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Latest from Arielle Wysocki

    UPDATE at 6:57 am:  The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has confirmed Lan Thi Nguyen has been found safe.  The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is asking the public for help locating a missing 83-year-old woman out of the East Arlington area.  Police say Lan Thi Nguyen was reported missing yesterday from the 1700 block of Brookview Drive South, which is just south of Atlantic Boulevard and west of the Beltway.   Nguyen is described as 4’10, about 90 pounds, and was last seen wearing a straw hate, white dress with a yellow and white jacket, and was carrying a pink walker.  If you have any information on Nguyen’s whereabouts, you're asked to contact JSO. 
  • Another deadly shooting in Jacksonville.  The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office says a woman and man were inside a vehicle on Sophia Street around 8 pm Thursday when the woman was shot. Police say she later died at the hospital. JSO says the man who was inside the vehicle with the woman when the shooting happened is cooperating and is not a suspect at this time. Police believe the shooter may have been in a dark four-door car, and the victim was possibly visiting an apartment complex nearby when the shooting happened. If you have any information about this shooting, you’re asked to contact JSO.
  • The State Board of Education has approved a new rule intended to make every school in Florida a child trafficking free zone. The rule requires teachers to educate students in grades K-12 in child trafficking prevention, making Florida the first state in the nation to address the need for instruction on this issue.  Under the new rule, each school district will be required to submit an implementation plan to the commissioner and post the plan on the school district website by December 1 of each year.  Each plan must include the methods in which instruction will be delivered for each grade level, the professional qualifications of the teacher, and a description of the materials and resources used to deliver instruction.  Additionally, by July 1 of each year, an annual report must be submitted by each school district to the commissioner to verify completion.  Governor Ron DeSantis says, children of all ages need to know and understand the hazards of human trafficking and how to protect themselves from dangerous predators.  According to the Florida Department of Education, Florida is ranked third in the nation for reported cases of human trafficking. The department says up to 70 percent of sex trafficking and exploitation starts with predators connecting with youth online. While there is no standard profile of a child-trafficking victim, reports show that traffickers often target children with a history of sexual abuse, dating violence, low self-esteem and minimal social support.
  • More changes may be coming to Beach Boulevard, and the Florida Department of Transportation will be discussing those proposed changes with the public during an open house on Tuesday, September 10.  FDOT says proposed improvements to the quarter-mile stretch of Beach Boulevard between Southside Boulevard (SR-115) and Eve Drive include:  • Construction of a signal-controlled Median U-Turn Intersection (MUT) on Beach Boulevard eastbound to Southside Boulevard northbound. • Construction of a signal-controlled Median U-Turn Intersection (MUT) on Beach Boulevard westbound to Southside Boulevard southbound.  • Construction of a stop-controlled median directional crossover on Beach Boulevard to Newell Boulevard. • Construction of a signal-controlled median directional crossover on Beach Boulevard to W. Eve Drive. • Widening Beach Boulevard to accommodate the MUTs and directional crossovers. • Construction of traffic signals, pedestrian and bicycle facilities and driveway modifications. • Installation of overhead and post-mounted signs and pavement markings. • Milling and resurfacing within the project limits. The open house will take place at the Regency Square Branch Library from 4 pm to 6 pm.  FDOT says anyone who shows up will have an opportunity to view displays and discuss the proposed changes with project staff and consultants. 
  • As part of the Blanding Boulevard widening project between Long Bay Road and Allie Murray Road in Middleburg, the Florida Department of Transportation says a closure and detour will begin Monday, September 9. FDOT says the closure on Long Bay Road will last about three months, and motorists will be diverted to County Road 220 and Blanding Boulevard. Local traffic will also have the option to use Lazy Acres Road.   Improvements included in the $19.1 million project are widening the two mile stretch of Blanding Boulevard from four lanes to six lanes, adding 4-foot-wide bike lanes in both directions as well as 6-foot-wide sidewalks, replacing traffic signals and street lights, and construction of a new drainage system.  Intersections between County Road 220 and Long Bay Road will also be realigned on Blanding.  The contractor R.B. Baker Construction Company expects to complete the project by spring of 2021. 
