News

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."

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.

FCN Investigates: What exactly are you paying for at the pump?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- We are just weeks from the busy Thanksgiving travel season.

But, before you fill up for your trip the On Your Side team has three things you'll want to know before you hit the road. It's part of a First Coast News investigation.

At the gas station, every cent counts.

"I get pretty much what my car gives me," said Michael Bryce, as he filled up the car. "I get around $20 half a tank, $40 for a full tank, $5 for an eighth of a tank."

If you feel like something just isn't right, you might be on to something.

It is Anthony Davis' job to find out

He's one of the petroleum inspectors with the Florida Department of Agriculture.

"We want to make sure that consumers are getting what they're paying for," Davis said.

FCN's David Williams joined him at the Chevron station on New Kings Road for an inspection. Inspections are done at least every 12-14 months, says Davis.

Top 5 hottest jobs and how you can land one

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Are you looking for work? If you are, keep the following story handy.

Like many people, 37-year-old Ty Harris of Jacksonville, has been looking for work.

"Off an on for about a year," Harris explained.

He's been doing freelance work in client and project management, but is looking for something more permanent, which is why he came to a job fair Monday.

He said the job market is tough, which makes it harder to help his family of two children.

"I've gotten a lot of 'You're over qualified,'" Harris said of his year-long job search.

FCN's David Williams asked Harris "What if we told you, we know what the top 5 most in-demand jobs are in Jacksonville?"

To that, Harris responded "I would be impressed and I would inquire what would that be?"

Larsen residents promised water solution soon

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Larsen Community is old and established, but about 125 homes are not connected to the central water supply system.

"It is bad and rusty," said Barbara Hobbs.

Hobbs, 78, gets water to her Don Street home from an old and failing well in the backyard. 

"Everything is brown, " she said. "It is just nasty."

So she buys cases of bottled water for drinking.

Gary McCormick lives two blocks away from Hobbs on Clairmont Road and has a different kind of problem -- he has no water at all.

"I've been living for almost two weeks without water," said McCormick. 

McCormick's home and two others were connected to another house that is tied in to a JEA water line. Two weeks ago that house was sold and McCormick and his neighbors were disconnected. 

"We have to haul water in jugs from the park or the church around the corner," he said.