Cold Case Closure
Sheriff John Rutherford credits a federal grant and DNA testing for helping to solve the sexual battery and murder of a 10-year-old girl about 28 years ago. James Leon Jackson, 60, was arrested Feb. 5, charged with the death of Tammy Welch. The Sheriff’s Office received a $500,000 grant to review more than 300 homicide cold cases from 1990 to 2001 using DNA evidence. In addition to the homicides, 195 sexual assault cases from the same period will be examined for any DNA matches.
Florida Wildlife Feedback
The public can review the state’s conservation plans for 23 species of native wildlife. The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission posted the draft action plans on the agency’s website, myfwc.com/imperiled. Comments are taken through March 13. Eventually, plans for 60 native species will be reviewed. The current 23 draft plans include 11 bird species, like roseate spoonbill and snowy egret, five fish species, four mammals like the Everglades mink, two reptiles and one amphibian. “Each of the plans contains biological background, conservation history and the goal, objectives and specific actions proposed for conserving that particular species,” according to the FWC release.
Search for Spaces on Your Phone
Have you ever circled the block in downtown Jacksonville looking for a parking space? That could change in early March with the installation of 99 parking sensors and the release of Parker, a smart phone app indicating open spaces. David DeCamp, a spokesperson for Mayor Alvin Brown, said the program is a three-month trial of the Streetline system. Parker shows where street parking is available in the seven-block area south of Hemming Plaza and where parking garages are open. Streetline, a privately held company based in Foster City, Calif., has worked with Ft. Lauderdale, Los Angeles, Indianapolis, Reno and Washington, D.C., to find parking solutions. According to the Financial News & Daily Record, if the city opts to use the system after the trial period, it will cost $15-$20 a month per parking space, or about $18,000-$24,000 a year. Maybe Streetline can make an app to help smartphone-distracted drivers looking for parking.
The Art of Caring
The Northeast Florida arts community is again rallying to find creative solutions; this time, it's a little more personal. Last October, Rikki Southworth was diagnosed with breast cancer; she's now seeking medical treatment. Southworth, who has no health insurance, is a much-loved presence on the visual arts scene. A series of benefit concerts are being held to raise funds to help Rikki, the wife and muse of artist Chip Southworth. On Feb. 15, nightclub Kala, 331 East Bay St., Downtown, 356-6455, holds a Rally for Rikki: The Primary featuring Tuffy, The Bath Party (with Chad Jasmine) and Tropic of Cancer. Admission is $10. Donations at giveforward.com/rallyforrikki.
Close Call at Englewood
What could have been a tragic incident was averted Feb. 5 at Englewood High School when a school resource officer found a loaded gun and a knife in a car in the visitors' parking lot. Tamolis (CQ) Clark, 18, is being held without bond in the Duval County Jail, charged with carrying a concealed weapon, trespassing on school property with a firearm or other weapon and two counts of possession of a firearm on school property. Clark told police he always carries a gun and knife. Clark is not a student there, according to New4Jax.com. The Times-Union reported he was at Englewood to confront a student.
Justice for Amber the Dog
A felony charge of animal cruelty has been filed against Randal Bryan Hart, accused of slashing the throat of a 70-pound collie-Labrador mix on Jan. 13, the St. Augustine Record reported. If convicted, Hart could receive up to five years in prison and be subject to a state law requiring those convicted of the crime pay a minimum mandatory fine of $2,500 fine and undergo psychological testing. The dog, Amber, has been adopted by St. Johns County Deputy Dan Sorrells.
EWC to DCPS
Kimberly Davis is moving from Edward Waters College to Duval County Public Schools to serve as Superintendent Nikolai Vitti’s chief of intergovernmental affairs and community outreach. Davis has been assistant vice president for enrollment management at Edward Waters since September 2012. Davis and Vitti both worked for Florida Department of Education from 2008-’10; she was director of dropout prevention. The new post pays her $110,000 a year.