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School Board Votes to Close James Weldon Johnson

Posted on 10 January 2011 by The Florida Star Online

Written by Marsha Dean Phelts

In a meeting of the  Duval County School  Board last week, the  Board voted to close the  James Weldon  Johnson Middle  School. The decision to  close this academic  magnet school purportedly  is due to low student  enrollment.  According to the proposal  those now attending  James Weldon  Johnson will be assigned to Paxon Middle and Paxon’s  students will be enrolled at Eugene Butler. This move  is scheduled to take place next school year beginning  August 2011.

There are numerous questions; foremost is what  school will continue the respected name of James  Weldon Johnson? There should never be a time in this  city that a Duval County public school does not bear  the name James Weldon Johnson. Another question is,  after closing the school what happens to the building  and the site? The school board could give this property  to Edward Waters College as these two properties are  adjoining. 

In a Déjà-vu flashback, many instantly recall a similar  strategy deployed over forty years ago when the  entire school system was ordered to desegregate. Back  in 1969, a major implementation of the integration plan  went into effect. As a result of this plan numerous  schools in black neighborhoods were shut down to prevent  white students from being bussed in certain Black  neighborhoods. Those geographically named schools  in Black communities like West Lewisville/Forrest  Park, Oakland and Jacksonville Beach Elementary  were discarded and reduced to rubbish. Public school  facilities bearing names of prominent role models such  as Isaiah Blocker and A. L. Lewis were closed and torn  down, assuring that those schools never open again. In  closing these schools the names of positive historical  figures were erased from positively imprinting the  futures of the youth that James Weldon Johnson so eloquently  wrote of in his prose, 
“You are young, gifted, and Black. 
We must begin to tell our young, 
There’s a world waiting for you, 
Yours is the quest that’s just begun.” 

For over a century James Weldon Johnson has been one of Jacksonville’s great citizens. 

He was born in LaVilla, spent his formative years in the city and was educated in our public schools as high as the system provided education for Negro students and upon completion of high school and college in Atlanta. It was James Weldon Johnson, former student at Stanton Grade School who in 1894 became principal then added higher grades, (from 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th) while upgrading the curriculum thus establishing the first accredited high school for Blacks in the state of Florida. The contributions of James Weldon Johnson are too significant for his name to be retired from an active public educational institution in Jacksonville .

Jacksonville, Florida is the only place on planet earth that can boast of being the birthplace of James Weldon and John Rosamond Johnson, the brothers who in 1900 wrote the words and lyrics to “Lift Every Voice and Sing while serving as principal and music instruct or at Stanton High School.

Jacksonville appropriately should have a school named in honor of #1 James Weld on Johnson and his brother #2 John Rosam ond Johnson, #3 their mother, Helen Dillet Johnson , Florida’s first Black school teacher and their father #4 Jam es William Johnson, pastor of the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church who came to Jacksonville in 1869.

Upon the closing of James Weldon Johnson at 1840 W. 9t h Street, another public school bearing the name James Weldon Johnson must take pla ce immediately. Whether this is a new school opening or under constructed in 2011, this new facility should be given the name James Weldon Johnson. A second alternative would be to rename LaVilla the James Weldon Johnson L aVilla School for the Arts (if this school has not been named in someone’s honor).

Due to under performance of students enrolled in neighborhood schools in the Black community several of these schools are in danger of being closed by the state. This is not the case for the James Weldon Johnson College Preparatory Sc hool, nevertheless the school is closing.

Please contact school board members and ask them to keep an active public school named for James Weldon Johnson who in the millennium year 2000 was inducted into The Florida Artists Hall of Fame E-Mail and Phone:
• District 1 – Martha Barrett | barrettm@duvalschools.org | 904-390-2371
• District 2 – Fred “Fel” Lee | leef@duvalschools.org     | 904-390-2386

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Jaguars Win Over Browns

Posted on 27 November 2010 by The Florida Star Online

Written by: Richard McLaughlin
Photographer: Laurence Greene

The citizens of Jacksonville made a commitment to stand behind the Jaguars with an even stronger grip when Everbank made the necessary move and earned the right to name the stadium after them.

At the beginning of the season, the sales were great. However, prior to this game, the tickets did not go as well and a few people were worried. However, the sales did come through and those ticket holders are still feeling the joy of attending.

