If you see a gaggle of law enforcement officers along Wells Road in Orange Park on Wednesday afternoon it is not an actual emergency, it’s only a drill. Some 65 people from the Clay County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team, the Orange Park Police and Fire Departments, Clay County Fire Rescue and Everest University staff and students are working together on a training exercise. The college students will be acting out scenarios such as an active shooter on campus to a hostage situation, and the officers and first responders will be honing their skills for an actual emergency. Remember, it is only a drill.
A new poll by the University of North Florida showed that about 70 percent of those questioned still approve or strongly approve of Mayor Alvin Brown’s performance. In a similar poll taken last year, 75 percent of those polled approved of the mayor’s performance. In the same poll, 48 percent of those polled approve of the job the Jacksonville City Council is doing.
Those polled showed 40 percent were taking a wait-and-see attitude on newly hired Duval County Superintendent of Schools Nikolai Vitti. About 40 percent had no opinion of the new superintendent. A majority of residents, 58 percent, supported the city adding sexual orientation to its human rights ordinance.
The poll was taken between Feb. 4 and Feb. 12 and included 917 Duval County residents. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.23 percent.
Jacksonville is receiving $450,000 from the 2012-2013 Florida Defense Support Task Force Grants, Gov. Rick Scott announced Monday.
The grants are part of $2.6 million awarded to 10 project across the state “to protect military installations and grow jobs and opportunities across the state,” the governor said
In Jacksonville, the funds will go for the construction of an explosive ordinance disposal bunker at Jacksonville Air National Guard Base and establishing a maritime research center at Mayport Naval Station.
A grant of $100,000 will to the Florida 8 (a) Alliance in Jacksonville to assist veteran-owned and defense industry small business across Florida.
“These investments are critical to supporting military jobs and further establishing Jacksonville as a major hub for aircraft basing,” the governor said.
Mayor Alvin Brown thanked the governor, saying, “This is a remarkable opportunity not only to strengthen our part of national security, but promote jobs and economic development at the local and state levels.”
JaxPort’s Board of Directors have voted unanimously to inform the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that it wants to dredge the harbor to no less than 47 feet deep to keep the port competitive.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had recommended Monday that the St. Johns River shipping channel be dredged from its current 40-foot depth to 45 feet deep. Port members, however, said recommended depth is not deep enough for the port to service larger cargo ships from Asia.
The JaxPort board members said they think the 47-feet depth is needed to keep Jacksonville competitive to other East Cost ports.
The federal government will pay 75 percent of the cost to dredge up to 45 feet. Anything deeper than that depth could be paid for with state, federal, local or private funds.
There were no cost figures discussed at Monday’s meeting. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will release the draft results of its harbor deepening study in May.
A mixture of local talent and world-renowned experts are scheduled to give talks at the TEDx Jacksonville Connecting Currents event, to be held Oct. 26 on WJCT's sound stage.
Participants include Barbara Colaciello, Jacksonville Beach actor, playwright and storyteller; Hank Coxe, a Jacksonville attorney; Nancy Soderberg, UNF professor and former UN ambassador and White House advisor; Bruce Ganger, executive director of Second Harvest North Florida; Ben Warner, president and CEO of Jacksonville Community Council.
Also, Matt Rutherford, the first person to complete nonstop single-handed voyages around North and South America; former U.S. Rep. Robert Inglis, with the distinction of being uninvited to the Tea Party; TEDGlobal Fellow Aman Mojadidi, an American Southerner born to Afghan parents; Chevara Orrin, a black Jewish mother, activist and survivor who will discuss simple human interaction; Lawanda Ravoira, an expert on challenges girls in the juvenile justice system face; and Patricia Siemen, a Dominican sister and attorney who will discuss the long-term ecological health of the Earth.
As a reader, you might only think about Folio Weekly’s Best of Jax twice a year: once when you vote and again when you pick up the issue or go to the website to find out who won.
But here at Folio Weekly’s international headquarters, we’ve been working on Best of Jax for months.
It begins in May when we start compiling the list of categories for the ballot and decide which ones to keep, which ones to cut and which ones to add.
In June, we brainstorm several ideas for themes. This year, our passion for “Game of Thrones” pushed us to pick royalty. At that time, we create a logo for that year’s awards.
In July, we create the online ballot and launch it by the end of the month. While all of you are busy voting in August, we’re searching for models and props to bring our theme to life.
When voting ends, we start tabulating the votes. Because the ballot is open-ended and people can type in anything they want, it takes time to comb through each answer and add it to the appropriate place. It’s a laborious but somewhat humorous task sifting through the creative spellings of Northeast Florida’s favorites. But every vote counts!
