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Subtropical Storm Alberto has formed; local impacts to be heavy rain, rip currents 

Subtropical Storm Alberto has formed in the Caribbean and is continuing to move through the Gulf of Mexico through the weekend.  Local impacts are expected to be felt by Sunday and Monday with times of heavy downpours.  

Action News Jax Chief Meteorologist Mike Buresh says the center of the storm is expected to have land impact anywhere from the Panhandle to New Orleans, so there will be no direct local impact.

Subtropical means that the system is not warm all the way through its core. Buresh says it is expected to transition to a Tropical Storm over the next couple of days. 

“It’s just semantics, it’s just naming, and this development doesn’t at all change the local forecast as we head through the holiday weekend for Jacksonville and NE Florida”, Buresh said. 

PODCAST:  Mike Buresh details day-by-day weather impacts

“There will be a tremendous surge of tropical moisture northward across the area and that will add to some rain”, Buresh said. 

Saturday looks like the driest day of the weekend.  By Sunday we feel impacts of tropical moisture, in part from what’s likely to be Alberto over the Gulf of Mexico. 

INDEPTH:  Talking the Tropics with Mike Buresh

Monday is looking dry to start the day, and then stormy by the afternoon.  Buresh says we stay wet into next week, and some isolated areas could see upwards of 10 inches of rain by the end of next week.  

 

St. Augustine water taxi launches shuttle service

If you’re planning to visit Downtown St. Augustine this weekend and don’t want to deal with traffic or parking, there’s a new option.

St. Augustine WAXI- a water taxi that normally runs service by reservation- is testing out a Saturday shuttle. The service runs between the Vilano Pier and Municipal Marina, from 11AM to 6:15PM, from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. 

“Come on down to the Vilano Pier and catch a ride Downtown to enjoy Downtown,” says St. Augustine WAXI owner and operator Captain Tony Fornier. 

Fornier says they have been operating as a reservation-based water taxi for about two years, but decided to test out the non-reservation shuttle route for a few reasons. He says people living in Vilano wanted an easier way to get Downtown, and he says the City also wants to see if this is a viable transportation option. 

“Aid with the mobility issues here in St. Augustine,” he says. 

While he says the City is interested in testing this option, there is no City funding going toward the service. 

Currently, the water taxi can hold six people. Fornier says, if demand warrants, he has the ability to bring in a second vessel. 

“We’re hoping that, with this shuttle program, a lot of people will realize that the need is there for transportation between the Vilano Pier and Downtown,” he says. 

While they are currently planning to run through Labor Day, he says he’s also open to other busy seasons like with music festivals or Nights of Lights. 

The service costs $8 per person one way, or $14 per person round trip. The business also continues to operate as a reservation-based water taxi Sunday through Friday at the same rate. Drop offs are at various water front restaurants and marinas. You can make a reservation by calling or texting 904-923-WAXI, or booking online.

Jags owner on new NFL Anthem policy: We want respect for our nation and flag

The NFL has issued a new policy requiring all personnel on the field- players and staff alike- to stand for the National Anthem, with the stated goal of showing respect for the flag and the National Anthem.

Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan says the new policy brings everyone closer on the same ideals.

“We all want the same thing- respect for our nation and the flag, the focus on our game and a pledge to advancing social justice that will be absolute and stand the test of time,” says a statement from Khan.

The new policy says anyone who is unwilling to stand during the Anthem can remain off the field, like in the locker room. If anyone on the field does not stand for the National Anthem and show respect for the flag, then the team will be fined. The policy further says each club can develop their own rules for how they address any player or staff who does not abide by these rules.

The Commissioner will also impose “appropriate discipline” for league personnel who do not stand and show respect.

“The policy adopted today was approved in concert with the NFL’s ongoing commitment to local communities and our country- one that is extraordinary in its scope, resources, and alignment with our players. We are dedicated to continuing our collaboration with players to advance the goals of justice and fairness in all corners of our society,” says a statement from the NFL.

Khan was previously named to the NFL’s player-owner committee on social justice. That committee was tasked to support programs and initiatives that promote opportunity, especially in education, economic development, community and police relations, and the criminal justice system. Khan himself drew a lot of attention when he stood arm-in-arm with players- some of who were kneeling- ahead of the team’s game in London this past season.

“It was unfortunate that on-field protests created a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic. This is not and was never the case,” says the statement from the NFL.

