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Latest from Steven Ponson

    Jacksonville Police are investigating a deadly crash in the Arlington area early Wednesday morning. Police say a man crashed a motorcycle into a power pole around 3AM on Rogero Road near Terry Parker Drive. Police say its unclear at this time what caused the crash as the man was going south on Rogero.   Although he hit a power pole, police say there are no power outages reported. The crash happened in a residential area and despite that JSO says they are not aware of any witnesses.
  • UPDATE: The Clay County Sheriff’s Office says this teen has been found safe. ===== The Clay County Sheriff’s Office is looking for a runaway 15-year-old boy from Keystone Heights. Deputies say Robert McGee ran away after an argument with his parents on June 2nd and since then he’s been seen in the area with other people as recently as last week. Right now, the Sheriff’s Office says they believe he’s staying with friends around Keystone Heights and he’s not believed to be in any danger.  If you have any information on where McGee could be you’re asked to call deputies at 904-264-6512.
  • President Trump will announce his 2020 re-election bid in Orlando Tuesday and ahead of the announcement WOKV’s Political Analyst Dr. Mike Binder says Northeast Florida is in play in 2020, especially Duval County. He says traditionally Northeast Florida has been a conservative haven, but after former Democratic candidate for governor Andrew Gillum won Duval County in the 2018 midterm election, Democrats have the opportunity to make gains in the area.  “I think it would be wise for both parties to pay attention here because it is, in a lot of ways, a swing area now-a-days.” Dr Binder says.  Politically, Florida is a important state for both parties and Dr. Binder says that’s evident with President Trump’s re-election announcement in Orlando Tuesday and Democrats holding two debates in Miami next week. He says both parties need to carry Florida if they want to win the 2020 presidential election.  “I think its gonna be important for Democrats to win Duval. They’re not going to win St. Johns, they’re not going to win Nassau.” Dr. Binder says. He says if President Trump can keep a wide margin of votes in rural areas then he could hold steady in the urban areas and be able to win Florida, but if not, then the President would need to win in more urban areas to carry the state.  Dr. binder says in the run up to the 2020 presidential election you can expect the President to be in Florida a lot and you can even expect him to make a stop in Jacksonville. 
  • Police are actively investigating a deadly shooting steps away from Jacksonville University late Sunday night. JSO says they were called out to the River City Landing apartment complex and when they got there they found two people shot in a vehicle in the middle of University Boulevard. Police say they were taken to a hospital where one died and the other has life-threatening injuries. Since the shooting happened at a complex next to the campus, WOKV checked in with Jacksonville University and they say they don’t believe the two shot were students at the school.  JSO says the shooting happened inside the complex and the two shot tried to leave in the car they were in after the shooting. JSO says there were other people inside the vehicle when the shots rang out and they were interviewing them. At this time, police don’t have any suspect description, but they say people in the area are not in any danger. If you have any information on this shooting give JSO a call at 904-630-0500 or call Crime Stoppers at  1-866-845-TIPS.
  • Helping to get sailors the care they may need. A new inpatient mental health facility is expected to open soon at Naval Hospital Jacksonville. The facility will house eight beds and is designed with safety in mind. Naval Hospital Jacksonville Commander Captain Matthew Case says they could have opened the facility in February, but they wanted to make sure it was as safe as could be. He says the facility will allow them to address the serious stresses that may come with being in the military.  “A fully ready service member has to be comfortable to go do their mission, can’t worry about other things that are happening.” Capt. Case says.  He says having this facility will help to keep military members in their network and keeps from having to send them to other facilities in the private sector. The new unit is expected to open in early July.
  • There is no formal plan to toll the Shave Bridge/State Road 200  to Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach.  Updating a story WOKV first reported Friday on Jacksonville’s Morning News, Fernandina Beach Vice Mayor Len Kreger clarified a recent discussion at a public meeting during which the concept of congestion tolling was addressed.  “There was no discussion of the Shave Bridge. There are some people who would like to put a toll bridge in. The likelihood of those things is very slim. That’s a state road”, said Kreger.  The congestion funding issue came up during an evaluation and appraisal meeting in May.  Kreger says a representative from FDOT was in attendance at the meeting and said he would look into it, however there was no formal agreement of any kind.  FDOT maintains it is not studying any toll proposal for the Shave Bridge.   “When local communities reach out to FDOT, we always want to be good community partners. However we have not been made aware of any study, or made any commitments to study a toll in that area for any capacity”, said FDOT Public Information Officer Hampton Ray.  
  • Improved roads, sidewalks and lighting among other things could soon be on the way to the Baymeadows area. In a new proposal, the Baymeadows Community Council unveiled a plan to create a Baymeadows Community Improvement District which would give neighbors the tools and funds to make infrastructure improvements. President of the council, Mary Land-Hughes, says the plan would give communities the power to change the infrastructure of their communities themselves. “This is a really good way, um, to help our own communities.” Land-Hughes says. According to the council the plan would require everyone to invest and we’re told people living in the area could see their taxes increase between $200 and $600 depending on what type of property they own. “When those hurricanes come, and it really rains you know the storm water on the roads aren’t ready.” Says Daniel Burstein, who lives in the area. The plan still needs to be approved by the Jacksonville City Council.
