ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

cloudy-day
84°
Mostly Cloudy
H 91° L 77°
  • cloudy-day
    84°
    Current Conditions
    Mostly Cloudy. H 91° L 77°
  • cloudy-day
    86°
    Evening
    Mostly Cloudy. H 91° L 77°
  • clear-day
    78°
    Morning
    Mostly Sunny. H 93° L 78°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest top stories

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

Latest from Stephanie Brown

    The uncle of missing 16-year-old Iyana Sawyer has now been indicted for two counts of first degree murder, and our partner Action News Jax reports the counts relate to Sawyer and her unborn baby. 16-year-old Sawyer was last seen leaving Terry Parker High School in December. Since that time, her uncle, Johnathan Quiles, has been identified as a suspect in her disappearance. Quiles has been in jail since January, on a separate sexual battery charge. Now, the State Attorney’s Office confirms Quiles has been indicted for two counts of first degree murder and one count of sexual battery. Our partner Action News Jax reports Sawyer’s family’s attorney tells them the murder charges are for the teen and her unborn baby. WOKV is working to get court and police records to confirm and learn more about what led to these charges being filed.
  • A toddler has drowned in a pool, in a residential area of Lakeshore South on Jacksonville’s Westside. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office responded to the home on San Juan Avenue around 2:20PM. Jacksonville Fire and Rescue was also dispatched, and when emergency responders got on scene, they found witnesses performing CPR on the toddler. Rescue personnel took over CPR and transported the toddler to the hospital, where it died. At this time, JSO is not saying if anyone else was in the pool at the time, but foul play is not suspected in the drowning. They’re also not releasing any additional information about the victim, including the age and gender, but police confirmed in a tweet that this involved a toddler. Police are currently speaking with witnesses at the home, as their investigation continues. The Florida Department of Children and Families is also investigating.
  • The Jacksonville Sheriff’s office is asking for your help finding a missing 11-year-old. Addison Terry is described as 5’2”, 107 lbs., with blue eyes and brown hair. She was last seen wearing a blue shirt. JSO says Terry may be in the Orange Park area, or other parts of Clay County or Jacksonville. Terry ran away from the Youth Crisis Center on Parental Home Road on the Southside last night, according to JSO. YCC’s website shows they provide short term crisis care, mental health counseling, skills-based group training, and transitional living services for children and families. YCC says they are a secure, gated facility that has security cameras and 24/7 staff supervision. They say there are protocols in place for when a young adult attempts to abscond, which involves using de-escalation techniques to try to get them to come back inside. Staff can only follow the youth to the property line and cannot physically engage, though, so if that child does run away, that’s when police are notified. YCC says everything was done properly by their staff in this case, however they are not commenting on the specifics of why Terry was with them or how specifically she ran off. Youth in the facility receive food, therapy, school, family visits, recreation, and more. YCC says the average stay is 10-14 days. If you have any information about her location, you’re asked to contact JSO at 904-630-0500 or JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org.
  • Students across Florida will now receive at least five hours of instruction each year dedicated to mental and emotional health. The State Board of Education approved a new rule Wednesday outlining the requirement, which applies to all public school students in grades 6 through 12. The instruction will be appropriate for the student’s developmental stage and will be taught by someone who has proper professional qualifications, according to the State. Among the topics that will be included in the instruction are recognizing the signs and symptoms of mental health disorders, how to reduce the stigma around mental health disorders, raising awareness of the resources available in school and in the community, strategies for developing healthy coping techniques, how to support a friend or family members with a mental health disorder, and preventing tragic consequences like suicide, addiction, and substance abuse.  A plan for how to implement this new requirement must be both submitted to the state and posted on the school district website. Board documents show they did not want to wait to act. “Time is a critical factor. Approximately 1 in 5 youth in Florida, and worldwide, experience mental health disorders prior to turning age 25,” the rule documents show. “This is just the beginning. It’s no secret that mental illness robs students of the ability to reach their full potential, and we are joining forces to combat this disease and give our students the tools they need to thrive. We are going to reinvent school-based mental health awareness in Florida,” says Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran. WOKV has reached out to local school districts to see how they will be adopting this plan. This story will be updated as more information is available.