The NFL Players Association says this new policy was not in consultation with them and contradicts what they have previously been told.

“NFL players have shown their patriotism through their social activism, their community service, in support of our military and law enforcement and yes, through their protects to raise awareness about the issues they care about,” says a statement from the NFLPA.

The NFL believes this change will bring the attention back to what’s happening on the field, and not the sidelines.

“We believe today’s decision will keep our focus on the game and the extraordinary athletes who play it- and on our fans who enjoy it,” says the NFL’s statement.

The League further says they will continue to work with players to drive progress around issues of social justice.

What do you think of the new rules? Weigh in on Facebook:

Duval School Board selects next Superintendent

More than a year after Duval County Public Schools’ prior Superintendent stepped down to take the top spot in Detroit, the Duval School Board has named the person they want to lead the District in to the future.

By a unanimous vote, the Board selected Dr. Diana Greene, who is currently the Superintendent in Manatee County, FL. They have authorized the start of contract negotiations with Greene.

Among the reasons Board Members say they voted for Greene are her experience in Florida, and specifically as a Superintendent.

“We’re gunna need someone who can be the steady hand to work through that next phase of implementation of everything, and keeping things going,” says Board Member Becki Couch.

Couch and others noted Florida’s legislative climate, which has recently included mandating boosting school security without fully funding the cost and a contentious law that makes it easier for charter schools to receive public funding and expand operations. Areas like that continue to pose a challenge in the District, and the Board wants to make sure they’re prepared.

“I think it’s important that the next Superintendent not only know how to do the things well that we do today, but also knows how to do the things we need to start doing, and do tomorrow,” says Board Member Scott Shine.

Another area the Board touted was Greene bringing in revenue to Manatee County.

“She has done some amazing things. She’s bold, she’s not afraid of doing the things she needs to do, she’s done wonderful work in Manatee,” says Board Member Cheryl Grymes.

She led the effort to have voters renew a half-cent sales tax for school capital needs and add a new one mill property tax increase to make teacher salary more competitive, among other things.

“Our most valuable asset that we have as a District is our teachers,” says Board Member Warren Jones.

And at the end of the day, it’s also about the quality of education. Board Member Lori Hershey noted Greene’s “innovative” approach, especially with ESE students. Board Chair Paula Wrights says Greene is progressive and can meet the challenges that are ahead.

“Because of her exceptional instructional design expertise, and her ability to recognize and evaluate high quality instruction,” Wright says.

Speaking with WOKV after her selection, Greene says she is “incredibly honored and humbled” by the Board’s decision.

“Moving to a larger school district will definitely be... I don’t want to say a challenge, but it definitely will be something that I’ve been working for my career. I’ve worked to be prepared for this opportunity,” she says.

Greene says her priority will be to ensure every student in Duval County receives a high quality education in the public school system. She believes that ties closely to ensuring schools are safe, and says that will be a focus for her. Right now, she is looking at ensuring there is a smooth transition with the interim Superintendent, to make sure there’s a strong foundation as she takes over.

Greene has been the Superintendent in Manatee County since May 2015. She has been in education for 33 years, including time as a teacher, assistant principal, and principal, as well as roles in curriculum development, staff development, and senior executive leadership.

Initially, Board Member Ashley Smith Juarez said she was in favor of another finalist, Michael Dunsmore, however she voted for Greene in the end, making it a unanimous decision.

Dr. Patricia Willis has been operating as the interim Superintendent, through this selection process. She retired in 2012, after previously serving as Deputy Superintendent. The School Board previously decided the interim candidate would not be eligible to apply for the permanent Superintendent position.

The selection process started last August, and since that time the School Board engaged a search firm to find candidates. Three finalists were selected earlier this week, and the Board then publicly interviewed each candidate, leading to Friday’s vote.

Contract negotiations must still take place, but pending that, Greene has accepted the offer and is tentatively slated to start July 1st.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry says he is looking forward to working with Greene.

The Jacksonville Public Education Fund also congratulated Greene on the position.

“In her, our community has found a leader who is deeply committed to supporting teachers and principals across our district in improving outcomes for students and to bringing financial solvency to Duval County. This is demonstrated in the progress that schools in Manatee County have made under her watch, and through her successful efforts to gain the community’s trust after periods of instability,” says a statement from the JPEF.

This is a developing story that will be updated through the day.

