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Blake Shelton, Lauren Alaina, The Bellamy Brothers, John Anderson & Trace Adkins

Thursday

Mar 7, 2019 – 7:00 PM

300 A Philip Randolph Boulevard
Jacksonville, FL 32202 Map

  • Blake Shelton
  • Lauren Alaina
  • The Bellamy Brothers
  • Bellamy Brothers
  • John Anderson
  • Trace Adkins

More Info

Blake Shelton: Born in Ada, Oklahoma, Blake Shelton took to music from an early age. He learned to play guitar at age 12, and by the time he was 16, he was already an award-winning, amateur musician. After graduating high school, Shelton journeyed to Nashville to pursue his dreams of country music superstardom. The young singer didn’t have to wait long; his debut single, “Austin”, from his self-titled debut album shot to the top of Billboard’s Country chart, and even broke into the Top 100. The album itself quickly went platinum, and set the stage for his illustrious career.

Shelton’s third album, Blake Shelton’s Barn & Grill, featured two Top 10 singles (“Goodbye Time” and “Nobody But Me”), as well as the #1 smash hit single “Some Beach”. As with his debut album, Blake Shelton’s Barn & Grill also went platinum. In 2007, Shelton began appearing on television singing competitions, appearing as a judge on Nashville Star. He also released his fourth album, Pure B.S., which featured the hit singles “Don’t Make Me” and “The More I Drink”. He scored another hit when the album was re-released the next year, with Michael Bublé’s cover of his song “Home”.

In 2010, Shelton released his first original E.P., Hillbilly Bone, which featured the acclaimed, self-titled duet with Trace Adkins. That same year, he also released his first “Greatest Hits” album. Shortly after the album’s release, Shelton received an invitation to join the prestigious Grand Ole Opry; he was inducted by Trace Adkins in October of 2010. Shelton released his sixth studio album, Red River Blue, in 2011. The album set the record for fastest gold certification by a male country singer, and featured a slew of #1 singles. 2011 was also the year that he became an original judge on Season 1 of The Voice, where he has become a national sensation due to his successful finalists and friendly feud with co-star Adam Levine.

In 2012, Shelton released his first Christmas album, Cheers, It’s Christmas, which topped both Holiday and Country charts. His eighth studio album, Based on a True Story, set yet another record, as Shelton gained the most #1 singles of any male country singer. His next album, Bringing in the Sunshine, topped the Billboard 200 and eventually went platinum. 2016's If I'm Honest was possibly Shelton's most introspective record to date, and was heavily influenced by his tumultuous personal life in 2015. Audiences and critics responded enthusiastically, and the album has since attained gold certification. Also in 2016, the country star earned his fifth victory as a coach on The Voice, mentoring singer Sundance Head to a win in the final round.

Lauren Alaina: Lauren Alaina once told an interviewer that she wanted to perform at the Grand Ole Opry by the time she was 16. "You've got high hopes," she was told. As it turns out, she hadn't begun to envision all that was in store for her before entering her junior year in high school.

She was the runner-up on Season 10 of American Idol, where her strong vocal performances earned comparisons to the genre's premier vocalists, Carrie Underwood and Martina McBride. In January, The New York Times called her "the best singer so far this season." A record-breaking 122.4 million votes were cast for Lauren and Idol winner Scotty McCreery. The final show garnered 29.3 million viewers and 38.6 million people tuned in to see the winner's name announced.

Soon after, she made her much-anticipated Opry debut to sing her debut hit, "Like My Mother Does." "I dreamed since I was a kid of being on that stage because my daddy grew up playing the banjo and he's really good at it," she says. "He always wanted me to perform at the Grand Ole Opry because he never got the chance. When I was little, he told me he wanted me to perform there and it would be as good as him getting to, and he was there. I need someone to pinch me because it was just the way it was supposed to be."

