Landing preps for Christmas tree lighting ceremony

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Thousands of Christmas lights will be illuminated Friday evening at the 29th annual "Christmas on the River" tree lighting ceremony at the Jacksonville Landing.ID=76451236

The two-hour show will start at 7 p.m. and take place in the Landing's courtyard.

The Landing says City Council President Greg Anderson will help host the lighting of the 56-foot-tall Christmas tree.

The tree will be illuminated with over 78,000 L.E.D. lights and be decorated with more than 100 ornaments and large bows.

The event is free and open to the public.

Space is expected to be limited in the courtyard and the Landing is asking visitors not to bring chairs.

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Metro Park's stage off-limits during city inspection

ID=75537118JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The stage at Metro Park downtown is off limits as the city decides on whether it can repair or must replace the existing canopy.

City inspectors have decided that something needs to be done before events can be held under the covered white-top.

The park that's usually used for all kinds of different events is still open.

What cannot be used is the stage covered by a weathered and aged canopy.

Jacksonville Landing not in city spending plans this year

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A downtown landmark that has been the topic of planning and conversation for major renovation for years now is not in the city's capital spending plans this year.ID=72997824

The six acres of waterfront property is owned by the city, and developer Toney Sleiman owns the structure and the long term lease to the property.

In the city's capital budget, there is a line item for the Landing calling for $11.8 million dollars for roads and infrastructure improvements. The mayor or the city council did not propose to include money this year for the Landing.

Jacksonville city budget up for final vote

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Mayor Lenny Curry's One City-One Jacksonville spending plan for the upcoming year is up for a final vote Monday night by the city council.

The proposed budget that does not call for a millage rate increase is for l $1.1 billion dollars to cover the daily expenses of running the city.

Curry, who campaigned on public safety, proposed 147 new police officers to cover positions lost in previous years. The proposed budget - with the recommendation of Sheriff Mike Williams - calls for adding 95 positions: 40 police officers, 40 community service officers and 15 additional officers through a federal grant program.

The budget also calls for public library hours to be expanded with an appropriation of an additional million dollars.

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Official: Friend of Charleston church shooter arrested

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - An official says a friend of the white man who shot nine black churchgoers to death has been arrested.

The official close to the investigation spoke on condition of anonymity Thursday because they were not authorized to talk publicly about the case.

It's not immediately clear what charges 21-year-old Joey Meek faces. Authorities notified Meek last month they had begun investigating him for lying to investigators and failing to report a crime.

Meek has said Dylann Roof, the alleged church shooter, stayed with him before the June 17 shootings at Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal.

Meek told The Associated Press that Roof had drunkenly complained that "blacks were taking over the world" and "someone needed to do something about it for the white race."

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

9/17/2015 4:58:41 PM (GMT -4:00)

Fugitive wanted on sexual battery charges captured in Ohio

Fugitive wanted on sexual battery charges captured in Ohio

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- A 37-year-old fugitive wanted on a warrant for sexual battery captured Thursday in Ohio after fleeing from St. Johns County in July, authorities said.

Michael Owen Hutchison, 37, of Elkton, is being held without bond in Marion County, Ohio following his arrest on two warrants for sexual battery, according to the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office.

Hutchison was initially booked on a sexual battery charge June 9 and released after posting $25,000 bond, deputies said.

While free on bond, Hutchison sexually battered an unconscious man in July, the victim told investigators. Afterward, the Sheriff's Office obtained a warrant for Hutchison's arrest.

When the warrant was issued, deputies discovered Hutchison had fled the county. Then a second warrant -- this one with a $250,000 bond -- was issued for Hutchison's arrest, followed by another for the violation of his bond conditions.

Florida governor declares state of emergency as Erika nears

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Governor Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency in Florida as Tropical Storm Erika nears. Scott issued Executive Order 15-173 declaring a state of emergency in every county within the state in preparation for Erika.  To view Executive Order 15-713, click here.