Jacksonville Bold 10.11.16 — Public safety moment

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Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry campaigned on a platform of public safety.

And in Hurricane Matthew, Curry finally got his “public safety moment.”

With Curry as Mayor, the Jacksonville murder rate hasn’t decreased; with 90 murders through nine months and 10 days, that hard statistic looks poised to equal the 113 murders it had in 2015.

That said, Curry has made public safety a priority in his two budgets, adding 80 officers, 80 community service officers, pushing for a new computer-aided dispatch system, and a new fingerprinting system.

And during Hurricane Matthew and the aftermath, Curry crossed through a portal, of sorts, becoming the public safety mayor.

Curry mobilized the Emergency Operations Center during tropical disturbances threatening Jacksonville a couple of times this year.

But those were dry runs, ultimately, for the existential peril presented by Matthew as it built strength in the Caribbean, wreaking havoc on Haiti, Cuba, and the Bahamas before churning northward along the Florida coast.

There was, as you may recall, a very real chance that Matthew’s eyewall could have grazed the interior of Jacksonville.

Curry ordered evacuations of the beaches and three of the city’s low-lying evacuation zones — which contained over 450,000 people.

In pressers, the media pressed the Mayor on concerns he deemed to be matters of semantics.

Curry maintained that, though he was not sending law enforcement to mandate the evacuation order be followed, these were still mandatory evacuations.

As the storm came in Friday evening, Jacksonville “dodged the bullet,” with sustained hurricane force winds mostly offshore. The storm surge inland wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

But the onslaught was sustained, and Matthew’s ferocity was real; and in the end, half the city lost power, and Jacksonville Beach flooded.

Homes, including homes in the evacuation zone, were damaged; if people hadn’t evacuated, lives could have been lost.

As it was, the toll was enormous … but mitigated by a strong response from the executive branch, and efficient cooperation between Curry and his close political ally, Gov. Rick Scott.

Scott was such a frequent presence in Jacksonville over the weekend that at least one local TV crew bristled at covering him yet again, as there would have been nothing new to say.

How remarkable is it when media complains of too much access to the state’s chief executive, called “the hardest working governor in the country” by the Jacksonville Sheriff?

Jacksonville faced massive power loss; ironically, as did Tallahassee in Hurricane Hermine, much of that power loss came from downed branches and trees damaging lines and transformers.

A few days after the storm, power is substantially (though not completely) restored; this is in large part due to the collaboration between JEA and mutual aid crews from as far away as Missouri.

There is no perfect response to the storm. The best that can be hoped for is mitigation: both of initial impacts and the impacts posed by recovery.

There likely won’t be two-week outages as did during storms of 2004 … except, perhaps, for a few isolated locations.

Overall, government performed both effectively and efficiently in this case.

And that’s the best as we could have hoped.

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Hurricane Matthew leaves a mess in north Florida, but it could have been worse” via Zachary Sampson, Anastasia Dawson, Steve Bousquet and Richard Danielson of the Tampa Bay Times – From Jacksonville to Cocoa Beach, 1.1 million Floridians started assessing the damage, dealing with toppled trees and waiting for the air conditioning to come back on. By 6 p.m., the number without power had fallen to 673,019. Insured property damage in coastal Florida, Georgia and South Carolina was projected to be $4 billion to $6 billion by the property data firm CoreLogic. Matthew killed four people in Florida — two crushed by falling trees, two more poisoned by carbon monoxide from a generator running in a garage in St. Lucie County. Damage was heaviest along the coast. Still, Matthew stayed off the coast. Scott said Florida was “blessed” not to take a direct hit. “We thought we were going to have the worst storm in 150 years,” Jacksonville Beach Mayor Charlie Latham [said]. “We’re very fortunate it turned a little bit north. It wasn’t anywhere near as bad as we thought.”

