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NE Florida events to commemorate 9/11 attacks, honor first responders 

NE Florida events to commemorate 9/11 attacks, honor first responders 

NE Florida events to commemorate 9/11 attacks, honor first responders 
Photo Credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
A member of the military walks the grounds of the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial before the start of the September 11th Pentagon Memorial Observance at the Pentagon on the 17th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

NE Florida events to commemorate 9/11 attacks, honor first responders 

Northeast Florida is planning to commemorate the 9/11 attacks and honor first responders in a series of events today through this evening.  Here is a list of scheduled events, and as we receive more we will update: 

St. Augustine Fire Ceremony of Remembrance

101 Malaga Street, Wednesday morning, September 11th at 8:30am 

Naval Station Mayport 911 flag raising beginning at 7am

Middleburg 9/11 prayer service 

St. Luke Catholic Church 

1606 Blanding Blvd. Middleburg, FL 32068 

7 p.m. - 9 p.m. 

Jax Airport Moment of Silence 

At 8:46am, JAX will observe a moment of silence to mark the 18th Anniversary of September 11, 2001. All screening at the checkpoint will cease during this one minute of silence. 

UNF 9/11 Market Day 

Student Union Osprey Plaza 

10 a.m. - 2 p.m. 

9/11 Peace Concert 

6:00 PM – 8:00 PM 

St. John's Cathedral 

256 East Church Street 

Jacksonville, FL 32202 

Engine 15 9/11 Memorial Ride 


Engine 15, 1500 Beach Blvd, Jacksonville Beach 32250 to Micklers Landing Beach and back to Engine 15 

