First Coast

News affecting Duval, Baker, Nassau, St. Johns or Clay counties.

Lot J rendering
The Cordish Companies / Via Jacksonville Jaguars

A group of African-American community and faith leaders shared their support for the Lot J development project in a news conference Wednesday morning outside City Hall.

Registered nurse Cynthia Banada holds a vial of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at Miami Jewish Health, a senior healthcare facility, Monday, Dec. 28, 2020, in Miami.
Lynne Sladky / Associated Press

The city of Jacksonville is asking for patience as the hotline to set an appointment for COVID-19 vaccinations in Duval County has been frustrating callers since it went live at 8 a.m. on Wednesday.

Person with gloves on holding a vaccine in their hand, about to flick it with their finger.
Kirsty Wigglesworth / Associated Press

Duval County residents 65 and older and health care workers with direct exposure to patients can call the health department to get vaccinated against coronavirus starting Wednesday morning, Dec. 30.

Matt Slocum / AP Photo

Clay County announced on Tuesday it will be giving residents 65 and older and health care workers COVID-19 vaccines by appointment, starting Monday, Jan. 4.

Ferry loaded with cars
Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA)

The Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) will temporarily suspend service of the St. Johns River Ferry for approximately eight weeks starting Wednesday, January 6, 2021, to begin the next phase of upgrades to the facilities and the vessel.

Florida House of Representatives

Florida House attorneys next week will try to convince an appeals court that a former legislator should be shielded from a lawsuit filed by a one-time aide who alleges she was fired after reporting improper conduct.

Karen Mathis / Jacksonville Daily Record

Dennis Chan is starting the new year with the new Blue Bamboo Canton Bistro in Mandarin, continuing 16 years of the Asian restaurant’s operations.

WJCT News file photo

Federal prosecutors have asked an appeals court to uphold the conviction of former Congresswoman Corrine Brown on fraud and tax charges, pushing back against arguments that a juror was improperly replaced after he said the “Holy Spirit” told him Brown was not guilty.

JFRD Employees To Get Vaccinated For COVID-19 At Convention Center

Dec 28, 2020
woman administering a shot to a man's arm
JFRD via Mayor Lenny Curry/Twitter

Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department employees are expected to start vaccinating the public for COVID-19 as early as next month, but that’s not until they get the vaccine themselves.

Jacksonville First Responders Get COVID-19 Vaccinations

Dec 24, 2020
Mike Simon / AP Photo

Jacksonville fire and rescue personnel got vaccinated Wednesday against the COVID-19 virus as the opening stage of vaccines expanded with a shipment of the Moderna doses to the city, Mayor Lenny Curry said.

Watchdog Group OurJax And NAACP Slam Lot J Development Deal

Dec 24, 2020
aerial view of parking lot packed with cars
Dede Smith / For the Times-Union

The watchdog group OurJax on Tuesday urged City Council to reject the proposed Lot J development, calling it a "rigged deal" that should be scrapped so negotiations can start over with the usual vetting for downtown developments that seek taxpayer subsidies.

DeSantis Breaks With CDC, Puts Vaccine Focus On Seniors Over Essential Workers

Dec 23, 2020
Chris O'Meara / AP Photo

Five more people are confirmed to have died from coronavirus in Duval County since Tuesday, and the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Duval jumped by nearly 700 overnight. And with two days until Christmas, more than 320 people in the county remain hospitalized with a primary diagnosis of COVID-19.

Registered nurse La Tanya Forbes, right, is inoculated with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine by RN Cheryl Birmingham, left, at Memorial Healthcare System, Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, in Miramar, Fla.
Lynne Sladky / Associated Press

A statewide taskforce is aiming to get at least 60% of people of color to get the coronavirus vaccine.

The Statewide Coronavirus Vaccination Community Education and Engagement Taskforce is enlisting faith leaders, historically Black college and university presidents, elected officials and others to advocate for the vaccine in minority communities. 

Dinosaur replica roars next to cars
Jurassic Quest

Dinosaurs are set to invade the Jacksonville area. For two weekends, the Jurassic Quest Drive Thru event will be next to TIAA Bank Field.

From January 15 to January 24, the touring dinosaur exhibit will transform the outdoor parking area of TIAA Bank Field into an interactive drive-through experience, including more than 70 moving and life-like dinosaurs, as well as a 50-foot-long Megalodon prehistoric shark replica.

Intracoastal islands
North Florida Land Trust

The North Florida Land Trust has reached an agreement to buy nearly 250 acres of land for conservation in Jacksonville Beach, but the nonprofit has just one year to raise the required $350,000.

