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THE FLOG

 

The Jacksonville Suns and the contractors on the repair and repainting of the Mathews Bridge have reached an agreement to make it easier for fans to get to the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville for Suns games.

The bridge will remain open both ways until 10:30 p.m. on the first six Friday night games: April 5, April 26,  May 10, May 24, June 14 and June 21.

The Mathews will also remain open for opening night on April 4 and on Memorial Day weekend and the Southern Leaguer All-Star Game on July 17.

The $22.7 million repair and repainting program on the Mathews Bridge, which began in September 2011, is scheduled for completion later this summer or early fall, said Mike Goldman, a spokesman for the Florida Department of Transportation.

The Jacksonville Suns are the Double-A Affiliate of the Miami Marlins and are members of the Southern League of Professional Baseball Clubs.

 

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THE FLOG

If you see a gaggle of law enforcement officers along Wells Road in Orange Park on Wednesday afternoon it is not an actual emergency, it’s only a drill. Some 65 people from the Clay County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team, the Orange Park Police and Fire Departments, Clay County Fire Rescue and Everest University staff and students are working together on a training exercise. The college students will be acting out scenarios such as an active shooter on campus to a hostage situation, and the officers and first responders will be honing their skills for an actual emergency. Remember, it is only a drill.

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FLOG

A new poll by the University of North Florida showed that about 70 percent of those questioned still approve or strongly approve of Mayor Alvin Brown’s performance. In a similar poll taken last year, 75 percent of those polled approved of the mayor’s performance. In the same poll, 48 percent of those polled approve of the job the Jacksonville City Council is doing.

Those polled showed 40 percent were taking a wait-and-see attitude on newly hired Duval County Superintendent of Schools Nikolai Vitti. About 40 percent had no opinion of the new superintendent. A majority of residents, 58 percent, supported the city adding sexual orientation to its human rights ordinance.

The poll was taken between Feb. 4 and Feb. 12 and included 917 Duval County residents. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.23 percent.   More

Jacksonville is receiving $450,000 from the 2012-2013 Florida Defense Support Task Force Grants, Gov. Rick Scott announced Monday.

The grants are part of $2.6 million awarded to 10 project across the state “to protect military installations and grow jobs and opportunities across the state,” the governor said

In Jacksonville, the funds will go for the construction of an explosive ordinance disposal bunker at Jacksonville Air National Guard Base and establishing a maritime research center at Mayport Naval Station.

A grant of $100,000 will to the Florida 8 (a) Alliance in Jacksonville to assist veteran-owned and defense industry small business across Florida.

“These investments are critical to supporting military jobs and further establishing Jacksonville as a major hub for aircraft basing,” the governor said.

Mayor Alvin Brown thanked the governor, saying, “This is a remarkable opportunity not only to strengthen our part of national security, but promote jobs and economic development at the local and state levels.”

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FLOG

JaxPort’s Board of Directors have voted unanimously to inform the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that it wants to dredge the harbor to no less than 47 feet deep to keep the port competitive.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had recommended Monday that the St. Johns River shipping channel be dredged from its current 40-foot depth to 45 feet deep. Port members, however, said recommended depth is not deep enough for the port to service larger cargo ships from Asia.

The JaxPort board members said they think the 47-feet depth is needed to keep Jacksonville competitive to other East Cost ports.

The federal government will pay 75 percent of the cost to dredge up to 45 feet. Anything deeper than that depth could be paid for with state, federal, local or private funds.

There were no cost figures discussed at Monday’s meeting. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will release the draft results of its harbor deepening study in May.

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THE FLOG

A mixture of local talent and world-renowned experts are scheduled to give talks at the TEDx Jacksonville Connecting Currents event, to be held Oct. 26 on WJCT's sound stage.

Participants include Barbara Colaciello, Jacksonville Beach actor, playwright and storyteller; Hank Coxe, a Jacksonville attorney; Nancy Soderberg, UNF professor and former UN ambassador and White House advisor; Bruce Ganger, executive director of Second Harvest North Florida; Ben Warner, president and CEO of Jacksonville Community Council.

Also, Matt Rutherford, the first person to complete nonstop single-handed voyages around North and South America; former U.S. Rep. Robert Inglis, with the distinction of being uninvited to the Tea Party; TEDGlobal Fellow Aman Mojadidi, an American Southerner born to Afghan parents; Chevara Orrin, a black Jewish mother, activist and survivor who will discuss simple human interaction; Lawanda Ravoira, an expert on challenges girls in the juvenile justice system face; and Patricia Siemen, a Dominican sister and attorney who will discuss the long-term ecological health of the Earth.

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THE FLOG

As a reader, you might only think about Folio Weekly’s Best of Jax twice a year: once when you vote and again when you pick up the issue or go to the website to find out who won.