  • Two people accused of sexually assaulting a woman in Jacksonville Beach have now pleaded and been sentenced to time served and probation. Jacksonville Beach Police first reported the assault to the public last July, as they sought help tracking down the two suspects. There was not much information initially released, but court records have since shown that the two approached a woman around the boardwalk in the early morning hours of July 1st, 2018, and said she was “exactly what we are looking for”. The affidavit for arrest warrant further said the two suspects- since identified as Shawn Cobb and Corinthia Morris- then took the woman to their truck, where they sexually assaulted her. Police say DNA evidence helped lead them to Cobb. Cobb was initially arrested for three counts of sexual battery and kidnapping with a weapon. Court records show he has now pleaded guilty to one count of felony battery, and the remaining three charges are being dropped. Cobb is being credit for the 327 days he served in jail and sentenced to four years of drug offender probation.  Morris was initially facing two counts of sexual battery and kidnapping with a weapon, but one of the sexual battery charges was dropped early on. She has now pleaded guilty to one count of felony battery, and that adjudication is being withheld. The kidnapping charge is being dropped. Morris is also being given credit for time served, which for her is 303 days. She will also serve four years of probation, and must perform a substance abuse evaluation.  Neither of the suspects are allowed to have contact with the victim, and they must both enroll in a psychosexual evaluation, keep a driving log, abide by a curfew, and pay certain court costs and fees.
  • Saying they still have a range of questions that haven’t been answered, two Jacksonville City Council committees have deferred action on a School Board plan to put a half-cent sales tax on a ballot for you to decide. It’s the second time this action has been deferred at the Committee level, so the measure has not yet made it to the full City Council for a final vote. “I pray that the City Council can break those chains that are holding you hostage and preventing you from doing what is right and fair for all of our students, and most of all, for those who- by choice- have chosen traditional public schools,” says School Board Vice Chair Warren Jones, who spoke during public comment at the Rules Committee. Since early 2017, the Duval County Public School District has studied the condition of the schools, which led to the assembly of a Master Facilities Plan that details nearly $2 billion in work needed across the District, including repairing, rebuilding, and replacing schools- some of which are among the oldest in the state. Through that process, they held community meetings and took in feedback to alter the plan. In May, the School Board passed a resolution to have you vote on a half-cent sales tax for 15 years, which would fund this master plan. They proposed that special election take place this November, with the School District covering the cost of the election. The School Board cannot in itself put a measure on a ballot for you, though- that falls on the City Council. Jacksonville’s General Counsel issued a memorandum saying he believes the City Council does not have to simply pass through the measure, and can instead exercise discretion. “At the end of the day, I want to come together on this. I want us to get to a place where we can get this to a vote, because we need it. Our kids need it. Our community deserves it. And for us to be the city that we want to be, this has to happen,” says School Board member Darryl Willie, who spoke during public comment at the Finance Committee. City Council members started debating the referendum a few weeks ago, and while the Finance Committee passed it through with some changes at that time, the Rules Committee decided to defer the vote until new, incoming City Council members could be seated. Tuesday marked the first time those committees met with the new members installed, and both panels ultimately decided to again defer a vote. “I understand how public schools, the challenges public schools face. And I also understand the duty that we have as a legislative body, to debate and to talk about and fully vet everything that comes before us that we’re required to vote on. A legislative body can’t be directed to vote one way or another, nor can an executive be directed to vote or to approve something or disapprove something,” says Finance Committee Vice Chair LeAnna Cumber. Among the questions raised by these Council members was, once again, the timing. The referendum must be preceded by a state audit, and the Supervisor of Elections must have enough time to prepare- and that’s now a very tight window ahead of a November 2019 vote. Turnout is also expected to be much lower for a special election. Many Council members have discussed at length wanting to see this matter on the General Election ballot next year instead, although there was no conclusive action taken in that regard Tuesday. Some of the questions about the plan itself deal with the accuracy of enrollment projections and balance with charter schools. The District says public schools