St. Augustine double murder suspect in custody

St. Augustine double murder suspect in custody

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Hours before his wife and a family friend were shot to death inside a South Bellagio Drive home Thursday, a St. Augustine man suspected in their killing had been in court pleading no contest to violating an injunction for protection against domestic violence ordered by a judge last month, court records show.

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Suspect in double murder of wife and friend in court hours before shooting

Suspect in double murder of wife and friend in court hours before shooting

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Hours before his wife and a family friend were shot to death inside a South Bellagio Drive home Thursday, a St. Augustine man suspected in their killing had been in court pleading no contest to violating an injunction for protection against domestic violence ordered by a judge last month, court records show.

Ebron charged in plot to escape from jail

Ebron charged in plot to escape from jail

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The chief suspect in the disappearance of 21-month-old Lonzie Barton faces new charges following his arrest for an alleged plot to escape from the Duval County Pretrial Detention Facility.

William “Ruben” Ebron, 32, is accused of concocting a plot to stash keys in his sock and mouth and then use them to slip out of his handcuffs, jump out of a jail van and escape in a getaway car, according to a Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office arrest report.

Investigators found out about the plan Monday when another inmate came forward with multiple recorded conversations detailing how Ebron allegedly planned to escape from custody. “Ebron directed the inmate to have the getaway car placed east of the jail,” the report said.

Ebron was arrested Thursday on charges of attempted escape from a jail, criminal conspiracy, unlawful possession of a concealed handcuff key, and smuggling contraband into a detention facility, all felonies, jail records show.

Edgewood Bakery reopens in Jacksonville's Murray Hill area following contentious legal battle

After a contentious legal battle temporarily closed the popular Edgewood Bakery, the Jacksonville business opened again this week after about a month of being shuttered.

The bakery — in business since 1947 — reopened earlier this week under the majority ownership of Stache Investments, which is owned by Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan.

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JSO: Armed dispute near I-10 and McDuff

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Deputies were on scene at an armed dispute near the intersection of Summer Street and Nolan Street midday Saturday, authorities confirmed.

Jacksonville Sheriff Office's Violent Crimes Task Force is investigating the incident.

First Coast News is at the scene and will update this story as more information becomes available.

Body found, no foul play suspected

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A body was found in the 3000 block of College Street early Saturday morning, according to JSO.

The cause of death is still under investigation, and details have yet to be released, but JSO says there were no signs of foul play.

Around 3 a.m., a citizen saw a person lying on the ground from her porch, allegedly sick. JSO arrived on scene and found the victim to be unresponsive, according to reports.

Authorities then determined that the victim had already passed.

The story will be updated when more information becomes available.

Water leak from manhole damaging church's property

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It was another week of making repairs to the driveway of Cedar Creek Baptist church. The Lane Avenue church has had a problem with a manhole leaking water from the roadway to its property.

"We tried to resolve it with AT&T and they claim it is not theirs," said Earl Mckee.

It hasn't rained in a week, even so the water runs continuously from the manhole; identified by the label as Bell System property.

"I contacted JEA and they said that belongs to Bell South," he said.

McKee does the maintenance at Cedar Creek Baptist. He also makes repairs caused by erosion from the running water.

"It seeps down and it gets in this area over here, as the school traffic comes in and out, it keeps breaking up the driveway," said McKee.

This week he repaired six areas and there's still a large area that needs to be filled with asphalt.

Some say their car was towed from their own driveway.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.- Not happy at all. Residents reached out to First Coast News in total frustration after more than a dozen cars were towed from their Ortega Village trailer park.

Some said their cars were taken from their own driveways.

Walter Wood didn't want to show his face, but he was happy to show FCN his bills after his car was towed twice from near home.

"Not very well. I'm telling you," he said when he described how he was feeling. "This is $278. Then they're going to want the lot rent."

He is not alone. Several others, like Hector Duran, told FCN his friend's car was also towed.

Murray Hill business bans customers in saggy pants

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- You have probably heard the phrase "No shoes, no shirt, no service" before.

But now, a longtime Jacksonville business is adding saggy pants to that list.

Dreamette in the 3600 block of Post Street now has a sign by its service window that says customers won't be served if they are wearing saggy pants.

The owner did not want to appear on camera with First Coast News for personal and professional reasons.

But, he said the sign went up this year after his frustration hit a breaking point.

He said in his six years of owning Dreamette, this past year was the worst for customers showing up with their underwear clearly visible.

So, he decided to put them all on notice. They can either pull up their pants or go home without ice cream.

After fatal shooting, Fat Kat nightclub closing?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- After a fatal shooting in February, an illegal drug raid on Saturday, shrinking crowds and a disconnected phone - it looks like Fat Kat nightclub in Murray Hill may be closing.

Len Burroughs, vice president of the Murray Hill Preservation Association, tells First Coast News the crowds have thinned out since the shooting in the early morning hours of February 16. Several hundred people were at the club on the morning of February 16, when one person was killed and four others were shot.

Sheriff: Murray Hill violent crime up 1%; officer cuts partly to blame

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Westside residents are speaking up about violence in their community. Monday night the residents gathered to hear from Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford.

"I lay in the bed every night and I hear gunshots," said Pamela Miller, a long-time resident on Remington Street.

Miller says in the last few years she's seen an increase in violence crime.

"I do not go outside after dark," said Miller.

That's the same case for Keely Kopp. She moved back to the Murray Hill area after going to college in Tallahassee and it's nothing like what she remembers.

"I remember when I was little I never really felt unsafe, but the house in our neighborhood got broken into around 11 in the day," said Kopp.

Broken hearts remain: Legal clinic doesn't file divorces

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- When Sandra Simpson was looking for help filing a divorce, she turned to a legal clinic she found advertising on the side of the road.

"I tried to do it myself and couldn't reapply for my divorce by myself," she said, "I needed help."

Simpson wants to divorce her husband. She said it is an abusive relationship and she wants out. She paid CD Legal Clinic $350 to file the papers.

"Nicest people in the world the first time you meet them," she said.

Simpson she paid extra, but when nothing happened, she began calling the company.

"Still to this day, they will not return my calls," she said.

She is not alone. Roger Wood of Green Cove Springs has a similar complaint.

"They agreed to help me for a fee of $350, which I paid them," said Wood, "I feel as if I have been scammed."

Murray Hill neighbors want the violence to stop

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Several people who call the Murray Hill area home say they are tired of crime in the neighborhood and want something done about it.

First Coast News spoke to a woman who said her car in Murray Hill was shot up by a drive-by shooter early Saturday morning. She did not want to appear on camera, but she and several neighbors said they are concerned about crime.

"I was getting ready to go to bed and I hear a 'pop pop pop pop pop,'" she said.

That's what AJ Andruszkiewicz and several other neighbors also said they heard early Saturday morning in what is described as a drive-by shooting.

"I knew it was gunshots right away," Andruszkiewicz said.

That incident appears to be the latest in a string of violence that neighbors in the quiet, sleepy area said they're tired of.

"It kind of shakes you up," he said.

5 shot, 1 dead after nightclub shooting

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- One person was killed and four people were injured during a shooting inside a nightclub early Sunday morning.

Off-duty Jacksonville Sheriff's Office deputies working inside Fat Kat nightclub in the 1100 block of S. Edgewood Avenue called in to report shots fired just before 4 a.m.


Four of the victims were taken to the hospital by private vehicle, according to JSO, including the person who eventually died. The fifth victim was transported to the hospital by JFRD in life-threatening condition.

Get a free, sober ride home tonight

JACKSONVILLE, FLA-- We want you to get the new year started off safely so put this number in your phone, 885-286-9246.

855-286-9246 is the phone number to AAA's Tow-To-Go program.  You don't have to be a AAA member to use the service, it just gets you a safe, free ride home and saves you from driving intoxicated.

"New Year's Eve is the busiest night of the year for the Tow to Go program because so many motorists seem to be more inclined to use a designated driver but don't always have someone willing to be one in their own party during the biggest celebration of the year," said Gerry Gutowski, Sr. Vice President, Automotive Services, AAA–The Auto Club Group. "We prepare our call center teams and tow truck service providers for weeks in advance, so we can manage the increased call volume that's typical of this time of year."

Local high schools receive their new grades

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Nearly half of Florida's high schools are getting an A grade for the 2012-13 school year.

The grades released Wednesday by the Florida Department of Education show a slight increase in the number of A graded schools.

But the number of D and F rated schools also went up. There were eight high schools that received F grades as opposed to just three in 2012.

Duval Schools fall short in meeting class size

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Duval County schools made progress this year, but once again fell short of complying with mandated class size limits.

According to a head count conducted in October and analyzed by the Florida Department of Education, nearly 900 Duval County students are impacted by overcrowding.

The Florida Department of Education reported in Duval 1,075 classrooms, out of 21,000, exceed the class limit size.

In Florida, voters approved a class size amendment which states a maximum of 18 kids per pre-k classroom through the third grade, 22 students per class in grades four through eight and 25 students in grades nine through 12.

Duval County School Superintendent Nikolai Vitti says a year ago the district had 20% of classrooms out of compliance and now it is down to 5%. 

Help homeless students through holidays

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- When you're a teenager and living in a homeless shelter, a lot goes through your mind.

"You don't want to tell your friends," said Sabon

But many of the teenagers we met who were living at the Sulzbacher Center homeless shelter made it clear than homelessness was not living in them.

These homeless students need help, like warm clothes and school supplies. That's where the First Coast News/I'm A Star HELPing Homeless Students initiative comes in.

Sabon, 17, is a a student at Englewood High.

"I'm doing fine, I have a 3.0 GPA," he said.

Black Friday shoppers, read the ads carefully

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Black Friday is a big day for retailers and for some shoppers it is the best day to find the best deals of the year.

But failing to read the ads carefully can turn a shoppers expectation into disappointment. 

November 22, the Friday before Black Friday 2013, shoppers were drawn to area Walmart stores by a promise to beat its competitor's Black Friday deals a week early.

Nicole Starling was at the Normandy Walmart store before 8 a.m.

"There were probably 10-to-15 of us standing around waiting for the manager," said Starling.

They went to the store, driven by Walmart's promotion which simply said Walmart would, "match select Black Friday offers from Target, Toys R Us and Best Buy one week early."

"It was suppose to be their pre Black Friday big sale," said Starling.

Starling and the others were disappointed when they couldn't get the store to match the prices on certain things.

New numbers show crime is down in Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- New numbers from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement show crime is going down in Duval County.

The Uniform Crime Report looked at crime in the first 6 months of 2013, and compared to the first 6 months of 2012.

In Jacksonville, the report showed a 15 percent decrease in murders, and a little more than a 6 percent decrease in aggravated assaults. 

Overall, violent crimes are down 1 percent. The number of rape victims are up, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said that's in part because of a re-classification.

Business owners in Jacksonville are hoping the general downward trend in crime could change the way some think about the city when it comes to crime.

"Every little bit helps," said Pat Middleton. He's been selling houses in Jacksonville for more than 30 years.

Middleton said his clients ask him about being safe in Jacksonville.

Candle light vigil held for victims of quadruple homicide

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Emotions are running high as the Jacksonville Sheriffs Office continues to search for whoever is behind the shooting death of four people in the Murray Hill area. Dozens of people crowded Randolph Street Monday night for a vigil in honor of the victims. 

Both children and adults were brought to tears, with candles in hand trying to make sense of it all. Four people shot and killed Thursday night inside of a home now surrounded with rest in peace posters, one reads "we love you daddy."

"I don't know what to tell his kids," said Sabrina Johnson. "They keep asking for their father."

Johnson, who is Derrick Williams' aunt says he leaves behind three children, and has joined one of his son's and his own father who died several years ago.

"His daughter is in pain," said Johnson. "His family is in pain."

Sisters shot and killed inside Westside home

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is investigating a quadruple homicide on the Westside.

A neighbor in the 1100 block of Randolph Street called 911 after hearing what they said were gunshots around 10:50 p.m. Thursday.

Officers were dispatched, and upon their arrival they found four people with gunshot wounds inside the home. The home is one block off of Cassat Avenue in the Murray Hill area.

Three of the victims were pronounced dead on scene; two men and a woman.

Toxic site clean up at Bethune Cookman Elementary

JACKSONVILLE,Fla. -- Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary was a stronghold in Jacksonville's black community but for the past 12 years it has sat empty, falling apart, and sitting on a toxic site. 

Finally it is being transformed.

"I can say it," said Rhonda Addo. "At last it has been a long time coming."

Three weeks ago the dump trucks and other heavy equipment rolled onto the campus of the aging school to begin removing the toxic soil.

"The city has made good on the remediation they're cleaning up the land," said Addo.

Like several other locations on the Northwest quadrant of Jacksonville, the Bethune site was a dumping ground for contaminated incinerator ash from the 40s to the 60s.

The clean up is simple the crews are excavating and replacing two feet of dirt from affected areas.

Golf tournament helps fight mental illness

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Rudolph Dunnam said for the first time in his 59 years, he knows what it means to have a life.

"Now I consider myself on the path for living," he said. 

Dunnam described it as the best days of his life.

"I have made a 130-degree turn from where I was mind-wise, physically-wise and mentally-wise," said Dunnam. 

He has finally learned to control his mental illness, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia; mental illness that made it difficult for him to even cope with his family.

The big change in his life began when he walked into the building of Northwest Behavioral Health Services.

"If they weren't there I believe I would have probably perished," he said.

Dunnam said now he functions well, he is more sociable, and he's rebuilding those family relationships that were devastated by his mental illness.

"I'm very grateful for them," said Dunnam 

FCN Investigates: What exactly are you paying for at the pump?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- We are just weeks from the busy Thanksgiving travel season.

But, before you fill up for your trip the On Your Side team has three things you'll want to know before you hit the road. It's part of a First Coast News investigation.

At the gas station, every cent counts.

"I get pretty much what my car gives me," said Michael Bryce, as he filled up the car. "I get around $20 half a tank, $40 for a full tank, $5 for an eighth of a tank."

If you feel like something just isn't right, you might be on to something.

It is Anthony Davis' job to find out

He's one of the petroleum inspectors with the Florida Department of Agriculture.

"We want to make sure that consumers are getting what they're paying for," Davis said.

FCN's David Williams joined him at the Chevron station on New Kings Road for an inspection. Inspections are done at least every 12-14 months, says Davis.

Top 5 hottest jobs and how you can land one

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Are you looking for work? If you are, keep the following story handy.

Like many people, 37-year-old Ty Harris of Jacksonville, has been looking for work.

"Off an on for about a year," Harris explained.

He's been doing freelance work in client and project management, but is looking for something more permanent, which is why he came to a job fair Monday.

He said the job market is tough, which makes it harder to help his family of two children.

"I've gotten a lot of 'You're over qualified,'" Harris said of his year-long job search.

FCN's David Williams asked Harris "What if we told you, we know what the top 5 most in-demand jobs are in Jacksonville?"

To that, Harris responded "I would be impressed and I would inquire what would that be?"

Father ticketed for son's red light violation

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Gabriel Alexander lives in Baker County and drives a Cadillac. Gabriel Alexander II, his son, lives in Duval County and drives an Acura.

"I don't even drive the vehicle," said Alexander. 

So imagine his reaction when he received a notice of violation for the Acura running red light cameras. The notice was sent to his Baker County home.

"I barely know where that street is that the alleged citation occurred," he said. 