But she barely had time to reflect on her accomplishment because the achievements are coming fast and furious. Last summer, she was a cheerleader and pizza parlor employee. This summer, she signed a record deal with Mercury Nashville/19 Recordings/Interscope, presented at the CMT Music Awards and joined Martina McBride in a duet of "Anyway" at LP Field during CMA Music Fest. She's started recording her debut album and is now on the American Idols Live tour, which travels across the nation through September.

Although the venues and audience sizes have drastically changed in the last year, she's still doing what she's always done--singing for anyone who would listen whenever she got the chance.

She was born in Chattanooga, Tenn., and raised in nearby Rossville, Ga., by her father, J.J., a chemical technician, and mother, Kristy, a transcriptionist. It was a musical household because her mother and older brother, Tyler, sang and her father is a multi-instrumentalist. Her parents played country and rock music in the house and Lauren found that she favored music – adult songs, not those made for children -- to television and was especially drawn to Shania Twain, Aerosmith and the Dixie Chicks.

When she was 3, her mother was listening to the Dixie Chicks' "When You Were Mine" until she turned the car off, but Lauren kept singing. "I heard this little voice continue to sing the song," Kristy says. "I absolutely marveled that she stayed with the music and knew every word to the song. We bought the karaoke version of the Dixie Chicks and we would sit Lauren up on the bar where we ate breakfast in my mother-in-law's restaurant. She would perform at 3 and never miss a beat."

Her first public performances came with a kids choir as well as an annual vacation spot that offered karaoke. "I would sing out by the pool deck for everybody," says Lauren, whose parents held the microphone that was too heavy for a 3 year old. "By four, she could sing like an 8 year old," Kristy says. "It was unbelievable." Word soon spread about her talent and she began receiving invitations to perform.

"As a mother, it was just cute," Kristy says. "But when she was six, my sister said, 'This kid really has a gift. You need to enter her in contests.'" Beginning in elementary school, she routinely landed the lead roles in school plays. "One of her little friend wanted the Dorothy role in The Wizard of Oz and the teacher wanted Lauren to be Dorothy," Kristy says. "Lauren pretended to be sick so she didn't take the role. She was bothered that she was beating out these other kids."

At age nine, she wrote her first song, "She's a Miracle," after her aunt was in a car wreck. She sang in church, restaurants, family holiday gatherings and anywhere else. Says Lauren, "I would grab up every opportunity I could," Lauren says. "I would go karaoke at any place within a 30-mile radius of where I lived. I would drive an hour just to sing. Any competition I would hear about I would enter."

At age 8, she entered the talent competition of the Southern Stars Pageant at the last minute and won. The next year she was among those selected to perform on the Kids talent stage at Chattanooga's Riverbend festival. She continued to perform on that stage annually until age 12, when she won the competition at age 12 that allowed her to perform on the festival's big stage. She traveled to Orlando when she was 10 to compete in the American Model and Talent Competition. She won the event, beating out 1,500 kids. She later joined the Georgia Country Gospel Music Association's children's group that performed at places such as Six Flags.

"I started coming to Nashville when I was about 12," she says. "I would go into the bars on Broadway before 6 p.m. and walk up to the people on the stage and ask if I could sing and they would let me. Half the time people weren't listening to me, but I thought I was cool." That's where she developed her stage presence and ability to feed off of a crowd. Offstage, she was continuing to develop as a songwriter and completed 10 that were considered worthy to record, so she began working with two producers about the time that the Idol opportunity presented itself at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena.

"I have always wanted to try out," she says. "When they lowered the minimum audition age to 15, I thought it was a sign I needed to try out. It's funny because I actually sang at Tootsies Orchid Lounge the day I auditioned. I sang with the band and they said, 'You need to run across the street and audition for American Idol. I had already auditioned and made it to the next round, but I couldn't tell anybody. I bought a pair of cowboy boots to celebrate."

It was during Idol that she first heard her debut single and first hit, "Like My Mother Does." "When they started playing it for me, I started crying because I went through this whole crazy journey and the only person who was there for me every step of the way was my mom. She didn't get any praises for it and I got all of the attention. I thought the song would be a great way to say thank you for her for all that she does for me. When she came in and heard it, she cried. It was a sign. Everybody was crying, even the piano player."

