Buzz: Drones in Duval, Jacksonville’s Top Priorities, Cash for Cummer and More

Navy Drones in Duval
If Congress funds it, the Navy plans to build one of two command centers for its Triton surveillance drones at Jacksonville Naval Air Station. The MQ-4C Broad Area Maritime Surveillance System would allow pilots and controllers to operate unmanned aircraft over the world’s oceans from the local base. With the budget stalemate in Washington, D.C., the $22 million complex is in limbo. If the project is built, it brings 250 new jobs to the area, said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.

It’s the Economy (and Education), Stupid
A new University of North Florida poll shows that 37 percent of adult residents believe improving the economy and creating jobs should be Jacksonville’s top priority. The survey, conducted Feb. 4-12, included surveys with 917 Duval County residents. About 210 UNF political science students collected the data, which also showed 56 percent of Duval County residents are unsatisfied with the quality of public education. Another 55 percent believe increasing the budget will improve the quality of education, and 64 percent support a small property tax increase if the money benefits public education.

Cash for Cummer
A $1 million donation from Delores Weaver and $500,000 from Ann and David Hicks will allow Jacksonville’s Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens to begin its facelift. The museum has raised 98 percent of a $4.5 million goal to redo the Riverside Avenue side and renovate a riverfront garden. Part of the money is being raised by a “Dedicate a Brick” campaign. For details, go to

Church Gets Reprieve
Just days before it was scheduled to be sold, a historic St. Augustine church which once hosted Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights era has gotten a six-month reprieve from TD Bank. The Rev. Byron Hodges, the church’s pastor, told the St. Augustine Record that St. Mary’s Missionary Baptist Church wasn’t out of the financial woods, but now there’s time to raise more funding. The church has been a place of worship for 137 years; Dr. King was there June 9, 1964.

Really Blue Angels
If Congress doesn’t get its act together and deal with the federal sequester budget cuts, the Navy says the Blue Angels won’t appear at NAS Jax’s air show in October. If the sequestration goes into effect in March, the Navy said it would save $20 million by cancelling 30 shows, according to The Washington Times. The Blue Angels, now based in Pensacola, started at NAS Jax.

Protein May Help Detect Lou Gehrig’s Disease
Researchers at Mayo Clinic in Florida have discovered an abnormal protein that accumulates in the brains of many patients afflicted with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease and front temporal dementia. Their findings have uncovered a potentially new therapeutic target and biomarker than would let clinicians to confirm diagnosis of the disease. The study is published in the journal Neuron.