need capital funding, because the state has drastically cut that line, and instead put it to charter schools. They say other school districts have invoked taxing authorities to make up for the drop in state funding, and Duval needs to as well. “I can’t give my thumbs up, I can’t move this personally forward, until we have an absolute guarantee in writing of a requirement to share this money with public charter schools,” says Rules Committee Vice Chair Rory Diamond. Other Council members wanted more specific details about the timeline of construction, including which schools would be tackled first and how quickly that work would take place. “Our community deserves to know exactly the what, the when, and the how,” says Councilwoman Randy DeFoor, who sits on both committees. While Finance Committee members raised these questions, they did not actually call up anyone from the District to address their concerns. That was a big point of contention for Councilman Matt Carlucci, who attended that meeting, although he is not on that committee. “It’s so easy to find reasons not to move forward, but it takes courage to move forward. These are our children. We want these campuses hardened, secured, as quickly as possible,” he says. During Rules, Carlucci did call up Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene, which led to several other Council members questioning her as well. Greene reiterated the community meetings and outreach they’ve already done, talked about enrollment projections for traditional and charter schools alike, and explained the data-driven way they came up with the plan. She says they’re in the process of prioritizing which construction projects would take place first, but noted that safety and security needs at every school would be done within the first few years of the plan, regardless of the state of repair. Through the day, Councilmen also raised questions about the impact a tax measure could have on the City credit rating and the mechanism for monitoring the project. Finance Committee Chair Aaron Bowman even put out the idea that DCPS partner with private developers to have them build schools that DCPS can then lease. Finance unanimously passed the deferral, but there were two no votes in Rules- Carlucci and Rules Committee Chair Joyce Morgan. “I just still have fundamental issues with one elected body telling another elected body ‘You cannot put this on the ballot’,” Morgan says. She says the School Board was elected separate from the City Council, so it’s their responsibility to address school policy, and the City Council getting in the way of that is effectively blocking them from doing their jobs. While that was said by a few others, it was not unanimous. Finance Committee member Ron Salem, earlier in the day, had raised some policy specific questions dealing with charter schools, which he said he needs to have answered before he’s comfortable voting on this plan. Councilwoman Brenda Priestly Jackson told the Rules Committee that she did not want to see the deferral, but faced the reality that- given the temperature of the other Council members- it didn’t seem like the bill would have support to pass right now, and voting it down would mean a year before the measure could come back up. Bowman questioned if there would even be a second attempt. “If this goes to the voters and fails, it’s not coming back. We’ve got one chance to do this right, one chance to get it approved, one chance to convince the voters that this is the right thing to do, and we’ve got a concrete plan that has been vetted and is supported by this entire community. And we’re not there right now,” Bowman says. Still others overtly said they will likely support funding the School District needs, when the information is in and the time is right. “I unequivocally support a dedicated revenue stream for our school system. It’s unconscionable that we don’t have one,” Rules Committee member Michael Boylan says. “I understand the needs, I am for the referendum, there’s no question. And I think, in the end- and I can’t speak for everyone- all are going to be for it in the end,” says Finance Committee member Tommy Hazouri. But that end is not here, according to the lawmakers. “I do think there’s a majority to get this done. I think there’s a super-majority. I think there’s unanimity, eventually, to solve this problem. But we need a way to get there,” Diamond says. Council President Scott Wilson said he is exploring holding a joint meeting of the City Council and School Board, in order to go over all of the questions and concerns. He said he is aiming for October, although nothing appears to be set in stone at this time. Ahead of that, he plans to ask City Council members to submit their questions to the General Counsel’s office, to be sent to the School District. Meanwhile, there’s no clear timeline for when the full Council- and then possibly you- will take up this vote. “I am very disappointed that there cannot be a consensus for 2019 for our children, who we all love, but who have needs as well,” says State Senator Audrey Gibson, who spoke during Finance public comment. “More delay, more decay,” Carlucci says. Other School Board members, including Chair Lori Hershey, implored the Council to set a date.