— “CSX assessing tracks after hurricane” via Jensen Werley of the Jacksonville Business Journal

Matthew hits protective sand dunes in Jacksonville Beach and other beaches hard” via The Associated Press – The sand on Florida’s beaches is the equivalent of tourism gold, and its disappearance over time threatens the state’s No. 1 industry. While Hurricane Matthew didn’t ravage Florida’s coast as a series of storms did a dozen years ago, it collapsed dunes, washing away sand that protected buildings and roads during storms, and will likely require the spending of millions of dollars on beach restoration projects. Federal, state and local officials respond to beach erosion by depositing new sand in areas where it has disappeared, and the sand dunes act as barriers to infrastructure. Before these projects took off three decades ago, sea walls were often the only thing that stood between water, winds and buildings during storms. “The good news is a lot of people don’t realize our beaches are engineered. It looks natural, but we construct the sand so it’s sacrificed during hurricanes and protects roads and structures and potentially human lives,” said Jackie Keiser, a Jacksonville-area official with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“Rick Scott talks hurricane recovery: ‘This state’s going to come back’” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics – Scott landed at Jacksonville’s Cecil Commerce Center after surveying damage in a flight from Daytona to Jacksonville. Before that, he had 15 phone calls with mayors throughout the region, from Hastings and St. Augustine to Callahan and Fernandina Beach. Scott, with Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, had the following to say: “We’re blessed that Hurricane Matthew stayed off the coast,” Scott said, as a “direct impact would have been worse for families” … The water, he said, is “really mucky.” There’s an “unbelievable” amount of beach erosion. And, of course, a “lot of flooding, a lot of downed trees, a lot of people without power.” The National Guard “did a yeoman’s job,” doing the hard work without knowing how their own homes and families would fare. The state has been in constant contact with the Army Corps of Engineers, and has been working “hand in hand with FEMA” … “This state’s a resilient place. This state’s going to come back.”

scott-rickA tale of two hurricanes: Scott’s different responses to power outages” via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida – Nearly 20 percent of utility customers in three Florida counties remained without power Monday, three days after Hurricane Matthew lashed the Atlantic coast, about the same percentage that was without power in Leon County three days after Hurricane Hermine hit last month. Yet Scott has played a much different public role in the two storms. Lobbyist Barney Bishop said the differences in Scott’s involvement may be due to the Hurricane Matthew hitting somewhere other than the state’s Capitol city — and the response being outside of the public eye. “I think it (Hurricane Hermine response) was more political than it could have been or should have been,” Bishop said, describing the conflicts in response to Hermine. Scott hasn’t publicly criticized the response in Duval County, where 20 percent of Jacksonville’s municipal utility customers were without power Monday.

The governor’s office also has downplayed the remaining outages by distributing updates with misleading numbers. An update Monday listed the number of customers in nine counties without power. Those 169,252 customers represented “a 2 percent outage,” the update said. But the 2 percent represents the portion without power of the more than 10 million power customers statewide, including many in areas that were not affected by Hurricane Matthew. Tallahassee had restored power to nearly 90 percent of its customers three days after Hurricane Hermine, according to [Mayor AndrewGillum, when Scott told city officials he was frustrated by the pace of restoration. “I’m almost at a loss for words at how some of this has gone,” Gillum told the governor.

Travis Hutson calls on DEP to review beach erosion threatening East Coast” – Hutson requested the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) review the severe beach erosion following Hurricane Matthew that is threatening real estate and tourism along the East Coast. “Please consider doing a full assessment of our East coast beaches, provide the Legislature with a plan to re-nourish and replenish the beach, and let the Legislature know any financial cost that might be associated with this,” Hutson said in a letter. Hutson outlined how many homeowners in the region have requested permits to build coastal armoring structures in order to protect the beach and their homes, but have been waiting for approval of these permits …  those with permits that have been approved, do not have sea walls because contractors have not been given final approval to proceed with construction. He also asked the DEP to look into and expedite any permits and/or construction work orders that may fall under the DEP’s purview, and coordinate with local authorities to help accomplish this. “I am committed to finding solutions to the critical erosion in my community,” he said.

