Mixed Report for St. Johns River
The sixth annual State of the Lower St. Johns River Basin Report was released Oct. 2, and it has some good news and bad news. Key findings in the report include a slight reduction in unwanted nitrogen concentrations, but harmful algae blooms are not yet declining. Copper, lead and silver concentrations continue to be elevated. The River Report brochure has a quick reference guide on river health and ways to help the river (sjrreport.com). In addition, three online interactive web pages have been launched describing the Arlington River, Julington Creek and Peters Creek at sjrreport.com/tribs. The River Report is also being adapted for K-12 curriculum content. The State of the River Report is collaboration among the University of North Florida, Jacksonville University and Valdosta State University.
The Cutting Edgewood
OurFertileEarth.org is celebrating the grand opening of Edgewood Gardens, a new food ecosystem at 1115 Edgewood Ave. S., at 5 p.m. Oct. 19. The food grown there will serve residents of Murray Hill, especially those living at the Florida Christian apartments and Sundale Manor. Visitors can see the result of using natural methods to catch, store and access the energy that flows into a garden in a way that mimics a natural ecosystem. RSVP by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or sign up at facebook.com/ourfertileearth.
Share a Photo for Sight
Vistakon is promoting World Sight Day during October with the release of a new free smartphone app, Donate A Photo, where users can share photos. Johnson & Johnson donates $1 per day to the charity of your choice when you use the app. The company is asking people to choose Sight For Kids, a Lions Club International Program, which has screened more than 17 million children for vision problems over the last 10 years. Vistakon is willing to donate up to $30,000 in honor of World Sight Day. The app can be downloaded free from the iPhone App Store or Google Play. Photos should be uploaded and tagged with #EyePledge, a project in which you promise to get your eyes tested.
Mathews Bridge Repairs
Repairs began Oct. 2 on the Mathews Bridge, which was heavily damaged by a ship under tow. Superior Construction Company of Jacksonville submitted the winning low bid of $1.07 million. The company has 40 days to complete the project but will receive $50,000 per day for completion earlier than that deadline. If the work is finished in 30 days, traffic around the Nov. 2 Florida-Georgia game may not be as bad as feared. Once the bridge is stabilized and can withstand construction equipment and vehicles, the undamaged side of the bridge could be reopened to traffic, according to a Florida Department of Transportation news release. The total cost could reach about $3 million: $800,000 for the damage assessment, $500,000 to reroute the traffic and the $500,000 bonus.
Ferry in Your Pocket
For motorists wanting the latest, up-to-the-minute information on the St. Johns River Ferry, there’s a new app for that. JaxFerry, developed by the city of Jacksonville’s Informational Technologies Division, in partnership with the St. Johns River Ferry Commission, is available free on Apple and Android devices. The app lets commuters track ferry arrival and departure times in real time and provides the ferry’s current location and heading information. Plus, there are driving directions to both ports, fares, schedules, alerts and special announcements about service information and delays. It's one of three mobile applications supplied by the city. The others are JaxReady, which has information on weather, fire and other threats, and JaxHapps, which connects people with info about happenings throughout the city.
JU Receives Grant to Help Veterans
Jacksonville University is receiving a federal grant of $870,000 to recruit student veterans into its new College of Health Sciences, to help them pursue bachelor’s degrees in nursing. The award was announced Oct. 1 by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Only nine institutions nationwide were awarded grants, which will be spread over four years. In the first year, JU officials project, about 90 students will be added to the program.
Alexander Gets New Trial
An appeals court has ruled that Marissa Alexander, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing what she claims was a warning shot at her estranged husband, should receive a new trial. The 1st District Court of Appeals said the trial judge did not properly instruct the jury about what is needed to prove self-defense and his instructions requiring Alexander to prove self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt constituted a “fundamental error.” Jackelyn Barnard, spokeswoman for State Attorney Angela Corey, said the reversal was based on a legal technicality and that they were pleased the “stand your ground” ruling was upheld.
Medallions for UNF Supporters
Three community leaders who have supported the University of North Florida are honored each year with the Presidential Medallion for Outstanding Service. The 2013 honorees are R. Bruce Taylor, Melanie Jennings Husk and Bruce Ogier. Taylor, appointed to the UNF Board of Trustees in 2003, was elected chairman in 2006, and re-elected for second and third terms. The Taylor Engineering Research Institute in UNF’s College of Computer Engineering and Construction and the Taylor Leadership Institute are named in his honor. Husk, vice president of marketing and communications for Baptist Health, a 1977 graduate, served as a UNF Foundation member for more than a decade. She and her husband, Gary, donated to the Fine Arts Center; the Husk Jennings Courtyard is named in their honor. Ogier is president and shareholder of Capital Analysts of Jacksonville. A 1974 UNF grad, he was a founding member of the Sawmill Slough Conservation Club. He's a current member of UNF's Student Affairs Community Council, serving on the executive committee. He endowed the Frederick and Ophelia Ogier Gardens, an organic vegetable and herb garden, in memory of his parents.
New Arts Leader Named
The Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville announced the selection of Kim Bergeron as its new executive director, according to a press release Oct. 1. Bergeron is expected to start Nov. 1, replacing Robert Arleigh White, who retired after 13 years. Bergeron was director of Cultural & Public Affairs in Slidell, La. In November 2012, she chose to resign from her post rather than select one of two other employees to lay off, according to a New Orleans Times-Picayune story. In Slidell, Bergeron spearheaded fundraising efforts for programming and worked with the New Orleans Museum of Art to bring in exhibits that included art by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Andy Warhol, according to the Cultural Council. Bergeron was the unanimous choice of a search committee made up of Cultural Council board members and community representatives. “The committee was wowed by all Kim has achieved in her previous roles,” board member Abel Harding said, according to the news release. — David Johnson