It happened May 28, 2013, 7:14 am. According to the Notice of Violation, the Acura ran the lights at the intersection of Southside Boulevard and Baymeadows Road.

"I tried to show the court that I was at work," said Alexander, "It wasn't me."

But because both father and son name's are on the vehicle registration, the elder Alexander's name is first, the father received the ticket.

"Physically, I was 50 or more miles away," he said. 

Man recovering after gunshot to torso

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- An argument that led to gunfire on the Westside sent one man to the hospital late Sunday night.

Patrol officers with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office responded to the 3000 block of

Dellwood Avenue in the Murray Hill area in response to reports of a person shot.

A victim was found with non-life threatening injuries to his lower torso and transported to an area hospital.

Officers determined some sort of a disagreement between two men had occurred. The men are possibly family members, according to JSO.

The suspect fled the scene and a description is not available at this time.

Anyone who has any information about this shooting is asked to contact the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office at 904-630-0500.

To remain anonymous and receive a possible reward up to $3,000, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.

Westside man found dead by roommate

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Detectives with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office responded to reports of a death late Sunday night.

A man was found dead in his room by a roommate around 11 p.m.

The roommate told police he had not seen or heard from his roommate all day and went to check on him.

Police said there was nothing suspicious about the death and at this point no foul play is suspected.

The cause of death is still under investigation.

The men lived in a home in the 1800 block of Van Wert Avenue in the Murray Hill area.

Security guard shot inside local night club

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A shooting inside a nightclub sent a security guard to the hospital.

A private security officer working at Fat Katz nightclub in the 1100 Edgewood Avenue Southwas shot while working early Saturday morning.

Off duty officers also working at Fat Katz reported that the victim was shot in the thigh while inside the club.

A .22 casing was later found in the area where the security guard was standing at the time of the incident.

An investigation is underway.

Anyone who has any information about the identity of this unknown suspect is asked to contact the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office at 904-630-0500.

To remain anonymous and receive a possible reward up to $3,000, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.

Scammers target JEA customers

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A phishing scam targeting JEA customers on the First Coast is on the rise this week.

According to JEA, scammers are calling people to say their service will be disconnected unless they purchase a Moneypak card. 

The phone caller then asks for the number for the card. 

There has been an increase in the last week in the scam calls, according to JEA. 

In an email to First Coast News a JEA spokesperson wrote:

JEA will notify customers should their service be at risk for disconnect for non pay via their bill, letter and automated call. JEA will take payments via website, phone, at the main office, tax collector office, Winn-Dixie or any of the JEA-approved stores found on

Anyone who receives a call is asked to report the incident to JEA. 

Drop box thefts leave renters worried about eviction

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is investigating a string of drop box thefts in rental communities, more than 30 cases, and is now warning landlords and tenants to stop using their drop boxes.

The advice comes too late for Derrall Wilcox. She lives in Casa Del Rio apartment community.

"In August, I paid my rent using the drop box so it wouldn't be late," said Wilcox.

MORE: Warning for renters making drop box payments

Wilcox said she's never been late and wanted to avoid the $65 fee, but now she has a bigger problem. The two money orders used to pay her August rent were stolen from the apartment drop box.

"This is not my responsibility. I did what I was supposed to do," she said.

Nonprofit's mission is 'Enroll America' in Obamacare

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Affordable Health Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare is the law. If you're now uninsured, you must have health insurance by 2014. That said, the program's deadlines, the various plans and who is eligible have left many confused.

"There is a lot of people who don't understand what their options are," said Tony Penna.

Penna, a former insurance executive is with Enroll America, a privately funded nonprofit that is trying to spread the word about the Affordable Care Act.

"The biggest challenge is how many people in Duval, Clay Nassau and St. Johns who don't have insurance," said Penna, "There about 300,000 people."

Enroll America staffers are now knocking on doors, making calls to spread the word out.

"About 39 percent of the people in Florida who are eligible for insurance think that the law has been repealed," he said, "It has not been repealed."

Metal gets in man's blood after hip replacement

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Steven Starrett, 34, had his first hip replacement surgery in 2007, his second in 2008, and is scheduled for yet another surgery this year.

"I've been healthy my whole life until they put metal in my body," he said.

Starrett has what he calls a metal-on-metal hip implant. He said it is wearing out in his body.

"There are very high levels of Cobalt, Chromium, and mercury and lead in my blood," said Starrett.

He is worried about what is the long term effect of high levels of the metals in his system.

"The last thing the doctor told me was 'we're going to put this new metal-on-metal implant and you should get ten to 15 years out of it; you're a young man,'" said Starrett.

There have been many recalls for hip implant devices, but apparently the device Starrett is wearing is not on the list, which makes him wonder why not?

Balloon release planned for double shooting victims

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Supporters will gather on Jacksonville's Westside Wednesday to honor the victims of a double homicide.

Megan Simmons, 14, and Jazmine Shelton, 13, were shot to death on August 10 in the 5200 block of Missouri Avenue.

It happened in the early morning hours while the girls were watching a movie inside a mobile home.

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is continuing its investigation into their deaths, but no arrests have been made.

In an effort to keep the case in the public eye, family and friends will meet at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday on the football field at Lake Shore Middle School in the Lakeshore South neighborhood.

Lake Shore Middle School is where the girls would be enrolled right now.

A balloon release is planned, and a memorial song will be performed.

The public is invited to attend.

Meanwhile, a cash reward remains in effort for information that leads to an arrest in this case.

Upset about JEA residential deposit amount

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- In Murray Hill, Evelyn is upset about what she says is a residential deposit increase of $225 on her JEA account.

FCN called JEA and spokesperson, Gerri Boyce, said Evelyn's deposit was increased and appropriately assessed because of previous infractions which lowered her internal JEA credit score.

When a JEA credit score is below 800, the company reviews the account to see if the deposit can cover twice the average bill.

Boyce said the infractions will expire in December and if no more happens she'll be credited her deposit in January 2014.

Learn more about JEA's tools to help you by clicking here.




Playground near unsecured retention pond

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jasmine Valentin lives near Ken Road and 103rd street, close enough to realize that a playground feet from a retention pond is an accident waiting to happen.

"I've been complaining to the people around the neighborhood," said Valentin, "how can you have a retention pond next to the park with no fence."

Valentin has no children, but her maternal instincts are screaming at what she sees.

"It is crazy, it is irresponsible," she said. 

The pond is near McGirts Village, an uncompleted townhome community, that sits between busy its between busy 103rd and quiet Firetower streets; the playground sits less than than 50 feet from the retention pond.

"I've seen the results of this when nobody is paying attention to things like this," said Karen Ketchie.

Ketchie is a parent, a disaster management consultant, and an emergency room nurse.

Real ways to help you find a job and other resources

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Shawntray from the Westside asked the On Your Side team a question.

He said he recently lost his job as a security guard because he was sick and can't find work. Shawntray said he lost his home and he's afraid he'll lose his car. He wants help.

Shawntray, here is what you do:

1) Get your hands on a phone in the area of Northeast Florida and dial the United Way's 211. It is a referral source that will refer you to places for emergency financial assistance, food, shelter and clothing and a lot of other service.

2) Call the company that you make car payments and explain your situation. Ask if some payments can be deferred.

3) Go to a place like WorkSource Florida. They have offices across the region They will help you or anyone looking for work Find a job. Call 904-356-JOBS for more information.

Foreclosure help still available in Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Letitia Early, 51, lost her job in January 2008 and her ability to pay the mortgage on her home. But Early said she never lost her hope.

"I limped along and used my savings," she said, "Everything I had to make my payments."

She was doing everything to save the home she called her forever home.

"This was going to be my forever home for my disabled son and I," she said.

She was determined, but was struggling, and turned to the Making Home Affordable program for help. But the federal mortgage modification program application must still be approved by the bank and that was a problem.

"In November 2010, I actually received a rejection letter from Bank of America saying 'you did not qualify,'" said Early, "after I had provided all the information they wanted for two years."

Hole in roof reveals hole in insurance coverage

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Florida is number two when it comes to mortgage foreclosures, mortgage fraud probably ranks as high. 

Rosemary Toliver completed a mortgage modification in 2010 and was convinced she had crossed every 'T' and dotted every 'I.'  But a hole in her roof revealed that there's a hole in her loan modification plan.

"I don't have any insurance on the house," said Toliver.

The loan modification is with Walkhampton Capital Corporation, a Canadian investment company. And her documents show that she was paying for 'forced place hazard insurance.'

"I've been paying in my mortgage this insurance coverage," Toliver said.

Every month Toliver's paid $53 for insurance to cover damage to the building, but not her personal items.

"It is crazy, it is really crazy and I'm getting nowhere," said Toliver.

On Your Side: Checking an Officer's identification

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. -- First Coast News got an email from Joyce who said someone disguised as a police officer came to her door, demanding $6,000. She was afraid and eventually gave it to the man.

Captain Joe Bucci, with the Clay County Sheriff's Office, gave tangible information on how you can confirm whether or not someone that comes to your door is an Official Law Enforcement Officer.

According to Bucci:

1) Ask to see a badge and department identification. It'll have a photo with it.

2) Call the dispatch center when the person gives you a badge number to confirm who they are.

3) Ask for a supervisor with dispatch to triple check.

4) When in doubt, if you're not sure, take their information and confirm it inside your home while they wait outside.








New Valve Replacement Therapy Offers Alternative to Open Heart Surgery

JACKSONVILLE, FLA - A revolutionary new heart treatment is offering new hope to patients considered ineligible for open heart surgery or at great risk of suffering serious surgical complications.

Known as Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR), the minimally invasive procedure is now being used to treat patients suffering from severe aortic valve stenosis. One of the most common valve disease disorders, aortic stenosis typically results from aging, as calcium or scarring narrows and hardens the heart’s aortic valve. As blood flow through the valve becomes constricted, individuals may experience chest pain, shortness of breath, fainting and palpitations. For those with severe aortic stenosis, the condition can lead to congestive heart failure and even death.

Mother of slain Metro PCS worker fights for safety in workplace

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- What happened at the Main Street Metro PCS on July 20, 2013 has changed Darlene Farah's life forever.

"I go to the bathroom and lock myself in the bathroom and cry or either I go outside and cry," said Farah.

Farah's daughter, Shelby, was working in the retail shop when one of the suspects captured on security camera video, robbed the store then shot and killed her.

"For $103, my daughter lost her life. No cell phones were taken," said Farah, "$103 in ten seconds."

Farah, 46, said the brutal murder of her child has been overwhelming. 

"My kids don't want to go back to the house," she said, "Shelby will always be in our hearts, but I have two other kids to focus on."

She said children are also concerned about her safety.

Attorney calls Jacksonville 'Potholeville' and files suit

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Wilson Boulevard is heavily traveled. Its age is showing in some areas and now it is named in a lawsuit.

On March 4, 2013, Lori Lloyd was traveling west on Wilson. She was the passenger on a motorcycle.

"We were just driving along about 30 miles an hour," said Lloyd, "and he hit this dip and it was a big dip."

Lloyd said what happened next would change her life forever.

"It ejected me off the motorcycle and I landed in the center lane on my head and my shoulder," she said.

She's convinced if she wasn't wearing her helmet, she would be in a grave somewhere. Now, she's in court fighting the city over a road hazard that has left her injured. 

"I'm in pain everyday," she said, "I wake up and I have work my hands to get my fingers moving. These two are not going to move anymore, both of my shoulders hurt."

12 cars for sale booted in front of dealership

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It's not something you see everyday. Parking boots on cars waiting to be sold right in front of a dealership.

Anthony Williams lives nearby in Ortega Park. His morning walk takes him on a part of Blanding Boulevard that passes in front of a trio of dealerships.

"It's surprising," he said. "It was shocking to me walking this morning. I'm like 'OK...why the boots?'"

These boots weren't made for walking. First Coast News saw them on about 12 cars parked in front of a trio of dealerships Thursday morning along Blanding Bvld.

From a Mercedes to a Lexus... trucks and an SUV. Parking enforcement was standing close.

"I think as long as they're not vandalizing or making it look obscure," Anthony Williams said. "I think they should be allowed to park the vehicles on that property."

Your guide to First Coast 4th of July celebrations

Firework displays and events scheduled to celebrate the 4th of July holiday across the First Coast. Here's a list of the festivities:

Columbia County celebrates 4th of July

Clay County celebrates the 4th of July

Fernandina Beach celebrates 4th of July

Flagler County celebrates 4th of July

Sickle Cell Disease patients are being called 'drug seekers'

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Kiara Owens, 24, lives with pain 24 hours a day. She has Sickle Cell Disease.

"It is scary to realize that this illness one day is going to kill me," she said.

She also has to live with a stigma that affects when and how she gets her much needed medication.

"I have been labeled a drug seeker," said Owens.

Owens said given her unexpected bouts with excruciating pain, she has to go to an emergency room more than she wants to and then it becomes a problem.

"They won't give you the medicine because they fear you're addicted to narcotics," said Owens, "and you're just pretending to get that medicine."

The Florida State College at Jacksonville student said three years ago she went to an ER and was labeled a "Drug Seeker" and it has followed her since.

Neighborhood networking site taking off in Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The first of its kind private social networking site for neighborhoods only is starting to take off in Jacksonville.

It is called, and it started last year in San Francisco.

Co-founder and CEO Nirav Tolia thought there should be an easier way for neighbors to connect.

He said, "Services like Facebook have shown us the value of connecting online with our friends and family. Why isn't there a service that helps us connect with people right out our front door?"

The idea behind is that neighbors can first connect online, then face to face.

Some neighborhoods have planned parties. Others help each other find lost pets, share contact information and even find a babysitter or orthodontist.

"We know that when neighbors start talking, good things happen," Tolia said.

Police looking for Dish subcontractor impersonator

HILLIARD, Fla. -- Joyce Dixon, is a caterer, a Dish network customer and now victim of a phony Dish network subcontractor scheme.

"This young man came out here, super nice fellow, and debundled our windstream package," said Dixon, "He did it all right here in the house we watched him."

The phony subcontractor, Anthony Gerhold, offered the Dixons an upgrade in Dish TV service if they paid in advance.

They paid $662.29 for a year's upgrade including any repairs and received an invoice showing they were paid until March 2014, but then they began getting bills from Dish Network.

"I'd call the 800 number on the card he gave me and he told me just to tear it up and throw it away," said Dixon, "He would take care of it."

Local couple stiffed by wedding photographer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- June 30, 2012 was important to Kameeka Haynes. She and her husband Sean began a new life together.

"For any woman," said Haynes, "the wedding day is supposed to be the most important day in your life.

It was important enough for them to hire Breon Boger to record the event. Haynes said the wedding photographer came highly recommended.

"Church members recommended him and I saw some of his work and  was just mesmerized," she said.

Haynes said she also liked Boger's personality. The contracted price was $1,495. Haynes said it was paid in full 30 days before the wedding.

"I did not get married in the backyard," she said, "I got married in the Crowne Plaza. This was a big day for me and I wanted to remember it."

But now, almost a year later, Kameeka Haynes has yet to see her wedding pictures.

CIS needs your help to make a difference

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Communities In Schools, a non-profit origination, has reached into local public schools to make a difference. The agency has several approaches including mentoring and its In School Support program.

Mentoring often seems like a challenge until the participant gets involved.

The CIS program targets sixth graders, a high risk group according to CIS.