  • More changes could be coming to Beach Boulevard, and the Florida Department of Transportation wants to hear what residents have to say about it during a public hearing on Monday, April 1.  During the meeting at the Regency Square Branch Library, FDOT will go over a list of proposed changes on Beach Boulevard between Southside Boulevard and Eve Drive.  FDOT’s inviting the public to their open house starting at 4:30 pm, followed by a formal public comment period at 6:30 pm. During the open house, attendees will be able to see displays and discuss the plan with project staff and consultants on site.  Proposed improvements include: Construction of a Restricted Crossing U-Turn (RCUT) on Beach Boulevard to northbound Southside Boulevard and northbound Eve Drive. Construction of a Displaced Left Turn (DLT) on Beach Boulevard to southbound Southside Boulevard. Construction of a bypass right turn lane on Southside Boulevard to eastbound Beach Boulevard. Construction of median improvements and pedestrian facilities at the intersection of Patton Road and Southside Service Road. Widening Beach Boulevard and Southside Boulevard to accommodate RCUT and DLT. Construction of traffic signals, pedestrian and bicycle facilities and driveway modifications to accommodate RCUT and DLT. Construction of overhead and post-mounted signs and pavement markings to accommodate RCUT and DLT. Milling and resurfacing within the project limits. FDOT says the project documents will also be available to the public after the hearing.  Attendees who want to make a verbal statement, can complete a speaker’s card that will become part of the public hearing record.  FDOT says attendees can also send written statements to Peter Osborne at 2198 Edison Avenue, Jacksonville, Florida 32204.   All exhibits or statements postmarked on or before April 11, 2019 will become part of the public hearing record, according to FDOT.
  • It will likely make your drive through Jacksonville’s Southside a little smoother when it’s done— the Florida Department of Transportation is upgrading the traffic signals along Beach Boulevard from Parental Home Road to Cortez Road starting next week.  FDOT says among the upgrades are new mast-arms and signals along Beach Boulevard, at Parental Home Road, Foster Drive, Grove Park Boulevard, Barkley Road, Peach Drive, Forest Boulevard, Anniston Road, DeSalvo Road and Cortez Road.  Roadway lighting, sidewalk repairs, new highway signage and an additional right turn lane from Beach Boulevard eastbound to Parental Home Road are also included in the $3.8 million improvement project, according to FDOT.  FDOT says drivers can expect single lane closures periodically throughout the week between 8 pm and 6:30 am.  FDOT says pedestrian detours will be in place in case of any sidewalk closures, and JTA bus stops may be temporarily relocated during construction.  According to FDOT, Florida Safety Contractors, Inc. is expected to finish this project early next year. 
  • If you’re a frequent East Arlington driver, you might notice a slight shift to your drive over the weekend. According to the Florida Department of Transportation, detours will be in place for McCormick Road and Fort Caroline Road between Friday, February 1 at 7 pm and Monday, February 4 at 5 am. FDOT says the detours are necessary so crews can safely finish some drainage work included in the Wonderwood Drainage Improvements project.  FDOT says McCormick Road eastbound traffic will be detoured right on St. Johns Bluff Road, then left on Monument Road to McCormick. Westbound drivers will turn left on Monument, then right on St. Johns Bluff to McCormick.  Fort Caroline Road westbound traffic will turn left on McCormick, then right on Monument, and then take another right onto St. Johns Bluff.  FDOT says there will be signs and message boards directing traffic through the detour.  According to FDOT, J.B. Coxwell Contracting Inc. is expected to complete the nearly $8 million project this summer. 
  • Expect a nightly detour on Jacksonville’s Northside, while the Florida Department of Transportation completes utility work for the Airport Road and I-95 interchange improvement project.  FDOT says from Sunday, January 13 to Thursday, January 17, between 10 pm and 5:30 am, drivers on I-95 northbound who need to get to Airport Road westbound will continue heading north on I-95 to the Pecan Park Road exit. From there, drivers will be directed from Pecan Park Road, then west to I-95 southbound, and down to Airport Road.  The $11 million project extends from Airport Center Drive to west of Duval Road, FDOT says.  According to FDOT, the project’s expected to be completed this December, and it includes widening of off-ramps, road resurfacing, drainage improvements, sidewalk construction and new signage. 
