Live Q&A with On Your Side's Ken Amaro

Live Q&A with On Your Side's Ken Amaro

Blog here with On Your Side's Ken Amaro to get your questions answered live, on-air, May 1 from 12:00 p.m. to 12:30 p.m.

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Berkman Plaza II sells for $100

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Berkman Plaza II was auctioned off Tuesday morning by the Duval County Clerk of Courts.

The auction of the Berkman Plaza II showed as closed or canceled online until 10:57 a.m. when it was moved back up to the auctions waiting section of the county's foreclosure sale auctions website. The auction started at 11:00 a.m. and ended two minutes later with a final bid of $100, according to the website.

Joby Birr who represents Choate Construction Company in this foreclosure sale said there were no other bids, meaning the construction company soon will get title to the property. When asked if he expected interest in the Berkman in the way of bids Birr said, "I did not know one way or another.'

A parking structure under construction as part of the Berkman Plaza II collapsed December 6, 2007, killing one and injuring almost two dozen.

Nonprofit dedicated solely to Hemming Plaza revival

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Hemming Plaza could undergo huge changes if a newly formed nonprofit group is successful. The city is working to get a private entity to operate the downtown plaza.

The group Friends of Hemming Park wants to oversee a renaissance of Hemming Plaza. Wayne Wood, who was instrumental in starting the Riverside Arts Market, is heading up the group.

"We want to bring art, we want to bring food, we want to bring entertainment. We plan to do programming in the park seven days a week," Wood said. "There is going to be so much going on in downtown and Hemming Plaza in particular that people will come from all over the city, not just people who work downtown, to see what is going on."

Things like festivals, Shakespeare in the Park and ballet.

The budget for this non profit group would be $1.25 million and there would be a full time as staff of about eight.

FCN's One Spark Top 5: Alert The Boss

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Leading up to One Spark, we've asked creators to submit their videos, and our viewers to vote on their favorites on our Facebook page.

We are featuring the top vote getters in that competition on air and here online as well.

Alert The Boss is a product developed by Evan Diamond, a UNF student, and has been in the top of our voting ever since the beginning.

The product sets up a direct text line for businesses to display, allowing customers to anonymously text feedback directly to a manager, or someone in charge.

"It can be awkward to tell someone face-to-face when you're unhappy with their work," Diamond said.

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Volunteers clean up Hemming Plaza before One Spark

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Ahead of crowd funding festival One Spark, 100 volunteers are working to clean up Hemming Plaza.

"There has been a lot of hard work," said Valerie Feinberg with Downtown Vision Inc.

Over the weekend, new flower beds were planted all across Hemming Plaza. Future plans call for more upkeep, and making Hemming Plaza more attractive.

"We just want to make it look as fabulous as possible," said Feinberg.

Thousands are expected in downtown for One Spark. Feinberg said it's a chance to show off Hemming Plaza, while attracting more visitors, and more business.

City leaders challenged to solve pension mess

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- With an election year right around the corner, city's leaders are being challenged to solve a pension mess with a $1.7 billion deficit in the police and fire fund.

A task force appointed by Mayor Alvin Brown since last summer has been studying the options. On Thursday the group presented to the mayor and city council a 50 page plus outline of an action plan.

That plan includes reducing benefits as well as raising taxes to erase the huge deficit. The calls for voters being given a voice in approving a half penny sales tax that would generate an estimated $68 million a year.

"The goal is to get this done as soon as possible," said Mayor Brown following the brief presentation.

The mayor told reporters afterwards he is not on the bandwagon to raise taxes.

Pension task force wraps up work

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- An in depth study into the city's $1.7 billion police and fire pension deficit has been wrapped up at city hall.

The Jacksonville Retirement Reform Task Force is recommending benefit reductions and increasing by $68 million the contribution dedicated to erasing the deficit.

The recommendation to raise money is to put before voters a half penny sales that would generate 68 million a year. The city council would have to vote on whether to put a sales tax on the ballot possibly this November.

"We inherited a whirlwind, we are at the end of the line. It's all built up over a number of years, now we got to resolve it," said City Council President Bill Gulliford.