  • A fourth suspect wanted for a robbery at the Jared jewelry store in the Town Center area has been arrested in Camden County, Georgia.  The Camden County Sheriff’s Office says 28-year-old Devon Newby was arrested Tuesday night following a traffic stop in Woodbine. According to an arrest report, JSO tipped off law enforcement that Newby could be in their area. The report says Kingsland Police initially spotted Newby six miles past the Florida/ Georgia line.  The report says he was then pulled over at the exit 14 off ramp about an hour after the armed robbery at the jewelry store. Newby was arrested for driving on a suspended license, and then placed on a hold for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office about an hour after the robbery at the store. JSO says a fourth person hasn't been charged in connection to the armed robbery.   Tuesday evening JSO said three suspects walked in to the store at around 7PM and started smashing the glass counters and took off with some jewelry.   Police say the three were caught outside the store shortly after the robbery started and no one was injured. At this time, police say they’re not sure why the suspects picked that specific store.  JSO says they are still investigating and if you have any information on the incident you’re asked to call them at 904-630-0500 or Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.   
  • Duval County Public School Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene has now unveiled her recommendations for a nearly $2 billion dollar plan to address aging schools, and there are some big changes from the proposal that was initially put forward. A draft Master Facility Plan had previously been unveiled to the community, to seek feedback and put together the final plan, which then faces a vote by the School Board. During a Tuesday workshop, Green outlined her proposal- which has come from the community feedback- and specifically the areas of change from the initial draft. DCPS says, under this proposal, they are no longer seeking to consolidate William M. Raines High School and Jean Ribault High School with their respective feeder schools. The initial draft had called for both of those schools to be reconstructed as 6-12 schools, but instead, Green is proposing the schools are rebuilt, but maintained as 9-12. This portion of the draft proposal was something that parents and alumni had expressed the most concern about, citing safety concerns, among other things. Because of that, the District previously indicated the initial proposal would not be included in the final plan, and Greene’s presentation now confirms that. Other changes from the initial draft to Greene’s proposal include upgrading and renovating Kirby-Smith Middle School and Loretto Elementary School in order to preserve their historic architecture, but not demolishing them to rebuild entirely. Under Greene’s proposal, Chets Creek Elementary would also be maintained as a K-5 school with classrooms added, and J. Allen Axson would remain at its current location while getting additional classrooms. The initial draft would have divided Chets Creek so thatK-2 would have been at Axson’s current location and 3-5 would have been at the current Chets Creek site. Greene says her plan overall includes constructing 28 new schools across the district, which includes either building on an existing school site or on a new one. The new recommendations also calls for 20 consolidations impacting 40 schools, $1.08 billion in major school repairs, and 438 portable removals. As a result, there would be a drop of nearly 3,200 student seats, compared to 5,000 in the initial proposal. The average age of school facilities in Duval would also drop around 11 years- from 44 years to 33- compared to the 13 year reduction in the initial proposal. Greene says this plan has been put together after a lot of research and meetings with parents during the last few months. DCPS says the overhaul is needed, in order to address huge maintenance needs among the old school facilities. The goal is not only to enhance the learning environment and safety of students, but to help put the District in a better position to attract and retain talented teachers and staff. DCPS says Greene’s final improvement plan will be presented to the School Board sometime in July, for a final vote. Once a plan is approved, it doesn’t automatically mean work gets underway, though. In May, we brought you coverage when the School Board approved a resolution that authorized a new half-cent sales tax for 15 years to help pay for needed improvements to schools. Its ultimately up to the Jacksonville City Council on whether to put the resolution onto a ballot for you to vote on. Some City Council members have expressed concern about the cost of a single issue election- which the District says they would cover- as well as the turnout. Others contend they haven’t heard enough about where the money would go, despite numerous public meetings that Greene has held. The Superintendent’s full recommendation proposal can be read here.
  • Soon there will be no more free rides on the First Coast Expressway.  The Florida Department of Transportation says they expect to start collecting tolls on most of the roadway beginning in mid-July. FDOT says they currently don’t have a specific date for when you’ll be charged, but when they do, they will announce it. FDOT says they’ll only begin collecting tolls between south of New World Avenue and Blanding Boulevard in Middleburg. The state says you won’t be charged between Beaver Street and New World Avenue since there are no tolling collection points in either direction along that stretch of road. FDOT says all the tolling will take place electronically, meaning cash won’t be accepted. Unlike the new Express Lanes on the West Beltway, Sara Pleasants with FDOT says you’ll be able to use a SunPass as well as TOLL-BY-PLATE.  “The toll rate doesn’t change, it’s the same for each segment everyday no matter what time of day it is.” Pleasants says.  FDOT says if you use SunPass you’ll be charged less compared to the TOLL-BY-PLATE program. The first phase of the road runs from Beaver Street, east of Baldwin, south to Blanding Boulevard in Middleburg. The second phase will run from Blanding to east of County Road 209 in Green Cove Springs. Construction on that portion started earlier this Spring. The final phase will go from east of C.R. 209 to I-95 in St. Johns County. Construction on that section is expected to begin in 2023 and will include a replacement of the Shands Bridge across the St. Johns River.
  • Steven Ponson