Broderick Green is a first year mentor at Matthew Gilbert Middle School.

"My experience has been a learning one," said Green.

Green, who has a two-year-old son and travels a lot, said he always wanted to give back but did not consider mentoring until now. 

"I wanted to find a way to give back," said Green. "When I was younger I had people who mentored me in an unofficial capacity."

Green knows the strength of a one-on-one relationship, but he was concerned about the time commitment. 

Woman rescues stranger from oncoming train

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The driver of a 1997 Nissan Altima and the engineer behind an oncoming Amtrak train crossed paths Tuesday in the Ortega area; it was an impending disaster.

"You could hear the Amtrak train," said Annette Brown, "I said 'Oh my God.'"

But to Brown, it was where faith met destiny.

"I was saying to her 'get out of the car,'" said Brown, "but she said 'but my car.'" "That's when I screamed 'get out of the car!'" 

Brown, on her way to NAS Jacksonville, got stuck behind the Nissan which was stopped on the railroad tracks.

"There were so many citizens who went around this lady and did nothing to get her off of the train tracks," she said.

Brown said she went around as well but once on the other side stopped and help.

Sibling sexual abuse hurts a Jacksonville father

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It is still one of society's greatest taboo but because no wants to talk about it, doesn't stop sibling sexual abuse. According to the Pandora Project studies have shown that between 2% and 4% of people have been sexually victimized by a sibling.  

"What is a father to do?" asked Reggie Thomas.

Thomas, 36, is a divorced father who is worried about his two children now living with their mother.

"I did all the right things I call JSO I took my child to the hospital," he said. 

Earlier this year Thomas made an ugly discovery. Court records show his children's older half-brother, a 15 year old, was charged with sexually abusing his younger siblings. Thomas' two children are eight and nine years of age.

"My daughter said this was going on for three years straight," he said. 

The State Attorney's office prosecuted the teenager.

Widow denied access to deceased husband's savings

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Married 53 years, it is hard for Julia Bolena to forget her husband and what he brought to their marriage.

Sixteen months ago, her husband died of cancer and Bolena said she has been trying to close a chapter with the bank ever since.

"I just know there's some way they can resolve it if they want," she said.

Her husband had two accounts, a checking and a small savings. The bank gave her access to the checking, but when it came to the savings, access denied.

"He failed to put that particular account in trust to me," said Bolena, "I am sure it was an oversight, being the other account was in trust to me. I'm sure he assumed they all went together."

Her name was on the checking, but not on the savings. It's only $273, but Bolena said it is money she can use.

"I'm on a very fixed income and that will pay a couple of light bills. It is not much money," she said. 

Murray Hill Ortega Police Blotter - May 2013

No police reports at this time.


PictureMe customers want refund or pictures

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Clarissa Griffin wanted to celebrate six-month-old Suri and took her to PictureMe, a portrait studio inside many Walmart stores.

"I went to take her picture two days before Easter," she said, "I had never had her pictures taken."

Griffin said the studio sold her a package deal for $139.09.

"They took a total of 32 pictures. They did the Easter background and they did the Spring background," said Griffin.

It was March 29. Griffin was given copyright proofs on a disc and was told to pick up her pictures in two weeks. When she showed up the PictureMe studio was closed -- permanently.

"I thought they were closed for lunch," said Griffin.

It is not just Griffin who did not get her pictures. The On Your Side team has received emails from a number of viewers saying they did not get pictures from PictureMe.

Lost USPS package baffles Jacksonville resident

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Wynoma is wondering where her package is.

She tells First Coast News that she mailed it from the Murray Hill post office on March 26th but it never got to its destination.

First Coast News called the United States Postal Service's Murray Hill branch and were told Wynoma's package was supposed to arrive at Jacksonville's Northside on March 28th. First Coast News was told the package was scanned to go to their sorting facility. FCN called that facility and was told it hadn't gotten there yet. USPS spokesperson, Stephen Seewoester said.

"The Postal Service apologizes that the customer's package has not yet arrived."

Seewoester added "Our Consumer Affairs office will contact the customer for more information about the package and continue the search."

Residents blame JEA power lines for fire

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Earlier this year, a two-alarm fire spread from a field under JEA's high power lines near Crystal Springs to several homes nearby, causing damage.

Tina Parrish said her teenage son grabbed a garden hose and started spraying the fence.

"If he did not do that, it would have been worse," said Parrish, "Our deck and home would have been on fire."

The fire destroyed several fences adjacent to the power line system.

Phil Brown said his daughter Jennifer recently spent $3,000 for a vinyl fence and now it is a total loss.

"Their power line caused the spark," said Brown, "The spark caused the and fire and all this damage."

JEA said it is not negligent, and that does not bode well with Brown.

"I don't know if they're negligent," he said, "All I know is they had a fire and they should make it right."

Retired cop gets involved in catching speeders

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Old habits are dying hard for a retired cop in West Jacksonville.

Michael Liptrap has 20 years of experience as both a state and military police officer. He retired in Jacksonville in the Ortega area.

One of his areas of specialty while he was on the job was traffic enforcement.

Liptrap wrote First Coast News concerned about a traffic issue in his neighborhood, specifically involving Seaboard Ave.

Allied Veterans customer glad to see state crackdown

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Peggy Johnson, self-employed, was a regular at the Allied Veterans internet cafes.

"The most I have ever won is $600 about two months ago," said Johnson. "Ask me how much I have lost."

Johnson said it was called a sweepstakes cafe, but there is no doubt what it was.

"It is gambling, money for money," said Johnson, "You have to place cash on the card and that's what you get back."

Johnson said sometimes she would play the machines from when the doors of the business opened until they were closed. She said and there were consequences.

"It causes problems with your family, all your loved ones, everybody," she said. "It just destroys your life because you are constantly looking for that big hit."

Looking for the big hit she said cost her at least $50,000 over six years.

Stolen identity, a Baker County man wants his good name back

MACCLENNY, Fla. -- Meet Chris Milton, the real Chris Milton who lives hundreds of miles from Upstate New York.

"I have never been to New York," said Milton. 

Milton grew up and lives in Baker County; he has been a few places, Buffalo, New York is not one of them, but his name surfaced there.

"It is not a good feeling," said Milton," you try to live a good life and abide by the law, now I have a criminal record."

In November 2012, his wife's purse was stolen while in Baker County, they reported it to the Sheriff's Office; In December he received collection notices from a hospital in Buffalo, New York for $18,000.

"That kind of send up a red flag," said Milton, a big red flag.

Then Milton discovered that the Buffalo police had arrested the person using his name on drug charges.

"I never had a speeding ticket, citation or anything," said Milton.

Stormy weather is time for an insurance checkup

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It only takes a few seconds for your home to become the target of a fallen tree. If you've never experienced it, the destruction can be devastating.

"I've only seen hail twice in my life," said Charmin Williams.

If it is not wind damage it could be hail damage. Williams' Baldwin home was pelted by hail. 

"It was pretty solid," she said. "Marble size, but no damage."

Storm damage can also result from rising water; so much rain it floods your home.

Having insurance will give you protection and help restore your loss, but make sure it is the right coverage or you will hear those famous words, "that's not covered."

Here's what you need to know:

-Damage from rising water is covered by a flood insurance policy, not a standard insurance plan.

Missing Adult Day: A reminder of the unaccounted

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- According to the Justice Coalition, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office receives thousands of missing reports each year. While most of them are resolved, some become an open case.

"You just don't think it can happen to you," said Carol Payne.

January 3, 2013 was the last time anyone saw Payne's brother.

"Sometimes you think you're gonna wake up," she said, "and realize it is not real."

Her brother James Tracy Wilson, 56, might be driving a blue/gray four door Buick Lacrosse.

"The police are saying probably we'll find his car because it will run out of gas and he didn't have any money," said Payne. "That didn't happen."

Payne said her brother had a routine and never drifted from it.

"His bed wasn't made and the windows weren't open that's when I called my brother and they called the police," said Payne.

Second Harvest feeds the hungry and needs donations

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- What do you do when your pantry is empty and there's no money in the bank? It is a reality many First Coast families are facing. In 2012, Second Harvest Food Bank experienced a dramatic increase in food distribution.

"I think it is a blessing that this agency is here," said Donna Hill.

Hill, 53, was the breadwinner in her family of three until she became disabled.

"I got very sick," said Hill. "I am still trying to cope with it." 

And then she was terminated from her job in December 2012.

"I am the breadwinner on a lot less money," she said, "but still the breadwinner."

FDH: Rabies alert issued for Ortega

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Ortega area of Jacksonville was issued a rabies alert by the Florida Department of Health Tuesday.

A rabid bat was discovered in Ortega, triggering the alert, which is in effect through May 6. This is the first rabies alert in Duval County this year.

The boundaries for the alert are on the south by Lancelot and Water Oak Lane, on the north by St. Johns Avenue at Herschel Street, on the west by Lakeshore Boulevard at Fremont Street, and east at the St. Johns River.

FHD said pet owners should maintain control of their pets at all times, and be certain that each has received current rabies immunization shots from a licensed veterinarian.

Stray animals should be reported to the City of Jacksonville Animal Care and Protective Services at 630-2489.

For further information or to report animal bites, contact Rabies Control at 253-1280.

Florida has money for first-time home buyers

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announced that money is available to first-time home buyers for help with down payments.

Another $25 million will go toward housing counseling, legal aid programs and the state court system to help with a backlog of foreclosure cases.

On top of that $60 million, Florida has another $200 million from the settlement that state lawmakers will decide how to spend.

House Speaker Will Weatherford promises the cash will be set aside for housing-related needs and not for special member projects.

Florida has already received $3.6 billion in mortgage relief, mainly for principal reductions.

Jacksonville man says approved VISA revoked for 'approval in error'

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Alfredo Trajano and his wife Anne applied for a Visa for their daughter in 2002. Their daughter, Jacqueline, lives in Scotland.

"She became my daughter when I married my wife twenty plus years ago," said Trajano.

He said the process has been a bureaucratic nightmare; the application was sent to Texas and stayed there for almost four years, then it was sent to the California Service Center.

"It double the time they allotted," said Trajano,"they found out the petition was supposed to go to California, it was a mistake."

Three years later, 2009 the application for a Visa was approved, however a year earlier, 2008, his wife passed away.

"When my wife passed away I thought all this would come to nothing," said Trajano.

Trajano said he informed the Department of Homeland Security his wife died, since her name was the only name on the petition.

A New Year means new laws for Florida drivers

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.- It is a new year in the Sunshine State and on Florida's roadways there are some new laws in effect.

To start, say you want to flash your headlights to warn other drivers about nearby police.

"Just to alert," said Kim Rolfe, of Jacksonville. "It's just a courtesy to let other driver's know 'Hey, you're about to pass a cop.'"

Before the new year, that was illegal in Florida.

"I did not know that that was illegal!" Rolfe shouted with a laugh. "I thought I was just doing something nice for my fellow drivers!"

As of January 1, 2013, it's now legal, after the state legislature cleared up the law.

"So, it could be a good law to aide in safety," William Lee, of St. Augustine, said Tuesday morning. "So, I think it's good."

If you're ever in an accident, there's another law you should know about. It's about the personal injury protection (PIP) portion of your Florida policy.

11-year-old accused of being pregnant had massive tumor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Janet Roberts said she has lived by a rule learned from her mother.

"Our mom always told us never judge a book by its cover," said Roberts, "and see what she meant with this situation that happened with my daughter."

Roberts said her 11-year-old was the target of a wicked rumor in school.

"I did not know. I was the last one to find out," she said.

She said she found out when the school called her in for a meeting and told her the rumor around the school is her 11-year-old is pregnant.

"I was shock," she said, "To me it was a joke at first.

Roberts said she tried to squash it because her daughter felt she was being bullied or harassed, but she noticed the child had an extended stomach and wanted to be sure.

"The tests were negative," said Roberts.

But the mother of four noticed her daughters stomach continued to grow.

Enter to Win: Discover New Fantasyland and make Disney memories all year long!

Enter to Win: Discover New Fantasyland and make Disney memories all year long!

First Coast News wants give you a year of Walt Disney World® magic with Florida Resident Annual Passes! Experience a new land full of adventure and excitement. Where beasts roar and mermaids sing. New Fantasyland®, the largest expansion in Magic Kingdom® history, welcomes you into the Enchanted Forest to explore Prince Eric’s Castle. Go under the sea with Ariel. Dine in Beast's Castle. Join Belle for a retelling of the “tale as old as time.” Play in all four theme parks year-round, experience magical Holidays, access special Passholder events, and step inside Disney stories like never before!

Enter for a chance to discover new Fantasyland and make Disney memories all year long!

Is it legal to pay customers to replace a windshield?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- David Horton of Discount Travel said twice a week, the employees in his shopping center are solicited about replacing a windshield.

"They're trying to encourage you to change out your car windshield for payment, no questions asked," said Horton.

Horton said it is a high pressured sales pitch where consumers are promised $100 upfront. He said it is frequent and always a different person.

"They come from one small strip mall to the next and they come into each and every business," said Horton. 

Suspicious, but is it illegal?

Better Business Bureau Tom Stephens said he has heard of the scheme before, but he has no complaints on record. Stephens said this a buyer beware.

Tom Lee, of Lee and Cates, said when it comes to replacing a broken windshield, Florida consumers can get it done at no cost.

Brunet-García’s Motion Graphic Video Honored by Pixie Awards

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The 4th Annual Pixie Awards recently recognized Brunet-García Advertising for a video spot produced for MSC Care Management, Optimal Care Transportation & Translation.  The Pixie Awards honor outstanding creativity in the fastest growing area of the moving pixels industry:  motion graphics, effects and animation.

Business owner claims 'bad decision' cost company $19,000

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Douglas Myers has been in the manufacturing business for 20 years. He said he still regrets a decision he made a three years ago.

"My wife constantly reminds me of a bad business decision," said Myers.

Myers paid a contractor nearly $19,000 to buy an infinity wrap plasma cutting machine for his business and nothing happened.

"You work with a guy," said Myers. "You have him come and work on your machine. You just assume."

Three years later, he claims he is still trying to recover his money.

"I contacted the manufacturer and the company did not receive any money from him," said Myers.

Myers filed a lawsuit against the contractor Herb Cochley. The case is still in court.

"We want to get him into court," said Myers. "If we get him in, we will win."

Local business robbed on Thanksgiving Day

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- As many stores looked for sales on Black Friday, one store was looking for suspects. Jimmy and Diane Tait own Hawgs and Horses on Blanding Boulevard. While they were at home, celebrating the holiday with family, their store was being robbed.

"They stole several four wheelers, motorcycles, some were customers bikes that had repairs done to them," Jimmy Tait said. "They made quite a mess back here."

The Taits' store has only been in business for a little more than twelve months; and what they thought would the most lucrative weekend of the year, ended up being the costliest.

"We added it up. It's almost $15,000 worth of product got stolen. That's a lot of money. Especially for a small business that just started" explains Jimmy.

He says the robbers broke into his locked gate, dragged the equipment behind the building, through the brush to the parking lot next door, where they loaded it all into a trailer and drove away.

Black (Thursday) Friday: Shopping hours

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- As you plot your shopping for Thanksgiving night and Black Friday, here's a list of shopping hours at major retailers across the First Coast News.


