New online database tracks national nonfatal opioid overdoses
The White House has launched a new national online database, which tracks the rates of nonfatal opioid overdoses. That website went live just yesterday -- and officials say the goal is to help direct resources to the areas where they're needed the most.
COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations rise; Breaking down spending plan for Jacksonville
Medical experts and faith leaders are pleading with the public to get vaccinated against the coronavirus as cases rise and hospitals fill. Pastor John Neman and Dr. Nancy Staats join this episode of “This Week in Jacksonville.” Plus, we’re talking about the city of Jacksonville’s budget with Dr. Ron Salem. The council member helps break down the billion-dollar spending plan.
‘Safer Together’ explores how mentally ill are treated by police
Members of the “Safer Together” panel meeting Friday heard from experts and took questions from people to further examine what’s working and what’s not. Of the 2,466 inmates at the Duval County jail, 119 of them have a known mental illness, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. How people with mental illness are treated during their arrest, and the programs that exist to help them -- were just a few of the many topics discussed during the virtual session between council members and the general public. The city launched a Mental Health Offender Program one month ago to help repeat offenders with a mental illness. Mental health advocates also talked about the expansion of a co-responder program, which teams up mental health care experts with officers responding to calls for service.
City searching for solutions to New Town food desert
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – City leaders are still looking for solutions to food deserts. On Thursday, Jacksonville City Council members and other organizations met virtually to explore some short- and long-term solutions to food deserts, or areas with less or no access to fresh, healthy food. One of those areas is the New Town neighborhood near Edward Waters College. “This is a food desert without fresh fruit, fresh vegetables,” said Marcia Ellison, a 19-year resident of the New Town neighborhood. Another initiative is food pantries like the one by Feeding Northeast Florida that’s open twice a month right outside of the New Town neighborhood.
Violent crime in Jacksonville area; medical marijuana; Hank Aaron Field?
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – On this edition of “This Week in Jacksonville,” State Attorney Melissa Nelson explains what her office is doing to try to turn around the violent crime numbers in the Jacksonville area. State Rep. Angie Nixon speaks about her bill that would address medical marijuana accessibility. And Jacksonville City Councilman Dr. Ron Salem talks about his proposal to name the field at J.P. Small Park after Baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.
City council member hopes to name local field after Hank Aaron
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Ron Salem has been a fan of Hank Aaron since he was kid. Aaron had a remarkable season on the field then but had to endure the racism of the 1950′s segregated South. AdSalem is proposing that the city name the baseball grounds at J.P. Small Park in Durkeeville, Hank Aaron Field. It’s the right time to honor Aaron, Salem said, an incremental and long overdue, but much-needed step in the city’s history. “I don’t think we’ve treated our African-American history here in Jacksonville very well, particularly our sports history here in Jacksonville,” Salem said Monday morning.
Controversial Lot J project is nearly a done deal
City Council President Tommy Hazouri has been at odds with the Mayor Lenny Curry’s office on this deal for the past two months. After Bateh’s comments, the Lot J developer, COO Zed Smith of The Cordish Companies, responded saying the Jacksonville deal is quite different than others. “If you pull the plug on Lot J, it’s gone. If Lot J, if you pull the plug on Lot J, it’s over. On Thursday, City Council considered all of the proposed amendments to the current deal on the table.
Jacksonville aims for 10,000 vaccinations a day, but challenges lie ahead
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The city of Jacksonville is hoping to eventually vaccinate more than 10,000 people each day, but as of Tuesday, it is a long way from that goal. According to Hughes, 1,063 vaccinations were administered to seniors and health care workers at the Prime Osborn Center on Monday, the first day of public vaccinations. “There’s no better pathway for us out of this pandemic than this vaccine,” Hughes said. The Duval County Health Department then began accepting online signups for appointments and slots filled up in just over an hour. The health department said the link will change each week and will be posted on the alerts page on the department’s website: duval.floridahealth.gov.
Is City Council ready to make Lot J project a reality?
City Council president Tommy Hazouri deferred the vote on the Lot J bill last week and said he’d like to see a final vote Jan. 12. At Friday’s meeting, City Council members got answers to questions and concerns that the council auditor has regarding the deal. The majority of them have been addressed and those in attendance said they feel confident that the Lot J project will move forward. Those in favor of the Lot J project say it’ll bring jobs, boost Jacksonville’s economy, and lead to a thriving downtown. Councilman Garrett Dennis said this week he supports the Lot J project, but also said no decision should be rushed without making sure all questions have been answered.
City, state leaders seek answers after surge of shootings in Arlington
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After a string of shootings in Arlington -- eight people shot in the last six days -- has city leaders speaking out on the gun violence. One was behind businesses at a strip mall, a father and son on a youth football field and one just off Arlington Expressway. There is concern growth of Jacksonville University and businesses along University Boulevard is being overshadowed by a threat of violence. “From the state side, it’s obvious that we need more prevention and intervention dollars coming from the state of Florida,” said Rep. Tracie Davis, D-Jacksonville. This is personal for us, but tragedies like this are happening throughout the state of Florida every day.
#FluVaxJax; Proposal would change the way city facilities are renamed; Rep. Buddy Carter
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – On this edition of “This Week in Jacksonville,” Duval County Medical Foundation President Dr. Sunil Joshi details the #FluVaxJax effort. Plus, Jacksonville City Councilman Ron Salem talks about a bill that he’s proposing. It would change the way that city facilities are renamed. And U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter explains what the sticking points might be to keep COVID-19 relief money coming from Washington, D.C.