    Reporter

    Steven Ponson is the morning reporter for Jacksonville’s Morning News. He has been with Cox Media Group since the summer of 2015, and been living in Florida for over 20 years. Steven is an alumni of the University of Central Florida where he received his Bachelor’s degree in Radio and Television and a minor in Sociology. It’s a dream come for him to work in the radio business and has a family legacy in Florida radio. When he is away from WOKV, he likes to spend time with family and friends and is an avid football and hockey fan.

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The Latest News Headlines

  • A California police officer has died after a shooting in Sacramento, multiple news outlets reported late Wednesday. >> Read more trending news Check back for updates to this developing story.
  • Jacksonville Fire and Rescue says 32 residents are accounted for after a fire started at a nursing home in Mandarin.  Firefighters say the fire started in one of the wings and residents had to be evacuated. They were later moved into a different wing of the facility and the fire is now under control.  It’s not clear what sparked the fire and if there were any injuries. 
  • Months after an armed home invasion robbery in Fernandina Beach that injured two people, investigators say they've now arrested a third suspect in connection. The Fernandina Beach Police Department has announced the arrest of 24-year-old Cedrice Brown. They say he was taken into custody early Wednesday morning, not far from the University of North Carolina.  Police tell us when he was arrested he was in possession of two stolen guns and booked on various North Carolina charges. A hold has been placed on Brown to have him extradited to Florida, where he faces armed robbery and armed burglary charges.  Police say since the December 22, 2018, incident at a home on Manatee Avenue, they've determined that the robbery was pre-planned due to one of the suspects involved having knowledge of where certain items were.  At the time of the robbery, police 15 people were inside. The victims reported seeing several suspects wearing masks and carrying various weapons, rifles, handguns and knives.  Two people were injured during the robbery, after being hit in the head with guns.  WOKV told you that one suspect was arrested while attempting to flee. A second suspect was arrested at a later time.  Police say they're continuing to work on identifying the remaining suspects, who they believe are from outside the Nassau County-area.
  • Authorities arrested an 11th person Tuesday in connection with the ambush shooting last week of former Red Sox slugger David Ortiz in the Dominican Republic. >> Read more trending news  In a press briefing Wednesday evening, the Dominican Republic’s lead prosecutor said that Ortiz was not the target of a shooting.  Attorney General Jean Alain Rodríguez said the target was another man, dressed similarly to Ortiz, who was seated next to him the night of June 9. Rodríguez said the shooting was orchestrated by a member of Mexico’s Gulf Cartel, who remains on the run. He did not immediately describe a motive. An unidentified official told The Associated Press that Franklin Junior Merán was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of renting one of the cars used in the June 9 shooting in Santo Domingo. Ten other suspects have already been ordered to spend a year in preventive detention as the investigation continues, including the accused shooter. Authorities say they are looking for at least three other suspects, including the man they believe paid the hit men. Ortiz continued recovering Wednesday in the intensive care unit at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Ortiz’s wife, Tiffany Ortiz, said doctors upgraded Ortiz’s condition to good Tuesday. “We remain grateful to everyone who has helped David through this ordeal, both in the Dominican Republic and here in Boston,” Tiffany Ortiz said in a statement released by the Red Sox. “David’s journey to good health has been bolstered by the many expressions of love that have come to us from across the globe. Your support has lifted his spirits tremendously during this challenging time.” Authorities continue to investigate. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • A man said his fiancee put eye drops into his soft drink Saturday at their Rowan County home. >> Read more trending news  The man told authorities he confronted his fiancee, Jaymee Cruz, after he said he watched her put the drops in his Coca-Cola. He then locked himself and their baby in the bathroom and called 911. Deputies said when they arrived at the scene, Cruz at first denied putting eye drops in the drink, but later said she did it to make the man sick. Cruz said she got the idea from the movie 'Wedding Crashers' and did it because she wanted to move out of the home with their daughter, authorities said. Consuming eye drops is extremely dangerous and can be deadly. The main ingredient reduces redness in the eyes, but when ingested it can rapidly reach the blood and central nervous systems. It's not the first time a person has been accused of using eye drops to poison their significant other. Last year, York County investigators charged Lana Clayton in her husband’s death after she said she put eye drops in his water, WSOC-TV reported. Stephen Clayton’s toxicology report showed he had poisonous levels of the key ingredient in eye drops.

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