News

Endeavour Heat Shields Damaged

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Damaged heat shields on the Endeavour's underbelly have NASA engineers concerned about the health of the space shuttle.

The heat shields are designed to protect the craft when it re-enters the extreme temperatures of the earth's atmosphere.

Seven places on the shuttle were damaged during the launch on Monday- though engineers have already cleared 5 of those spots because they don't pose any significant threat.

The astronauts will take a closer look at the 2 remaining places tomorrow- and if those places are enough of a problem, they'll have to do what's called a focused inspection in space.

NASA takes any damage to those heat shields very seriously since they were a contributing factor to the Columbia Shuttle Disaster of 2003 which killed seven astronauts.

VIDEO | SLIDESHOW: Endeavour Launches on Penultimate Shuttle Trip

VIDEO | SLIDESHOW: Endeavour Launches on Penultimate Shuttle Trip

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Endeavour blasted off on NASA's next-to-last shuttle flight, thundering through clouds into orbit Monday morning as the mission commander's wounded wife, Gabrielle Giffords, watched along with an exhilarated crowd estimated in the hundreds of thousands.

NASA is winding down its 30-year-old shuttle program before embarking on something new. The event generated the kind of excitement seldom seen on Florida's Space Coast on such a grand scale - despite a delay of more than two weeks from the original launch date because of an electrical problem.

The shuttle quickly disappeared into the clouds.

"That was four seconds of cool," said Manny Kariotakis, who was visiting from Montreal. The 50-year-old got goosebumps watching the liftoff with thousands along Highway 1 in Titusville.

Just before launching, commander Mark Kelly thanked all the who put hands "on this incredible ship."

Mom Knows Best; Children Share Pearls of Wisdom

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Every mother has her words of wisdom. Always wear clean underwear. Act like a lady. Study first, play later. A mixture of practical advice and stern warnings, these verbal pearls are polished by years of repetition. 

But, even when they seem to fall on deaf -- usually teenage -- ears, the maternal messages are received. Today, on Mother's Day, they are especially cherished. See, Mom? We're listening, after all.

Growing up, Stacie Sauers never rolled her eyes at her mother's advice. Well, not that she can recall. "There were things we didn't necessarily agree on, but I've always respected her," Sauers, a Pensacola resident, said of her mother, Charlotte Teston. "She's the best. I learned how to be a good mom and a good person from her."

Florida Uses Twitter to Encourage Families to Adopt Children in Foster Care

Florida Uses Twitter to Encourage Families to Adopt Children in Foster Care

Florida is using Twitter to spread the word that about 850 children in foster care are waiting to be adopted.

Floridians are getting news and information about children in foster care available for adoption, plus support and resources for adoptive families, by following @ExploreAdoption on Twitter.

St. Mark's Episcopal Third-Grade Teacher of the Week

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A third-grade teacher at St. Mark's Episcopal Day School has a love of Florida history and she shares that love and enthusiam with her students. Drew Haramis is our Teacher of the Week. 

The part of the school day Haramis especially enjoys is teaching her favorite subject. "This is my real passion with teaching. I love history, and I love Florida history and Jacksonville history," said Haramis.

Her love of history is contagious and her students really know their facts. Recently, they put on an annual event at the school called Florida Day.

Each third-grader dressed up as a character and presented numerous projects. "They come up with the costume and write their own lines. It is one of the most glorifying days of a teacher because I see their hard work pay off and it makes me so happy." 

Energy Audit Employee Quits Job Over Harrassing Calls

Energy Audit Employee Quits Job Over Harrassing Calls

ORANGE PARK, Fla. -- Vincent Beneduce says he worked for energy audit companies for eight days before he quit.

He did not like their sales techniques, he said, calling them relentless and misleading. "They way they're harassing people to get these appointments is unethical and it is dishonest."

In fact, there have been viewer complaints to First Coast News of incessant calls from companies offering free energy audits, and ultimately sales of energy saving products.

Beneduce still has his appointment book of glossy graphics and lists of reasons a homeowner should buy energy saving devices at a high price.

"If they were honest they wouldn't have to call people 30 times and that is the dishonest part that I am talking about," he said.

When asked about his employer, Beneduce gave the names of several companies. It's not a quick answer.

Propane Tank Explosion Sends One to Hospital

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A propane tank explosion in Ortega sent one person to the hospital, according to Captain Roy Hall with JFRD.

Shortly after 9 p.m., firefighters responded to a home at the intersection of Bettes Circle and Eldorado Avenue.

The fire was nearly out when they arrived, but Hall said rescue crews transported a 40-year-old patient to the hospital in serious to critical condition.

First Coast News has a crew at the scene and will bring you updates when they become available.