The offense was having problems but the defense showed up and showed out in the last few minutes. It was a defining sequence in another dramatic game for both teams. An even more important twist came during the last few minutes. Jones- Drew finished with 132 yards rushing and 87 receiving. It’s the first time in his five-year career that he’s put together three consecutive 100- yard games.The Jaguars (6-4) are starting to make frantic finishes look routine as they are now tied with the Colts for first place in the AFC South.

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Florida Classics – and the winner is…

Posted on 27 November 2010 by The Florida Star Online

Written by: Richard McLaughlin

Almost 62,000 attended the Florida Classics in Orlando this past weekend. It was stated that the attendance was the largest crowd in history. Some were late getting into their seats, but by half time, every seat was taken as the ‘battle of the bands’ began. You may be late for the game, but you are always present for halftime. 

There was never a question of who was a FAMU Rattler or a BCU Wildcatter. You knew when the bands started playing and what really turned the crowd wild is when each played, “Da Butt.” The crowded seats were suddenly empty – according to what school. In some cases, you could observe husband and wife or best friends separate, according to the school. 

By the way, who won the game? Well, the FAMU Rattlers won the game but the coin got stuck in the air when you asked who won the Battle of the Bands.

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Two JSO Officers Resign after Internal Affairs Investigation

Posted on 22 November 2010 by The Florida Star Online

Sheriff John Rutherford recently announced that the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has concluded its internal affairs investigation of two of the five officers’ response to the March 26th armed bank robbery and carjacking, where the armed robber/carjacker Jeremiah Mathis was killed by police, and a young child and his mother in the car were injured by gunfire.

The State Attorney’s Office cleared the five officers of any criminal wrong doing in June. This entity investigates all officerinvolved shootings and found no violation of criminal law or criminal intent by officers. By the end of the investigation, and based on the determination of no criminal wrongdoing, the JSO was able to convene its Response to Resistance (RTR) board hearing. (Garrity vs New Jersey, 1967)

The RTR board hearing, held in June and open to the public, determined that Lt. Jesse York, Officer Jason Lederman, and Officer Richard Santoro all acted within policy guidelines and they were returned to their regular police duties.

Also at the June hearing, that same board recommended that the actions of Officers Ryan Black and Darries Griffith be referred to Internal Affairs for an investigation into whether or not their actions were within the guidelines of the agency’s policies.

Both Griffith and Black fired their guns multiple times at Mathis as he carjacked a vehicle occupied by a woman and two small children, at a Wendy’s drive thru window, located on Baymeadows Road.

Mathis was attempting to escape police apprehension following an armed bank robbery he committed just minutes earlier, at a nearby Wachovia Bank, by carjacking the car and taking its three occupants hostage at gunpoint.

The two officers continued firing as the car occupied by Mathis and his three hostages moved forward in the restaurant’s drive thru lane.

The Sheriff’s review of the internal affairs investigation determined that because the two officers did not act with any certainty about the presence of the three innocent hostages, they did not use reasonable caution necessary to avoid unnecessarily endangering the lives of others during the discharge of their firearms.

The review of the investigation also concluded that officers Black and Griffith failed to use reasonable caution by shooting at a car that was in motion which caused them to continually move their point of aim, putting other officers and citizens in a position to be exposed to the gunfire.

It was later determined that 2 year old Daniel Crichton, restrained in a car seat in the backseat of the vehicle, was shot by one of Black’s 24 fired rounds. The child’s mother also sustained a gunshot wound. The child and his mother survived their injuries.

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New Fire Chief for Jacksonville

Posted on 20 November 2010 by The Florida Star Online

Mayor John Peyton, as  required, is now putting together  his transition team for the  next mayor. In doing so, he  appointed Dan Kleman as  head, who presently serves as  director of Jacksonville’s Fire-  Rescue Department and  replaced him with Dr. Charles  Moreland. Moreland will need  to be confirmed by the City  Council. He has been with  Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department for twenty years. He  has served as chairman of the department’s rescue division  since 2003 and will be the city’s second African American  Chief. Prior to Peyton, Ray Alfred served. 

In 2009, Chief Moreland was named EMS Administrator of  the Year by the Florida Association of County EMS. He  received his bachelor from Edward Waters College. He also  has a degree in nursing, a doctorate of education and a masters  in public administration from Nova Southeastern University.  Dr. Moreland was the first minority to serve as chief of rescue  and led a command of more than 200 personnel.

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Cox Art of Hair Barber Shop Honor Roll

Posted on 20 November 2010 by The Florida Star Online

We are once again into a new school year and we are looking forward to a better academic year. Cox Art of Hair Barber Shop is proud to show case the  following Honor Roll Students for the first semester who have worked hard to achieve this goal. We are still encouraging all students to work hard and get a good education. We continue to encourage all parents to take an active role in their children’s education.

