Buzz: Mathews Bridge, One Spark, TSA and More

Mathews Will Be Ready for Big Game

The good news about the Mathews Bridge is that repairs are continuing and it should be open in time for the Nov. 2 Florida-Georgia football game. The bad news is that it’s unlikely that any of the structure, hit by a ship on Sept. 26, will reopen early. That was the verdict heard by residents who attended a town meeting put on by Sen. Aubrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville. Gibson stated the obvious: Businesses are hurting and residents have to drive miles out of their way because of the damage.


One Spark Rocks Fundraising Goal

One Spark 2014 raised $70,556 from 532 contributors, blasting past its goal of $50,000. The average contribution from the crowdfunding campaign, which ran Sept. 1-Oct. 15 on, was $133. Last year, One Spark’s initial seed money of $106,689 was raised from 411 backers. The goal amount was lowered this year as One Spark shifts to a business- and community-based sponsorship. “Supporters of One Spark carried us significantly past our goals and because of their action, One Spark will continue to grow and expand to reach a global audience in 2014,” Joe Sampson, One Spark’s executive director, said in a news release.


Downtown Buildings Could be Historic

The state Office of Historic Preservation has recommended that four prominent Downtown Jacksonville buildings be named to the National Register of Historic Places. They include the Laura Street Trio, comprising the Florida National Bank building, built in 1902, the Bisbee building, constructed in 1908, and the Florida Life building, built in 1911. The Bisbee building was one of the nation’s first reinforced concrete high-rise structures; the Florida Life building was named Florida’s first skyscraper. The Barnett building was also recommended for the prestigious list. Developers plan to add a Courtyard by Marriott hotel, two restaurants, a bank and a rooftop bar at the Laura Street Trio complex.


Sheriff Seeks Mounted Posse

Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper is seeking a few good men, women and horses to form a civilian posse to assist in parades, community events and search-and-rescue efforts. Volunteers must be at least 18 years old, own their own horses and have horse transportation. Applicants must complete a background check and interview. Those selected must attend a basic training course along with their horses. Applications are available at the Sheriff’s Office at 76001 Bobby Moore Circle in Yulee.


Bye-bye to the BOE

Sally Bradshaw, who was once Gov. Jeb Bush’s chief of staff and a backer of the Common Core State Standards, abruptly resigned from the Florida Board of Education on Oct. 14. According to the Associated Press, Bradshaw’s letter of resignation was effective immediately. She cited family obligations as reason for stepping down. At odds with some of the actions of the seven-member board, she questioned a decision to create a safety net so annual school grades wouldn’t drop more than one letter grade.


Bondi Makes Bucks at Rescheduled Fundraiser

Attorney General Pam Bondi’s re-election campaign collected $140,000 from a Sept. 10 fundraiser which caused the delay of the execution of convicted killer Marshall Lee Gore. Another $26,000 in contributions was listed by Bondi on Sept. 11, and an electioneering campaign organization, “And Justice for All,” collected $55,764. Bondi does not have an announced challenger for the 2014 election, according to the News Service of Florida. Bondi apologized and said she shouldn’t have requested a delay of the execution just because it conflicted with her fundraising party.


JaxPort Project Tackles Clean Air

JaxPort has installed 19 diesel oxidation catalysts on its cranes and other equipment to help reduce diesel emissions at the port. The voluntary project was funded through a $588,325 grant awarded by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, according to Nancy Rubin, a port spokesperson. The work was completed over a three-month period at Talleyrand and Blount Island Marine terminals. The catalysts are designed to reduce diesel emissions by 10 tons per year, particulate matter by 20 percent, carbon monoxide by 30 percent and hydrocarbons by 50 percent.


Running of the Bull?

Ernest Hemmingway would be shocked! A local business owner dressed as a bull and riding a Segway will kick off the fourth annual Festival de Aviles in St. Augustine on Aviles Street, the oldest street in America. The two-day festival, held Oct. 26-27, is based on the two-day festival in Pamplona, Spain. Local business owners dress in period clothing and there’s live music, art, dancing and food. The Ximenez-Fatio House Museum, built in 1798 and owned and operated by The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in the State of Florida, will host an arts and crafts display Oct. 26.


TSA Begins PreCheck Screening at JIA

Screening for some passengers will get a little easier at Jacksonville International Airport with the start of TSA’s PreCheck, which will allow frequent passengers booked on certain airlines to enjoy expedited security screening. Those who use the program won’t have to remove their shoes, belts or light jackets or a laptop from its bag. The program is available to passengers on American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and US Airways. Details are at To apply, passengers must fill out an online application, verify their identity and provide fingerprints. There’s an $85 enrollment fee, and TSA expects the vetting process to take two or three weeks.