She's now recording her debut album with Nashville producer Byron Gallimore (Faith Hill, Tim McGraw). "It's definitely going to be country," she says. "I like singing uptempo, but I also like a good ballad every now and then.

"Country music has a way of telling a story that you automatically connect with when you hear it. Country music talks about real-life things that you have really happened, and I love that."

Lauren's debut album will showcase a voice that is mature and powerful beyond its teen years. "She has a very soulful yet country voice and she has tremendous range," Gallimore says. "She is able to cover a lot of ground. I have been really impressed at her 16 years of age that she is able to sing like she does and sell the songs like she does. She sings great and has made these songs her own. They don't sound like anyone else; they sound like Lauren."

She embarks on this next chapter with a newfound confidence and a polished set of performing skills. "I figured out throughout the show that I am who I am and I look the way I look, and the only one who can do anything about it is me," she says. "I learned people actually like my music, which is good to find out, so I am excited about putting the album out. Hopefully people will like it."

The Bellamy Brothers: Although the Bellamy Brothers are the most successful duo in country music history, they have never been favored by the critics. That doesn't mean their music was rote, by the book, and formulaic country-pop. More than most acts of the late '70s and '80s, the Bellamys pushed the borders of country music, adding strong elements of rock, reggae, and even rap. Nearly a decade after their first hit -- the 1975 pop chart-topping, Southern rock-tinged "Let Your Love Flow" -- the brothers had earned a stack of best-selling records, and critical respect came by the late '80s. By that time, they had firmly established themselves as the top duo of the '80s, both in terms of popularity and musical diversity.

Howard and David Bellamy were raised in Florida. Their father, Homer, played traditional country music around the house and performed with a Western swing band on the weekends. In addition to the country music they heard in their house, the brothers were drawn to the calypso music of the neighboring Caribbean islands. However, nothing provided as much attraction as the rock & roll they heard on their sister's records and the radio. From the Everly Brothers to the Beatles, the Bellamy Brothers soaked up the sounds of contemporary pop and rock. In their late teens and early twenties, they once again became infatuated with country music, thanks to the music of George Jones and Merle Haggard.

Both Howard and David learned how to play a variety of instruments in their childhood. Neither child had any formal training, but Howard managed to learn the guitar, banjo, and mandolin, while David learned the piano, accordion, fiddle, banjo, organ, and mandolin. Both brothers went to college at the University of Florida. While they were students, they had their first paying gigs -- playing fraternity parties. Howard and David both earned degrees at the University of Florida; Howard majored in veterinary medicine, while David earned one in psychology.

During the late '60s, the two performed in a number of bands, both together and separately. In 1968, they moved to Atlanta, forming Jericho. Performing in such a large number of bands meant that the brothers perfected a number of different musical styles, since they were expected to please the tastes of many different club audiences. Playing in a never-ending series of bands and clubs proved tiring, and the brothers moved back home to work on their songwriting.

In a short time, the move paid off. In 1973, they met a friend of singer Jim Stafford, who directed the vocalist to David's "Spiders and Snakes." Stafford was immediately taken with the tune, releasing it as his next single; the humorous retelling of David's boyhood farm experiences would eventually sell over three million copies. The success of "Spiders and Snakes" gave the Bellamy Brothers enough money to move out to Los Angeles, where they began to concentrate on a full-time musical career.

In 1975, the brothers signed to Curb/Warner Bros., releasing their first single, David's "Nothin' Heavy." The song flopped. Dennis St. John, who was a friend of the Bellamys and Neil Diamond's drummer, suggested that the duo record a song written by Larry E. Williams, one of Diamond's roadies. After some encouragement, the Bellamy Brothers recorded and released Williams' song, "Let Your Love Flow." The song broke the doors wide open for the brothers, topping the pop charts and climbing into the country Top 30, as well as being a major hit in Britain, West Germany, and Scandinavia.