  • A plan to spend close to $1.4 billion of your tax dollars is out. Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry has unveiled his budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year, which includes money for each city department- from JSO to libraries- as well as an additional Capital Improvements Plan, which details infrastructure projects.  “Reflects the core principles and key priorities that have guided me as a Mayor these last four years,” Curry says. The budget proposal itself will now face weeks of vetting and scrutiny, but Curry is keeping the early focus on those top line priorities. FULL COVERAGE: Tracking your tax dollars in Jacksonville With public safety, there are three new rescue units proposed in this budget- for Station 11 in Talleyrand, Station 12 in San Marco/St. Nicholas, and Station 41 serving Mayport/Neptune Beach. WOKV previously reported that JFRD was pushing for these rescue units.  Only two JFRD fire stations would now stand without their own rescue unit if this plan is approved, and JFRD says one has historically low call volume, and the other has a fire station with a rescue unit just about a mile away. This budget proposal also continues to invest in a new fire station in the Arlington Expressway/Atlantic Boulevard area, with $5 million proposed this year on top of $2.5 million in prior funding. There would also be money for renovations, like for Fire Station 10 off McDuff. “These investments reduce call response times and they save lives,” Curry says. While additional patrol officers had not been expected in this budget, Curry says he is funding some new positions dedicated to furthering the integration of technology that has been deployed in the fight against violent crime. Several dozen employees from JSO, the State Attorney’s Office, and ATF all collaboratively work in a space in the State Attorney’s Office that is known as the Crime Gun Intelligence Center. This Center serves as a collaborative meeting and working space for these partners to come together to track trends and analyze multiple data feeds, from the new Real-Time Crime Center to the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network to Shotspotter gunshot detection sensors. City leaders say this Center allows them to generate leads and quickly connect cases that previously would have been worked separately for much longer before those connections were found. This budget proposal adds five more positions to the Real-Time Crime Center. BEHIND THE SCENES: Jacksonville’s Real-Time Crime Center Focusing specifically on interrupting crime trends and intervening at the community level, Curry says he will continue investing in the Cure Violence program, which the City has already dedicated several hundred thousand dollars toward. In line with intervening with youth, as part of the recommended budget boost for the Kids Hope Alliance, Curry says some of the funding would be dedicated to Juvenile Justice diversion programming. A Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee recently issued their report to the State Attorney’s Office, recommending the change as a step toward addressing misbehavior without excessively exposing youth to the juvenile justice system, which can be traumatic. The State Attorney’s Office expects about $500,000 to be put toward this purpose by the City, in this budget proposal. That JJAC also recommended a dedicated tax to support children’s services in the City, but the Mayor’s Office has declined so far to directly comment to WOKV on whether that’s something they would support or what they could alternatively pursue. It’s also not clear if there will be any support for a recommendation from Jacksonville’s Task Force on Safety and Crime Reduction, which has not only requested “emergency funding”, but also a discussion on a dedicated, long-term funding source for a broader crime reduction strategy. Curry says this budget proposal does not include any tax increases. The City of Jacksonville continues to see overall growth in the property tax rolls as a result of new construction and rising property values, so Curry has more funding to work with year-over-year, because of the resulting increase in property tax payouts. WOKV is working to learn more about a proposed increase in what Curry is calling “Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office school guardian program” funding. The Duval County Public School District employs dedicated guardians called School Safety Assistants, to comply with a relatively new state law that requires armed security on all school campuses. While those SSAs are trained and on-boarded, JSO has been filling gaps by providing officers to work schools that do not have an SSA. The City says JSO officers are still having to work substantial overtime to cover schools, because there is a high rate of School Safety Assistants that are not passing the training.  During the last budget cycle, the Mayor’s Administration told the City Council that an increase in JSO overtime billing was expected, as a result of the demands around providing school security, but they also indicated they intended to seek reimbursement for that cost from DCPS. Now, Curry says he is proposing $3.8 million for JSO to act as guardians- which he says is $500,000 more than this current fiscal year- as part of a commitment to keeping kids safe in public schools.  “We must and will make our schools safe havens for every child in Jacksonville to learn and grow,” Curry says. The JSO budget outlined in Curry’s proposal does show that there has been some prior reimbursement from DCPS relating to these JSO overtime costs. WOKV will update you as we learn more about how this is all being funded. Ahead of Monday’s presentation from Curry, WOKV got a copy of the draft Capital Improvements Plan which demonstrated some of what Curry outlined a video he released Sunday ahead of his budget presentation, and then emphasized in his Monday roll-out. This includes drainage funding, county-wide sidewalks, park repairs, and more. Some of the capital dollars will also be put toward the City’s railroad crossings. As we work to get details of the specific projects covered in that, we’ve previously reported that Jacksonville was awarded millions of dollars in federal funding to address the impact of trains on residential areas, like San Marco. There are several partners in that project who also committed funding, but it has been unclear how Jacksonville will cover it’s nearly $980,000 share. The project details available so far indicate only that this proposal is for county-wide railroad work, as the railroad companies deem necessary. The CIP also follows through with funding under some multi-year agreements Curry previously committed the City to, including a five-year $25 million match for the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens’ master plan and six-year $120 million plan for infrastructure needs and improvements at UF Health Jacksonville. This current fiscal year also saw investment in public facilities like the Prime Osborne Convention Center and Ritz Theatre, and that will continue, under Curry’s proposal. The Florida Theatre would see $1 million in the upcoming fiscal year, as part of a new five-year $5 million agreement, which Curry says would involve matching funds. Curry is further proposing $500,000 in the upcoming fiscal year, as part of a multi-year plan to upgrade and improve pools across Duval. Our partner Action News Jax recently chronicled some of the maintenance needs at a few pools in the city. While Curry says these neighborhood investments are important, he’s also again committing to continued investment in Downtown, which he says will act as a hub from which growth will expand. “You can’t be a suburb of nowhere,” Curry says. Curry touted business and residential growth taking place in Downtown and some big projects in the enclaves of Lavilla, Brooklyn, and Laura Street. Monday’s budget presentation by Curry is the start of this annual budget process. “It’s always an exciting time, now we get down to the devil that’s in the details,” says City Councilman Tommy Hazouri. Curry’s plan now faces scrutiny by the City Council Auditor and then weeks of vetting by Council members themselves, before the revised package is put up for a vote by the entire 19-member body ahead of the new fiscal year on October 1st. Hazouri says he will look to ensure some of his priorities are funded, like keeping expanded library hours. Other Council members, like Rory Diamond, say it already looks like their districts are in good shape. “We’ve got $1.5 million for new docks, we’ve got money for a rescue station, and we’ve also got money to fix Penman Road. It’s good stuff,” says the Beaches Councilman. Council President Scott Wilson says he’s happy to see the proposal is balanced, but that also means that any additional projects that Council members want to secure funding for, they will have to find the money. WOKV will be digging deep in to the proposal, and will update you in the coming weeks about the plan to spend your tax dollars.
  • Jacksonville police have now confirmed that remains found in Northwest Jacksonville are human, and they suspect foul play in the death. WOKV first reported late Thursday that skeletal remains were found on Utsey Road in Northwest Jacksonville, off Imeson Road and Pritchard Road. In their initial briefing, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said it appears the remains had been in that wooded area for awhile, and they were found in some kind of tarp or plastic bag. A property owner clearing land discovered the remains when he unknowingly ran over them with a tractor, according to JSO. That man is cooperating with the investigation. JSO says the positioning of the remains and prior investigative experience lead them to believe that foul play is involved, although the manner of death and identity of the victim has not been determined. JSO says they have called in a forensic anthropologist to help remove the remains and examine the scene, to ensure they don’t miss anything. Based on the preliminary investigation, police believe there is only one set of remains. Police expect to be at the scene for several days processing it. Identifying the remains could take weeks, if not months, according to JSO. They are planning to review missing persons cases as they work on the victim identification. If you believe you have any information about this incident or victim, JSO is asking you to come forward. You can contact JSO at 904-630-0500 or JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org. You can also submit an anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers by calling 1-866-845-TIPS.