Avenues Mall:
Closed Thanksgiving
Black Friday 12am - 9pm

Best Buy:
Closed Thanksgiving
Black Friday Open 12AM to 10PM

Closed Thanksgiving
Black Friday 12AM to 1PM

Orange Park Mall:
Closed Thanksgiving
Black Friday 12AM to 10PM

Police arrest man for leaving scene of fatal crash

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office arrested a man after they say he left a fatal crash Wednesday night.

Shannon Hartley, Public Information Officer with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, said around 6:45 p.m. Wednesday evening police were called to the intersection of Edgewood Avenue South and Trask Street where an SUV had hit a man in his electric wheelchair.

Hartley said the victim, 80-year-old Emmitt Roberts, was crossing the intersection in his electric wheelchair when an SUV hit the man, ejecting him from his wheelchair.

Hartley said the driver of the SUV, 23-year-old Steven Bradsheet pulled his SUV over to the side of the road, got out and checked for any damage before getting back into his vehicle and leaving.

Emergency personnel pronounced Roberts deceased at the scene.

Man dies after being struck by SUV

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A man has died after being struck by an SUV while crossing the street in his electric wheelchair.

According to Sgt. Donald Washington Jr. of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office traffic homicide unit, a white SUV was traveling southbound on Edgewood Avenue near Trask Street when the SUV struck the man.

Washington said it was getting dark at the time of the incident and the vehicle had a green light. The man did not cross the street at a crosswalk.

The man on the wheelchair was transported to Shands Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The driver has not yet been charged, as JSO is still investigating.The driver stopped to talk to police after the incident.

Will Florida face a recount? At what cost?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- About 11:30 p.m. election night, President Obama is declared the winner of the presidential election, even though Floridians were still voting.

Jacksonville Obama supporter Karen Akers said she had no doubts about the outcome

"Never felt he was going to lose?"

"No not at all," said Akers.

Jacksonville University political scientist Dr. Stephen Baker said the race was always close, in spite of the polls.

"It will be among the closest elections," said Baker, "I mean, 1976 was a very close election, so it is not that unusual."

Jerry Holland, Duval County Supervisor of Elections, like other county election officials, are still counting ballots.

Road reopened after house fire Tuesday morning

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- An intersection closed due to a house fire Wednesday morning is back open.

Tom Francis, spokesperson for the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department said fire crews received a call around 8 a.m. that a carport in the 5300 block of Attleboro Avenue was on fire.

At the time of the fire, two women and two dogs were inside the home.  Francis said neighbors helped all of them escape without injury.

Francis said it took fire crews 30 minutes to extinguish the fire that was contained to the carport area.  The rest of the house received only smoke and water damage.

The State Fire Marshal's Office is investigating after JFRD ruled the cause of the fire suspicious.

Francis said the fire serves as an excellent reminder to verify you have a working smoke detector in your home.  If you need a smoke detector, you may call 630-CITY.

Trailer home a total loss after fire

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A home that was on fire in the 1300 block of Neva Street was put out in about five minutes.

The trailer home was heavily on fire, according to reports into First Coast News. The owner was out with friends when neighbors called her to say her house was on fire.

The trailer is a total loss and the fire marshal is investigating the cause of the fire.

Local Conference Seeks to Nurture Blooming Community Gardens Trend on the First Coast

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Today’s tough economy, combined with an increasing focus on eating healthy and organic foods, have made community gardening one of the hottest trends in urban areas across the country.

Second Harvest North Florida and Friends of Northeast Florida Community Gardens are working together to nurture that trend in Jacksonville. They are collectively sponsoring the inaugural Northeast Florida Community Gardens Conference on Nov. 3.

Man in serious condition following gunfire at gas station

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A man is in life-threatening condition after a large dispute lead to a shooting at a Westside gas station.

Sgt. Michael Paul with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said many people were involved in an argument near Big Discount Beverage and Gas on Melvin Road and Ricker Road Thursday afternoon.

During the dispute, shots were fired and eye witnesses report seeing a large number of people fleeing the scene.

Two victims were hit.. One black male was transported to Shands to undergo emergency surgery.

Paul said he was in serious condition when the victim left the scene.

The other man was struck by a bullet.

JSO said they do not know the cause of the argument nor the cause of the gunfire.

They are asking anyone with information relating to the incident to contact the Sherrif's Office at (904) 633-0500 or call Crimestoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.

Tuesday is final chance to register for November election

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Tuesday is the final day to register to vote ahead of the November election.  Many Supervisor of Elections offices will have extended hours to help accommodate the last minute rush.

"We see this always in a Presidential cycle," explained Jerry Holland, Supervisor of Elections for Duval County.    "We'll probably have between 30 and 40,000 people that will have registered in the last 30 or 40 days and so, it's exciting to see this many people get involved in it."

Extended Hours:

Duval County-open until 7:30 p.m.

St. Johns County-open until 7:00 p.m.

Clay County-open until 5:00 p.m.

According to Holland, voters do not need to bring identification to register, but they will need a photo I.D. on Election Day.  As of Monday, the number of voters registered reflected a more conservative population than in the 2008 election cycle.

345th Combat Support Hospital unit to deploy

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The 345th Combat Support Hospital (CSH) will host a ceremony before they deploy to train the Afghan National Army.

The CSH will host a deployment before leaving for 71 Army Reserve Soldiers. The soldiers are deploying to support Operation Enduring Freedom.

During the deployment, soldiers will be responsible for training the Afghan National Army on detainee health care operations.

The 345th CSH is an Army Reserve unit headquartered at Naval Air Station Jacksonville with subordinate medical units located in Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina.

Prior to this deployment, the 345th CSH deployed to support Operation Iraqi Freedom and Desert Storm.

The deployment ceremony will be held October 5 at 8:30 a.m. at NAS Jacksonville's Armed Forces Reserve Center, Building 938.

At Tonight's Art Walk Hundreds Put Their Worst Face Forward

Local artist, Kedgar Volta, will present ǝɯ embellished tonight, Wednesday, October 3, at downtown’s Hispanic Art Walk from 5:00 – 9:00 p.m. on the corner of West Monroe and North Laura Streets, across from the Jacksonville Public Library (333 North Laura Street). ǝɯ embellished is a public art project that challenges viewers to examine how self-perception aligns with public perception when we abandon our usual appearances.

Brunet-García Accepting Grant Applications

Applications for Brunet-García’s third annual re:solveSM initiative are now available online. re:solveSM is the Brunet-García grant program that gives charitable organizations the opportunity to engage the agency’s pro-bono marketing, advertising and public relations services.

Parents remove child from school due to teacher's behavior

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Christophers made a decision that seems extremely dramatic, but after observing how their child's special education teacher interacts with children, they say they had to do something. 

"We're not happy the way the teacher is handling the kids in the autistic classroom. We feel it is inappropriate," said Roderick Christopher. 

The Christophers have removed their nine-year-old from Pinedale Elementary and are reluctant to send him back to school.

"These children are our children. Other people may not care because they are quote unquote not normal. They still deserve the best," said Shaunita Christopher.

Their child has autism. It is a disorder characterized by impaired social interaction and communication and by restricted and repetitive behavior.

JU Orthodontists Set the Record Straight During National Orthodontic Health Month

JU Orthodontists Set the Record Straight During National Orthodontic Health Month

JACKSONVILLE, FLA. – Orthodontists at Jacksonville University are taking time during October’s National Orthodontic Health Month to educate the public and clarify best practices for the maintenance of your smile.

Dr. Mark Alarbi, dean and program director of the Jacksonville University School of Orthodontics, said there are many myths that need to be busted regarding orthodontic care, but one of the most common misconceptions is that parents need to wait for their children to loose all of their baby teeth before evaluating the need for braces.

Homeowner stuck with JEA availability fee

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Walter Suslak is in the middle of a major home renovation, and he's in a fight with JEA over four years of billing for a service he has yet to receive.

"For the last four years, according to JEA records, I've paid $70 a month for water," said Suslak, "and $75 a month for sewer with a listed consumption of zero."

Suslak, who owns several properties, recently discovered he is paying for sewer service, even though the house under renovation is not connected to the JEA sewer system.

"They have verified that the sewer is not hooked up at all," he said.

Why is he paying a sewer charge of $75 month? Suslak was told that it is an availability charge, even if he never uses it.

"That's fraud," he said, "I guess you can euphemistic and call it chicanery, but I got nothing," said Suslak. 

Teen accidentally shoots himself, in life-threatening condition

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A 16-year-old is in life-threatening, serious condition after Jacksonville Sheriff's Officers says he accidentally shot himself Friday evening.

Police say the incident took place while the teen had a couple of friends over to his house while his parents were gone.

JSO believes it was a handgun that was used in the accident.

The victim has been transported to a local hospital. His identity has not been released.

Gov. Scott visits First Coast to talk education

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Governor Rick Scott will be on the First Coast Monday to talk to teachers and parents about education.

Governor Scott is touring across the state to listen to teachers, students and parents voice their ideas on how to improve Florida's education system.

Monday afternoon from 3:45 - 5 p.m. Governor Scott will meet with teachers at Pinedale Elementary School.

He will then meet with parents for a roundtable discussion from 5:30 to 6:30.

The school is located at 4229 Edison Avenue.

For more information, visit the Governor's Education Listening Tour website.



City looks to residents to volunteer for coastal cleanup

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The City of Jacksonville's Keep Jacksonville Beautiful wants residents to participate in this year's Florida Coastal Cleanup event on September 15.

The event is marks the 27th year of the Ocean Conservancy's Annual International Coastal Cleanup. Since its incarnation more than 8.5 million volunteers have removed 145 million pounds of trash from more than 300,000 miles of coastline, according to a release form the city of Jacksonville.

There are various locations across Jacksonville where volunteers area participating in the clean up. 

Coastal Cleanup Site Locations and Times

7 -9 a.m.
Oceanfront at these locations:

4th annual students who care essay contest

The following news release was provided by First Coast Oncology

JACKSONVILLE, September 4, 2012 – Scot Ackerman, MD, Medical Director of First Coast Oncology, announces this year’s topic for the Students Who Care Essay Contest. High School students from Duval and Nassau counties can enter for a chance to win a laptop in reward for their good deeds.

 Every day good deeds go unnoticed and often unrewarded. This contest supports the children in our community and encourages them to make the right choices.

 “I believe that children deserve assistance and encouragement when it comes to making the right choices. They also deserve reinforcement in determining a course of action to responsibly achieve their goals,” says Dr. Scot Ackerman.

 One winner will be selected from each county and awarded a MacBook at a school assembly in front of their peers. 

Woman fatally stabs roommate on Westside

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A woman is dead after JSO believes her roommate stabbed her with a beer bottle.

The incident happened in the 1400 block of State Street late Thursday evening.

Police believe the victim and her roommate may have been romantically involved.

The roommate is in custody, but JSO has not charged her with a crime.

Family burial of loved one delayed three weeks

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Cynthia Roberts was married 43 years. On August 10, her husband died unexpectedly, turning her world upside down.

"He was different, he was very quiet, and he loved to read," she said.

Arthur Roberts was a retired educator, a civil war buff, an avid Civil War re-enactor. Despite his health problems, she said he was very active.

"He had a pacemaker," she said, "He had bypass surgery, all of that appeared to be working fine. He had been a diabetic all of his life, but doing fine."

Roberts said it wasn't unusual for her husband to take a walk in the  park near Whitehouse Elementary. When he was overdue, she asked a neighbor to check on him. When the neighbor found him, he was sitting in the park deceased.

"That was three weeks ago," said Roberts.

FEMA supplies arrive at staging area in Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Eighteen-wheelers full of supplies to help those hit hard by Isaac rolled in to the Naval Air Station Jacksonville Saturday afternoon.  They are full of bottled water, meals ready to eat, and cots.


FEMA says it chose the base as a federal staging area because from there supplies can be distributed to disaster areas within hours.

MORE: Scott declares state of emergency with Isaac's approach

The trucks were loaded at FEMA's warehouse near Atlanta and will be parked on the base ready to roll out at a moment's notice.

After The Storm: Dos and Don'ts

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Rick Warming's tree service is cleaning up a mess at Bob Maloney's Southside home.

Warming has a warning about 'Storm Chasers' -- that's what they're called by the Better Business Bureau. They are the guys who show up at your front door right after a storm.

"These guys are coming out in cars and trucks with no signs on them will do a little bit of the job and grab a check and leave," said Warming.

The storm chasers wanted to remove the tree from Maloney's home, even though Warming had already done most of the work.

His first rule in hiring someone that is not out for a quick buck is very simple: Find a business that is bonded, licensed and insured.

"You want a company that is reputable that does what it says it is going to do," he said. Other tips include:

- Don't be rushed into signing a contract with any company.

Ortega residents: Drainage project failed

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- More rain is the last thing Venetia Terrace residents want. The water is not only going in the storm drains, it is going into their homes

"This is the second time in two months we've had water in our home," said Amanda Boswell.

Boswell spent most of Tuesday placing sandbags around perimeter of her home.

"We' re still pretty damp in there, " she said, "so I don't want to get any more in."

RELATED: Extreme flooding for Ortega residents

Boswell said on Monday, the water came into the family's computer room before it started receding. It was a grim reminder of the flooding from Tropical Storm Debby.

Extreme flooding for Ortega residents

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Residents in Ortega saw extreme flooding Monday afternoon, with several streets underwater.

At least one vehicle got stuck and had to be towed out.

Some Ortega residents said they couldn't get home, and some added a recent drainage project seemed to have made things worse instead of better.

"This is the worst flooding in 28 years, since I've been living here," said Rick Myers. "The drainage was just done in the last year so I'm not sure what happened."

"Since the drainage project it has totally flooded our yard several times," Susan Aman said. "It has definitely gotten worse instead of getting better."

Ortega residents say Monday's flooding was even worse than flooding from recent tropical storms.

Murray Hill Theatre celebrates 17th anniversary with two-day music festival

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It was a packed house at Murray Hill Theatre Saturday night, where they kicked off day two of their 17th Anniversary music festival.

The venue hosts musical acts every weekend showcasing positive, faith-based music. The venue is drug and alcohol-free and provides a safe haven for young adults.

The owner of Murray Hill Theatre, Tony Nasrallah, says the theatre gives the local youth somewhere positive to gather.

Chamber Ranks Bedell Firm Among Top Litigation Firms

Chambers and Partners, based in London, has recently released its 2012 Chamber USA Guide “America’s Leading Lawyers for Business,” ranking the leading firms and lawyers throughout America.  For the tenth consecutive year, the Bedell Firm is ranked among the top litigation firms in the country, among the top fifteen firms in Florida, and the only listed litigation firm based in Jacksonville.

According to Chambers, the rankings identify the leading lawyers and law firms “through interviews with thousands of lawyers and their clients.”  Chambers provides the following information concerning the Bedell Firm:

Bedell, Dittmar, DeVault, Pillans & Coxe

Accused domestic abuser arrested

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- On Thursday, Woodruff Avenue in the Murray Hill area turned into a crime scene.

"There were police cars everywhere," said George Atchley.

Atchley said the silence of his quiet community was broken by the sound of gunfire and the sirens of fire engines.

"It was foggy," he said, "Toxic smoke coming off the house."

Police went to a house to question Mykhail Abordi, a.k.a. Michael Walker about charges of domestic battery and sexual abuse. It turned into a SWAT standoff, police say, until he set the house on fire.