The Bellamy Brothers quickly released their debut album, also called Let Your Love Flow, which became nearly as successful as the single. Instead of concentrating on a domestic follow-up, the brothers spent their time in Europe, touring off and on for the next two years, which led to a great deal of financial success. Soon, they were able to pay off their debts and install their mother, Frances, as their financial manager. Their second album, 1977's Plain and Fancy, was a major success in Sweden and Norway, but it didn't make much of an impact in America.

The following year, the Bellamy Brothers moved back to America and returned to the family farm in Darby, FL. Not only did they change their address, but they changed their musical direction, moving closer to a straight country sound. The shift in style paid off, even if "Slippin' Away," the second single they released after they returned to the U.S., only made it into the country Top 20.

The Bellamy Brothers' country breakthrough happened in 1979, with the tongue-in-cheek "If I Said You Had a Beautiful Body Would You Hold It Against Me." Initially, the song was a hit in Ireland, convincing the duo's American record company to release it as a single. The song rocketed to number one on the country charts, which led to the Top Five success of "You Ain't Just Whistlin' Dixie." The Bellamy Brothers' success continued to roll forward in 1980, as they scored two straight number one hits, "Sugar Daddy" and "Dancin' Cowboys." They earned a Grammy nomination for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group and the CMA named them the Most Promising Group of the Year. Throughout 1980 and 1981, the group continued to rack up the hits, including "Do You Love as Good as You Look" and "They Could Put Me in Jail."

Curb switched the Bellamy Brothers' distribution from Warner Bros. to Elektra at the end of 1981. Coincidentally, the change in distribution coincided with Howard and David's desire to experiment with their music. After they released the number one "For All the Wrong Reasons," the brothers followed with "Get into Reggae Cowboy," which was a groundbreaking country record that incorporated Jamaican rhythms. In 1982, the group was given a Lifetime Membership of the Federation of International Country Air Personalities, as well as being named the Top Country Duo by Billboard.

Throughout 1983, the brothers logged a number of hits. The following year, Curb signed a distribution deal with MCA, which had no effect on the continuing success of the Bellamy Brothers. For the next three years, the brothers were at their peak, both popularly and artistically, scoring a number of hit singles that showcased their continuing musical development as well as their increasing lyrical sophistication, as indicated by the Vietnam vet anthem "Old Hippie" and "Kids of the Baby Boom." The Bellamy Brothers continued to have hits on Curb/MCA until the end of the '80s.

By the turn of the decade, their audience had begun to shrink, leading the duo to switch record labels to Atlantic. After one album with Atlantic, 1991's Rollin' Thunder, the Bellamys left the label, founding their own record company, Bellamy Brothers Records. The Latest and the Greatest (1992) was the first album released on the label. Although the independent record label meant that the group wasn't charting as frequently as it used to, that was also a reflection of the shift of the country audience's taste. The duo could still have minor hits, like the Top 25 "Cowboy Beat," which proved that the Bellamy Brothers continued to hold on to a dedicated group of fans in their second decade of performing. Reggae Cowboys followed in 1998, and a year later the duo resurfaced with Lonely Planet.

John Anderson: This is not a John Anderson comeback album -- let's get that out of the way right up front. Need persuading? Look up his discography, which stretches from the early eighties past the turn of the century with few real breaks. Better yet, listen to some of it and realize that if there's any justice at all, history will hold John Anderson in the esteem reserved solely for the most gifted, long tenured and consistent artists ever to sing a country song. But that discussion is for another day.

Instead, take a copy of Easy Money and slip it in the stereo. Right here, right now, this is John Anderson. A voice so vibrant and alive, it ranks as one of the top instruments in contemporary music. Any genre. Period. Songwriting that honors country's greatest traditions and pushes its furthermost boundaries. A sound fresh enough to prod speakers to the limits of their abilities.

This is no history lesson.

Music lesson, on the other hand, probably fits. It started at a show in Sanford, Florida sometime in 1996. John Anderson was headlining and a new country band called Lonestar was booked as the opening act. The group's bass player -- a 22-year-old pup named John Rich -- knocked on Anderson's tour bus door.