  • A lot is taking place in the Jacksonville area this weekend, from family fun to roadway changes you should keep in mind. Through the weekend, the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp are in town, with a 7:05PM first pitch Friday, that will be capped with fireworks. Saturday’s game starts at 6:35PM, and Sunday will start at 3:05PM. Before Sunday’s game, families can play catch on the field, get player autographs, experience face painting, and more. If you’re looking for a new four-legged addition to your family, First Coast No More Homeless Pets is hosting a Mega Pet Adoption event at the Jacksonville Fairgrounds. The event takes place Friday through Sunday, 10AM through 6PM each day. Adoption fees are just $20, and all pets are spayed/neutered, micro-chipped, vaccinated, and have a Jacksonville city license. There will be hundreds of dogs and cats at the event, from more than a dozen agencies and rescue groups across Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia. The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens had been planning to hold its second Night at the Zoo event of the summer Friday night, but mid-Friday, they canceled the event because of inclement weather. Any tickets purchased for the event will be honored at the next Night at the Zoo event July 26th. Friday and Saturday the City of Jacksonville is hosting screenings of “Avengers: Infinity Wars” around 8:30PM. This free showing is at Emmett Reed Park on W Sixth Street on Friday, and at Clanzel T. Brown Park on Moncrief Road on Saturday. These events are subject to the weather. If you’re looking for work, Florida Blue is holding an open house Saturday morning from 9AM through 11AM, as they hire 255 full-time Member Care Specialists in Jacksonville, who would work nine months and have three months off in the summer. The open house is at their St. Johns Town Center location, 4855 Town Center Parkway. Jacksonville Beach’s Seawalk Pavillion will host the Beaches Freedom Festival on Saturday with live music, food trucks, a hot dog eating contest, corn hole tournament, kid zone, and more. Music starts at noon, and continues through 10PM, with The Band Be Easy headlining. The event is free, but you can pay for a VIP Pass. There will also be a ceremony at 6PM to honor several military service members and veterans in our community, and the event itself supports several veteran and community non-profits. Saturday at 7:30PM, the action is at Daily’s Place in Downtown Jacksonville, for All Elite Wrestling’s “Fight for the Fallen” event. The event features wrestling talent including Cody Rhodes, The Young Bucks, Hangman Page, and more. Proceeds at the gate benefit Jacksonville’s Victim Assistance Advisory Council, which coordinates aid for crime victims and their families. If you’re on the road this weekend, there are a few projects that you’ll want to plan around. Friday and Saturday from 10:30PM through 5:30AM, there will be a detour to accommodate improvements at the I-10/I-95 interchange. The I-95NB ramp to I-10WB will be closed, so if you’re heading north on I-95, you will need to take the Park Street exit and take a right on to Park, then turn left on Forest Street to get on to I-10WB. Truckers are advised to use the West Beltway to get to I-10 instead. Beginning at 12:01AM Saturday, the First Coast Expressway will start collecting tolls from New World Avenue through Blanding Boulevard. The tolling is all electronic, so you’re encouraged to use a SunPass, but you can toll-by-plate at a slightly higher rate. From 7AM through 7PM Saturday and Sunday, there will be lane closures on the Shands Bridge, to allow crews to perform roadway maintenance. The FDOT says they will use flagging operations to keep traffic moving, but you should expect congestion.