Cleanup, insurance claims begin in wake of Hurricane Matthew” via Chambers Williams of the Florida Times-Union – Most of the major insurers had disaster go-teams on standby close to Jacksonville as the storm approached Friday, ready to enter the area as soon as the danger had passed, and now those adjusters are responding to claims as quickly as possible, said Lynne McChristian, Florida director of disaster response for the Insurance Information Institute. “Adjusters are already connecting with people, and those most in need get seen first,” said McChristian, who also is a professor of insurance and risk management at Florida State University. “They typically see people not in order of the phone calls, but in order of severity of damage. “If someone has minor damage, but someone else has lost a roof, the people with the roof damage would be helped first. It’s a triage approach when there is mass damage,” she said. She also stressed that people can make temporary repairs as necessary before they connect with adjusters, and the costs of those repairs generally would be reimbursed under most homeowners’ policies.

First Coast Relief Fund launched for Hurricane Matthew recovery” via Florida Politics – The fund begins with $500,000 in seed money from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, and is a collaboration between the United Way of Northeast Florida, the United Way of St. Johns County, the Community Foundation for Northeast Florida, and the Jewish Federation of Jacksonville. The DuPont Fund will kick off the fund with a $250,000 gift, and then match up to another $250,000 … a number which almost certainly will be achieved sooner than later as the community’s donor class join together to move the recovery along, at the urging of Mayor Curry. The fund will make grants to nonprofits helping those impacted by the hurricane in Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau, Putnam and St. Johns counties, filling in the gaps left by governmental programs. Those interested in contributing can text “STORM” to 50503. All contributions will go to the relief effort; any surplus money will go to maintain a permanent relief fund.

— “Jessie Ball duPont Fund pledges $500,000 for disaster relief from Hurricane Matthew” via Derek Gilliam of the Jacksonville Business Journal

More than 200 price-gouging complaints from Jacksonville area being investigated” via David Bauerlein of the Florida Times-Union – More than 200 Jacksonville area complaints about rip-off prices during Hurricane Mathew are getting reviewed by the state Attorney General’s Office as it determines whether businesses price-gouged customers purchasing essential items such as food, ice, gas lumber and water. [PamBondi’s review will examine the average price of a particular commodity during the 30 days before the declaration of a state of emergency. If the price charged during the emergency “grossly exceeds” that average price, the state can file a civil case against the business. Businesses can counter by pointing to market trends or how its prices were increasing before the emergency declaration. In addition to essential items purchased at stores, the price-gouging law also applies to hotel rooms, self-store facilities and towing fees. Examples of nonessential commodities would be alcoholic beverages and cigarettes. People can file complaints by calling the price-gouging hotline at (866) 966-7226 or report violations at the Attorney General’s website http://myfloridalegal.com. The state advises complainants to keep records of the transaction and details about the commodity that would help investigators determine if price gouging occurred.

Flooding of St. Augustine on ‘a scale not seen before’” via Cindy Swirko of the Gainesville Sun – Cindy Tringali joined a crew of workers Saturday in cleaning up Carmelo’s Marketplace, a popular King Street Italian restaurant/upscale convenience store/gas station she owns with husband Joe just west of Flagler College. The San Sebastian River is across King. The Matanzas River, or Intracoastal Waterway, is not too far east. During the height of the passage of Hurricane Matthew Friday, they poured into Carmelo’s. “We lost a lot of food, a lot of food. But we feel grateful and blessed that it’s not as bad as it could be,” she said, showing pictures her husband took of water covering two-thirds of a gas pump. “My husband was determined to stay — I don’t know why he thought he was going to keep the water out. He just couldn’t part himself from this,” she said, adding he left when water started coming in the store. “This whole street was totally underwater.”