  • A 15-year-old has been arrested after allegedly stealing a skateboard from a vehicle parked at the Tinseltown movie theater on Jacksonville’s Southside.  According to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, several witnesses approached the movie theater manager about a group of suspicious young people rummaging through vehicles in the parking lot Monday night.    JSO says an off-duty officer began driving through the parking lot and made contact with two people from the group. The officer said they began walking towards a black Toyota which was parked on the far west end of the parking lot. When the officer approached the vehicle and group of at least four people, they all fled, except for a woman sitting inside the vehicle.  JSO says the officer noticed a skateboard on the ground next to the vehicle, and confirmed it was stolen out of a vehicle in the parking lot.  JSO says a second officer was called to help locate the suspect. While the backup officer was driving on Southside Boulevard, he spotted the suspect running through a Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot. JSO says the officer caught up to the 15-year-old suspect and arrested him on scene. According to the arrest report, the suspect denied any involvement.   JSO says the stolen skateboard was returned to its owner. 
  • Arielle Wysocki

    Traffic Anchor

    Arielle Wysocki is a Traffic Anchor and Producer for WOKV.

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  • The Jacksonville Humane Society and Animal Care and Protective Services announced the city of Jacksonville, once again, earned the no-kill designation for the year of 2019. According to Best Friends Animal Society, “A no-kill community is a city or town in which every brick-and-mortar shelter serving and/or located within that community has reached a 90% save rate or higher and adheres to the no-kill philosophy, saving every animal who can be saved.'  According to a release put out by the JHS, the save rate for APCS was 90 percent and for JHS it was 95 percent, making a citywide save rate of 93 percent.  In total, 16,874 animals entered the JHS shelters in 2019, which is a significant decrease from 19,366 animals in 2018, according to the JHS.  According to JHS, Jacksonville earned the distinction of being the largest city in the United States to earn a no-kill status. The city has maintained that status until last year when ACPS save rate fell to 86 percent.  “Examining the data and trends in 2017 and 2018 resulted in our renewed focus on cats and kittens in 2019,” said Deisler. “As a community, we had to take a look at ourselves ask – what can we do to save those lives? We knew that with the help of our community, a return to no-kill was possible. We are excited about the results from 2019 and even more excited for 2020. Thank you, Jacksonville!”
  • Thirty-nine years after three Florida Highway Patrol troopers were killed in a plane crash, the state is honoring their sacrifice with a roadway designation. On July 13, 1981, Cpl. Cleo “Tommy” Tomlinsons, Trooper Merle Cook and Trooper Robert Pruitt were in an airplane that crashed in St. Johns County while assisting in the search for two suspects wanted for breaking and entering.  “We had received a call requesting assistance from the Sheriff’s Office on some burglary suspects they were trying to track,” retired FHP Trooper Rick McIntyre said.  McIntyre said it happened on a Monday. He dropped off his co-worker and friend, Tomlinson, at the airport so he could help search the wooded area. On his way back to assist on foot, he witnessed the horrific plane crash.  “A person goes into shock when they see something like that,” McIntyre said. “At the time, I had less than five years on the patrol and it was something horrible to witness.”  As the calls went out over the service radio, Tomlinson’s son was on the receiving end. He was in training to become a trooper.  “I can remember every detail about that day,” Tomlinson’s son and retired FHP trooper Chet Tomlinson said. “That day I was in recruit training at Parris Island.”  That day, three families lost a husband and father. The community lost three troopers who were protecting their homes.  Now, almost four decades after the crash, family members said they are thankful that their fathers’ sacrifices have not been forgotten.  “Hopefully the people and the citizens of the state of Florida understand the sacrifice the officers make each and every day when they walk out the door,” Tomlinson said.  Of the 48 FHP troopers who have died in the line of duty, fewer than half have received a roadway designation.  The sign, which includes all three troopers, is on U.S. Route 1 and stretch about 5 miles long. The FHP said it is in dedication of their sacrifice and a reminder for drivers to stay alert while on the road.
