News

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.

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.