Parts of Coastline Drive to remain closed in wake new FDOT order


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Coastline Drive, between Liberty Street and Market Street will remain closed, per order from the Florida Department of Transportation in wake of the Liberty Street collapse.

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The order, along with four others, was released in an email from Mayor Alvin Brown's Chief of Staff, Chris Hand, to City Council members Friday afternoon.

It comes on the heels of a request of the city to FDOT for a review of Coastline Drive between Liberty Street and Market Street in front of the Hyatt Hotel on the St. Johns River.

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Downtown businesses evacuate after gas leak


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A natural gas leak is now impacting about a dozen businesses around the 100 block of N. Davis Street near W. Forsyth Street, according to TECO Peoples Gas. The leak was reported around 8:00 Tuesday morning and contained around 5:15 that evening. Crews capped the pipe's valves at both ends, stopping the flow of gas.

TECO says they are working into the night so they can restore gas as soon as possible for the area.

According to Tom Francis with Jacksonville Fire and Rescue, no evacuations were ordered, but a nearby glass company, Pilkington, did evacuate on it's own when the odor from the leak filled their building.

Francis says the gas fumes got into the building's piping, which is what created the strong odor, but he emphasized that the gas was not a threat to anyone.

Power restored to Liberty Street residents downtown


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Power has been restored downtown to residents on Liberty Street, according to a release from the mayor's office.

Though there's no one home to enjoy the newly restored service. The Duval County Emergency Management said it's trying to get people back in their homes as quickly as possible.

Residents of about 20 Riverwalk Townhomes had power again as of 1:06 p.m. on Tuesday, JEA told the Duval County Emergency Management.

The collapse on February 1 left residents without power for 23 days.

The city's emergency action will cover the expenses of the homeowners to return service after the street collapse severed an electrical line, knocking out power to the homes.

The city believes the permanent repairs, including reimbursing owners for their expenses, could cost about $200,000.

Remembering J.T. Townsend


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville remembered one of its unforgettable sons Saturday.

J.T. Townsend was a young man who suffered a spinal cord injury as a teenager, but that did not stop him from impacting peoples' lives.

Saturday, Jacksonville celebrated his birthday when people gathered at Unity Plaza.

Carmen Townsend, his mother, said, "I am overwhelmed and happy."

His family was touched that so many people came out to celebrate J.T. Townsend Day, which was established last year.

His sister, Precious Townsend, said it was good "just to know people are taking the time to celebrate my brother and his birthday and his legacy he left."

Townsend, a football player at Episcopal High School, suffered a spinal cord injury in 2004 that left him paralyzed at the age of 17.

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Religious advocates question same sex marriage


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It is a new year and a new view on marriage. Last year, Florida defined marriage as the relationship between a man and a woman, but on January 6 a federal court ruling redefined marriage.

"When marriage loses its meaning, then it begins to mean nothing," said Dr. Richard Marks.

Marks, a religious-based marriage counselor, said his ministry is more focused on saving marriages from divorce, than on the issue of same-sex marriage.

"We are a marriage and family strengthening initiative," said Marks. "Fatherhood as well."

But Marks said even though he has avoided the heated debate on the issue, it is difficult to ignore the implications of same sex marriage.

Marks said faith based organizations are looking for ways to keep faith in the wedding ceremony. He gave another example of the implications of same sex marriage.

Local family wants city to clean up Memorial Cemetery


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Presha Family visits the graves of their loved ones at Memorial Cemetery, near Moncrief Road, and they're disgusted by its condition.

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"It is terrible,it is terrible," said Evelyn Morris.

Morris' parents are buried in Memorial Cemetery; her father in 1958, her mother in 2003. It is one of the city's old African American cemeteries.

"It looks like somebody has sabotaged the graveyard," she said.

Local shelter gives away free Christmas trees


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- More than 100 local families received an early Christmas present on Wednesday.

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An anonymous donor purchased real Christmas trees and handed them all over to Trinity Rescue Mission.

"It's someone who's been a longtime supporter of us. He wanted people to have a Christmas tree that could not afford one on their own," said Pastor Jim Kilpatrick.

The shelter decided to give all the trees away to area families in need this holiday season.