  • Dozens of strangers showed up Friday afternoon at the Jacksonville National Cemetery to make sure a local homeless veteran got the proper burial he deserved. Many of the people attending didn’t know John Meade Jr. was a veteran when he was alive. But they wanted to honor him properly, now that he’s gone.  “He was very much appreciated, and we all appreciate the service that he did. Not only for everybody else, but what he stood for,” said Shirley Greco, who attended the ceremony.  He had a lot of family at his funeral – maybe not in blood, but in spirit.  “I really do wish that he could be here to see the turnout today for him, I really do. And I think there’s a way that he knows how it turned out today,” Greco said.  “Whoever the vet is, doesn’t get buried with no family, so we become their family,” said Wayne May.  For at least 10 years, Meade sat on a bench in downtown St. Augustine every single day, and was a friendly face to everyone who passed by.  While he talked to everybody, no one knew much about him.  After Meade died, an officer with the St. Augustine Police Department spent 80 hours digging for information about him.  When the officer found out he served in the Army, he wanted Meade to have a proper burial. He asked the community to come out to Jacksonville’s National Cemetery, and they showed up by the dozens.  “People did care about him, and he’s never alone,” said Ken White, a veteran.  “I wish I would’ve known him,” another veteran said.
  • McKenzie Adams was 9 years old when she took her own life on Dec. 3, 2018, in her Linden, Alabama, home. A federal lawsuit filed Thursday by her family alleges that administrators and teachers at her elementary school, U.S. Jones Elementary in Demopolis, failed to protect her from incessant bullying. Demopolis is located in west Alabama, about 60 miles southwest of Tuscaloosa. “(The defendants) exhibited deliberate and blatant indifference to the wrongful persistent bullying and harassment, rife with racial and gender-based slurs, imparted upon McKenzie by a boy who was her classmate,” the lawsuit states. Linden and Demopolis police officials investigated the allegations of bullying in the wake of McKenzie’s hanging death but said they could not find the evidence to back up the family’s claims. The school also denied the allegations that bullying had been reported to administrators by the girl or her family. “We have concluded our internal investigation to the allegations of bullying which led to this senseless death. There have been no findings of any reports of bullying by either the student or family,” a Dec. 11, 2018, statement from the school district said, according to the Tuscaloosa News. “The findings of this internal investigation are consistent with the results of the investigation of the Linden Police Department at this point in time.” McKenzie’s family begged police to reopen the investigation. Her mother and grandmother are adamant that the bullying was reported to school officials multiple times. “Her case deserves a second look,” her weeping mother, Jasmine Adams, said at a news conference last January, according to WBRC in Birmingham. “There are things that could have been missed on the first go-round. And I just feel she deserves a second look at her case.” Hundreds of mourners attended the girl’s funeral, which was held in the gymnasium of her school. According to the News, a wreath of flowers spelling out “You are loved, little one” stood near her white casket. McKenzie, who family members said hoped to be a scientist when she grew up, wore a silver tiara as she was laid to rest. McKenzie’s mother and grandmother, Janice Adams, filed Thursday’s lawsuit on behalf of the girl, whose death made national headlines. Named in the lawsuit are the school, the Demopolis school system, Superintendent Kyle Kallhoff, then-U.S. Jones principal Tori Infinger, then-assistant principal Tracy Stewart and fourth-grade teacher Gloria Mims. Infinger resigned in April 2019, according to the Demopolis Times. It was not immediately clear Friday where Stewart is currently employed, but Mims remains listed as a teacher on the U.S. Jones website. “The Demopolis City Board of Education has only recently learned of a lawsuit filed against them on behalf of McKenzie Adams,” the school system’s attorney, Alex Braswell, said in a statement obtained by WSFA in Montgomery. “While we are not permitted to discuss pending litigation, the Demopolis Board of Education can say that we look forward to defending this case and dispelling the allegations made therein.” ‘Tell it to the wall because I do not want to hear it’ The lawsuit, which seeks compensatory and punitive