Man arrested for painting messages on public property


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Driving through San Marco, you likely have seen graffiti on several traffic control utility boxes. On Tuesday afternoon, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office arrested Kevin "Chip" Southworth in connection with that graffiti.

First Coast News spoke to Southworth in January about the images appearing on the traffic control boxes, but at the time Southworth just called himself "Keith Haring's Ghost."

He told FCN's Heather Crawford the graffiti had a pretty clear meaning.

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The message behind San Marco, Riverside street art

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Street art has become quite the talk around town, and if you drive through San Marco and Riverside it's hard to miss.

"In Jacksonville a lot of people do things and ask for forgiveness later. So I gave the city a bunch of beautiful art and now I'm kind of asking for forgiveness," explains a local artist who calls himself "Keith Haring's Ghost".

He's speaking out about why he has painted city-owned property without asking for permission.

"This is the way they looked just absolutely destroyed gray box, gray spray paint all over it...I live not far from here and I pull through this area all the time and I'm like those are perfect canvasses," said the artist.

With a bandana covering his face, and wearing a hat and glasses in hopes of concealing his identity, "Keith Haring's Ghost" because he says he doesn't want this to be about him.

I-95 entrance ramps from Atlantic Blvd. open

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Two heavily traveled entrance ramps to Interstate 95 Northbound that were closed Thursday morning have reopened Friday.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the ramps from Atlantic Boulevard leading to I-95 Northbound buckled under the weight of a construction crane overnight Thursday, causing a closure of both ramps leading to the freeway.

Florida Department of Transportation spokesman, Michael Goldman, said crews were working on sheet piling near the road when the vibrations caused an eight to nine inch depression in the roadway. The depression is the result of a void between the pavement and the soil from the original construction of the ramps, Goldman added.

New concrete was delivered Thursday, but took several hours to fix the depression in the roadway.

FHP's website also indicated that the on ramp leading from Philips Highway to I-95 is closed.

Get a free, sober ride home tonight

JACKSONVILLE, FLA-- We want you to get the new year started off safely so put this number in your phone, 885-286-9246.

855-286-9246 is the phone number to AAA's Tow-To-Go program.  You don't have to be a AAA member to use the service, it just gets you a safe, free ride home and saves you from driving intoxicated.

"New Year's Eve is the busiest night of the year for the Tow to Go program because so many motorists seem to be more inclined to use a designated driver but don't always have someone willing to be one in their own party during the biggest celebration of the year," said Gerry Gutowski, Sr. Vice President, Automotive Services, AAA–The Auto Club Group. "We prepare our call center teams and tow truck service providers for weeks in advance, so we can manage the increased call volume that's typical of this time of year."

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Local high schools receive their new grades

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Nearly half of Florida's high schools are getting an A grade for the 2012-13 school year.

The grades released Wednesday by the Florida Department of Education show a slight increase in the number of A graded schools.

But the number of D and F rated schools also went up. There were eight high schools that received F grades as opposed to just three in 2012.

Duval Schools fall short in meeting class size

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Duval County schools made progress this year, but once again fell short of complying with mandated class size limits.

According to a head count conducted in October and analyzed by the Florida Department of Education, nearly 900 Duval County students are impacted by overcrowding.

The Florida Department of Education reported in Duval 1,075 classrooms, out of 21,000, exceed the class limit size.

In Florida, voters approved a class size amendment which states a maximum of 18 kids per pre-k classroom through the third grade, 22 students per class in grades four through eight and 25 students in grades nine through 12.

Duval County School Superintendent Nikolai Vitti says a year ago the district had 20% of classrooms out of compliance and now it is down to 5%. 

New numbers show crime is down in Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- New numbers from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement show crime is going down in Duval County.

The Uniform Crime Report looked at crime in the first 6 months of 2013, and compared to the first 6 months of 2012.

In Jacksonville, the report showed a 15 percent decrease in murders, and a little more than a 6 percent decrease in aggravated assaults. 

Overall, violent crimes are down 1 percent. The number of rape victims are up, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said that's in part because of a re-classification.

Business owners in Jacksonville are hoping the general downward trend in crime could change the way some think about the city when it comes to crime.

"Every little bit helps," said Pat Middleton. He's been selling houses in Jacksonville for more than 30 years.

Middleton said his clients ask him about being safe in Jacksonville.