’It’s just gross’: Some downtown businesses estimate weeks, months of down time” via Laura Hampton of the St. Augustine Record – In establishments where cleanup from Hurricane Matthew has started, the smell of industrial-strength cleansers and disinfectants slightly masked the stench of muck that covered nearly every ground-level surface in the Colonial Quarter. At St. Augustine Bike Rentals, on the corner of King and Riberia streets, manager Steve Vescovi scanned the scooters that lay on their sides and side-by-side scooters filled with leaves, plastic bottles and other debris Saturday morning. “This is really a lot of damage for us because of the level that the water got to,” he said. “All of these motors are full of water now.” Some of the inventory was moved inside when they evacuated Thursday, but most of it was locked down outside. Vescovi said the shop owner will send extra mechanics in to recondition the vehicles that are popular with downtown tourists, but it could take some time. “We probably won’t be in business for a week now,” he said. “Thank goodness this is our slow season.” When businesses might be up and running is hard to estimate at this point. Some owners say it could take a month, but others say they could be ready in a few days.

Line of beachside houses face an uncertain future” via Jared Keever of the St. Augustine Record –Brandi Schmidt says that in the days before Hurricane Matthew dealt its disastrous blow to the St. Johns County coast, she tried to find comfort in reminding herself that she stood only to lose “just stuff” if her beachfront home was damaged. Heading north along the Vilano portion of State Road A1A after noon Monday, many of the beachside houses were tagged with the County’s yellow “UNSAFE” stickers that indicate county inspectors have determined a structure has been severely damaged and is too dangerous to enter. On the beach, near the steps of the North Beach Park’s highway walkover, two surfers were taking a break from time in the still-churning seas. That they were lounging in an empty hot tub that had washed up onto the beach hinted at the destruction to the north. That’s where Schmidt was, looking up from the beach at her neighbors’ homes. Decks and balconies had been completely torn from houses. Pilings stood exposed where sand had been washed away by the powerful storm surge, leaving the homes perched precariously on sandy, sheer faces. The teal roof of Schmidt’s home stood in the distance. “We were some of the more fortunate ones,” she said, wearing a “SAVE OUR VILANO” T-shirt. “We have pretty significant damage to our seawall.”

Assignment editors: Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier will join legislative members, local leaders and insurance company executives Wednesday at 10: 15 a.m. at the Davis Shores Historic Downtown to tour Hurricane Matthew damage in St. John’s County. Afterward, participants will meet at Flagler College to discuss the insurance industry’s claims-handling response. Roundtable discussion begins at 11:30 a.m. at Flagler College Ringhaver Student Center, Second Floor Virginia Room, 50 Sevilla Dr. in St. Augustine.

Flagler Hospital treats 150 people, shelters staff during Hurricane Matthew” – As the only hospital located within a forty-mile radius, the 335-bed Flagler Hospital – situated directly on the Intercostal waterway in St. Augustine – moved its entire emergency room operation to the second floor as Hurricane Matthew brought a risk of flooding. Flagler Continued to receive patients by ambulance until the roads were no longer passable. “We truly serve as a safety net hospital for our community. In times of medical crisis, people have nowhere to go but here, so our goal is always to keep our services safe and available to everyone in need,” says President & CEO Joe Gordy. “We have always known that should a hurricane come our way, evacuation and closing would likely not be an option, so we have planned – both structurally and operationally – to be prepared. Thankfully, it all played out exactly as planned over the course of the past four days.”

flaglerIn addition to treating nearly 150 patients in the hospital when the eye of Hurricane Matthew slammed the first coast, Flagler coordinated in-house shelter arrangements for two shifts of clinical staff, physicians to cover all the needed specialties, 90 adult family members, 209 children and 79 dogs, cats and birds. The hospital successfully pre-planned to feed hot meals to approximately 1,000 people, 3 times a day. Early assessments indicate that the hospital experienced very little damage. The physical plant assessment continues and any needed repairs are being made. All patients remain safe, and the hospital is fully functional with adequate resources and staffing. To assist in the transition back to normal operations, the hospital will remain on lockdown with all entrances closed except the emergency department until Wednesday.

