Union Army. By the war’s end in 1865, nearly 180,000 Black men were wearing or had worn Yankee blue. Some historians believe the Union wouldn’t have won the war if it weren’t for this influx of manpower.

This is just one of the stories from Jacksonville’s rich history that has escaped our collective memory over the years. In “Bygone Jax: Our Unsung History,” a new podcast from WJCT, we aim to bring those stories back into the light with compelling sound-rich storytelling, a diversity of primary sources and historical context from subject matter experts.

Lenny’s Lawn

For years, the city has said that a major development is coming to what some call Lenny’s Lawn — the open park space on the river where the Jacksonville Landing used to be.

The Jaxson from Jacksonville Today recently published a piece looking at the history of the site and what it may look like in the future.

Guest: Bill Delaney, author and co-owner/editor of The Jaxson.

‘The Move’

Cre8Jax is out this month with their curated list of the hottest places to be around town this month.

Guest: Catalina Selvagn, media personality.

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Special Projects Producer Brendan Rivers joined WJCT News in August of 2018 after several years as a reporter and then News Director at Southern Stone Communications, which owns and operates several radio stations in the Daytona Beach area.