Mission BBQ free food for first responders 

All locations 


K9s for Warrior holds remembrance service 

Camp K9 

114 Camp K9 Rd. 

Ponte Vedra, FL 32081 

8:40am- 9am


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The Latest News Headlines

  • Local shark researchers are gearing up for their first expedition of 2020. Their work is helping the world learn more about white sharks and other animals that sometimes get a bad reputation.  Great white sharks are making their move south, with more than one swimming off Florida’s coast.  Onboard the OCEARCH shark research ship is Jacksonville University professor Dr. Bryan Franks.  “We believe that the population is increasing,” Franks explained.  Franks says more sharks are spotted near beaches in the north Atlantic Ocean, sometimes just feet away from the shoreline.  “You’ve seen the marine mammal populations begin to increase, and the shark population, their big predator, seems to be increasing along with it,” Franks added.  The lift used to transport sharks can hold up to 75,000 pounds. Without it, many of the scientific samples would be impossible to gather.  Christina Lobuglio is one of Dr. Franks’ students who will be out on the water with him and other scientists.  “The amount of people that I get to see, the amount of different scientists that come on board that allow me as a student to get that practical experience that I need to work in the field,” Lobuglio said.  Last year, local teams were able to tag four sharks.  Franks says this year, teams will spend more time farther offshore. He is hoping to tag at least five more sharks, which would bring the tagged shark population to 60.  Researchers are also hoping to get an ultrasound of a pregnant great white shark.  “I’m more of an ecologist, but we’re working with microbiologists and veterinarians, and really working with other scientists allows us to make bigger breakthroughs,” Franks said.  Each shark will be fitted with at least one satellite transmitter tag and an acoustic tag.  “It allows us to track these sharks in real time,” Lobuglio said.  As the sharks’ fins break the surface, the satellite tags will transmit their locations.  For more information on OCEARCH’s tracker list, click here.
  • Plans are moving forward for a new development in San Marco. Neighbors said the city’s Planning Commission voted to approve the project at Thursday’s meeting.  A developer wants to purchase part of South Jacksonville Presbyterian Church’s property and build a four-story apartment building called Park Place.  The group Right Size San Marco is made up of dozens of neighbors who are pushing back against the project.  Lauren Carlucci lives near where the apartment complex would go.  “We really are not opposed to apartments, and we’re not opposed to a garage. We just want it to fit with the neighborhood,” Carlucci said.  Many neighbors are worried about the increased traffic and overdevelopment, especially with a new Publix planned directly across the street.  “This is a ton of stuff happening at once,” Carlucci said. “We have to be careful the way that we develop. We have to manage the safety and the walkability of San Marco.”  The plan would need to go in front of the City Council before a final vote.
  • More than 100 million Americans may have been drinking water contaminated with highly toxic chemicals. A new report from the Environmental Working Group says PFAS was found in every state on military sites, in drinking water or other unknown sites. It said the harmful chemicals were found in more than 712 locations in 49 states.  PFAS are man-made chemicals. They are known as “forever chemicals” because once released into the environment, they do not break down and builds up in a person’s blood or organs. Typically, PFAS can be found in household products, food packaging and firefighting foam.  EWG said low exposure to some PFAS chemicals has been linked to cancer, thyroid disease, weakened childhood immunity and many other health problems.  However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has no drinking water standard for PFAS. Currently, lawmakers are working to pass a bill that would enforce regulations.  According to the EWG report, Duval and Clay counties had three locations with contamination: the Jacksonville International Airport, Naval Air Station Jacksonville and Camp Blanding.  The test results for JIA shows PFAS contamination in the groundwater on-base in 2018. The suspected source is firefighting foam. A representative from JIA told Action News Jax firefighting foam is used to contain fires at the airport, which is all regulated by the FAA.  Similar results were found at Naval Air Station Jacksonville. The test results show PFOS=PFOA found in the groundwater on-base in 2018. The suspect source is also firefighting foam.  The test results for Camp Blanding found PFAS in its distribution system in 2017. Firefighting foam was also the suspected source.  Action News Jax has reached out to NAS Jax and Camp Blanding about these findings and have not gotten a response.
  • A former wildlife park owner and one-time Oklahoma gubernatorial candidate who goes by the moniker “Joe Exotic” was sentenced Wednesday to 22 years in federal prison in a plot to kill a woman with whom he clashed over his mistreatment of animals. Joseph Maldonado-Passage, 56, of Wynnewood, Oklahoma, was found guilty last April of two counts of murder-for-hire, eight counts of falsifying wildlife records and nine counts of violating the Endangered Species Act. Arrested Sept. 7, 2018, in Gulf Breeze, Florida, he went to trial in late March in Oklahoma City. Maldonado-Passage is former owner of the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park. The Tampa Bay Times reported that he also ran unsuccessfully for Oklahoma governor in 2018. The “Joe Exotic” case has garnered national attention, including as the subject of a podcast by Wondery for its series, “Over My Dead Body.” The description in a trailer for the podcast calls Maldonado-Passage a self-described “gay, gun-carrying redneck with a mullet.” He also had his own YouTube channel, JoeExoticTV, on which videos were posted until last week. The Oklahoman reported that Maldonado-Passage’s first husband, 23-year-old Travis Maldonado, died of an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head Oct. 6, 2017, at the animal park. Maldonado told those present that the gun would not fire because he had removed the magazine, the newspaper said. A bullet was in the chamber when he pulled the trigger, however. Maldonado-Passage, at that time the Libertarian candidate to replace outgoing Gov. Mary Fallin, was not present when his husband died. He remarried two months after the fatal shooting, the Times reported. Maldonado-Passage’s federal convictions for violating the Endangered Species Act and for falsifying records, which is a violation of the Lacey Act, involve his treatment of the animals that were in his care when he ran the animal park. “Maldonado-Passage falsified forms involving the sale of wildlife in interstate commerce, killed five tigers in October 2017 to make room for cage space for other big cats, and sold and offered to sell tiger cubs in interstate commerce. Because tigers are an endangered species, these alleged killings and sales violated the Endangered Species Act,” a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Oklahoma said. The current owners of the animal park, Lauren and Jeff Lowe, wrote on Facebook Jan. 16 that it would be just six more days before the “monster” who killed the tigers would go to federal prison. The post