Hurricane Matthew storm surge destroys docks, floods homes in East Palatka” via Katie McKee of Action News Jax – Storm surge from the St. Johns River during Hurricane Matthew destroyed several docks and flooded homes in East Palatka … [With] pieces of wood from several destroyed docks. “It’s terrible, just devastation,” said homeowner Chip Gray as he surveyed the damage. “Part of my dock is probably three or 400 feet from the river, so that gives you an idea of the surge that we experienced.” Across the road, his neighbors showed the inside of their home. They were able to move some of their belongings before evacuating, but now water and mud is saturating their carpet. Many in the area are without power and have been for four days. Many neighbors said they have called their insurance companies to see where they go from here.

$10 million worth of damage to Nassau County after Hurricane Matthew” via WTLV – Nassau County will be one of eight Florida counties to receive federal aid dollars. That money will cover the costs of the mandatory evacuation for the county, as well as similar costs to remove the debris. A decision for additional money is still pending. The damage from the storm was much less than expected, says Estep. Most of the damage was to private homes from trees falling on them. There are numerous power lines down. Also, the beaches had significant erosion – and that is expected to have long term adverse effects on tourism. For cleanup, residents MUST place debris on the curb. A Disaster Recovery Center will also be put in place this week.

Twins born early as Hurricane Matthew approached” via The Associated Press – The Polster twins will have a story to tell when they grow up. Harper Ann and Joseph Anthony were born Thursday as Hurricane Matthew approached Florida’s northeastern coastline. Their mother Jessica Polster [says] she and her husband had planned to stay home during the storm. But during an appointment Thursday morning, the doctor told her she was in labor and sent them to the hospital. Her due date was Oct. 19. Husband Anthony Polster ran home to prepare their house for the hurricane. Hours later the twins were born via cesarean section. As the hurricane approached, the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit was evacuated to higher floors at an adjoining hospital.

— Back to politics —

Al Lawson, Glo Smith confirmed for Wednesday debate in CD 5” via Florida Politics –Democratic nominee Lawson will face GOP candidate Smith during the Wednesday meeting of the Southside Business Men’s Club at the San Jose Country Club. Lawson, a Democrat many local Republicans like, will find debating Smith to be a different proposition than the pyrotechnics he saw in forum and debate appearances with Congresswoman Corrine Brown.

Smith’s financial disclosure: modest means, limited assets” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics – Smith, who reported having $11,908 on hand as of the end of September, has spent the bulk of her campaign’s expenditures on operational costs: gas, food, tolls. Essentially, Smith is a member of the middle class. Between Smith and her spouse, the couple reports having made $68,520 in 2016. Smith has made $15,000 from the Douglass Leadership Institute … a nonprofit that seeks to “educate, equip and empower faith-based leaders to embrace and apply biblical principles to life and in the marketplace.” Its most high-profile action thus far: being part of the opposition to the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance. Smith’s husband will make $53,520 from his position with the state attorney’s office. Liabilities reported seem to be restricted to student loans, with one valued between $10,001 and $15,000, and another between $15,001 and $50,000 … A “spouse retirement fund” has between $100,001 and $250,000 in it; a FRS account has between $1,001 and $15,000. Money has been withdrawn from Smith’s spouse’s 401(k) … Smith withdrew $5,001 to $15,000 in 2016. In 2015, $15,001 to $50,000 was withdrawn. Smith’s modest means are a contrast to the well-heeled Al Lawson, her Democratic opponent, who made over $200,000 last year, the bulk of it from commission sales related to health care companies.

Little opposition to slot machine ballot vote via Christopher Hong of the Florida Times-Union – Beyond the noise of November’s high-profile elections, a local gambling group quietly continues its long shot push to legalize slot machines in Jacksonville that has so far avoided any serious opposition — even from the city’s widespread and politically active religious community. As the Florida Supreme Court considers a case that will decide whether slot machines can be legalized by a countywide vote, Jacksonville’s Bestbet is campaigning for a referendum that will ask Duval County voters to allow 2,000 slot machines at its Arlington poker room in the event of a favorable court ruling. Bestbet’s efforts to bring slot machines to the city surfaced this summer, when the company and its top-tier team of local lobbyists asked the City Council to place the measure on November’s ballot. Gambling expansion avoided the scrutiny and skepticism encountered by other social issues that have recently come before the council, like enacting gay rights, opening craft-beer breweries near churches and growing medical marijuana within city limits. The measure overwhelmingly passed with bipartisan support from council moderates and the group’s most conservative members. Councilman Doyle Carter was the only person to vote no. The council most recently felt that pressure earlier this year as it considered passing an anti-discrimination law that would expand protections to gays and transgender people. Considering the shock-and-awe response from social conservatives, council members expected formidable opposition against the slot machine referendum. But it never materialized.