"My fiddle player, Joe Spivey, answered and sees this fella who wants to come up and meet me," Anderson recalls. "Joe says, 'Well sing me one of his songs.' So ole John cut down on 'Chicken Truck' and I remember saying something to the effect of, 'He knows it better than I do, send him up!'"

Fast forward nine years and that admirer is now half of superduo Big & Rich, not to mention one of Nashville's hottest songwriters. Anderson reconnects with him through producer Paul Worley, and the two book a songwriting session.

"I was really impressed with his energy and with his knowledge of country music as well as many other kinds of music," Anderson says. "His intensity level was refreshing. You could tell he was really enjoying not only the success but the actual music -- the art itself."

"I really just wanted to hang out with him," Rich admits. "We hit it off so well I asked if he'd come out on the road with me and Big Kenny for four or five shows and do some writing."

That trip, in June of 2005, yielded the songs that form the core of Easy Money. Writing with Rich, Big Kenny and their MuzikMafia cohorts including James Otto, Shannon Lawson and Cowboy Troy, Anderson came away with "Funky Country," "Bonnie Blue," "I Can't Make Her Cry Anymore," the title track and more.

He also surprised a few folks at the shows. "I'd just walk out on stage like a stranger and play 'Swingin'' or 'Seminole Wind,'" Anderson says.

"The crowds went bananas," Rich adds.

Skip ahead to January 6, 2006, and Anderson is one of many music luminaries in attendance at John Rich's birthday party. "We ought to make a record," Rich says to Anderson early in the evening. "I don't care about doing a deal, let's just go in the studio, cut 10 songs and make a record."

"We didn't have anything to lose because we had to demo them anyway," Anderson says. "Initially we were going to co-produce it, so we booked the studio time and agreed on all the players. We were in one of the greatest studios in town and had booked the best players in town. And we had Bart Pursley, who's just a great engineer. We got there that first morning and I thought, naw, this isn't a demo session."

What would an artist do in a top studio with the best musicians, no label and no pressure? If he's John Anderson, he'd just see where the music took him.

"This album is sonically the finest album we've ever done," he says. "We got about halfway through the first session and I realized I didn't need to help produce this. Ole John was doing such a great job and the energy level was so good I thought to myself, he is truly producing this record."

Rich's pivotal role, including his credit as the album's sole producer, could lead some to believe that the country elder statesman was riding coattails on one of the genre's most visible young stars. That notion might need to be rethought.

"I've got production credit on 26 different albums, so I don't have anything to prove," Anderson says in his easy country drawl. "I think I can make a John Anderson record. But now this one is special on account of, like I say, I just let John go for it. He had some wonderful fresh ideas for arrangements and production. He played licks to the players. It was really great watching him work and one of the most pleasurable times I've ever had making a record."

For his part, Rich says, "John Anderson is the George Jones of my generation. I was too young to really be hip to country when George was ruling the roost, but from the age of eight to 25 I knew everything John did. I hear his voice in my head even to this day when I'm writing songs. I still catch myself singing John Anderson licks. He's in my country music DNA."

So who's riding who's coattails?

As for the recurring "comeback" label he's been stuck with several times, Anderson has some thoughts. "I never went anywhere," he says. "Popularity comes and goes, but we're proud of our music. We made some good records in the past that nobody got to hear. Some of that's out of my hands.

The only thing John Anderson can control, and he has time and again, is the quality of the music. Easy Money, which was quickly picked up by Raybaw Records/Warner Bros. Records, revels in the chest-thumping energy of "If Her Lovin' Don't Kill Me," celebrates music's power of inclusion with "Funky Country," goes stone country on "Something To Drink About" and launches hearts throatward on "I Can't Make Her Cry Anymore." Great music is its own justification. And it's no accident.

"He's a very focused individual," Rich says, "but he is willing to listen to other people and stretch outside of his comfort zone. That's what a true artist does. He's wide open to any and all suggestions. They don't all work, but some do and you keep those."

