Buzz: Spinnaker, Original Fuzz, Mark Brunell and More


UNF’s Spinnaker Takes Home Prizes

The Spinnaker, the University of North Florida’s student-run media organization, has won the 2013 Pacemaker, the Associated Collegiate Press’ highest honor — often called the Pulitzer Prize for college journalism. The Spinnaker, which won the award in 2010, also achieved Best of Show at the National Collegiate Media Convention in New Orleans.


Big Buzz for Original Fuzz

Original Fuzz, one of the four startups participating in the KYN accelerator in Downtown Jacksonville, has ended its pre-sale in just 25 days, selling out all of its Peruvian guitar strap pre-orders sooner than expected. Original Fuzz, which manufactures guitar straps, bags and cables for musicians, was started after winning support through the One Spark festival. It's now gearing up for its second pre-sale in early November. For details, go to


Former NFL Player Invests in Downtown

Laveranues Coles Jr., a former NFL receiver, Florida State star and Jacksonville native, has purchased a building in Downtown Jacksonville, according to Financial News & Daily Record. Coles hasn't said what he plans to do with the 110-year-old building, but there's speculation that he could be putting a bar, restaurant or housing unit in the structure across the street from the former Duval County Courthouse. Past Trouble LLC, a company he set up in September, bought the building for $750,000.


Land Trust Concerned About Dredging

North Florida Land Trust has strong concerns about the Draft Re-evaluation Report and the Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed dredging project on the St. Johns River: “We desire a healthy operating port and appreciate its benefits to our community. However, more important to us is the health of our local ecosystems.” In addressing its concerns, North Florida Land Trust listed problems with mitigation, meeting National Environmental Policy Act terms, salinity impacts, sea level rise and groundwater hydrology.


Duval Schools May Hire Convicts

Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti is planning to change the district’s hiring guidelines to allow people who have been convicted of a felony or have misdemeanors on their records to be employed within the system. According to The Florida Times-Union, Vitti’s plan would consider hiring someone whose felony conviction is more than 10 years old or two misdemeanor convictions are more than five years old. Certain felonies are excluded by state law including murder, manslaughter, sexual misconduct, sexual battery, aggravated assault and battery, kidnapping and arson. Vitti doesn't need School Board approval to make the changes, but he alerted the board about it.


Mathews Bridge Repair Beats Deadline

The carrot of an extra bonus pushed the company hired to repair the Mathews Bridge to finish ahead of schedule. Superior Construction finished the work in 27 days, and the bridge reopened Oct. 29. The $700,000 bonus was on top of the $1.1 million Superior earned for fixing the bridge, damaged Sept. 26 when a U.S. Navy cargo ship struck it. DOT spokesman Mike Goldman said the department was under time pressure — get the span ready for the Nov. 2 Florida-Georgia football game, as well as the 56,000 commuters who dive on it every day.


Brunell Caught in Jaguars London Logjam

Former Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell believes the team may eventually move to London — or does he? Appearing on ESPN Radio’s “Mike & Mike Show,” Brunell said it wouldn't surprise him if Shad Khan moved the team to London, where Khan recently bought a soccer team. After coaching football this season at Episcopal High School, Brunell has just joined ESPN as an NFL analyst. Brunell, Jaguars' starting quarterback for the franchise’s first nine seasons, will be inducted into the Pride of the Jaguars on Dec. 15. Less than 24 hours after Brunell made the comments on Oct. 29, he was calling an audible by apologizing to Jaguars fans. He made an appearance on local sports radio station 1010XL, saying he regretted his “poor choice of words” on ESPN.


Jordan Davis’ Mother Testifies Before Senate

The mother of Jordan Davis, who was shot and killed after a dispute over loud music, testified before a U.S. Senate committee, joining with the mother of Trayvon Martin in asking that “stand your ground” laws be repealed. Michael Dunn is charged with first-degree murder in the Nov. 23, 2012, shooting death of Davis outside a Southside gas station. Lucia McBath told senators on Oct. 29 that the availability of guns and the culture created by “stand your ground” laws could prevent Dunn’s conviction when he goes on trial next year. Dunn has said he shot when he saw the teens display a gun, though police said they found no gun. “Stand your ground” laws allow the use of deadly force if a person is afraid for his or her life.


JaxPort Cargo Business Down

While Georgia ports were posting an increase in tonnage, JaxPort’s total tonnage declined by seven-tenths of 1 percent for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. JaxPort CEO Brian Taylor vowed to increase business in the year ahead, according to the T-U. Chief Commercial Officer Roy Schleicher said JaxPort plans to hire an executive for the newly created post of Latin American trade, focusing on South America, Central America, the Caribbean and Puerto Rico. JaxPort is the East Coast’s busiest port for automobiles, shipping almost 631,000 vehicles, a 4 percent increase over 2012. Brunswick is a close second, shipping 623,000 cars, a 12 percent increase for that Georgia port.


Learn About Rick Scott with Your License

Floridians getting new business or professional licenses this year or renewing existing licenses have starting receiving letters with interesting tidbits about Gov. Rick Scott, who's seeking reelection in 2014. “Growing up, my parents struggled financially,” the letter reads. “In fact, when I started school, we lived in public housing. I was able to dream big dreams, work hard, and have them come true,” continues the newsy note, which also reminds folks Scott is a Navy veteran. The newly licensed business owners also learn Scott‘s top three goals: making Florida the “No. 1 place for business,” lowering the cost of living and making sure schools “prepare students for the career or college of their dreams.” The chatty letter, written by Scott’s office, was given to the Department of Business & Professional Regulation to circulate. So far, almost a half-million have been sent out.

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