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Please, Don’t Let Alisa Die

Posted on 14 November 2010 by The Florida Star Online

The Florida Star received a letter from Eric Wilson advising that he and his wife are in need of assistance regarding a health care problem for their daughter, Alisa Wilson, who is 37 years of age with a 10-yearold son. Alisa is in need of a liver transplant.

The couple was informed on November 3, 2010 that Lisa would receive a transfer from St. Vincent’s ICU in Jacksonville to Florida Hospital in Orlando to receive preparatory rehabilitation for a liver transplant. However, on the following day, the family was told that the liver transplant could not be done because her medicaid care had reached its maximum.
Prior to Lisa’s illness, she was with Sunshine State Health Insurance Plan HMO. That program was not acceptable to Mayo, which is known for its professional work regarding liver transplants.

The Wilsons were seriously concerned as their daughter’s health continued to fail. After discussion with Dan Evans of The Florida Star and cooperation from their church, the Wilson again felt hope.

A “One Life to Live” Candle Light Prayer Vigil is planned for Saturday, November 13th, 2010 at 6:30 p.m. at Good News Evangelism Ministries, 7646 Lem Turner Road, Pastor Dr. Deborah H. Coleman and Rev. Otha Coleman Sr. have planned the event.

Mr. Wilson was informed on Thursday, November 11 that Medicaid has made a determination, after many inquiries, to take care of surgery for Alisa. The Wilsons are needing to know the cost of all that is needed to take care of their daughter, who is getting weaker daily. They wish to know the cost and are having the prayer vigil to get help from God and the people. It is not clear how much would be needed and if Medicaid would want to know the total cost before going forward before Lisa can actually get prepared for the transplant.

In talking with a medical care specialist, it was learned that many hospitals will take care of those in need, knowing that they may have to ‘eat the cost of the procedure.’ In this case, at least they will know that part will be paid through medicaid. Another concern is the health of Alisa and her ability to go through with the surgery and the procedures that will follow.

Prayer will make a difference. Therefore, all is invited by the church and the family, to attend this prayer vigil. Lisa does not wish to leave her son alone and her parents are getting older.

When you see situations like Alisa Wilson, you wonder why Florida’s Attorney General Bill McCollum has filed a Motion for Summary Judgment in the Health Care Lawsuit. Oral argument for this motion will take place on December 16, 2010 in Pensacola. With all of this, and realizing that Lisa is not the only person that is suffering now or in the future with health problems.

Help is needed. Please help!

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Florida National Guard Soldiers To Deploy To Iraq

Posted on 14 November 2010 by The Florida Star Online

Written by: Staff Sgt. Blair Heusdens

Approximately 25 Soldiers from the Florida National Guard’s 1153rd Finance Management Detachment were honored during a ceremony in St. Augustine, Nov. 10, 2010, prior to departing for their deployment to Iraq.

The unit will provide financial assistance for Soldiers at forward operating bases near Baghdad, Iraq. For most of the Soldiers, this will be their first deployment overseas “We have a real young unit,” said Sgt. 1st Class Corey Walker, the senior enlisted member of the detachment. “For a lot of people, this will be their first time going, but we’re leaning on our veterans to push us through.”

To prepare for the deployment, the Soldiers spent months conducting additional premobilization training. The Soldiers will leave at the end of the week for additional training at Fort McCoy, Wis., prior to arriving in Iraq.

“We’ve gone through months of rigorous basic Soldiering training,” said Walker. “We also went through extensive finance training to hone our finance skills at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin.”

Family support was emphasized throughout the ceremony, with leaders at each level reassuring the families present that the Florida National Guard is committed to helping them while their Soldier is away.

“What I want you to remember is, the Florida National Guard is a family,” said Lt. Col. Paul Chauncey, the commander of the 927th Combat Service Support Battalion. “We understand that it takes the strength of each and every one of you sitting out in this audience for these Soldiers to do their job.”

“We recognize your sacrifice,” Maj. Gen. Emmett R. Titshaw, The Adjutant General of Florida said to the families. “You are so much a part of what we do. We are there for you while your Soldier is gone. Please remember, we are only a phone call away.”

At the unit level, a family support group is in place to provide support to families throughout the deployment. The group has held numerous events prior to the deployment to ensure that the families know each other and they know how to get in contact with each other if they have any issues.