"There really wasn't any pressure on me," Anderson says. "The joke during the sessions was, 'I ain't gotta worry boys. I ain't got no deal!' I mean, what were they gonna do? Make me quit?"

If there's any justice at all -- never.

Trace Adkins: Country rebel, Trace Adkins, has been serving up his blend of clever cowboy lyrics and blues/rock for two decades. After a high-profile run on Celebrity Apprentice, Adkins proved to us that he is as down to earth and homegrown as the music he produces. Adkins recently released his thirteenth studio album, Proud To Be Here, in 2011 and has been on the road to promote the disc ever since. Don't miss a date on the Trace Adkins concert schedule (2011); Use Eventful as your source for Trace Adkins tour dates and venue information.

The Louisiana native had ambitions to be a football player before turning to country music. After a brief stint as an oil rig worker, Adkins packed his bags for Nashville, Tennessee where he performed on the honky-tonk circuit. He was picked up by Capitol Records and released his debut album, Dreamin' Out Loud, in 1996. The album was a runaway success, earning Adkins a Platinum plaque and a win at the Academy of Country Music Awards for Top New Male Vocalist. Trace Adkins tour dates were scheduled on a whirlwind national tour and made him a veritable country star.

Adkins took a page out of the hip-hop world and released his single, "Honky Tonk Badonadonk", in 2005 which showed his more comical side. Adkins then appeared on Celebrity Apprentice where he made it to the final rounds. Adkins reignited his musical career in 2008 with the hit Grammy nominated single "You're Gonna Miss This" and the #1 duet, "Hillbilly Bone", in 2010. Currently on tour to support his thirteenth studio effort, Trace Adkins concert schedule (2011) will have the hillbilly rocker touring the nation. Stay on top of Trace Adkins tour dates using Eventful as your concert calendar.