State Supreme Court rejects write-in case involving Angela Corey” via News 4 Jax – A group of voters asked the high court to consider the case centered on Daniel Kenneth Leigh, who qualified as a write-in candidate in the race for state attorney in the 4th Judicial Circuit, which includes Duval, Clay and Nassau counties. The other three candidates in the race, including incumbent State Attorney Angela Corey, are Republicans. Leigh’s presence in the race closed the Aug. 30 primary, which meant only Republican voters were able to cast ballots — and effectively decide the winner. Corey was defeated in her re-election bid by Melissa Nelson, a former prosecutor, who garnered 64 percent of the vote over the incumbent’s 26 percent in the circuit. Following the August election, Leigh withdrew from the race, making Nelson the winner. The Florida Supreme Court … denied the request to take up the challenge “having determined that it should decline to accept jurisdiction” after reviewing preliminary briefs in the case. The plaintiffs had alleged that Leigh’s candidacy is a sham intended to help Corey get re-elected. But a circuit judge and the 1st District Court of Appeal rejected the challenge, pointing to earlier court rulings that said the presence of write-in candidates leads to closed primaries.

Happening Thursday: Duval County bill deadline – Chairwoman Rep. Mia Jones announced the deadline for filing local bills in the Duval Legislative Delegation Office is noon.

Column: Deeper port will produce more business, improved local economy” via George Gabel for the Florida Times-Union – Why are so many companies bringing their distribution focus to Northeast Florida? Florida is now the third most populous state in the nation. Northeast Florida provides efficient access to residents and tourists in the Sunshine State, as well as in states directly to our north and west. Trucking costs here are among the best in the nation. There is an abundance of affordable land available for development, along with more than 120 million square feet of distribution space already in place. Our workforce is comprised of 750,000 people, a young and dynamic talent pool for prospective employers. Unsurpassed highway and rail connectivity. Northeast Florida has the momentum to become “America’s Logistics Center.” How do we maintain this momentum — and even better — how do we step up the pace? To begin with, each of these businesses requires quick and easy access to a vibrant port, one able to handle the newer generation of larger container ships that will carry much of the world’s cargo in the coming decades. These ships need deeper water.

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One Spark chairman Peter Rummell says he will no longer pick up tab of Jacksonville festival” via Drew Dixon of the Florida Times-Union – The future of Jacksonville’s One Spark event is up in the air as the main financial backer, Peter Rummell, says he’s no longer going to foot the bill — after pouring millions of dollars of his own money into the festival since its inception three years ago. As the board of directors of the entrepreneurial festival considers its future in October, financial sustainability will be the key factor that decides whether the downtown party continues. Rummell, a local developer and chairman of the One Spark board of directors, told the Times-Union that he might continue to contribute some funding, but that the days of paying for the event nearly by himself are over. “I don’t think it’s a zero-sum game. But I’m not ready to write another million-dollar check,” Rummell said. “I’m comfortable that there’s a community solution that doesn’t just depend on me. I’m excited to put some meat on that bone and let everybody see what we’re thinking about.”