damages, alleges that McKenzie, who was enrolled at U.S. Jones Elementary for the 2018-2019 school year, was “targeted and taunted” by a white 9-year-old in her class, who called her the N-word and an “ugly a** bit**.” The abuse took place both in the classroom and in the school gym, her family claims. “According to information and belief, on Oct. 24, 2018, (the boy) passed a note to McKenzie in which he called her a “bit**” while in the classroom of defendant Mims,” the lawsuit states. He also used sexually explicit terms in the note. The Adams family believes the abuse stemmed from the fact that McKenzie went to and from school with a white friend and the friend’s mother. McKenzie wrote in her diary Nov. 5, 2018, that two boys at school had been bullying her, the suit alleges. “Upon information and belief, on the date of her death, Dec. 3, 2018, (the boy) told McKenzie to kill herself, told her that she was better off dead, and instructed her on the manner to take her own life,” the lawsuit says. McKenzie’s mother and grandmother say Mims, who was McKenzie’s math teacher at the time of her death, was aware but “deliberately indifferent” to the bullying taking place. Janice Adams, the girl’s grandmother, attempted in August 2018 to set up a meeting with Mims to discuss the ongoing abuse. “Plaintiff Janice Adams never received a return call from Mims,” the suit states. She tried again in September to set up a meeting to discuss the abuse and what it was doing to McKenzie’s “state of mind.” “On Oct. 1, 2018, she received a generic notice that there was no need for a parent-teacher conference,” the lawsuit says. Progress reports came out that month, and McKenzie’s report indicated she was failing math, the class Mims taught. Ordinarily, her family told media outlets, McKenzie excelled in math. “Plaintiff Janice Adams was aware that McKenzie was struggling in the course due to emotional challenges resulting from the bullying and harassment that McKenzie was experiencing in her class,” the complaint said. “Concerned about McKenzie’s state of mind, plaintiff Janice Adams went to Mims’ classroom on Oct. 12, 2018, to request a meeting with Mims. “At that time, Plaintiff Janice Adams identified (the alleged bully), informed Mims that McKenzie was being bullied by him, and asked that the school address the bullying. Plaintiff Janice Adams left her contact information for a follow-up meeting. Mims failed to call her back.” The lawsuit states that Infinger was present for the meeting and was made aware of the supposed bullying going on in Mims’ classroom. Janice Adams claims the principal failed to act. On Oct. 24, Mims obtained the harassing note the boy passed McKenzie in class. Mims contacted the girl’s grandmother and told her that, instead of disciplining the boy, McKenzie would be disciplined for responding to the bullying, the lawsuit states. Talking to law enforcement officials later, Mims admitted that there were two boys, including the one indicated in the lawsuit, who “bothered” everyone in the class, the court document says. Mims told police the boy was “often jumping around and striking other children.” She called him a “clown” and said the boy was always in trouble. Despite his behavior, the lawsuit alleges, no action was taken to discipline the boy for his harassment of McKenzie. McKenzie complained to the teacher multiple times about the bullying. “Upon information and belief, on numerous occasions, Mims instructed McKenzie to ‘tell it to the wall because I do not want to hear it,’” the lawsuit states. Read the entire federal lawsuit filed on behalf of McKenzie Adams below.  The lawsuit alleges that Mims admitted to law enforcement that she was aware that the boy was engaged in conduct defined as bullying by Demopolis City Schools, that he specifically targeted McKenzie and that McKenzie’s family was concerned about the emotional impact the bullying had on the girl. “Upon information and belief, Mims was aware that one risk factor for suicidal ideation was bullying,” the suit says. The complaint states that Mims violated school and district policy by failing to notify Infinger, the principal, or the central office of the first instance of bullying. She also failed to inform them of the continual bullying and failed to take action on her own to stop the harassment, the document says. “Defendant’s deliberate indifference created a dangerous environment and barred McKenzie’s access to a safe learning environment. As the direct result of Mims’ conduct, McKenzie committed suicide,” the lawsuit alleges. The lawsuit also blames Infinger’s lack of action for the girl’s death. It states she had actual knowledge of