  • It’s been two decades since Jan Saltmarsh and Laura Ferrante last saw each other, but reuniting in Jacksonville ahead of the 2019 Care-A-Thon meant picking up right where they left off. “It’s just a bond that would never, is never gunna go away,” Laura says. That bond was forged some 25 years ago, when Jan’s daughter Ellen and Laura’s daughter Kelsey were both being treated for leukemia. They were introduced by a nurse named Joni Lawler and doctor named Paul Pitel, who had a goal- paying the salary of the Child Life Specialist, a position that had just been cut from the hospital budget. “I know it struck me like a ton of bricks. I just said, well what can I do,” Laura says. Jan immediately rallied a foundation her family was familiar with, and was able to get a check. “We walked in to Dr. Pitel and said ‘hire her back’, and they did,” she says. FULL COVERAGE: WOKV Care-A-Thon benefiting the Child Cancer Fund It was the start of a mission that became larger than either of them realized it would be at the time. “I knew what a difference it was going to make in the children’s lives. Our children, as well as the other children. We became part of the cancer family. Not a family you really want to join, but it is definitely a family. And seeing what those children needed, to help them through this- namely a Child Life Specialist- was really what kicked us off,” Jan says. The Child Life Specialist position helps bring a sense of normalcy for the children that are going through treatment, and can even help make those treatment sessions fun and exciting. Funding that position was crucial for Jan and Laura, but they wanted to make sure the families with children in treatment were being cared for as well. It all drove them to start the Child Cancer Fund. “As parents of kids with cancer, we knew firsthand what insurance pays for and what it doesn’t pay for, and there’s a lot it doesn’t pay for. So, we were trying to reach out to those families who either had insufficient insurance, or just special needs, to try and meet some of those needs that we knew were there. You send a child with cancer home and you don’t have a washing machine, how do you keep that environment safe for them, when you can’t even clean their clothes adequately? So, those are the kind of things we started funding, to help those families. Because we knew if they couldn’t come home, they had to stay in the hospital. The longer they stay in the hospital, the harder it is for them to live the new normal life,” Jan says. The focus early on was the Child Life Specialist position, but not only because of the impact the person in that position, Miss Joli, has on the children going through treatment, but her impact on the family as well. Jan’s other daughter Amy was only around 6-years-old when Ellen was being treated, and day-to-day life was not easy, especially because of how sensitive Ellen was to illness while living in the home. “I had to go over and be kissed by this little boy, so that I would get the chicken pox, so that I could then see my sister again. And I remember, during this time, like I couldn’t be in the same house as my sister, so I would sit on the porch outside, and we would play school. So I would draw, and I would hold my drawing up to the window, and Ellen would, you know, like touch her hand up to the window, and we would communicate that way. It was just a whole different, you know. That’s the closest person to be in the whole world, and not being able to like physically interact with her was probably the hardest thing,” Amy says. She’s not the only young child that struggles to understand what exactly is happening. “There was a lot of guilt on my son’s part that didn’t really surface until later, as he got older. ‘Did I do this’, ‘Did I do something wrong’... and it hits you like a ton of bricks. Because you’re so focused on the child that’s sick, and there’s only so much emotional bandwidth that parents have during parts of this ordeal, that it’s really easy to... my son was the good one. He always did what he was supposed to do, and by the time he was five or six, I realized he was being affected as well, and it’s heartbreaking,” Laura says. Miss Joli is there to try to bring some meaning to these young children, including providing therapy. She is equipped with specialized dolls that reflect some of the ailments and side effects the children are showing, and speaks with classes about how children going through treatment are not bad or contagious. “Very basic sorts of things, but things kids need to be told and parents who haven’t dealt with this don’t always realize- what is my child thinking about, what is going on here,” Jan says. The CCF mission continued to grow, to focus on the emotional health and well-being of the families. “A child was terminal, and had not seen their grandparent for some time. And they didn’t have the money for the grandmother to come. And we bought a plane ticket. And that grandmother got to say goodbye to that child. Those are the things that stick with you,” Jan says. CCF can provide off-duty nurses and caregivers to stay with children when parents need a break, and financial assistance for bills the family is struggling to pay. They send families going through treatment to Camp Boggy Creek,  and offer tutoring services. Looking back from where they started 25 years ago, to now, is hard to explain. “It’s, I think, one of the defining moments of my life. It’s one of the accomplishments that I feel really good about in my life, that I did something, and by acting, I changed the course of what is normal here in the Jacksonville area. I’m super proud of that, and just, how this community really has stepped up. This community has embraced us,” Laura says. Her daughter Kelsey is now a software engineer in Boston, and her son Trevor is excited to get married later this year. Jan’s daughters are grown and doing well- Ellen works in marketing in Charlotte, and Amy owns a crossfit gym right in the Riverside area of Jacksonville.  They feel fortunate that their families grew stronger together from this experience, instead of falling apart, and they hope that treatments in the future continue to move toward embracing the mental health and other care that’s needed to support families. Most of all, they hope that another 25 years down the road, there will be a cure for cancer outright. But if not, the Child Cancer Fund will be here to continue helping. When the mission started 25 years ago, “Child” wasn’t just about who the organization serves, it was a mission statement. Caring. Hoping. Involving. Loving. Doing. CHILD Cancer Fund. Even if Jan and Laura go another 20 years after this before seeing each other again- “You go through these kinds of experiences, and it’s a bond that never goes away,” Laura says. -they know they’ll be able to pick right back up where they left off, with those shared experiences- and the continued shared CCF mission- always uniting them.