The unit leadership expressed confidence in their Soldiers’ training and their ability to accomplish the mission safely and effectivel.

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UF Gators Sink The Vanderbilt Commodores 55-14

Posted on 14 November 2010 by The Florida Star Online

Correspondent: Scott Jurrens
Photographer: Joseph Lorentzson
 
In Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville TN on November 6, 2010, the Florida Gators trounced the Vanderbilt Commodores for a game final of 55-14.

The Gator offense capitalized in the 1st quarter on a Commodore blocked punt by Chris Rainey that lead to the first touchdown of the game on a 3-yard scamper by Mike Gillislee.

In the 2nd quarter, the Gators blew the game wide open with 5 touchdowns and Vanderbilt was scoreless. Touchdowns courtesy of Deonte Thompson, Chris Rainey, Terron Sanders (a 45-yard fumble recovery and score), Frankie Hammond Jr. and Solomon Patton (42-yard blocked punt return for a score). At halftime, the score was Gators 41; Commodores 0.

For those still watching the game in the second half, Vanderbilt got on the scoreboard with a 4-yard return of a blocked Gator punt by Javon Marshall for a touchdown and the extra point was good. The Gators responded to that score with two more touchdowns of their own with a 43- yard run by Mike Gillislee and a 6-yard scamper by Jordan Reed. At the end of three quarters, the Gators led 55-7.

A 4th quarter touchdown by Vanderbilt on a 6-yard pass to Jordan Matthews with 39* seconds left in the game capped the game scoring. Game final: Gators 55, Commodores 14.

With the win, the now 22nd ranked Gators (6-3, 4-3 SEC) continue their two game winning streak and face the 23rd ranked South Carolina Gamecocks (6-3, 4- 3 SEC) in Gainesville at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday, November 13, 2010 with a 7:15 PM EST kickoff. The game will be televised on ESPN and ESPN3.

The winner of this contest clinches the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division title and a berth in the SEC championship football game in Atlanta. The Gamecocks are coming off a 41-20 drubbing by the Arkansas Razorbacks (ranked 18th) so will need to regroup to make it a contest in The Swamp. If the Gators win, this will be their consecutive third trip to Atlanta and the SEC Championship game.

And if the SEC Championship game is not prize enough, there is the coaching dual of ex-Gator now Gamecock coach Spurrier returning to the Swamp to face current Gator coach Urban Meyer. If the Gamecocks win, it will be their first ever trip to the SEC Championship. However, the Gamecocks are 0-12 against the Gators and have only won once in the last 19 times the two teams have played.

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier synopsized the upcoming matchup succinctly with this quote, “We’re going to find out if we can perform on the big stage and this is the big stage down there, one of the biggest in the nation.”

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Southern Women’s Show 2010

Posted on 01 November 2010 by The Florida Star Online

There were over 95,000 consumers this year at the
Southern Women Show, held at the Prime Osborn
Convention Center. Nearly all vendors sold out of their
merchandise which made this the best year yet.

The Florida Star sponsored two fashion shows with
clothes from Ashley Stewart, modeled by Dangerous
Curves. And, as always, the crowd (women of all ages)
went wild over the firemen models, actually putting
money in their pants.

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Mother Dies After Loss of Heroic Only Son

Posted on 01 October 2010 by The Florida Star Online

Corey Hunter (Chilly), a military veteran and a City of Jacksonville Parks and Recreation Department employee, was well respected and loved. He died on Sunday, September 12 after jumping into a retention pond to save his 8-year-old niece. The child did not drown but Corey, who could not swim, did not make it. He was at the pond with his son and niece, doing what he enjoyed the most, being with the children. Five days after his death, his mother, Karolyn Hunter, was on the way to the funeral home to visit her only son, when she died of an apparent heart attack. Many said that Hunter would do anything to help a child. Losing his life to do so, proved that was true. Others said he was “a mama’s boy” and that too was apparently true so she truly could not live without him.

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60, 50, 30, 25 Years Old Is About Right for This 70-Year-Old

Posted on 12 July 2010 by The Florida Star Online

Written by Rinetta McLaughlin Fefie


Edward (Eddie) Nelson, 70, is known as one of the most fit 70 year old males in the world.  The most frequently asked question to Nelson is “How do you do it?”  For Eddie, the answer seems easy because of his personal goals in life which is:  “reflecting a healthy lifestyle for the human body.”  This is what he states in his book, “Old School Workout.”