the behavior toward McKenzie and failed to train teachers and administrators on gender- and race-specific bullying. Stewart is named in the lawsuit because McKenzie’s family alleges that Mims gave the harassing note of Oct. 24, 2018, to the assistant principal and she did nothing to stop the bullying. “Stewart contacted McKenzie’s family on Oct. 25, 2018, regarding the note,” the lawsuit states. “At that time, plaintiff Janice Adams informed Stewart that McKenzie was being bullied and had been bullied since the commencement of the school year.” Stewart informed Adams that McKenzie would be punished for responding to the note. It was not clear in the filing what the girl’s response was. “Following the phone call with plaintiff Janice Adams, Stewart spoke on a three-way phone call with plaintiff Janice Adams and McKenzie’s mother, plaintiff Jasmine Adams, to discuss McKenzie’s discipline regarding the note,” according to the lawsuit. “Plaintiff Jasmine Adams expressed concern about the bullying, the harassment and the fact that McKenzie was being disciplined by U.S. Jones.” The distraught mother informed Stewart that she planned to contact the State Department about the persistent bullying and harassment. “Stewart asked plaintiff Jasmine Adams not to contact the State Department and stated that U.S. Jones would handle the matter,” the suit says. “However, U.S. Jones did not handle the matter.” The lawsuit alleges that the school system did not adhere to state and federal anti-bullying measures. It claims that all the defendants named in the complaint had participated in the Jason Flatt Suicide Prevention Program, a program by The Jason Foundation designed to provide professional development for teachers and youth workers so they can better identify children at risk for suicide. The foundation was created in 1997 by Clark Flatt after his 16-year-old son, Jason Flatt, died by suicide. The lawsuit also claims the school and district failed to comply with the Jamari Terrell Williams Bullying Prevention Act, which AL.com reported was enacted to strengthen the state’s 2009 anti-harassment law. The act requires schools to define, control, report and stop bullying. The act is named after 10-year-old Jamari Williams, a gifted Montgomery dancer and honor roll student who took his own life Oct. 11, 2017, after being bullied for “being different,” according to the website for a foundation set up in his name. The federal lawsuit in McKenzie’s death accuses the district of violating Title IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits harassment based on gender, as well as Title VI, which prohibits discrimination based on race. The lawsuit also accuses the school system of denying Adams equal protection under the 14th Amendment. It asks for compensatory damages “in an amount that will fully compensate McKenzie and her family for all they suffered” and such punitive damages that would “properly punish them for the constitutional, statutory and common law violations perpetrated upon McKenzie as alleged herein, in an amount that will serve as a deterrent to defendants and others from engaging in similar conduct in the future.” Since McKenzie’s death, her aunt, Eddwina Harris, has been working to kickstart an anti-bullying organization called the McKenzie Foundation. A GoFundMe page set up to collect donations has raised $12,830 of its $20,000 goal. A large portion of the work of the McKenzie Foundation appears to be public speaking on the dangers of bullying. “If you knew your child was at a place where there was a ticking time bomb, you would come and get them out,” Eddwina Harris told the News following her niece’s funeral. “The time is now to get them out of a dangerous situation.” As for the national publicity McKenzie’s death received, Harris said she believed it would do some good in the wake of tragedy. “It’s touching that one little 9-year-old girl has changed the lives and minds of so many people and it’s going to stick with us for the rest of our lives,” she said.
  • Two months after a young mother was found shot to death in a southside apartment off Gate Parkway, Jacksonville Police have announced an arrest.  Police obtained an arrest warrant on Thursday for 23-year-old Keeshawn Glover for charges of second degree murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. 24-year-old Felisia Williams was found dead in her home at the Gardens of Bridge Hampton Apartments near Belfort Road.  Family and friends say Williams had a 4-year-old daughter.  According to JSO, Williams and Glover knew each other, but they did not elaborate on their relationship.  

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