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News Bites: Long CLIMB Ahead; Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes; Occupational Hazard

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Jacksonville’s new community development coalition recently introduced itself at the inaugural meeting in New Town, reports Beth Reese Cravey of the Florida Times-Union. CLIMB (Community Leaders Igniting Mobility) is a nonprofit organization sponsored by Generation, “a global employment nonprofit that has free training programs in Jacksonville and sponsored CLIMB with a $4.8 million Walmart Foundation grant.”

“The coalition, which also includes the United Way of Northeast Florida, New Town Success Zone and LISC Jacksonville, will host a series of community meetings to discuss potential solutions and offer job fairs,” Cravey writes.

CLIMB will work primarily in New Town, Arlington, Eastside and Springfield, where coalition partners are already active. Its mission is to “use demographic and economic data collected by the United Way and recent research by CLIMB, as well as public input from the meetings, to develop and implement a 3- to 5-year pilot project to help residents make economic headway.”

A previous United Way study found that a full 37 percent of Duval County households were struggling to make ends meet. Researchers indexed a “survival budget”—what they calculated to be “the cost of a bare-bones, paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle”—and were surprised to find more than a third of Jacksonville residents lived their lives at or below this threshold.

CLIMB took those results and refined them, identifying trends like rising inequality and lack of opportunities in underserved neighborhoods.

The coalition is also looking at results from similar experiments around the nation, including pedestrian mobility and public transportation initiatives in Minneapolis and a lease-to-own program in Cleveland that allows long-term renters to purchase affordable housing.


In 2016, Floridians voted to legalize medicinal marijuana, but the terms of that legalization were to be hashed out by a markedly conservative state legislature and applied locally by authorities of varying shades of Victorian. Even the best-intentioned local bodies are struggling to sort out the spirit and the letter of the law. Clay Today’s Wesley LeBlanc has been watching the process unfold at the Clay County School District.

“After months of review and legal research,” LeBlanc writes, “the school district drafted a policy it will consider approving at the Oct. 4 meeting. Board members discussed the policy Tuesday morning [Sept. 25] at the superintendent’s monthly agenda-setting workshop held in Green Cove Springs at district offices.”

LeBlanc quotes Clay County School District Superintendent Addison Davis, who said, “In 2017, we were asked to revise our policy. [Clay County School Board Attorney David D’Agata] and staff has [sic] worked with a number of school districts throughout the state to make sure we have a clean procedure policy that addresses [medical marijuana] in a conventional and careful manner. We have to permit the use of medical marijuana, however, we will not maintain, we will not store and we will not administer medical marijuana at any point in time.”

Nor will students self-administer at any point in time, adds D’Agata.

“[S]chool medical staff will ensure that schools identify a safe location for the user to be administered the medicinal marijuana,” LeBlanc clarifies. “The administrator must be validated by the state-given registered card.”

The identity of who would be the administrator remains unknown.


Northeast Florida has dodged the bullet thus far, but St. Johns County officials are reminding folks that the Atlantic hurricane season isn’t over yet.

“On Sept. 19,” writes Samantha Logue of the Ponte Vedra Recorder, “as the Carolinas began their walk down the long road to recovery following the devastation incurred by Hurricane Florence, St. Johns County Emergency Management Deputy Director Jeffrey Alexander encouraged local members of the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce to stay vigilant.”

Alexander spoke at a Sawgrass Country Club luncheon attended by members of the Chamber’s Ponte Vedra Beach Division. He emphasized the chief lesson learned from Hurricanes Matthew and Irma: Even if we avoid a direct hit, we are vulnerable to flooding. As such, it is imperative for residents to heed evacuation orders if and when they are issued.

According to Logue, Alexander explained, “This is really all about keeping people alive. We can’t save your property, we can’t save structures … but we can save lives. Everything else we can replace or repair.”

There was some discussion of larger issues, though evidently the topic of climate change was not among them.

“Stressing the importance of being proactive, rather than reactive,” Logue writes, “Alexander also encouraged both residents and business owners to have a line of credit ready and make sure they have flood insurance.”

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