Young Breast Cancer Survivors Group Receives Final Investing In You Grant

Young Breast Cancer Survivors Group Receives Final Investing In You Grant

JACKSONVILLE, FLA. – The Young Survivors Group at the Women’s Center of Jacksonville will be able to continue to help young breast cancer survivors thanks to a recent $1,000 grant won through Community First Credit Union’s Investing in You contest. The grant will help secure a location for monthly meetings, provide educational materials and fund outreach efforts for the Young Survivors Group.

Wanted: Olympic portraits by kids

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- We're counting down to the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.

As we get closer to the games, we want your kids to get involved. Have your child draw and color his or her favorite Olympic Portrait. Portraits can include the rings, the torch, a favorite athlete or even the new Olympic Stadium in London.

Beginning July 23, 102, we will feature a different portrait each day on Good Morning Jacksonville though the closing ceremony on August 12th.

Simply email your child's photo to and be sure to watch Good Morning Jacksonville at 5:20 a.m. and 6:20 a.m.

Last day to register to vote for primary election

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Today is the last day to register vote if you want to participate in Florida's August 14 primary election.

Monday is also the last day you can change your party affiliation.  Since Florida is a closed primary state, voters may only vote for candidates from the political party in which they are registered.

All registered voters are eligible to vote in nonpartisan and primary offices.

Although today is the final day to register and be able to participate in the primary election, registered voters can update his or her signature, change the address of his or her legal residence or submit a name change up until and including primary election day on August 14.

To check your voter status, view a sample ballot, check early voting locations or request an absentee ballot click on your supervisor of elections office.

Choosing the right limo will maximize the ride

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Whether it's prom night, a wedding or just a trip to the airport, your limousine experience can be one you remember or one you would like to forget. During the prom season, ten teenagers hired a limo service for prom night and now say it was horrible.  

"I could have ridden in my mom's van if I wanted to do that," said Victoria Canady.

Canady said each of her friends paid fifty dollars for a 10-passenger limo and that was the first problem. 

"When it came up to the house, it did not look like it would seat ten," she said.

The driver was on time, but Canady said the limo was smaller than expected and it was hot.

"The air conditioning didn't blow out cool air. It only blew out hot air," she said.

Is there a glitch in the child support system?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Trucking is Donnie Connolly's livelihood; losing his driver license will put him in the unemployment line.

He said the thought of it happening terrifies him.

"It started last year. They said they would fix it at the end of the year and it is still going on," said Connolly.

Connolly at one point got behind on his child support payments, but said that was in the past.

"I have been paying," he said, "I have the receipts. It comes out the second of every month."

So why did the Florida DMV suspend his driver's license on June 20, then reinstate it, only to threaten to suspend it again?

"They have a pending on my license that they're going to suspend it the 23rd of this month," said Connolly.

Connolly has received notices from the Florida Department of Revenue and the DMV and they have left him puzzled.

"The only thing they would tell me is there's a glitch in the system," he said.

New Autism Support Group to Launch through Grant from Community First Credit Union

New Autism Support Group to Launch through Grant from Community First Credit Union

JACKSONVILLE, FLA. – Parents of autistic children will soon have a supportive environment in which to share their feelings, ideas and treatment options, thanks to a $1000 Investing In You grant from Community First Credit Union. The grant will help launch The S.T.A.R. group, named for the benefits the group will bring its members: support, teaching, advocacy and respect.

Westside sinkhole swallows shed, tree

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Two Westside families no longer trust the ground beneath their feet after a sinkhole swallowed part of their backyards.

The shed was on Margie Molina's yard on Joffre Road.

"It's an unbelievable thing," Molina said.

The tree was in Sharon Bryant's yard. That's where the sinkhole started overnight Monday.

"I called the city and they sent the fire department out and they said it was okay," Bryant said.

The next day, Molina watched as as the ground crumbled from beneath the shed, just 13 feet from her porch.

Molina and Bryant said they both reported the sinkhole to the City of Jacksonville.

"We need someone to come here immediately and stabilize the dirt before it reaches our homes," Molina said.

As of Thursday, they'd heard nothing, so they contacted First Coast News.

We measured the sinkhole to be at least 12 feet deep at the edge.

After we saw the sinkhole, we called the city.

Camp for Children Coping with Homicide Receives Support from Community First Credit Union

JACKSONVILLE, FLA. – Community First Credit Union awarded a $1,000 Investing in You grant to Compassionate Families, Inc., to benefit Camp Maddie, its therapeutic camp that provides grief recovery and support services to children affected by homicide. Camp Maddie serves as a living memorial to Maddie Clifton, an eight-year-old Jacksonville girl who was brutally murdered by her young neighbor in 1998.

4th of July Fireworks By Water

4th of July Fireworks By Water


Just in time for the summer's biggest holiday, Florida By Water released their 2012 list of places to view fireworks from your boat. So far, they’re featuring more than 50 locations submitted by local Chambers of Commerce and Tourism & Visitors bureaus from across the Sunshine State.

JEA fuel rates will decrease July 1

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Fuel rates for JEA customers will indeed be decreasing on July 1 and the scheduled water/sewer rate increases will not go into effect.

Florida's unemployment drops; Gov. Scott responds

Florida's unemployment drops; Gov. Scott responds


Governor Rick Scott responded to Florida's unemployment rate dropping to 8.6 percent in May 2012, down 2.3 percent since Governor Scott came into office and to its lowest point since December 2008:

"It is clear that the work we have done to lower the cost of doing business in our state by cutting taxes and reducing regulation is giving the private sector the confidence it needs to expand, grow and add jobs.  Florida's continued steady decline in unemployment shows that Florida is on the right track. I remain committed to growing private-sector jobs in our state by making Florida the No. 1 place for business so that every Floridian can have the opportunity for a job." 


Pop Warner changes rules in effort to prevent concussions

ATLANTA -- Pop Warner football, the most widely known youth football program across the nation, announced late Tuesday a set of rule changes in light of new research data regarding concussions among football players.

The changes will eliminate head-on blocking and tackling drills when players are lined up more than three yards apart. The move emphasizes no head-to-head contact between players.

The new rules, as posted on the Pop Warner website include:   

Walmart Foundation will provide summer learning and meals for middle school students


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Duval County Public Schools was recently awarded the District Summer Learning Initiative grant through the Walmart Foundation in the amount of $750,000 over two years to serve 800 youth in the 2012 Superintendent’s Summer Academy Programs. At a time when school districts around the country are curtailing summer learning programs in response to budget cuts, the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) received a $4 million grant from the Walmart Foundation to provide more than 7,000 summer learning opportunities for middle school students.

Duval County School Board Hosts Community Meetings on Superintendent Search

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Duval County School Board will be talking with the community about the ongoing search for a new Superintendent.

Duval County public schools belong to the citizens of Jacksonville.  As such, Duval County School Board members want extensive citizen and employee involvement in selecting the next Superintendent. 

Below is a schedule of the meetings.  Parents and community members are encouraged to attend to provide additional information that will help determine the qualities desired in a new Superintendent.

All meetings begin at 6 p.m. see below. Dates and locations are:  

Are You Ready for Hurricane Season?

The beginning of hurricane season is a good time for homeowners to review their insurance needs.  Homeowners should meet with their insurance agent to review and adjust their polices as appropriate for adequate coverage. Families should keep in mind the 3 Ps during hurricane season:  plan, prepare and protect. 

Big picture:   

June 12, 2012 – The beginning of hurricane season is a good time for homeowners to review their insurance policies for adequate coverage for their home and property.  Homeowners are encouraged to consult with their agent and develop a complete understanding of the insurance coverage they have purchased.  In addition to reviewing insurance policies, there are three things families should keep in mind during hurricane season - plan, prepare and protect:


Community First Credit Union Gives Human Trafficking Victims Support to Start Over

Community First Credit Union Gives Human Trafficking Victims Support to Start Over


JACKSONVILLE, FLA. – Community First Credit Union awarded a $1,000 Investing in You grant to Rethreaded, a nonprofit agency dedicated to helping women victims of the sex trade industry restart their lives economically and emotionally. The grant will be used to support the agency’s T-shirt recycling business, which employs women who are emerging from lives of addiction, violence, human trafficking and prostitution.

Rethreaded collects donated T-shirts and teaches women to recycle them into new products, including handbags, scarves, and rugs. The agency sells these items, along with other products made by women all over the world, through home parties that not only raise money to reinvest in the project, but also help educate others on the horrors of human trafficking. The $1,000 grant will help the organization purchase a new sewing machine and sewing supplies.

44 percent of workers have gained weight on the job

44 percent of workers have gained weight on the job


It’s happened to most of us, especially desk-bound workers. We’re at work and feeling as if we’ve been snacking all day. A handful of candy here and a bag of chips there doesn’t seem like a lot, but it adds up, especially when it comes to the numbers on the scale.

Can a business add a fee if a customer complains?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Carol Pinover's desktop grandfather clock would normally sit on the desk in her office, but she said it is being held hostage by a repair shop.

"You used the word hostage. Obviously, he's holding it hostage unless we give him fifty dollars," said Pinover. 

Pinover took the clock to Charles Margolin, owner of Walsh Shoe & Boot Sales & Service in March. Pinover said she paid $160 for repairs, but the clock did not work properly, so she took it back in April.

"And I got mad and raised my voice," she said, "and he said 'don't raise your voice at me,' but I said 'I'm mad, this isn't fair.'"

Pinover was angry because she thought the clock was being repaired under a one-year warranty, which was a verbal warranty.

She said she did everything the repair shop suggested to get it working before returning it.

Ken's Top 10 Ways To Complain Effectively

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Nobody likes a complainer, as the old saying goes. But you work hard for your money and sometimes the service or product you purchase is not to your satisfaction. Companies know that, so they have call centers or support service.

What do you do if you are dissatisfied? Here 10 ways to file a complaint effectively.

Number Ten:

Do not procrastinate. While the details are fresh and the merchandise is in its original package, contact the business or customer support immediately by phone and clearly explain your problem. 

Number Nine:

It is common sense, but choose your words. Even if you become frustrated by the process, avoid language that can be counter-productive. Do I need to say more? The words you choose may impact your results.

Number Eight:

No excuses; Get Outdoors Florida!


School is out! All across Florida, students looking for summer activities. No wonder so many national programs highlight the fun of getting outdoors. June has the most daylight hours and the longest day of the year, providing plenty of opportunity for families and friends to enjoy nature and each other.

What to do in Jacksonville this weekend

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Events on the First Coast were washed out last weekend because of Tropical Storm Beryl, so this weekend it's time to get out and enjoy the sunshine!

First Coast News' Amanda Zitzman takes you on the town in the video above. A complete list of events is below.

SATURDAY June 2, 2012

HALE & HEARTY 7K: Saturday, June 2 8:00 a.m. at Riverside Arts Market, the Health Planning Council of Northeast Florida presents the Hale & Hearty 7K run through the Riverside and Avondale areas, celebrating healthy communities and happy and healthy places. Race begins and ends at the Riverside Arts Market.

Community First Credit Union Funds Improvements at Catty Shack Sanctuary

Community First Credit Union Funds Improvements at Catty Shack Sanctuary

JACKSONVILLE, FLA. – Tiger cubs and local children will reap the benefits of a new grant awarded as part of Community First Credit Union’s Investing In You contest.

The Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary, a nonprofit agency dedicated to big cat rescue, won a $1,000 grant from Community First Credit Union to fund a new cabin and platforms for its five tiger cubs. Catty Shack Ranch is the second of this year’s six Investing In You winners to receive $1,000 through this summer’s community improvement contest.

Teacher under investigation for allegedly strip-searching student

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A local teacher has been taken out of the classroom and is under investigation, according to Duval County Public Schools spokesperson Jill Johnson.

A grandmother claims her 6-year-old granddaughter was forced to strip, and the teacher, Allison Garrett, searched the student because she had been out of school with the measles.

This incident allegedly happened at Venetia Elementary School.

First Coast News is waiting to hear back from the principal.

Driver killed in Roosevelt crash identified

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office has released the name of a driver killed in a fatal crash Friday near FSCJ's Kent campus.

Miriam Cabezas, 37, was killed when her car was struck by an SUV shortly after 7:15 Friday morning, according to a news release from Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer Melissa Bujeda.

Cabezas was the only person in her car as she drove east on Plymouth Street.  Plymouth runs perpendicular to Roosevelt Boulevard.

Cabezas followed a school bus, Bujeda said, through the intersection of Plymouth Street and Roosevelt Boulevard.  Cabezas was making a left turn to travel northbound on Roosevelt.

As she passed through the intersection, an SUV traveling south on Roosevelt struck her car from the side.

Mayor: About 20,000 residents without power

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - In an 8:30 a.m. Monday update Mayor Alvin Brown said more than 50 JEA crews are out working to restore power around Jacksonville.

Residents can dial 665-6000 to report outages, and Mayor Brown urged residents to call 911 if they see downed power lines.

The mayor said about 20,000 residents were without power in Jacksonville Monday morning.

He also said the Wonderwood and Mathews Bridges remained closed. Garbage pick-up for today has been rescheduled for Saturday.

The mayor stated that he's been in contact with Gov. Rick Scott. The city website reports the following road closures at 8:50 a.m.:

- Riverside Avenue from Copeland to Barrs due to flooding.

- 5744 Salerno Road West due to downed power lines.

- Wilson Blvd. by Firestone Rd. due to a large pole in the middle of the roadway.

Duval, Baker, Clay, Nassau, Putnam, St. Johns schools scheduled to be open today

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Students throughout the First Coast will return to school today.

Baker, Duval, Clay, Nassau, Putnam and St. Johns County schools will be in session, unless conditions worsen throughout the day. 

Calls to Bradford, Columbia, and Union County school districts have not been returned. 

Courthouse users worried by its delayed opening

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Weeks before moving from Bay Street, the clerk of courts advised anyone doing business on May 29 at the new courthouse to arrive at least an hour early.

But the grand opening will not happen on Tuesday, May 29 and those who use the courthouse daily are concerned. 

Derrick Spencer, president of Off the Chain Bail Bonds, has been sending his clients e-mails about a possible delayed opening and its impact on their cases.

"Our clients need from us to know their court dates and give them a court date if the courthouse is closed," said Spencer, "The scary part is if they miss their court date, then they will get warrants."

Roosevelt Boulevard back open after fatal crash

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A fatal crash closed Roosevelt Boulevard at Plymouth Street for several hours Friday morning.

Police had to divert traffic onto Park Street near Florida State College at Jacksonville's Kent Campus.

The crash happened before 8 a.m. Friday.

A car turning left to go northbound on Roosevelt Boulevard from Plymouth Street was hit by an SUV traveling southbound.

The driver of the SUV has been taken to a local hospital with unknown injuries.

The driver of the car was pronounced dead at the scene.

Traffic homicide detectives with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office are still investigating.

Storm system brings potential for dangerous weather to Florida over the Holiday weekend


FLORIDA -- The Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) reminds Florida’s residents and visitors to remain aware of current weather situations this holiday weekend, as a storm system may bring heavy rainfall across much of the Sunshine State. Potential flooding conditions will affect Southeast Florida through this evening. This threat could shift northward to portions of the Northern Peninsula later this weekend as the system nears this area of the state. This same system could bring strong onshore winds, which may lead to rough surf, large breaking waves and a high risk of rip currents along the Atlantic Coast through next week.

