News

MLK Jr. parade route, traffic and closures

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- If you are headed to downtown Jacksonville on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, expect delays due to the annual parade.

PHOTO GALLERY: Reflections of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Participants in the parade will assemble at Jefferson and Water Streets between 7:00 a.m. and 9:45 a.m.   

At 10:00 a.m. the parade will go East on Water Street, passing the Jacksonville Landing and then under the Main Street Bridge.  

From there the parade will turn left onto Newman Street and then right onto Bay Street.  

Honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. Around Jacksonville

No matter the weather, Sulzbacher prepared to help

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Winter weather increases concern for the some 4,000 homeless people living in Duval County.  

On any given night, the Sulzbacher Center in downtown Jacksonville, provides shelter for about 350 people.

When the temperatures plummet to below 40 degrees, the center sees an additional 50 people.

Thursday morning, volunteers prepared 80 pounds of food for the some 500 people looking for a hot meal.

For each meal, the shelter cooks 80 pounds of food. That is 240 pounds of food a day and 87,360 pounds of food per year.

During the last cold snap, the center received an excess amount of coat donations, so they were able to give some away to partner shelters in the area.

Now, the Sulzbacher says they are more prepared than ever for the cold temperatures.

Proposal made to tear down, rebuild Jacksonville Landing

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Landing could be opened up for more events and entertainment
in the future and possibly economic growth, if a plan presented Wednesday to the Downtown Investment
Authority is put into action.

Landing owner, Tony Sleiman says, "The
stars are lined up to make it happen. Everybody wants a change downtown. It's
old and it needs to be redone. It needs something new."

Alan Wilson of The
Haskell Company presented the redevelopment plan, saying the city needs an
identifier.

Haskell wants to tear
the Landing down and rebuild it, Wilson said. Parking, hotels, restaurants and workforce
housing would be included in the new Landing structure, which would be several
stories tall.

The idea is to
connect Downtown and the Riverfront, Wilson said.

$12K roof turns into frustration drip by drip

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Gaines family has lived in their Arlington home for decades, but what they're now experiencing is a first and they're not happy.

"It is not a tremendous problem for them," said Henry Gaines, "but it is for us."

Gaines, 71, said three years ago they hired Home Improvement Services to replace the roof on their home. They were relatively content until now.

"My wife is more upset than I am and when she's upset, I am upset," said Gaines.

They're upset because the roof, which was installed January 30, 2010, has a leak and the water is dripping down the walls in their bedroom.

"If the water keeps accumulating," said Gaines," I'm afraid the ceiling will sink in."

Since the holidays, they have made several attempts to reach Home Improvement Services.

"We've called at least ten times now," he said.

Main St. Bridge under construction through spring 2015

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- People who often travel through the city's downtown area might want to start giving themselves extra time.

For the next year, the Florida Department of Transportation will be making safety improvements to the Main Street Bridge.

Lane closures and reductions are expected to impact both drivers and pedestrians during different times of the day.

A spokesperson for FDOT told First Coast News' news-gathering partners, the Florida Times-Union,
the bridge was not originally built for the kinds of vehicles that are
on the road today and the speeds at which they can travel.

So,
to make the structure more crash-resistant, the bridge will be getting
new steel barriers to protect beams on the blue span that connects the
north and south banks.

New cables and structural steel work is also expected to be part of the $11.1 million project, according to the Times-Union.

Pension reform task force looking at options, including tax hike

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Retirement Reform task force met again Wednesday morning to try and hammer out a new plan to pay down existing pension debt and reform the city's pension plan.

The city owes the pension fund some $1.7 billion in unfunded liability. One idea being discussed is the city paying $90 million extra to the pension fund each year to pay off the debt.

Chairman Bill Scheu was asked if  that means a possible tax hike is on the table. 

"Absolutely," said Scheu. "There is no revenue side of it that we have taken off the table. But that does not mean that is where we are going to end up. All matters are on the table but that means other revenue matters are on the table too."

Velveeta shortage? Local chef says 'Who cares'

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Chriss Brown owns 927 Events, a catering company and event venue in downtown Jacksonville. 

She's been a chef for 12 years, and clearly has a passion for using local products in her cooking.

For one, Bold City Brewery beer is the secret ingredient in some of her recipes.

When she can, she chooses local. When she can't, she said she always chooses natural. 

As you can imagine, she does not keep Velveeta in her kitchen.

"No I don't," she said bluntly, with a stern pause.

"I don't want to serve orange number whatever food coloring to people," she finally finished.

So when asked about her opinion of the Velveeta shortage:

"My first thought was, 'gee, people are going to have to make something instead of buying it," she said laughing.