Florida State University Moran Institute seeks to help established Jacksonville small businesses in expansion” via Drew Dixon of the Florida Times-Union – Established small businesses in the Jacksonville area are eligible for a new program designed to help those companies expand and grow … the Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship at the Florida State University College of Business is about to launch operations targeting established small businesses that want to extend their reach. “Jacksonville was on our radar,” said Mike Campbell, director of the North Florida Operations for the Moran Institute. “It’s in close proximity to Tallahassee, and the business community was a nice fit for us.” Campbell said the institute has not settled on a physical location where classes and training seminars will be conducted. The program will seek businesses that are already established, with anywhere from three to 100 employees, and have been in operation for at least three years. They are specifically looking for executives or owners of companies. In early 2017, the program will be expanded to include executives of nonprofit organizations. “We don’t help startups,” Campbell said. “The difference is we work with seasoned business owners. Existing businesses already have workforces. They’re already dealing with different rules on employment. They’re already dealing with scenarios with distribution.”

Jacksonville International Airport to offer TSA Precheck — for a limited time only” via Jensen Werley of the Jacksonville Business Journal – TSA Precheck allows individuals to travel securely and efficiently, without having to remove items such as shoes, belts and jackets or laptops or liquids from their luggage. Instead, passengers can make an appointment to enroll at a temporary office at the airport, after beginning the application process online. The service will be available for just two weeks: From 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 24-28; from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 31 through Nov. 2 and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 3 and Nov. 4. Passengers will become fully enrolled in Precheck after they obtain their “Known Traveler Number,” which can take several days to receive.

TOTE Marine marks one-year anniversary of El Faro sinking” – TOTE Maritime, and SSG client, held a private ceremony marking the one-year anniversary of the El Faro’s tragic sinking off Florida’s coast. Families of the 33 crew members gathered at the newly renamed El Faro Memorial Park at Dames Point, as TOTE unveiled a lighthouse monument in memory of their loved ones. TOTE officials joined Coast Guard service members, City of Jacksonville elected officials and other guests, the families placed flowers at the base of the monument while sharing hugs, tears and memories.

ssgThe lighthouse monument shares a twin that is installed in Puerto Rico, and both lighthouses face each other in a symbolic representation of the El Faro’s Jacksonville to San Juan shipping route. The Park also features a memorial walkway commemorating each crew member as well as numerous landscaping enhancements. The El Faro Memorial Park at Dames Point renovations were the result of a collaborative, El Faro families-focused public-private partnership spearheaded by TOTE, including Southern Strategy Group (government relations), GAI Consultants (project designer), Meskel & Associates (geotechnical engineering), Environmental Resource Solutions, Inc. (environmental science consultant), Dana B. Kenyon Company (general contractor) and the City of Jacksonville.

Mark Lowry points the Armada toward the future” via Kartik Krishnaiyer – The Jacksonville Armada FC will get back to action Wednesday night at Community First Park following a layoff due to Hurricane Matthew. Jacksonville will face Indy Eleven who won the NASL Spring Season title. The Armada are on a four-game unbeaten streak and have lost just twice in nine games under new coach Mark Lowry. Lowry has been successful in his short tenure largely because of his commitment to integrating young players into the fold. Lowery told the Telegraph recently “I was coaching children and I came to realize that coaching is really about education. “I never played at the top level, I knew I wasn’t cut out for that,” he said. “I knew I would never make it to the top, but saw coaching as a way to get to the top. I love the game and it really goes back to a love of teaching. I do love the pro side, the week-to-week grind, tactically breaking down games. But I still think development is massive.”

Lowry holds a UEFA “A” coaching license and has had stints on the coaching staffs of Birmingham City FC, Wolverhampton Wanderers (Wolves) and Orlando City SC.

At just 31, Lowry is the youngest coach in the NASL. He is a big believer in coaching styles and philosophies. “I’m a big believer, when you look at managers, take Barcelona for example. It will exist and be the same no matter who the manager is,” Lowry said. “The players must fit, the philosophy comes first. You can’t keep hiring coaches and keep changing the philosophy to adapt to the players you acquire. It has to be the other way around.”

Philosophy in soccer sometimes clashes with pragmatism and the need for immediate results. But with Jacksonville out of postseason contention for 2016, Lowry has an opportunity to build a culture and philosophy that will serve the club well in 2017 and beyond. Developing a culture and a way of playing that remains with the club irrespective of manager is a key to the long-term success of any soccer organization throughout the world. Lowry seems poised to give the Armada that structure from which the organization can thrive.