Tasers may cause cardiac arrest -- users not deterred

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- In 2005, when JSO started using tasers, Sheriff John Rutherford endured the blast of a stun gun. The sheriff was trying to show two things: a Taser will immobilize you and it is a non-lethal weapon.

"We are very cautious in everything we do when it comes to response to resistance and our use of force with anything," said Michele Remolde.

Remolde is JSO's Director of Professional Standards. She says her department follows a strict policy for the use of a Taser.

"In looking at this study as well as other studies ... and in looking at our policy it appears we are in good shape," she said.

Remolde says the article by Dr. Douglas Zipe is insufficient.

"If you look at the end of the study, it actually stipulates that they not against Taser use," she said, "they just prefer there are certain rules in using the ECD (Taser)."  

If You Are Coming Downtown During Memorial Day Weekend...

Updated on Thursday, May 24, 2012 at 1:20 p.m.

JACKSONVILLE, FL (May 24, 2012) - The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is committed to providing the most current information that residents and out of town visitors will need to enjoy the events occurring in downtown Jacksonville during Memorial Day Weekend including the Jacksonville Jazz Festival and the U.S Men's National Soccer Team vs. Scotland game.

Free swimming lessons offered to Duval County children


Jacksonville, Fla. – Free swim lessons offered for children are available again this year for families who qualify based on financial need. 

DCF tests tech at "Food for Florida" mock disaster

DCF tests tech at "Food for Florida" mock disaster


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Department of Children and Families employees from all over the state came together in Tallahassee today to test the agency’s “Food for Florida” disaster preparation operations. The program allows DCF to provide emergency food assistance to families in need after a hurricane or another disaster.

DCPS Workers Raking in Thousands in Overtime

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Local high school athletes Kaitlyn Hamby and Alana Hall live for lacrosse. That's why they could not believe when Duval County Public Schools cut funding for their sport. "I love lacrosse with my whole heart," said Hall.

It wasn't just lacrosse, the district cut numerous sports, music and arts programs. These students knew they had to do something to save their sport. Last summer they started fundraising. "We had a benefit dinner, where we had a silent auction," said high school junior Hamby.

Last year, the district cut nearly $4 million from school programs. Art, music and physical education programs took a $3 million cut, while athletic supplements took a cut of $932,000.

"I was upset, I was very upset because lacrosse is something I need to get into college," added Hamby.

Oakwood Drive residents blame city for street flooding

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- When it rains, the water pours into Matt Keys property. He lives at the corner of Arlington Road and Oakwood Drive.

"This is a city problem," said Keys. 

Keys said the city owns the road, the city owns the curb, and there's a curb that's been washed away.

"It's been washed away since 2004 when the problem started," he said.

Keys said since a drainage improvement on Oakwood Drive, the water run off from the street to his property has only gotten worse.

He said he's complained to the city in 2005, 2006, 2007, and year after year and they were supposed to do something in April 2012.

"They would send out a survey crew, which they did a year ago, the stake is still there and by April the problem would be resolved," said Keys. "Here we are in May, no contact from the city, no one has given us any update."

Report finds that public entities are a significant employer in most Florida counties


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Government entities are some of the largest employers in nearly every county in Florida, according to a new analysis released today by Florida TaxWatch, the nonpartisan, nonprofit research institution headquartered in Tallahassee.

FWC reminds boaters to boat smart, safely


Because Memorial Day weekend, which kicks off summer activities, is right around the corner, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reminds all boaters in Florida to rededicate themselves to boating safely.

$2 million in grants to benefit Florida homeless shelters


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Department of Children and Families Secretary David Wilkins announced more than $2 million in grants that will benefit community homeless shelters throughout the state.

Howard Weiss, D.O. joins the Brooks Rehabilitation Medical Group

Howard Weiss, D.O. joins the Brooks Rehabilitation Medical Group

On June 1, 2012, Howard Weiss, D.O. will become a member of the Brooks Rehabilitation Medical Group.   The Brooks Rehabilitation Medical Group is a team of physicians who are board-certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.  Each physician has received specialized training in the comprehensive management of patients with impairments and disabilities arising from neurologic, musculoskeletal and vascular disorders.    Dr. Weiss’ specific interest and expertise in the area of orthopedic rehabilitation will strengthen and complement the excellent care currently provided by the Brooks physician group.

United Way of Northeast Florida Honors Local Business

The United Way of Northeast Florida has awarded the inaugural Corporate Engagement Award to MSC Care Management for excellence in employee engagement and community service in areas impacting education, income and health. It was presented recently at the United Way Sponsorship Breakfast at the Omni Hotel.

Adoption Privacy Rules Hamper Obtaining A Florida ID

Editor's Note: After Ken's report Walker was able to obtain a license. 

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- 21 year old Jessie Walker said she's persona non grata.

"I've never had a driver license or state ID. I've never been able to obtain one," she said.

She said her many attempts to get a state ID have all been rejected.

"(I've tried) North Carolina, Raleigh, Fayetteville, Raiford, Charlotte. Florida I've been to Jacksonville, West Palm. Boynton Beach, Davie, Pompano Beach," said Walker.

Walker was adopted from a Pennsylvania group home when she was 14. She said it was a closed adoption. Moving from state to state. she lost her only copy of her birth certificate and getting a new one is not easy.

Clean Out Those Cabinets: Stamp Out Hunger is Saturday

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Check your mailbox!  The Stamp Out Hunger food drive is Saturday and letter carriers have been dropping off donation bags at homes all over the First Coast this week.  

This is the 20th year of the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Food Drive.  

The donation drive is designed to make giving easy.  All people have to do is put some non-perishable food in a bag and leave it by their mailboxes Saturday.  Postal workers will take the donations and transport them to Second Harvest of North Florida.  

Doctors Use Eco-friendly Technology to Ablate AFIB

Doctors Use Eco-friendly Technology to Ablate AFIB

JACKSONVILLE, FL – Richard McCoy, 66, has always enjoyed an active lifestyle between tending to his greenhouse, working full time and playing with his three grandchildren. When all of this was compromised by a heart condition, McCoy’s doctors turned to Soundstar®eco technology to help fix his ticker.

Did City Violate Establishment Clause On Day of Prayer?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- While organizers and participants of the National Day of Prayer were praying for peace in the city, trouble was brewing.

"This is the first time I've ever had a mayor participate in the national day of prayer," said Pastor Ted Corley.

Corley has hosted the event for the past 14 years in the Jacksonville city council chambers. He said it being there does not violate the establishment clause. Corley said he pays the cost of a bond, not the city.

"The city has nothing to do with this. They allow us to use the facility like they would anyone," said Pastor Corley.

Council President Stephen Joost, who was in the audience, said the event has been vetted.

"I did ask the city attorneys to review and they said it was okay," said Joost. 

May is American Stroke Month- Let’s Get Back to the Basics

May is American Stroke Month- Let’s Get Back to the Basics


About 795,000 Americans will have a new or recurrent stroke this year, and more than 137,000 of them will die. Stroke is the No. 4 cause of death among Americans. Stroke is the leading cause of serious, long-term disability. But, do you really know what a stroke is?

Westside Residents Angry With City's Response To Abandoned Dogs

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Peter Chaney is concerned about the dogs in his Hugh Edwards Drive neighborhood.

"I have three pit bulls keeping me a prisoner in my own home," he said.

Chaney said the dogs were abandoned in his neighbor's backyard.

"The dogs had gotten into my yard and they were jumping on the window and would not let me out of my house," said Chaney.

He believes the dogs were hungry, which made them dangerous. Chaney says he reported the danger to the city repeatedly.

"They chewed a hole in the chain link fence," he said, "and they get out all the time and in the streets and chase kids and stuff."

Betty Hodgson lives on the other side of the property in question. She said she has fed them hot dogs and pieces of bread.

"They looked like they were starving," she said.

Missing 8-Year-Old Boy Has Been Found Safe

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office says a missing eight-year-old boy in the Murray Hill area has been found safe.

He was originally reported missing because he did not return home from school, JSO said. No foul play is suspected. 

3 Arrested In Fight At Murray Hill High School

3 Arrested In Fight At Murray Hill High School

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Three people were arrested in a fight at Murray Hill High School, a charter school located at 929 McDuff Avenue South.

Four student-aged people came to campus on Thursday morning and began fighting with other students, according to the school's principal, Ernest Woodard.

One female was medically transported as a precautionary measure because she is pregnant.

Woodard said he is still trying to investigate what happened.


FHP Announces Aggressive Driving Crackdown

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -  The Florida Highway Patrol kicked off an awareness campaign Thursday designed to crack down on aggressive drivers.

FDLE REPORT: Troopers Erred in Deadly I-75 Pileup 

Patrolmen are focusing on people who are driving around big semi trucks, which can magnify a small driving mistake.

RELATED: Top Five Most Dangerous Jacksonville Intersections

"They are big trucks and whenever they have a crash, they're big crashes," explained Captain Derek Barrs.

In order to be cited for aggressive driving, a person must be doing two of the following:

Duval Schools' Pay-To-Play Sidelined

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A plan to have students who participate in sports pay-to-play this upcoming year has been sidelined, at least for now.

Duval County school superintendent Ed Pratt-Dannals stressed this doesn't mean it won't surface again.

"We are going to put a one year pause on pay-to-participate for athletics. Doesn't mean it goes away forever," said Pratt-Dannals at a school board workshop focusing on the budget.

Last summer, a community fundraising push saved a half dozen sports that were on the chopping block. 

Another cut to magnet transportation is also on hold. A year ago, the district required some students in magnet programs to make other arrangements.  The plan was to phase in more cuts, but that won't happen.

The superintendent says what changed was more money from the state plus decisions to draw upon reserve accounts to help balance the books.

Police: Man Arrested After Argument Leads to Fatal Shooting

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Monday morning the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office announced they had arrested John Redding for a fatal shooting that happened last week on Phyllis Street.

Redding, 30, was arrested after multiple witnesses told police they saw him shoot the victim, 36-year-old Michael Tanner, after an argument in a front yard in the 3100 block of Phyllis Street.

Tanner and a person who lives at a home in the area were involved in a physical altercation when Redding came out of the home with an assault style weapon, according to an arrest report from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

Witnesses told police Redding shot the suspect twice, hitting him in the side and head.  According to the arrest report, the second shot was fired while Tanner was laying on his back.

Community First Credit Union is “Investing in You” to Inspire Change on the First Coast

Community First Credit Union is “Investing in You” to Inspire Change on the First Coast

JACKSONVILLE, FLA. – Almost everyone has at least one good idea to make the First Coast a better place, if only they had the funds to make it happen. Starting tomorrow, and for the next 90 days, anyone, anywhere on the First Coast — including civic groups— has the opportunity to earn $1,000 towards a new or existing initiative.

Now in its second year, Community First’s Investing In You contest will award $1,000 every two weeks for 90 days to fund innovative ideas for improving communities throughout the First Coast.  Idea entries can be submitted through the credit union’s Facebook site. Last year’s winners included a variety of projects ranging from educational technology for at-risk kids to swimming tubs for rescued tigers.

Jacksonville-Based Company Makes Energy-Saving Devices

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- David Mulvaney runs a company that makes devices to help consumers save energy.

"We were in the business of going green before it was called going green," said Mulvaney.

He is the CEO of Jacksonville based V-Blox.

"There are a lot of scams in the energy savings business, I have an eBook I put out for free called 'Energy Savings Without Getting Scammed," he said.

At V-Blox, the company's focus is largely commercial, but there  products for the residential customer.

For the commercial customer, Mulvaney said his goal is to make electrical-powered equipment more efficient.

"Inefficiency simplly means the equipment breaks down more and often cost more to maintain." he said, "That certainly has a higher maintenance cost and it waste energy."

He said his automated technology will force motors to operate at 100%, which most don't.

Proud Sponsor of Kids Triathlon

Jacksonville Country Day School (JCDS) is proud to announce its sponsorship of the First Coast Kids Triathlon, which is being held April 28 and 29 at the University of North Florida. The event is one of the largest triathlons for kids in the country with nearly 2,000 participants expected this year.

Two people affiliated with JCDS, Mandy Gildersleeve, a mother of two students at the school, and Linda Lynch, a physical education coach at JCDS, were instrumental in founding the race.

Pothole At West Riverside Elementary: Road Depression or Street Cave In?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- School custodian Robert Allen has watched the problem of a pothole unfold, as he has been directing the after school traffic around West Riverside Elementary.

"That hole has been there since last month," he said.

It has become a problem for parents and school bus drivers as they navigate around the barricades in the middle of the intersection at Herschel and James.

"It is a safety hazard really," said Allen.

Angela Jenkins is one of those parents; she said the hole is big enough to cause worry.

"It is dangerous for the school buses to come by and the children that are crossing," she said.

It is easy to dismiss it as an inconvenience, but Jenkins says it is a safety concern because it is about three feet deep and seems to be getting wider.

Phyllis Street Murder Victim Identified

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. --The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office has identified a man killed by gunfire Monday night.

Michael Tanner, 36-years-old, was found dead by police Monday night in the 3100 block of Phyllis Street, according to a release from Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer Melissa Bujeda.

Tanner was found in the roadway and had been shot.

Homicide Sergeant Dan Janson said while police were investigating the man's death they heard more gunshots in the area and called for additional officers.

Witnesses at the scene interviewed by police said they had heard the gunshots but had not seen anything.

FCATs Begin Today

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, or FCAT, will be held this week for students across the state.

Kathryn LeRoy, Chief Academic Officer with Duval County Public Schools said there are some simple steps that parents can take to make sure their children are at their best.

  • Get plenty of rest
  • Eat a healthy, filling breakfast
  • Take time to relax outside of school
  • Don't try to "cram" for the test
  • Do not go to school or take the test when feeling under the weather

"There are makeup days," explained LeRoy. 

She said parents should also try to give their children positive reinforcement throughout testing. 

Disney On Ice • Pixar's Toy Story 3

Disney On Ice • Pixar's Toy Story 3

I recenlty went to Disney On Ice Toy Story 3 and it was incredible!  The lights were bright, the characters were spot on, and the skaters were amazing and had me feeling like I could get out there on the ice with ease.  My friend and I brought some of our daughters and we were all glued to our seat the whole show through.  The show lasts about 2 hours and 15 minutes, with an intermission in between.  Be sure to get your face painted, get your cotton candy with either a Buzz hat or alien hat attached to the bag, and buy your Toy Story 3 gear.  

If you missed this show, be sure to go over to Disney On Ice online to find out when the next show is coming our way.  You can see more pictures from the show at my family blog,


Brooks Rehabilitation Employees and Medical Teams International Helping Disabled in Haiti

Brooks Rehabilitation Employees and Medical Teams International Helping Disabled in Haiti

Medical Teams International will send four teams of physical and occupational therapists from Brooks Rehabilitation Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida to Haiti throughout the spring and summer of 2012, in order to provide rehabilitative care to those still suffering in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake. The volunteer therapists will work with Medical Teams International’s Haiti Advantage program in Les Cayes, providing care in the outpatient prosthetics and orthotics clinic and well as the local hospital.

Warm Winter, Rain Bring Mosquito Conditions

JACKSONVILLE, FLa. -- In their home off Heckscher Drive, Don Pellegrini and his wife take in serene views of the St. Johns from behind a shield of mesh.

"They have been tremendously bad this year," Pellegrini said of the mosquitoes. "I don't know exactly where they're coming from."