Kitten rescued from under the Fuller Warren Bridge

Jacksonville firefighters have rescued a kitten from under the Fuller Warren Bridge.

Jacksonville Association of Firefighters Local 122 President Randy Wyse says the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department and Animal Care teamed up for the rescue. Wyse says someone saw the cat, but it would run away when firefighters tried to get it, so they set a trap last night. They took the trap down this morning, with the kitten inside, he says.

Semi, box truck involved in deadly crash in Nassau County

One person is dead, following a crash involving a semi-truck and box truck.

All lanes  of I-95 NB were blocked at State Road 200 for the investigation. About seven hours after the initial closure, all lanes re-opened.

The Florida Highway Patrol says the box truck driver was heading southbound, when he lost control, hit the median guardrail, and crossed in to northbound traffic. The crash report says he then collided with the semi, which was heading northbound.

The driver of the box truck suffered serious injuries, and the drive of the semi was pronounced dead on the scene.

The deceased driver is a 54-year-old from Plant City, but his identity is being withheld pending notification to his family.

Fallen Jacksonville officer to be escorted to funeral home

The remains of fallen Jacksonville officer Lance Whitaker will be transported to a funeral home Thursday, and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is encouraging their members and the public to pay their respects by lining the route.

Whitaker- who was on the force 17 years- died during a single-vehicle crash on 295 at Alta Tuesday morning. He was responding to another crash as the time, and investigators believe weather was likely a factor, although the investigation is still ongoing.

JSO says he will be moved from the Medical Examiner to the Hardage-Giddens Funeral Home Thursday at 11AM. The route will be on Jefferson Street, from 8th Street down through Riverside Avenue. The escort will then turn right on Edison Avenue, left on Oak Street, and in to the back of the Funeral Home, which is on Park Street.

JSO motorcycle units will be providing an escort, and personnel have been asked to line the route with their patrol cars with lights on, to show respect. JSO says the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department also plans to have engines along the route, and officers from other local law enforcement agencies are welcome to participate.

Members of the public  who want to line the route are being asked to stand in the sidewalks along either side of Riverside Avenue, between Jackson Street and Forest Street.

If you’re unable to attend, the Fraternal Order of Police 530 is also encouraging donations to Whitaker’s family.

PHOTOS: Hole opens up along Beach Boulevard on the Southside

From lane closures to slow traffic, a hole that opened up along Beach Boulevard, eastbound, just before Hodges Boulevard, Wednesday afternoon caused all sorts of issues for Southside drivers. 

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office has closed down the right turn lane into the Wolf Creek Condos, the right lane, and the sidewalk through at least midnight, due to crews on scene working to make repairs.

The hole has been described by witnesses as a ‘small swimming pool’ and is said to be at least 10 feet deep.

WOKV has reached out to the Florida Department of Transportation for information on what may have caused the hole to open up and whether all the recent rain may have played a role, but we’re told that’s something that’s still being looked into.

The Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) say due to the hole, the eastbound Route 9 and any Paratransit service are being detoured from the area.

End of Watch: JSO Officer Lance Whitaker killed in Northside crash

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has identified the officer who died in a crash off 295 and Alta as 48-year-old Officer Lance Whitaker.

“We will miss your kind heart and contagious smile. You are gone but will not be forgotten,” JSO said in a tweet.

Police say Whitaker was responding to a crash, when he was involved in a single-vehicle crash. Weather is likely a factor, according to Sheriff Mike Williams, but the investigation is still ongoing.

JSO says Whitaker has been on the force for 17 years, and was working the midnight shift on Jacksonville’s Northside.

“His tragic passing in the line of duty highlights the grave dangers our men and women in blue face every day when they put on their uniforms to keep us safe. Officer Whitaker’s oath was to serve and protect those in his community, and he died in pursuit of that mission,” says a statement from Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams.

A memorial has been set up at the Fallen Officers Memorial in front of the Veterans Memorial Arena in Downtown Jacksonville, for anyone who wants to leave flowers or notes.

Leaders, Law Enforcement extend support to JSO following officers death

The Tuesday morning death of a JSO officer in a crash on the Northside coincides with the National Police Memorial Day. 

The death brings the total to 61 officers killed in the line of duty in the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. The last death in March 2014. 

Across the state, support is pouring in from Florida leaders and law enforcement agencies as the department mourns the loss. 

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