Record Cold Lands Family with Thousand Dollar Electric Bill

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The frigid winter is driving up electric bills on the First Coast.

"I dread when that JEA bill comes," Aluoch Moody said. "I don't even want to open it because I don't know what I'm going to see this month."

Aluoch and her husband Sterling Moody's monthly electric bill is always high, they said. A good month for them is between $200 and $300.

But their bill for the month of December was through the roof.

"When I got it this month there was like no words." Aluoch said she was shocked.

Their charges for electricity alone for the month of December totaled $993.70.

Gerri Boyce, JEA spokesperson, said although the Moody's energy consumption for in December was higher than the average of 60-80 kilowatt-hours, they aren't alone. Boyce said many customers saw their usage double between November and December because of record cold.

Think Twice Before Starting Your Car and Heading Back Inside

Think Twice Before Starting Your Car and Heading Back Inside

According to JSO, "per Florida State Statute it is ILLEGAL to leave your vehicle unattended without stopping the engine and removing the key.  It is against the law."

316.1975 - Unattended motor vehicle.

A person driving or in charge of any motor vehicle may not permit it to stand unattended without first stopping the engine, locking the ignition, and removing the key. A violation of this section is a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a nonmoving violation as provided in chapter 318.

135 Arrested in Prescription Drug Trafficking Investigation

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Forty-two people from the First Coast are among the 135 arrested in a multi-agency operation to eliminate drug trafficking.

For 14 weeks, agents throughout north Florida investigated prescription drug trafficking as part of Operation Growing Pains.

Phase one of the operation resulted in the 135 arrests and the dismantling of large-scale organizations.

The initial intent was to identify, disrupt and dismantle any such criminal enterprises.

According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), another phase is in the works to continue fighting the prescription drug problem.

"Clearly the increase in illegal use of pharmaceutical drugs is attacking many Florida communities," said FDLE Jacksonville Special Agent in Charge Dominick Pape.  "Only by a coordinated team approach like this can law enforcement continue to combat this ever increasing threat."

Florida Holiday Travel to Increase 3.1% from 2009

Holiday travel in the state of Florida is projected to increase 3.1 percent this year from 2009, with more than 4.8 million Florida residents taking a trip of 50 miles or more away from home between Tuesday, Dec. 23 and Sunday, Jan. 2. Overall, travel in the U.S. is projected to increase 3.1 percent from last year, with more than 92.3 million projected travelers.

Get to Know the “Five P’s” of Cold Weather Safety

Florida Division of Emergency Management officials are again urging all residents and visitors throughout Florida to prepare for temperatures near or below the freezing mark tonight through Wednesday morning. The National Weather Service has issued a Hard Freeze Warning for all of North and Central Florida, and also for Glades, Hendry and Palm Beach counties.  A Freeze Warning has also been issued for the rest of South Florida. The entire state is under either a Wind Chill Advisory or Warning, depending on the location.
According to Division of Emergency Management Director David Halstead. “It is vital that all residents and visitors remember the “Five P’s” of cold weather safety: Protect People, Protect Plants, Protect Pets, Protect Exposed Pipes, and Practice Fire Safety.”

DCF Launches Mobile Application to Aid Children’s Legal Services

In an effort to use technology to streamline our business process, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) has custom built a mobile application for BlackBerries that allows Children’s Legal Services’ attorneys to update and access files from the courtroom.

First Coast Economy Up Slightly

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Tiffany's is the newest store at the St. Johns Town Center. The manager of the high-end shop said it opened the new location due to demand, but shoppers say they are still watching their wallets.

Carlos Perez, a shopper at the St. Johns Town Center, said he's better off financially this year compared to last.  Although he said he plans to spend more money on Christmas gifts this year, he's still conscious of his spending.

"By the look of the shopping center, it looks like people have plenty of money," said Perez.

Locally, economists say the latest numbers show the economic indicator is up compared to last year, but only slightly.  It is up under one percent.

At the St. Johns Town Center, businesses have continued to open.  Three restaurants -- Zaxby's, Pollo Tropical and Libretto's Pizzeria and Italian Kitchen -- have opened in the past few weeks.