Meanwhile, we shoot photos for the cover and topic headers that run inside. We shoot everything in at least two ways so we have different poses for the two Best of Jax issues — this year on Oct. 9 and Oct. 16.
Once we have a list of winners in early September, we assign writers to research and summarize their laurels in individual blurbs. Our staff photographer shoots more than 50 winners in four counties in about three weeks’ time.
Then, we compile and edit all the text and photos into the first and second Best of Jax issues. Once those are designed, proofed and printed, we still have to upload it all online.
We also produce laminated posters and door stickers for winners to hang with pride.
It all seems worth it when we get to celebrate with the winners at the Best of Jax party.
After a few …
The deputy director of the Port of Miami is the unanimous choice by the Jacksonville Port Authority’s board to become the next CEO of JaxPort.
At a meeting April 22, the board approved starting negotiations with Juan Kuryla to replace Paul Anderson, who left at the end of the year to take the position as the director of Tampa Port Authority, said Nancy Rubin, the port’s spokesperson.
The board conducted much of its search behind closed doors with one-on-one interviews with the eight candidates. It cut down the number of finalists to three before selecting Kuryla. Interim JaxPort CEO Roy Schleicher and Michael E. Moore, the former CEO of Global Container Terminals were the other finalists.
When he left the post he had held for only 23 months, Anderson complained about the instability at JaxPort, where competing appointments by the governor and mayor kept changing the port’s leadership.
Anderson was the state’s highest paid port executive in Jacksonville with an annual salary of $320,0000. He is paid $350,000 in Tampa.
The board will have to negotiate a salary and benefits with Kuryla.
Hans Tanzler served as mayor of Jacksonville for 12 years and is known for his efforts to clean up the St. Johns River, revitalize downtown and complete major skyscrapers. Tanzler is also known for his government consolidation efforts.
Tanzler died July 25 after suffering a heart attack at his family farm near Gainesville.
Former mayors and other political leaders remembered the 86-year-old Tanzler as the champion of consolidating the City of Jacksonville and Duval County governments in 1967. He served as mayor from 1967 to Jan 2, 1979, when he resigned to run for governor, which he lost to Bob Graham in a seven-man Democratic primary.
As news of his death spread, city leaders shared some recollections about Tanzler and most of them mentioned consolidation:
“Mayor Tanzler led a life dedicated to public service and his legacy will be forever remembered by our citizens and all who had the opportunity to know him. He guided our city through consolidation, paving the way for much of the success we enjoy today,” said Mayor Alvin Brown.
Former Mayor John Delaney agreed, saying,] “It would be hard for any Mayor to have a greater legacy.”
Former Mayor Tommy Hazouri said Tanzler set the standard for the mayors who followed him.
“I am honored to have known him, and grateful for his leadership and friendship,” Hazouri said.
Former Mayor John Peyton also cited the consolidation issue.
“He was the right man at the right time. He was critical to our consolidation in the 1960s.”
Pedestrians, bicyclists and traffic fatalities in Jacksonville are increasing dramatically, prompting the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, Florida Highway Patrol and Florida Department of Transportation to start a new safety campaign, “Alert Today, Alive Tomorrow. Safety Doesn’t Happen by Accident.”
The campaign is asking motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists to be more aware of each other and be more alert.
“We’ve got a serious problem in Jacksonville,” said Duval County Sheriff John Rutherford, who spoke at a news conference March 1 with Transportation Secretary Greg Evans and Maj. Anthony Allen of the FHP.
Traffic fatalities in Jacksonville have increased 34 percent, up from 103 in 2011 to 138 in 2012. Motor vehicle versus pedestrian fatalities increased to 32 in 2012, up from 23 in 2011, and motor vehicle versus bicyclist deaths increased to nine, compared with 5 the previous year.
The $100,000 campaign, funded by the Florida Department of Transportation, will include radio and television advertising, billboards and brochures.
The craft beer industry is asking the Legislature to approve the sale of a new size of growlers, which are reusable containers for taking home draft beer.
According to the bill’s summary, it is currently legal for craft beer makers to sell 32-ounce and 128-ounce bottles of beer. Beer makers want to make 64 ounces a legal size as well. They say it is a better size for most consumers, holding about four pints.
The 64-ounce growler is the industry standard and is readily available and much cheaper to acquire than 128-ounce and 32-ounce bottles, beer company officials said.
The name “growler” is believed to have originated in the early 20th century due to the rumbling noise made by the carbon dioxide that rattled the lid of beer pails.
The legislation was up before the Senate Regulated Industries Committee on March 14 and has also been referred to three other committees.