Jaguars have a long way to go” via Gary Shelton – The Jacksonville Jags have a long way to go.

To get better, they’ll have to improve, well, in the situations where there is a long way to go.

One of the problems with the Jaguars so far this season has been in third-and-long, says coach Gus Bradley. If the team can reduce its distance, improvement should come quickly.

A couple things on offense we have had a lot of third and long situations,” Bradley said. “Third and 11-plus. It is not just third and 11. These are third and 20s, third and 23s. Far too many in that area. It comes back to controlling things we can control. The foolish penalties. Penalties overall. False starts, pre-snap, more pre-snap issues for us. Cleaning that part of the game up. Defensively, you break it up into certain areas and you find out certain areas you might have to adjust some things at certain third downs specifically.”

“It is like the red zone. Some of the red zone things we looked at. They scored on a couple quarterback runs. Coverage was pretty tight. Green Bay game and the Baltimore game they scored on that. That is where you talk about the truth. How is our coverage? Are they scoring running the ball? Quarterback scramble, two touchdowns. What can we do in situations like that?”

The Jags have seen improved play from rookie Myles Jack so far.

“Maturity,” Bradley said. “I am talking about maturity on the field. Understanding the position he plays, some of the looks he is getting and how teams are attacking him. I think he has become more of a student of the game in that aspect.”

The Jags potentially face one of two quarterbacks this week: either Jay Cutler or Brian Hoyer.

“They have different styles, but you are right we have seen Brian (Hoyer),” Bradley said. “He has been on a roll lately. Couple of 300-yard games. He makes good decisions. I think he plays with good poise. He can get on a rhythm and be very effective and do some really cool things. That is where I think he is now. They have different styles. That is what this whole week is about. Preparing for both and see what takes place as the week goes on.”

Pass-rusher Willie Young of Chicago also presents a challenge.

“They move him around some,” Bradley said. “We have some guys like that on our team that I think, the speed type guys, for our offensive line. Every team that you play, there is going to be at least one good rusher. They have different styles in how they utilize him and how they move him around is always a challenge. I think for us, what we found out this week, too, are some of the things that are causing us issues are self-inflicted. This whole emphasis is back on eliminating those things that keep us from being our best. Now let’s prepare for our opponent.”

A month into the season, Bradley has had time to evaluate his team.

“I think that you look at it by units.” Bradley said. “I think there are some areas that we are doing really well. I think defensively, the total yards and the sacks. We are getting more pressure. I know the first game it did not look like, but we really felt like we could get pressure on the quarterback.”

Jacksonville is at Chicago Sunday.

Jags release Dwayne Gratz to make room for Aaron Colvin” via Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union – Gratz, a third-round pick, was cut to make room for cornerback Colvin, whose four-game suspension is complete. He will make his season debut Sunday at Chicago. The proverbial writing was on the wall for Gratz when he was a healthy inactive instead of Josh Johnson for the Jaguars’ win over Indianapolis. The inaugural draft class for general manager Dave Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley was supposed to be the foundation of the Jaguars’ building effort. Gratz was given every opportunity to establish himself in the Jaguars’ lineup – he started 21 games in 2013-14 – but couldn’t capitalize. His days as a starter ended last year when Davon House was signed; his days as a rotation player ended this year when Jalen Ramsey and Prince Amukamara were added. In 40 games (25 starts), Gratz had 119 tackles and three interceptions … Colvin will be available to play against the Bears.

Tweet, tweet:jags:

Phil Ammann

Phil Ammann is a Tampa Bay-area journalist, editor and writer. With more than three decades of writing, editing, reporting and management experience, Phil produced content for both print and online, in addition to founding several specialty websites, including HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government, entertainment reviews, marketing and an advice column. Phil has served as editor and production manager for Extensive Enterprises Media since 2013 and lives in Tampa with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul. He can be reached on Twitter @PhilAmmann or at [email protected]



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