  • Stephanie Brown

    Assistant News Director

    Stephanie Brown is the WOKV Assistant Director of News and Afternoon Reporter. She guides the direction of WOKV’s news content, frequently contributes to social and digital platforms, and is a leading voice on-air. Stephanie has been with the team full-time since May 2012, which is when she graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in telecommunication and political science. When she’s not enterprising story ideas or digging in to an investigation, she’s likely cooking or enjoying downtime with her dog.

    Read More

The Latest News Headlines

  • Today will be hot and humid with highs in the lower to mid 90’s inland and near 90 at the coast. There will be scattered afternoon thunderstorms today. Feels-like temps will once again be 100-103 inland and 100+ at the coast.  Showers and storms may dampen some early tailgaters for The Rolling Stones concert (2-5 pm).  Showers and any thunderstorms should either be out of Duval County or loosing steam by 6 pm.  CONTEST:  Pick what song you want to hear The Stones play This weekend the heat and humidity stick around with highs in the mid 90’s with only a few widely scattered showers and storms. The mid 90’s hang around on Monday.  INDEPTH:  What you need to know if you are going to the concert
  • An airman was reportedly shot in the leg Thursday night at Nellis Air Force Base. >>Read more trending news The airman was taken to a hospital with survivable injuries, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Lt. Adrian Beas told The Las Vegas Review-Journal. The circumstances surrounding the incident are unclear. Police were called shortly after 9:30 p.m. and found the injured airman near the O’Callaghan Federal Hospital, Beas said. Police and base personnel are investigating how the shooting happened, KVVU-TV reported.
  • UPDATE:  Jacksonville Police has found the missing girls who were the center of a Missing Child Alert activated late Thursday night. Police say the two girls were found safe together in Clay County. According to JSO, the case is being worked as a recovery of runaways. The Clay County Sheriff’s Office says both girls are being spoken with.    ===ORIGINAL STORY:  The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has issued a Missing Child Alert 11-year-old  Addison Terry.  JSO had reported the young girl was missing on Thursday after she ran away from the Youth Crisis Center on Parental Road on the Southside Wednesday night. YCC is not commenting on the specifics on how the child ran off or why she was with them, to begin with. According to the FDLE, Terry maybe with 16-year-old Jade Seidel. JSO says Seidel is another missing teen. The two were last seen in the area of Argyle Forest Boulevard but added they could be headed to Clay County. Anyone with information about their whereabouts is asked to call the FDLE, JSO, or dial 911.
  • The uncle of missing 16-year-old Iyana Sawyer has now been indicted for two counts of first degree murder, and our partner Action News Jax reports the counts relate to Sawyer and her unborn baby. 16-year-old Sawyer was last seen leaving Terry Parker High School in December. Since that time, her uncle, Johnathan Quiles, has been identified as a suspect in her disappearance. Quiles has been in jail since January, on a separate sexual battery charge. Now, the State Attorney’s Office confirms Quiles has been indicted for two counts of first degree murder and one count of sexual battery. Our partner Action News Jax reports Sawyer’s family’s attorney tells them the murder charges are for the teen and her unborn baby. WOKV is working to get court and police records to confirm and learn more about what led to these charges being filed.
  • A toddler has drowned in a pool, in a residential area of Lakeshore South on Jacksonville’s Westside. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office responded to the home on San Juan Avenue around 2:20PM. Jacksonville Fire and Rescue was also dispatched, and when emergency responders got on scene, they found witnesses performing CPR on the toddler. Rescue personnel took over CPR and transported the toddler to the hospital, where it died. At this time, JSO is not saying if anyone else was in the pool at the time, but foul play is not suspected in the drowning. They’re also not releasing any additional information about the victim, including the age and gender, but police confirmed in a tweet that this involved a toddler. Police are currently speaking with witnesses at the home, as their investigation continues. The Florida Department of Children and Families is also investigating.

The Latest News Videos