            Edward Nelson was born in Washington, D. C. and now resides in Jacksonville, Florida.  He feels that he received his gift for having a positive mind and being physically fit from God.  He states that we all have gifts, and it is up to us to discover our own.

  Eddie’s passion for being fit started as a child with playing stickball, handball, table tennis, track, and of course while on the playground.  During the 1950’s he enjoyed spending time at the famous Uptown Gym in Harlem, New York where he was able to watch some great prize fighters such as Sugar Ray Robinson, Joe Louis and Archie Moore.  He became more active at the age of 64 while working out at the World Gym and being observed by two men, who he later learned were NFL players, Donovan Darius and Brian Dawkins, who were astonished at his ability. 

  Mr. Nelson starts his day at 2 a.m. with his first work out.  He is a morning manager at the World Gym in Jacksonville.  His routine is to work out three times a day, Monday through Friday.  He retires to his bed each day at 6 or 7 p.m. and generally rest on the weekends.  Besides his gym workouts, Nelson also does public speaking and appearances.  One of his most recent trips was to Los Angeles, California with Mike Torchia, Head of Shaping Up America.  His biggest thrill was leaving Jacksonville, where Interstate 10 begins, and enjoying the beaches in Los Angeles, where Interstate 10 ends.  His greatest honor while there was the reception given to him by the Mayor and other honorable citizens of the city.

  Nelson actively competes each year in the Jacksonville Senior Olympic Games for the Javelin, Hammer, and Discus.  He holds the world record for doing the most wide-arm pull-ups with a 45 pound plate tied to his waist, which is in Ripley’s Believe it or Not.  He has received many honors, awards, and medals. In fact, he has appeared twice in Ripley’s Believe it or Not.

  When asked about his diet, he stated that he does not believe in diets unless prescribed by a healthcare professional.  He does believe that one should eat in moderation.  He states that everyone can’t make it to the gym everyday or have access to workout equipment.  Therefore, he has created a book which he  calls, “Old School Workout.” The book provides tips on how to exercise in an uncomplicated manner, and can be used by people of every age – from the very young to the very matured.

  Eddie has more fantastic advice in his book which can be found at Barnes and Nobles, Books A Million and from him directly.

  At 70, his main goal in life is to never stop working or working out and even has a modeling contract with an agency in Miami and a writing agreement with The Florida and Georgia Star newspapers.

  To live long and healthy, Eddie’s advice is to listen to your body, find the exercises that give you results, eat in moderation, and treat your body to proper rest.  He is thankful that his spouse, Deborah, daughter, Jackie Bell, grand children and great grand children, all understands.  He said his family provides him his biggest inspiration, support and encouragement.  And Eddie, you have definitely inspired this writer.

  You may reach Eddie Nelson at:  eddieoldschool@yahoo.com or at (904) 349-5288.

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Six People, 3 Generations – Gone

Posted on 17 April 2010 by The Florida Star Online

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People to Know and Watch in 2010

Posted on 09 January 2010 by The Florida Star Online

As the year ends we begin to think of what will happen in the next year regarding our life, the lives of our children, our families and our friends.  We expect changes and work, hope and pray that all of the changes we experience will be positive,  We know that we can’t do it all alone and that there are people around us that may be of beneficial to our daily lives such as politicians, doctors, preachers and lawyers, as well as our environment such as our stores, our living conditions.  Below are people we can watch and call on for help, comfort and motivation.

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A Blue Light in the Skies Lighted the Way for President Obama Receiving Nobel Prize

Posted on 16 December 2009 by The Florida Star Online

FStar-121209-a-01i
Although there was much anticipation of how the world and President Obama would handle his acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize after his move regarding Afghanistan. And when the blue light covered the Norwegian skies, there was even more concern. However, President Obama made such a speech there was less criticism but much praise.

On Friday, it was explained that the strange light was a Russian missile that suffered an unspecified failure.FStar-121209-a-01j

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Mayor's Book Club Begins Sixth Year

Posted on 12 September 2009 by The Florida Star Online

Mayor_Peyton_readingprogram_092009Mayor John Peyton helped hand out new RALLY Jacksonville! book bags to excited four-year olds to kick off the sixth year of the Mayor’s Book Club. He and other city officials thanked new and renewing sponsors who provided funding for nine books, flash cards, bookmarks and other reading-related items distributed with the new bags. The sponsorships, valued at more than $92,000, will make it possible for up to 12,000 children to join the club this year. The March on Washington and Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech occurred 46 years ago – August 28, 1963.

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