Richard Smith with Jacksonville's mosquito control believes a flooding at a dredging spoil site across Heckscher Drive is to blame for the current problem.

Despite the unseasonably warm winter giving mosquitoes favorable breeding conditions, Smith said the city will wait to start widespread spraying until their normal time: mid-April.

That decision comes despite 20 cases of West Nile Virus in Duval County last year; one of the highest number of cases in the country.

"You have to worry about something like that," Pellegrini said.

In the meantime, the city is spraying problem areas like the Pellegrini's neighborhood.

Residents Want To Use Westside Road, But Can't

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A lot of vehicles use Pritchard Road, west of Interstate 295.  But when drivers get to Cisco Drive and Pritchard Road, Pritchard becomes a dead end -- sort of

"I'm trying to figure our if there's a way to get over there. I'm from San Antonio, Texas," said a trucker.

There's a chain link fence with a lock on a gate restricting the use of the newly build road.

Roland Cope owns a farm in the area and is also disappointed with the closed road.

"We were all looking forward to go through here to go to Whitehouse. It takes you three or four minutes," said Cope.

Cope has been trying to cope with the inconvenience, but said it adds an extra 7.8 mile trek. 

"I am sure there are a lot of roads that need to be paved that they could use the money on," he said.

Cope said it only adds to his frustration the longer the road remains closed to the motoring public.

Can Your Landlord Walk Into Your Home Whenever?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Roy and Deborah Stanley moved into their Jacksonville apartment two months ago and say they were stunned when  the landlord unlocked their apartment, unannounced and at the most inappropriate time.

He was at work.  She was home alone in the shower.

"The door came open and I thought it was him (Roy)," said Stanley, "well he (landlord) just walked into the house and I shoved the door back and said I just got out of the shower, can you give me a minute?"

Another resident in the same Jacksonville apartment complex, Jimmy Nuckles, said the landlord is hands on and dedicated to the upkeep of the property but like his neighbors, he wants to know what rights the residents have.

"It is like in everything, else you should be given notice you're coming into to spray," said Nuckles.

Is the landlord required to give them prior notice?

Brunet-Garcia Documentary Honored by Telly Awards

Brunet-Garcia Documentary Honored by Telly Awards

The 33rd Annual Telly Awards recently honored Joash Brunet, writer/producer at Brunet-García Advertising, for the agency’s documentary Immunization: A Dose of Reality. The Tellys honor the finest film and video productions and excellence in local, regional and national commercials.

Brunet, who had 15 years of experience as a television producer before joining Brunet-García, wrote the script, providing insight, empathy and an unbiased journalistic expression to the increasingly controversial social issue of immunization. In addition, Brunet oversaw production and post-production duties for the hour-long program.

“The success of this documentary hinged on the expertise and passion provided by the medical experts and families who participated in this project,” says Brunet. “We feel this Telly Award honors their commitment and openness in this collaborative effort.”

JEA Worker Shocked by Power Line

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A JEA Worker has been taken to Shands Jacksonville after he was shocked by power lines he was working on.

The JEA worker was taking power lines off of houses in the 900 block of Hamilton Street on the Westside when he was shocked from secondary voltage, said Gerri Boyce, spokesperson for JEA.

The worker was knocked out of the bucket he was working in and fell to the ground.

Boyce said he was conscious when he was taken to Shands Jacksonville.

There is no information yet as to the severity of his injuries.

Registration for the Oceanway Tsunamis Swim Team

Registration is underway for the Oceanway Tsunamis Swim Team. Early registration is March 26-April 4, from 5 to 7 p.m., at the Oceanway Center and Park and Pool, 12215 Sago Avenue. Swimmers who sign up early will receive a free swim cap. The season begins May 3 and a $100 deposit is required along with a copy of the participant's birth certificate for the swim team file. The total season registration fee is $165 due by June 11.

Additional swimmers in the same family are $140 each. Event and other fees may apply. Registration ends June 11. To learn more, contact Diane Gonyer by phone at 904-751-1648, by email at or go online to


Jacksonville Sister Cities Event Highlights International Business With Brazilian Theme

On Thursday, March 22 at 5:30pm, Jacksonville Sister Cities Association will host a happy hour networking event at Espeto’s Brazilian Steakhouse, 4000 St. Johns Ave., #40, Jacksonville. There is no cost for the event and a cash bar is available, as well as specially priced caipirinha cocktails. An optional Brazilian dinner is available for a discounted price of $29 at 8:00pm. No reservations or tickets are needed. Contact: Alan Vinson - Brazil Business Solutions at 904-233-2856.

High Schools Will Offer Algebra Boot Camp During Spring Break

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - If you've got a son or daughter that is struggling with algebra, here's a chance to catch up.

William M. Raines, Nathan B. Forrest and Atlantic Coast high schools are offering a boot camp for algebra I students during spring break next week.

The four-day learning session will include:

• Understand key algebra I concepts.
• Learning content that will give them a jump start on quadratic equations.
• Understanding how their mindset can impact their academic success.

Classes are scheduled to run from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday,  according to Duval County Public Schools Spokesperson Jill Johnson.

The schools require that students who take part attend all four days.  Students can be dropped off as early as 7:45 a.m. and must be picked up by 2:15 p.m. 

Free lunch and bus passes will be available, said Johnson.

3rd Annual Spring-4-A-Cure Relay slated for March 24

3rd Annual Spring-4-A-Cure Relay slated for March 24

This year’s Spring 4-A-Cure 5K Walk/Run will be held on Saturday, March 24, beginning at 8:30 a.m. The race will begin and end at the St. Augustine Shores Riverview Club.

All proceeds from entry fees will be donated to the American Cancer Society. The race is being sponsored by the Mason Manatee Relay for Life team.

Awards will be given to the overall female and male winners. Recognition will also be given to the top three finishers in various age categories. Ample parking will be provided for all participants.

The course is scenic, safe, well marked, and has drink stations. You can preregister online by going to

Mail-in registration forms are also available online by going to

Episcopal Parents Gripped By Fear, Uncertainty

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. --  When David Steele heard that there was a shooting at Episcopal High he stopped what he was doing.

"Initially my heart stopped," he said.

Steele left his job at Shands Hospital and headed to the campus. His son Brandon was one of the 900 students caught in the chaos.

No student was injured, but the reports of a murder suicide on campus had a chilling affect on everyone.

"It was scary," said Brandon Steele.  This is his first year at the college preparatory school.

"I did not expect this to happen," said Steele.

The campus has security; guards who roam the grounds in golf cart-like vehicles.

Could security have prevented this?

Steele said it could have happened at any school and he still has confidence in the school security.

Local Organizations Root Collaboration with a Tree Planting

Brunet-García Advertising and their 2012 re:solve℠ grant recipients participated in a tree-planting event hosted by Greenscape of Jacksonville in Boone Park on Saturday, March 3. Fifty-nine trees were added to the Riverside park landscape.

JEA Investigates Accusations of Internal Fraud

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A 14-year employee at JEA is accused of setting up fraudulent transactions on customers' accounts, according to the utility.


The employee has been placed on administrative leave.  JEA, jointily with JSO, is reviewing customer accounts for potential improper transactions.

"If true, this employee not only violated the trust JEA placed in him, but the trust of the community we serve," said JEA CEO and Managing Director Jim Dickenson. "To say we are disappointed would be an understatement."

The employee's name hasn't been released and there's no word yet whether official charges will be filed.

JEA provides electric, water and sewer service to more than 875,000 customers in Northeast Florida.

Mildew of Impatiens Could Impact Your Landscape

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It is that time of year to spruce up garden or add life to the landscape, but this year you need to be aware of one plant that is under attack.

"This is the most popular landscape plant we have in the area for Spring and Summer in shady areas," said Terry DelValle. 

DelValle is a  county extension expert' she said the garden impatiens is under attack.

"They are being destroyed by a mildew disease; young plants and new growth are most susceptible," she said 

DelValle said don't be surprise if there's a shortage of the plant material. 

The mold mildew disease problem was discovered in the Palm beach county area and with other South Florida growers. 

"The disease is spotted all the way from California to South Florida," said Chris Trad.

He runs the Trad Garden Center and is checking every load of impatiens that come in. 

MuckRuckus MS Jacksonville: It's Dirty Work Ending MS

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - North Florida will get mucky for a good cause on March 24 & 25, 2012 at MuckRuckus MS Jacksonville, a 10K challenge course at the Taye Brown Regional Park Sports Complex. Before competing or getting mucky for fun, each participant will raise a minimum of $100 for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

MuckRuckus MS Jacksonville, presented by Suddath, is expected to surpass prior years with more than 5,000 participants, volunteers, and spectators to raise this year's goal of $815,000 with proceeds moving us toward a world free of MS. Bystanders can watch their friends and family-sometimes decked out in costume-get mucky within a lively festival atmosphere complete with food, beverages, music and more. It is an inspiring experience whether participating, volunteering, or watching!

Student Aid Workshops Announced

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown today announced a series of free workshops designed to help prospective college students complete their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The seven workshops will be held throughout Jacksonville starting March 31st.  According to a press release from the City of Jacksonville the workshops are being offered at no cost to students or taxpayers.

The city will track the number of students by zip code, Federal Pell Grand Program money and expected family contribution to measure the program's success.

Mayor Brown said, "The FAFSA can be a challenging part of the college experience.  We're fortunate in Jacksonville to have so many people who want to use their talents for the good of helping others."

Jim Abbott to Speak at Brooks Rehabilitation’s Celebrate Independence Event Saturday

Jim Abbott to Speak at Brooks Rehabilitation’s Celebrate Independence Event Saturday

Brooks Rehabilitation invites you to join us as we Celebrate Independence on Saturday, March 3, 2012 from 9:00 am – 2:30 pm. This FREE event will feature insightful speakers, exciting demonstrations, exhibits, health screenings, and refreshments.  Our keynote speaker will be Jim Abbott, the famed one-handed Major League Baseball player who overcame the birth defect of having only one hand to become an amazing professional pitcher and ball player.

First for You: Carpooling Could Help Pre-empt the Pump

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- We've seen it before, the last time gas prices went up to around $4.00 a gallon, drivers started looking for alternatives.  Now, transportation planners think carpooling could see a surge as gas prices go up again.

Latest gas prices around Jacksonville
More car news at First Coast Gears
- Latest traffic conditions

IHOP Offers Free Pancakes Today

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- If a cereal bar just won't cut it this morning, you can get a free short stack of pancakes from any IHOP restaurant instead.

MORE: SLIDESHOW of Claire Cooking Pancakes with IHOP

The International House of Pancakes is offering the free breakfast in an effort to raise money for Children's Miracle Network hospitals. They will ask pancake lovers to make a voluntary donation instead of paying for their short stack. 

In Jacksonville, the proceeds will go to Wolfson's Children's Hospital and Shands Children's Hospital at the University of Florida, according to a news release from IHOP. 

The "National Pancake Day" offer runs from 7:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. today. 

Vote No on House Bill 4057 to Save PE in Our Middle Schools!

Vote No on House Bill 4057 to Save PE in Our Middle Schools!

The American Heart Association strongly opposes House Bill 4057, by State Representative Larry Metz, removing the requirement for Middle School Physical Education. 

HomeBuyers: Buyer Beware

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A month ago Trey Hartinger bought his first home, the seller had repairs made to complete the sale.

"There was some repair work that needed to be done, before I would buy it, some wood rot on the floor," said Hartinger.

Now Hartinger has discovered the work was poorly done, and the person who did the work is not a state licensed contractor.

"We're newly married so it was the last thing we needed to to have to deal with, work that wasn't done right," he said.

Steve Shaw, a state certified general contractor, said in real estate sales it happens more often than you can imagine. Shaw was also a real estate broker.

"As you can see the siding is not nailed down," said Shaw, "there's no caulking underneath all it's gonna take is for the water to drive through."

Library Offering Student Financial Aid Workshops

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Library will offer four opportunities for prospective college students to learn the ins and outs of the college financial aid process.

The sessions are being offered through a partnership with the Florida Department of Education Office of Student Financial Assistance (OSFA).

The sessions are offered free of charge.  In addition to the explanation of the financial aid process attendees will also be given tips for filling out financial aid forms, according to a release.

The four workshops will be held on the following dates:

Viewer: When Will 'Pain in the Neck' Road Project Be Completed?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- When it comes to road improvement projects, the longer it takes the angrier motorists become. The Chaffee Road project has been in the works since 2009.

"It is a pain in the neck, " said George Felter.

Felter lives in Crystal Springs Estates, ground zero of the project. He moved in a year ago at what he thought was the height of the construction.

"They said that it was going to be finished in six months," he said. "I understand the project has been two years."

The cost and how long it is taking has become the bane of the residents complaints.

Jim Logan, who also lives in the area, said the sidewalk rails are still not up, so the sidewalk is not open.

The Florida Department of Transportation, which oversees the project, has received its share of complaints,

"It has been a tough project," said DOT information officer Mike Goldman.

Searchable Database of Documented Illegal Drug Labs in Northeast Florida

This database is comprised of information obtained from the DEA's National Clandestine Laboratory Register.  A list of all documented Florida clandestine labs is available here

Is Alden Road Repaving Really Necessary Residents Ask

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- In some neighborhoods the noise of heavy machinery and the promise of a new road might be a welcome sight.

But David Esposito questions the need and the justification of this road repaving project in his Kernan Lakes neighborhood.

"It is wasteful spending. There appears to be a lack of oversight, the road is in good condition," said Esposito.

It is costing taxpayers $192,000 to resurface more than 6,000 feet of road, in two sections. Esposito, who admits he is not a road engineer, believes the cracks in Alden road do not justify the expense.

"That road can't be more than 12-13 years old," said Esposito. "Where I come from in New England you get potholes the size of a truck before it gets fixed." 

Duval's Graduation Rate Drops Under Federal Calculaton

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Duval County's graduation rate took a hit following the calculation of federal rules now being used to determine the percentage of students who graduate in four years.

In December, the Florida Department of Education released statewide numbers that put the state's graduation rate at 80%, but the federal calculation drops the number to 70%.

The federal graduation rate counts students who receive standard diplomas within four years.  The state had counted students who received special diplomas.

In Duval County the calculation change resulted in an 8% drop with the federal formula lowering the graduation rate to 63%. In December, the state graduation figure gave Duval its highest percentage ever with 71%.

Duval County school board chairperson Betty Burney was not upset with the federal formula.

"I think what they are trying to do is get everybody uniform," said Burney.

Florida Foreclosures on the Rise Again

After a year-long reprieve from rising foreclosures, the numbers are going up again.

One in every 624 U.S. households received a foreclosure filing in January, up 3 percent from the previous month, according to a new report from RealtyTrac.  Foreclosure activity froze in many states in 2011, due to processing delays after fraud, or so-called "Robo-signing," were uncovered in the fall of 2010.  The thaw is now on.

Jacksonville Man Declared Dead By Social Security

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. --  They were married 57 years, Grace and Harles May but on January 22 the union was broken when she died.

"It is bad and it is still bad for me just losing my wife and I've got to go through this," said Harles May.

Three days after his wife's death the social security office declared he was dead for no explained reason.

"I can't get a credit card, nothing, because I'm dead," said May.

The family discovered the problem after his monthly social security check of $1400 was deposited and then removed from his bank account.

"Well today is the 15th and my dad still has no social security, no pension, his credit is still messed up," said Bonnie Smart.