In this Jan. 8, 2019 file photo, former felon Desmond Meade and president of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, left, fills out a voter registration form as his wife Sheena looks on at the Supervisor of Elections office in Orlando, Fla.
John Raoux / Associated Press


Ahead of the holidays, a Florida nonprofit has paid $327,000 to clear the fines and fees of 181 ex-felons in 17 counties throughout the state.

Mega-Project The District Gets Back On Track In Downtown Jacksonville

Dec 22, 2020
Rendering of The District
The District

After slogging through the COVID-19 pandemic, the outlook for downtown Jacksonville could end 2020 on a sweeter note as the mega-development called The District picks up steam in finalizing financing that would enable long-awaited construction to start in 2021.

Barn decorated with colorful "celestial farms" lettering
Jessica Palombo / WJCT News

A farm animal rescue on Jacksonville’s Northside that depends on donations is in danger of closing because of the pandemic. 

The nonprofit Celestial Farms animal sanctuary recently needed to refinance its property — a challenge in an already lean year, as people stopped booking events like weddings. 

Near Jacksonville’s airport, Celestial Farms is home to more than 200 rescue animals, including a cow, horses, goats, rabbits, chickens and pigs. Visitors can also take classes at the farm about nature, gardening and the humane treatment of animals – and even camp on site.

Blue Jay Listening Room
Blue Jay Listening Room

After months of struggling to make ends meet, the owner of the Blue Jay Listening Room in Jacksonville Beach is starting to feel hopeful as a GoFundMe page launched to keep the business alive nears its $30,000 goal and Congress agrees on a stimulus package that includes $15 billion to support independent music venues like hers. 

StoryCorps One Small Step: Ursula And Pamela

Dec 22, 2020
two women on video chat smiling in side-by-side boxes
Bill Bortzfield/WJCT & StoryCorps

This year, WJCT News partnered with StoryCorps for the One Small Step initiative. We paired local people from different backgrounds and political views to have conversations. This excerpt is the final piece in our weekly radio series.

Ursula Baker and Pamela Rhett both say big life events have shaped their politics. 

Ursula is having a tough time finding work during a pandemic, while Pamela’s father was shot and paralyzed from the waist down when he was in his 30s.

Regency Mall coronavirus testing site
Nomi Health

As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise in Jacksonville and across the state of Florida, residents are being encouraged to take advantage of free testing, especially before exposing themselves to family or friends outside their household. 

Bowman 4th Jacksonville Council Member To Test Positive For COVID-19

Dec 21, 2020
Bowman speaking at microphone at City Hall
Bob Self / The Florida Times-Union

Aaron Bowman became the fourth Jacksonville City Council member to test positive for the COVID-19 virus this year when he got test results Sunday showing the infection.

photo of the two women smiling
News4Jax

Two beloved teachers at Jacksonville’s Trinity Christian Academy have died from complications due to COVID-19, a school spokesman confirmed.

BISHOP MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND NATURE

With the Winter Solstice on Monday comes what astronomers are calling the Great Conjunction.

Downtown Jacksonville
BILL BORTZFIELD / WJCT NEWS

Florida’s unemployment rate held steady in November, as businesses did not boost seasonal hiring as much as usual amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

WUSF

State Attorney Melissa Nelson and her office are being recognized by the U.S. Department of Justice.   

Catty Shack’s Only Lioness Has Died

Dec 18, 2020
Nyra
Catty Shack Ranch

Catty Shack Ranch is mourning the loss of its longtime matriarch, Nyra, who passed away at the sanctuary Thursday night at the age of 21.

Duval Democrats say this security footage shows a man with a gas mask and a threatening note.
Duval County Democratic Party

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is investigating a threatening note that reads in part, “we want blood,” that was left at the Duval County Democratic Party headquarters.

3 Jacksonville-Area Nonprofits Benefit From MacKenzie Scott's $4B In Grants

Dec 18, 2020
MacKenzie Scott
Evan Agostini / 2018 Associated Press/Invision file photo

Three Northeast Florida organizations are getting shares of the $4 billion windfall that philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ ex-wife, is doling out to 384 nonprofits across the country.

The Bank of America tower, Jacksonville's tallest office high-rise, is changing hands.
BILL BORTZFIELD / WJCT NEWS

Group RMC of New York City bought Jacksonville’s tallest office high-rise – the 42-story Bank of America Tower – and two other Downtown buildings Dec. 15 for $75.5 million.

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