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  • Four days after the announcement of a series of executive actions to fund his signature border wall, President Donald Trump’s administration still needs to fill in the details on his plans to shift over $6.6 billion from the Pentagon and Treasury Department into funding border security, as members of Congress continue to wonder if the move will dig into their local military base construction projects. On Capitol Hill, lawmakers and their staffs were awaiting guidance on where the Pentagon would look for money in the $3.6 billion sought by the President in his emergency declaration from military construction projects, which was already the subject of new lawsuits. “Congress has not enacted any emergency legislation even remotely related to border wall construction, and thus the President’s reallocation of funds is unlawful,” read a suit filed against the President and Pentagon by several environmental groups. In a letter to the Acting Secretary of Defense, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) asked for a breakdown of which projects would be put on hold – as under the ‘national emergency’ law used by the President, the Pentagon would make those decisions – not the Congress. Congress approved $10.3 billion for military construction in Fiscal Year 2019 – the $3.6 billion sought by the President would be more than one-third of that amount – which has drawn expressions of concern from lawmakers. As Kaine noted in his letter, the move to shift money from military construction comes at a time when the Pentagon already was having to deal with hurricane damage at two major domestic bases – Camp Lejeune for the Marines in North Carolina, and Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida. Tyndall was seriously damaged by Hurricane Michael in 2018 – and despite support for rebuilding the base, Congress has not yet acted on extra money for the Pentagon – or on broader hurricane relief for those hit in Florida and Georgia. During the partial government shutdown, Democrats in the House approved a bill which had $12.1 billion in disaster aid, both for hurricanes and wildfires – but that bill does not seem to be on the agenda in the U.S. Senate at this point. @DrNealDunnFL2 Dr Dunn, we are hearing here in the Panhandle that Trump is going after Tyndall rebuilding money for his wall. Please don’t let this happen! No Tyndall would be catastrophic to our area. Please help! — Billy Shears (@BillyShears9) February 14, 2019 The Commandant of the Marine Corps said over the weekend that he needs $3.5 billion just for repairs at Camp LeJeune from damage caused by Hurricane Florence in September of 2018 – which is equal to the figure of how much in military construction the President wants to shift into a border wall. Earlier this month, Air Force officials said they planned to spend $3 billion to rebuild Tyndall, which was flattened by Hurricane Michael in October of last year. House Democrats say they plan to hold a hearing as soon as next week to get a better idea on what military construction projects the Pentagon wants to scrap – in order to move money to the wall. Also still unclear is the legal underpinnings for two other moves announced last week by the White House, where the President would move money from a Treasury Department drug forfeiture fund, as well as money from a Pentagon anti-drug account – into a border wall.
  • JEA employees should expect to see some soggy carpets and heavy-duty drying equipment when they get to work Tuesday. An internal communication sent to employees says nine floors in the 19-story tower have experienced areas of flooding, in connection to several different issues. JEA says an under-counter water heater on the 8th floor failed on Sunday, flooding that break room and causing problems all the way down to the second floor. The water has soaked ceiling tiles, cabinets, and boxes in copy rooms and surrounding spaces. On Monday, JEA says a water supply line to the ice machine on the 14th floor failed, flooding that break room and surrounding areas. JEA says that leak caused damage to the 12th floor as well, although it appears the 13th floor was spared. A third issue happened at the Customer Center lobby, where there was a water leak from the HVAC system that damaged a ceiling tile. It was removed and will be replace when they are done handling the Tower, according to JEA. JEA Managing Director and CEO Aaron Zahn tweeted that JEA service will continue. JEA says no employees are displaced by this flooding, because it is largely around break rooms. Employees are cautioned to expect soggy carpets, fans drying some areas, and equipment to extract water in others. They will try to minimize the impact of the equipment, but say there will be extra noise. This comes as JEA considers bids for a new headquarters building. When this process started, the driving factors for seeking a new location were that the current building was too large and was in need of substantial repairs. The Board of Directors has three bids under consideration, Lot J by TIAA Bank Field, Kings Avenue Station on the Southbank, and West Adams Street by the County Courthouse. The Board will make a selection in April, but constructing and handing over the facility is expected to take more than two years to do. WOKV has asked JEA for more information about the state of the Tower and extent of repairs needed. We will update you as that information comes in.
  • The University of North Florida is making some changes after communication problems last week during a threat of a potential shooter on campus. Investigators determined the threat was bogus and had been called in by a woman with mental health issues, but UNF spokesperson Sharon Ashton says they've decided to make several policy changes in case there's an actual threat in the future.  'We will be retraining everyone in the UPD, University Police Department, to make sure they understand the priority of how to best communicate a message,' Ashton says.  She says the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office contacted the UPD on Feb. 11 at 5:50 p.m. to tell them someone had called saying they saw a person with a gun at the arena parking garage. About 20 minutes later, the 911 operator in the campus communications center was told to send out an alert telling the campus to shelter in place.  'Unfortunately the UNF 911 operator chose to send out that message via email instead of text message or phone call, which are the most immediate ways to get the word out,' Ashton says.  She says the operator also had the option to use the public address system, both inside buildings and externally in parking lots, but she decided against that as well.  Ashton says those decisions caused a domino effect that made the situation worse. She says the vendor the school uses to send out emails tried to send out 40,000 alerts, but about 1,500 of those messages were never delivered.  After all the problems, it was decided a debriefing should be held with the school's president, campus police and the crisis management team. Ashton says now they are putting safeguards in place.  Those safeguards include posting detailed instructions in the communications center to ensure everyone knows the best way to get a message out quickly in case of emergency. They are also looking at increasing the number of employees in the center, because Ashton says the 911 calls start coming in rapidly in a situation like the one last week.  Ashton says when the crisis management team holds their monthly meeting in March, they will go through last week's scare minute by minute to talk about what occurred and what should have occurred.  She also says they will work with the email vendor to make sure there's a way to send all 40,000 emails without getting some of them hung up.  'In hindsight there are some things with communication that could have been done better, and we will work on that because safety is the number one priority,' Ashton says.

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