Smart is his daughter.  She said on February 3rd they went to the Jacksonville Social Security office to correct the mistake and thought it was corrected. 

"They wrote on a document that I'm very much alive," said May.

Popeyes Appetite for a Cure


A fundraising campaign conducted by Sailormen, Inc. at Popeyes restaurants in Northeast Florida and across the Southeast will provide customers with valuable discounts while garnering support for the Muscular Dystrophy Association's worldwide research and services programs. 

Constituents Email To City Council Is Public Unless

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- At City Hall, where they're required to keep the city business public, there's concern about posting constituents emails publicly.

"I think most people who communicate with city council members don't expect that communication to be put in an electronic fishbowl," said Robin Lumb.

Councilman Lumb met with several council members, in an open meeting, to see if posting the emails publicly will have a chilling effect on how they do city business.

Right now the city council president is the only one publicly posting his emails on a regular basis.

"Previously they had been posted at a public website and the city has changed some of its website technology. The only person that is routinely posting some of its emails is Councilman Stephen Joost," said Lumb.

Commonly Used Vitamin Could Help Produce ‘Good’ Cholesterol, UF Researchers Find


Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels can keep heart disease, heart attack and stroke away. And a commonly used vitamin could help by increasing production of “good” cholesterol in the body, researchers at the University of Florida College of Medicine-Jacksonville have found. The findings were published recently in the journal Metabolism, Clinical and Experimental.

North Florida Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Welcomes New Team Members

North Florida Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Welcomes New Team Members


The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF) of North Florida announces three new team members have joined the organization. Brett Hipsley has been named development director and will manage the Great Strides brand, the foundation’s largest national event, for the North Florida office. He will be responsible for nine of the 13 annual Great Strides that take place from Jacksonville to Pensacola. Mona Hover will serve as development manager and is responsible for overseeing the production of major fundraising events including Cycle for Life, The Oldest City Red Trout Celebrity Classic fishing tournament and Gainesville Tailgate for a Cure. Charlotte Cudd has joined the team as event specialist and will assist in the production of the 24 North Florida CFF events held annually.

Florida Gets Flexibility Waiver from US Department of Education


The U.S. Department of Education today approved Florida’s request for a flexibility waiver from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Florida was one of 11 states asking for flexibility with regard to accountability standards mandated by the No Child Left Behind legislation implemented in 2001. The state requested the waiver to be able to move to a single statewide accountability system that would eliminate duplicative regulation and make Florida’s system easier to understand.

Planation Oaks Students Learn 2-Steps to Save a Life

Planation Oaks Students Learn 2-Steps to Save a Life

CPR Hands-Only training is  “Staying Alive” for 5th Graders at Clay County Elementary School 

Who: St. Vincent’s HealthCare, Plantation Oaks Elementary School and the American Heart Association-First Coast Market
What: Mass Hands-Only CPR instruction of more than 100 5th grade students attending Plantation Oaks Elementary School
When: Thursday, February 9, 2012 beginning at 9 a.m.

Ken's Top 10 Places to Buy Lunch for $7 or less

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- I don't know if you've ever done it: Sit down and count the cost of going out to lunch five days a week, but it adds up.

I found several places. I have eaten at some in the past and viewers suggested others where you can grab lunch for $7 dollars or less.

Here are my top 10 places to eat on the cheap and do it the healthy way.

Number 10:

Russ Does Sandwich shop. This mom-and-pop business is near EverBank Field on Talleyrand Avenue. It has been there for decades and keeps the lunch crowd happy for cheap. The Russ Doe special, a drink and its banana pudding will cost you $6.15. They only accept cash. 

Number Nine:

La Nopalera Mexican restaurant on Hendricks Avenue is popular. The No. 2 special, a beef burrito, rice and fried beans will cost you about $5.

Who Are You? Group Works to ID Unclaimed Veteran Cremains

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Across the country, the unidentified cremains of thousands of military veterans are sitting in urns.

In Jacksonville, there are 654 unclaimed cremains. The Missing in America project is now sifting through each one to verify whether the deceased is a veteran.

The organization's goal is to give the deceased veterans a military burial in the Jacksonville National Cemetery with the same dignity and respect as their fellow servicemen buried there.

The 654 urns in Jacksonville are kept at the Hardage Giddens funeral home in a private room.

"It got this way through a myriad of things," said Tom O' Berry, assistant state coordinator of the Missing in America Project.

Customer Discovers JEA's Website Info Outdated

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Abra Billings pays attention to the details when it comes to paying her monthly bills and the JEA bill gets even closer scrutiny.

"It is probably one of my least favorite bills to receive," she said.

In January, it was higher than the previous month, increasing from $62 to $155. Billings went to the JEA's website looking for an explanation.

"I saw a page dedicated to people who are upset about having high bills, and on that page it said that this winter was cooler than last winter," said Billings.

But it isn't.

FCN Presents a National Signing Day Special, Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

First Coast News will be airing a live half-hour special on National Signing Day on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. on ABC-25.

We'll be showing video from more than 20 local high schools as dozens of student-athletes will be signing letters of intent to accept athletic scholarships to the colleges of their choice.

We'll also break down the recruiting classes for the Gators, Noles, Bulldogs, Hurricanes, and more. 

We'll hear from Will Muschamp and Jimbo Fisher, plus we'll be joined live in studio by one of the top recruits in the Class of 2013, Bishop Kenny wide receiver Ahmad Fulwood.

To stay up to date with all of the developments surrounding National Signing Day, visit

5 Things You Need to Know Today: Jan. 31

1. Eat a Banana to Honor Ham!: On this day in 1961 Ham the Chimp became the first hominid launched into outer space.

2. There’s An App for That, but You Won't Use It: Consumers ignore most apps on their smartphones. Of smartphone owners, 68% open only five or fewer apps at least once a week, finds a survey by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project.

3. Contacts Lenses Don’t Discriminate: An elephant in Amsterdam's zoo has made history after being fitted with a jumbo-sized contact lens following an eye injury, a statement said Monday.

National Wear Red Day and American Heart Month Activities

National Wear Red Day and American Heart Month Activities

We can stop our No. 1 killer together by sharing the truth about heart disease

 Friday, February 3, 2012 is National Wear Red Day and February is American Heart Month. The American Heart Association- First Coast Market is participating in and/or hosting a number of public events listed below. Why is this important? The Facts are Clear– More women die of heart disease than all forms of cancer combined. Unfortunately, the killer isn’t as easy to see. Many times heart disease is often silent, hidden and misunderstood.

  • Thursday, February 2, 2012   

Legislature Takes First Step to Open School Playgrounds Across the State

Legislature Takes First Step to Open School Playgrounds Across the State

 House Bill 431 will allow schools to open up their facilities for children during non-school hours giving access to publicly funded
playgrounds and athletic fields.

Tallahassee, FL (Wednesday, January 25, 2012) – The American Heart Association applauds the House Education K-20 Competitiveness Committee for taking step towards providing   opportunities for Florida’s children, who desperately need time for unstructured play and exercise. 

"Flim Flam" Suspect Sought in Clay County

"Flim Flam" Suspect Sought in Clay County

The Clay County Sheriff's Office is actively investigating the "flim flam," or swindle, of an 84-year-old Orange park woman that occurred earlier this month. 

JSO Seeks Help Identifying Robbery Suspect

JSO Seeks Help Identifying Robbery Suspect



On Saturday, police were dispatched to the T-Mobile store at 5205 Normandy Blvd. in reference to an armed robbery.

Flu Update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Influenza (the flu) is a dangerous disease that takes the lives of thousands of people in the United States every year—and causes more than 200,000 people to be hospitalized. Anyone can get sick from the flu and spread the virus to others. Increases in flu activity are expected soon as the flu season gets underway.

Cool Valentine's Day Inspired Treats Now at Dairy Queen

The Dairy Queen® system celebrates the most romantic month of the year with special treats including custom-decorated Valentine's Day-themed heart shaped cakes and the popular Choco Cherry Love as the featured Blizzard® of the Month for February.

'Pay to Play' Proposed for Duval County Sports

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- "Pay to play" is on the table for discussion as Duval County Public Schools tries to save money in the face of a projected $53 million budget shortfall.

The school board during a budget presentation learned one option is a $75 per student per sport fee.

District Athletic Director John Fox said the idea surfaced last year before the community raised nearly $600,000 to save sports on the chopping block.

Fox said the participation fee would not apply to students on free or reduced lunch.

The pay plan would apply to high, middle and junior varsity sports. Currently around 15,000 students participate in sports in Duval County.

Fletcher High coach Ricky Medlock has been coaching for 29 years and sees pay-to-play as a sign of the times.

"With my kids personally I do whatever it takes," said Medlock who has two sons playing two sports.

Actor William Baldwin Promotes Faith Based Movie

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- William Baldwin has played many roles in a long list of movies, but the actor is walking into a role he has never played before, the coach of a blind football player.

"I know football very well and I know coaching very well," said Baldwin.

Baldwin is the coach in the faith based movie 'Blind Faith' which is being filmed in Jacksonville.

The movie is the story of Mike Chastain who had completely lost his vision,through an accident and a disease, when he decided to play high school football, and he did.

"I happen to be at the right place at the right time, that just means I happen to be at a school with a coach that would give me that chance," said Chastain.

"Think about it a totally blind kid playing a violent game like football," he added.

Students Build Toward the Future at Engineering Fair

Students Build Toward the Future at Engineering Fair

To spark interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, Jacksonville Country Day School (JCDS) held its annual Engineering Fair on Friday, January 20, 2012. Vincent Barre, manager of plastic engineering at Vistakon, talked to students about their work and gave a presentation at the event.

Education on First Coast Takes the Spotlight

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Two big events in education on the First Coast has St. Johns County enjoying a number one ranking and Duval County busy promoting the value of reading.

The Florida Department of Education is holding a news conference Monday morning to offer details on St. Johns County being named the top school district in the state.

Governor Rick Scott requested that all 67 school districts being ranked. 

St. Johns County schools have constantly ranked near the state on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.

In Duval County, literacy is the big push this week as the state touts literacy.

Locally the" Read It Forward Jax" campaign will feature reading events at eleven Chick-fil-A locations with  Family Reading Night starting at 4:30 p.m.

Chikck-fil-A will donate part of the proceeds to the reading campaign.

Man Using Honest Charity Name to Cheat Businesses

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A family-owned transmission repair business was targeted by a customer using the name of a charity to get a bargain.

Several months ago, a customer brought his transmission into Cottman's for repairs.

"He came in and asked to have the transmission of his Acura rebuilt," said Andrea Wade, the owner of Cottman's repair shop.

Wade said the customer gave her a Florida Department of Revenue tax exempted document and claimed he was with the Children's Home Society. He also gave the repair shop a purchase order that claimed the transmission was from CHS.

Wade said the documents were convincing; they would have given the customer a break on taxes on the price of the work. but when she started asking questions, red flags went up.

Thrilling Finish at Local High School Basketball Game

Click here to watch a buzzer beater in overtime during the First Coast - Ed White boys basketball game on Friday night.

Florida Get D's & F's on American Lung Association's State of Tobacco Control Report

Florida Get D's & F's on American Lung Association's State of Tobacco Control Report


The American Lung Association’s State of Tobacco Control 2012 report was released today. The report showed that Florida received mixed grades on important tobacco issues, such as smoking cessation coverage and smokefree air laws. 

P-U! Stinky Neighborhood Holds Nose, Waits for Answers

JACKSONVILLE , Fla. -- Gloria Johnson has lived on West 10th  street since 1971, but said for the last last few months it has been unbearable.

"It is very, very foul and you can hardly sit out in the evenings when it is warm, you can hardly sit outside," said Johnson.

There is a mystery stench in the air that makes it hard to breathe said Johnson. "It smells like raw sewage, it almost takes your breath away."

Residents on West 10th Street have been holding their noses to the smell for months. It started in November, but they said they waited to report it to the city until December.

"It just got worse," she said.

They don't know if it is methane gas or untreated sewage, but they believe the stench is coming from the storm drains.

Florida Primary Opens this Weekend: Where can I Vote Early?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The nation's third presidential primary (and fourth event, including the Iowa Caucuses) is the first one in a major swing state, and early voting opens this weekend.

The Presidential Preference Primary to select the Republican nominee to face off against President Barack Obama in November is Tuesday, Jan. 31, and since Florida's is a closed primary, only registered Republicans can participate.

MORE: Political news

Early voting throughout the First Coast runs for eight days beginning Saturday and ending the following Saturday, Jan. 28.

Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are the five remaining candidates seeking to lock up enough delegates to clinch the nomination at the Republican National Convention in August.

Warming the Souls Blanket Drive

Warming the Souls Blanket Drive

Everyone has had those cold days where you just wanted to curl up in your favorite blanket and stay cozy, but what if you didn’t have that blanket? POI’s inaugural Warming the Souls Blanket Drive is gathering blankets for the people in our community who are in this very dilemma.

Parking Lot Rescue Repair Scam Targets Seniors

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It was 11:30 a.m. when 75-year-old Norman Delehanty parked his car in the same area he always parks at the Walmart on Normandy Boulevard.

"I had just put something in the trunk and I hear a voice behind me," he said.

The voice behind him came from a man who claimed he was a mechanic and that he saw something wrong with the front tire on Delehanty's Ford 500.


Delehanty said the man took the wheel off Delehanty's vehicle and told him there was a problem with the brakes and calipers. "He had me get in the car and pump the brakes; then he said he need $120 to buy parts to repair the brakes."

Food Lion Closures Leave Strip Malls without Anchors

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Food Lion stores all over the First Coast will be closing their doors, leaving people without jobs and neighboring businesses without an anchor store in shopping centers.

The store's owner, Delhaize America, announced that it plans to "close 113 underperforming Food Lion Stores."

Among those stores 12 are in Jacksonville. Another store in Florida will also be converted to a Harveys. Two in Clay County, four in St. Johns County and one in Waycross are also closing.

Thursday morning, a new sign was on the front door at the Merrill Road location, stating the new hours going forward are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

A sign posted at the customer service center said Food Lion will no longer offer ATM, money order or lottery services. 

Scott Stresses Cooperation in State of State Address

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Gov. Rick Scott told lawmakers in his second State of the State address that Florida needs to continue to streamlining government, cutting corporate taxes and eliminating regulations in an effort to help existing businesses grow and to lure more here.

But unlike last year, when the former CEO began his first term in elected office dictating the agenda, his new theme this year is cooperation. He's adding a new word to a familiar catch phrase used during his campaign and first year in office.

"Let's get to work - together," Scott's speech ends, according to prepared remarks.

Resident Status Takes Bite Out of Fight to Keep Therapy Dog

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Lisa Moccio loves her therapy dog "Toot."

She has had him a year and he's always by her wheelchair. "He's like my child," she said.

But this week she had to put him in a foster home at No More Homeless Pets, she said, until she can produce proof to her landlord that Toot is medically necessary. 

"The paperwork we have here is not enough and Toot is 3 lbs. over the weight limit and they're not allowing him to stay," she said.

Music Review: Tim McGraw's Emotional Traffic

Music Review: Tim McGraw's Emotional Traffic

From the day I started listening to country music, Tim McGraw has been one of my favorite artists. He has a good vocal range and the ability to make albums with a little bit of everything. By that I mean that he has a mix of up-tempo, nostalgic, and inspiring songs.

Man Loses Chihuahua, Finds it at Animal Control but City Disagrees