was accompanied by photos that appeared to show the slain animals’ bones being excavated from the ground. “His tyranny in the animal world is over,” the post read. “He will never own another animal again unless his cell has cockroaches.” In an interview with KOCO in Oklahoma City, the Lowes said they were relieved by the sentence and were looking for a fresh start without a connection to “Joe Exotic.” They announced plans in 2018 to move the animal park to a new location not sullied by Maldonado-Passage’s actions. “His name will not be mentioned,” Lauren Lowe told the news station. “He will have nothing to do with the new facility. Going to let this place in Wynnewood, Oklahoma, die with him.” Animal rights activist Carole Baskin, the woman Maldonado-Passage tried to have killed, spoke in court last week about the decade of threats and verbal venom Maldonado-Passage subjected her to. Her statement, in its entirety, has been posted on her sanctuary’s website and on YouTube. Baskin is the founder of Big Cat Rescue, an animal sanctuary based out of Tampa, Florida. She told the court Maldonado-Passage’s conviction was based on “only a handful of vivid examples of his malicious intent to murder me. “The prosecution didn’t need to present the daily barrage of threats to harm, rape or kill me that were my daily experience for the past 10 years,” Baskin said. She said that the trial evidence showed how, over a span of several years, Maldonado-Passage repeatedly tried to coerce, and then hire, someone to kill her. “Because of his constant threats to kill me, I have found myself seeing every bystander as a potential threat,” Baskin said. “There is nowhere that I have felt safe, and worse, no way that I feel I can safeguard those around me. “So many of his threats involved blowing me up, so that he could thrill over seeing me burn to death. Even from jail he gleefully talks about the prospect of me dying a fiery death.” Baskin told the judge it was “nothing short of a miracle” that she was able to stand up in court and ask that he consider everything Maldonado-Passage took from her. “As you consider his sentence, I would just like you to take into account that if this vicious, obsessed man is ever released from jail, my life and my family’s lives will return to what it was like during the decade leading up to his arrest,” Baskin said. “If he completes his sentence and is released, we will end up spending the rest of our lives constantly looking over our shoulders.” Watch Carole Baskin talk about Joseph Maldonado-Passage’s sentencing below. Maldonado-Passage, who also goes by the name Joseph Allen Schreibvogel, had an ongoing dispute with Baskin stemming from her criticism of his wildlife center’s care, exhibition and breeding practices for big cats like lions and tigers. “Until 2011, the dispute was carried on primarily through traditional and social media,” a November 2018 indictment in the case reads. That year, Baskin filed a civil lawsuit against Maldonado-Passage. The Times reported that, in retaliation for Baskin’s outreach efforts to stop people from booking his traveling petting zoo, Maldonado-Passage had renamed the attraction the “Big Cat Rescue Entertainment.” The trademark infringement suit in February 2013 resulted in a judgment against Maldonado-Passage, requiring him to pay Baskin more than $1 million. She and her sanctuary have never received any of the money. By January 2012, Maldonado-Passage’s criticism of Baskin turned to threats of violence, including threats on Facebook and YouTube. According to an interview Baskin did with the Times, the threats included a video Maldonado-Passage made of himself shooting a blow-up doll dressed to look like her. He also produced an image of Baskin hanging in effigy, the newspaper reported. In early November 2017, Maldonado-Passage began trying to hire a hit man to travel to Florida and kill Baskin, the indictment says. On Nov. 6, the supposed hit man traveled from Oklahoma to Dallas to get fake identification for use when traveling to Florida. Later that month, Maldonado-Passage mailed the man’s cellphone to Nevada to conceal the proposed gunman’s involvement in the plot. That same day, Nov. 25, Maldonado-Passage gave the man $3,000 he had received in the sale of a big cat to the man as payment for Baskin’s murder, the indictment says. Thousands more would be paid once the job was complete. That plot never materialized. The Times reported last year that the would-be killer ran off with the money and never made it to Florida. Jurors at Maldonado-Passage’s trial also heard that, beginning in July 2016, Maldonado-Passage repeatedly asked a second witness to kill Baskin or to help him find someone who would. The person he went to that time went to authorities and arranged a December 2017 meeting with a supposed hit man. The hit man was an undercover FBI agent. “The jury heard a recording of his meeting with the agent to discuss details of the planned murder,” a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. Watch a “Joe Exotic Sizzle Reel” from Maldonado-Passage’s YouTube channel below. It may contain some graphic language. Timothy J. Downing, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma, said Maldonado-Passage’s conviction and sentencing was the result of “countless hours of detailed investigative work by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.” “We are thankful for the court’s thoughtful consideration of the gravity of this murder-for-hire scheme, as well as the defendant’s egregious wildlife crimes in imposing a 22-year sentence,” Downing said. Edward Grace, assistant director of the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement, said the successful prosecution was the result of cooperation between the U. S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “Wildlife crime is often connected with other criminal activity, such as fraud, narcotics, money-laundering and smuggling. Mr. Maldonado-Passage added murder-for-hire,” Grace said in a statement. “The service, along with our partners, will continue to bring to justice those involved in wildlife trafficking and other assorted crimes.”
  • Thursday, the Fernandina Harbor Marina was almost empty – just like it has been since 2016. Zachary Hatten, an employee at Atlantic Seafood Bait and Tackle told Action News Jax, “We saw pieces of it float right off.”  The northeast Florida native said he remembers Hurricane Matthew and the damage that shut down the docks.  He said it had a big effect on the store’s bottom line.  “They [the boaters] come and get their bait shrimp, which they take out on their charter. They bring those buys back in, they need us to clean their fish for them and that’s a big part of our revenue,” Hatten described.  Action News Jax reporter Beth Rousseau stopped by the shop in July 2019, the same day City Manager Dale Martin said challenges were delaying repairs to the docks.  Friday, the marina’s southern basin is set to reopen for vessels.  According to Hatten, “They have been out there trying to get the docks back under control – get the pylons built and they’re trying to make sure the next time a hurricane comes through we don’t suffer quite as much damage.”  At Tuesday’s city commission meeting, Martin said the contractor is still making a few repairs and dock adjustments but it won’t affect their use.  Hatten said he can’t wait to see boats back at the marina and their owners inside the store.  “We’re going to treat it as like a grand opening, you know, welcome everybody back,” said Hatten.

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