But here at Folio Weekly’s international headquarters, we’ve been working on Best of Jax for months.

It begins in May when we start compiling the list of categories for the ballot and decide which ones to keep, which ones to cut and which ones to add.

In June, we brainstorm several ideas for themes. This year, our passion for “Game of Thrones” pushed us to pick royalty. At that time, we create a logo for that year’s awards.

In July, we create the online ballot and launch it by the end of the month. While all of you are busy voting in August, we’re searching for models and props to bring our theme to life.

When voting ends, we start tabulating the votes. Because the ballot is open-ended and people can type in anything they want, it takes time to comb through each answer and add it to the appropriate place. It’s a laborious but somewhat humorous task sifting through the creative spellings of Northeast Florida’s favorites. But every vote counts!

Meanwhile, we shoot photos for the cover and topic headers that run inside. We shoot everything in at least two ways so we have different poses for the two Best of Jax issues — this year on Oct. 9 and Oct. 16.

Once we have a list of winners in early September, we assign writers to research and summarize their laurels in individual blurbs. Our staff photographer shoots more than 50 winners in four counties in about three weeks’ time.

Then, we compile and edit all the text and photos into the first and second Best of Jax issues. Once those are designed, proofed and printed, we still have to upload it all online.

We also produce laminated posters and door stickers for winners to hang with pride.

It all seems worth it when we get to celebrate with the winners at the Best of Jax party.

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The deputy director of the Port of Miami is the unanimous choice by the Jacksonville Port Authority’s board to become the next CEO of JaxPort.

At a meeting April 22, the board approved starting negotiations with Juan Kuryla to replace Paul Anderson, who left at the end of the year to take the position as the director of Tampa Port Authority, said Nancy Rubin, the port’s spokesperson.

The board conducted much of its search behind closed doors with one-on-one interviews with the eight candidates. It cut down the number of finalists to three before selecting Kuryla. Interim JaxPort CEO Roy Schleicher and Michael E. Moore, the former CEO of Global Container Terminals were the other finalists.

When he left the post he had held for only 23 months, Anderson complained about the instability at JaxPort, where competing appointments by the governor and mayor kept changing the port’s leadership.

Anderson was the state’s highest paid port executive in Jacksonville with an annual salary of $320,0000. He is paid $350,000 in Tampa.

The board will have to negotiate a salary and benefits with Kuryla.   More

THE FLOG

Hans Tanzler served as mayor of Jacksonville for 12 years and is known for his efforts to clean up the St. Johns River, revitalize downtown and complete major skyscrapers. Tanzler is also known for his government consolidation efforts.

Tanzler died July 25 after suffering a heart attack at his family farm near Gainesville.

Former mayors and other political leaders remembered the 86-year-old Tanzler as the champion of consolidating the City of Jacksonville and Duval County governments in 1967. He served as mayor from 1967 to Jan 2, 1979, when he resigned to run for governor, which he lost to Bob Graham in a seven-man Democratic primary.

As news of his death spread, city leaders shared some recollections about Tanzler and most of them mentioned consolidation:

“Mayor Tanzler led a life dedicated to public service and his legacy will be forever remembered by our citizens and all who had the opportunity to know him. He guided our city through consolidation, paving the way for much of the success we enjoy today,” said Mayor Alvin Brown.

Former Mayor John Delaney agreed, saying,] “It would be hard for any Mayor to have a greater legacy.”

Former Mayor Tommy Hazouri said Tanzler set the standard for the mayors who followed him.

“I am honored to have known him, and grateful for his leadership and friendship,” Hazouri said.

Former Mayor John Peyton also cited the consolidation issue.

“He was the right man at the right time. He was critical to our consolidation in the 1960s.”

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THE FLOG

Pedestrians, bicyclists and traffic fatalities in Jacksonville are increasing dramatically, prompting the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, Florida Highway Patrol and Florida Department of Transportation to start a new safety campaign, “Alert Today, Alive Tomorrow. Safety Doesn’t Happen by Accident.”

The campaign is asking motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists to be more aware of each other and be more alert.

“We’ve got a serious problem in Jacksonville,” said Duval County Sheriff John Rutherford, who spoke at a news conference March 1 with Transportation Secretary Greg Evans and Maj. Anthony Allen of the FHP.

Traffic fatalities in Jacksonville have increased 34 percent, up from 103 in 2011 to 138 in 2012. Motor vehicle versus pedestrian fatalities increased to 32 in 2012, up from 23 in 2011, and motor vehicle versus bicyclist deaths increased to nine, compared with 5 the previous year.

The $100,000 campaign, funded by the Florida Department of Transportation, will include radio and television advertising, billboards and brochures.

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What was the 'Best Scandal' in Northeast Florida over the past year?
The Best of Jax ballot released on July 30 will ask this question and many more