Farm Share distributes 30K pounds of food to Jacksonville families in need
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Farm Share partnered with city leaders to host two food drives Saturday. In total, nearly 30,000 pounds of food was distributed to hundreds of Jacksonville families. At Duval Charter School off 103rd Street, cars packed into two lines for a drive-thru food giveaway. It was great.”Farm Share Jacksonville serves 11 counties throughout northeast and central Florida. “So we are all over Jacksonville trying to hit different areas on the same day,” Johnson said.
Councilman says replacing septic tanks around Jacksonville is a 30- or 50-year issue
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. City leaders on Monday afternoon were given an update about the massive project undertaken by JEA to phase out septic tanks around Jacksonville. City Councilman Ron Salem called in a JEA representative to the City Councils Transportation, Energy and Utilities Committee meeting Monday. Salem said the overall project to replace 65,000 septic tanks around the city could cost approximately $2 billion. But you have to start somewhere.But in the more immediate future, the focus is on three Northwest Jacksonville neighborhoods that are at the top of the list to have their septic tanks phased out. The JEA representative who spoke during Mondays meeting said it will cost tens of thousands of dollars on average per home to phase them out of septic tanks.
After Hemming Park name change, Council considers revising renaming process
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. The uproar over renaming Hemming Park to James Weldon Johnson Park is prompting the Jacksonville City Council to consider making some changes in its procedure on renaming buildings and parks. When Councilman Garrett Dennis first proposed the name change for the park, he followed council rules. While the majority of council members voted for the name change, many believe the process of renaming parks and public buildings needs to be improved. Salems main concern is the lack of input from the public with only one public hearing required. With one public hearing we negotiate multi-million dollar deals with the same six week process, Dennis said.
New policy on police bodycam video to be put in place soon in Jacksonville
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A new policy regarding the release of police-worn body camera video is going to be put into place soon. There have been meetings between JSO, the state attorney and groups like the Northside Coalition to speed up the process of releasing body camera footage. During Monday’s meeting, City Council member Ron Salem told the committee a new policy is coming very soon. The State Attorney’s Office confirmed to News4Jax that it is working on a new plan and will release it soon. Right now, there is no time frame for the release of body camera video in police shootings.
City Council member withdraws bill on JEA bonus, incentive programs
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A bill that would have given Jacksonville City Council the power to approve or deny bonus or incentive programs for JEA employees has been withdrawn from consideration. The bill, which had been part of the consent agenda for Tuesday night’s council meeting, basically said any incentive plans going forward would have to be approved by both the JEA Board and the City Council. But Councilman Ron Salem told News4Jax he worked out an agreement with JEA officials instead and decided to withdraw the bill. Despite the ongoing inquiries, the JEA Board of Directors approved a new employee incentive plan in June as part of its budget request to City Council. The previous incentive plan was put on pause for 2020 amid the controversy over the PUP.
Remembering former Jacksonville University President Fran Kinne
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. On this edition of This Week in Jacksonville, Jacksonville University President Tim Cost talks about how the university will get students back to campus. Cost, former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown and Jacksonville Universitys Public Policy Institute Director Rick Mullaney each honor the legacy of the late Dr. Fran Kinne. Jacksonville City Councilman Ron Salem discusses legislation to take some control back from JEA.
City officials voice concerns over how much time former JEA CEO was spending at City Hall
The documents show hundreds of swipes into City Hall over the last year and a half as Zahn made more than 90 visits. Civic Council calls for further investigation of ousted JEA CEO Aaron ZahnThe volume of visits is drawing criticism from City Council members who say JEA is meant to be independent of politics. News4Jax asked about the visits to City Hall, and Zahn issued a statement:City hall contains the general counsel’s office, 19 city council members and the mayors office. The number of times I visited city hall demonstrates my focus on transparency and communication with all of Jacksonville’s policy makers. Aaron Zahn, former CEO of JEACity Councilmember Matt Carlucci told News4Jax on Friday the volume of time Zahn was spending at City Hall is unprecedented.
Jacksonville councilman wants to raise age to buy tobacco, vape products to 21
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - City Council member Ron Salem is proposing raising the minimum age to buy tobacco and vaping products from 18 to 21 in Jacksonville. He feels that young teenagers' source of tobacco products are 18- to 20-year-olds who can provide them to children who are underage. Earlier this week, Alachua County approved increasing the age to buy tobacco and vaping products from 18 to 21. He believes more and more people are choosing vape products, believing they are a safer option than cigarettes. Others who News4Jax spoke with on Thursday said they support Salem's push to increase the age to 21 to buy tobacco and vape products, while others said the age should remain at 18.
Jacksonville committee discusses concerns on teen vaping
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - As the federal government considers a ban on flavored vaping products to address the spike in teens vaping, a Jacksonville City Council committee on Thursday addressed the issue locally. The city's special committee on opioids heard from community members, vape shop owners and a few people who said vaping helped them stop smoking cigarettes, but the committee did not discuss any legislation. One of the chairman's main concerns is how many teens are using vape products. No legislation on vaping was discussed at Thursday's meeting, but lawmakers are trying to figure out if the city needs a new committee specifically on vaping. To fight this trend on a national level, President Donald Trump has proposed banning flavored e-cigarettes and vaping products.