News

Mailing your taxes? Observe Posted Retail Service Hours and Collection Times

Mailing your taxes? Observe Posted Retail Service Hours and Collection Times

This year most taxpayers will file electronically. In years past the taxday crowds and traffic jams that formed around many Post Offices prompted the Postal Service to extend collection times to ensure all taxpayers could get the postmark needed to prove the returns were mailed before the deadline. However, the increasing popularity of the internet has largely replaced hardcopy returns with electronic alternatives, making these additional (and costly) extra services unnecessary.

Store Donates Money for Clay County High Band Uniforms

GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. -- Bealls is helping the Clay High School band get new uniforms.

Managers presented a check for $10,000 to the band director Tuesday night.

That's enough to pay for 40 uniforms.  The school needs about double that amount, so students and parents are fundraising to come up with the rest of the money.

Client Accuses Salon Owner of Sexual Battery During Massage

FLEMING ISLAND, Fla. -- The owner of the Bamboo Garden Spa is accused of sexual battery on a client, according to the Clay County Sheriff's Office.

The woman, described in the police report as a 55-year-old white female, filed the report against Armando John Dibenedetto, 51.

She claimed Dibenedetto sexually battered her while giving her a massage.

A judge issued a warrant for Dibenedetto's arrest, and deputies picked him up Monday afternoon.

Dibenedetto has posted his $50,003 bond.

Duval County School Board Hears Boy Scout's Concerns Over Budget Cuts

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Attending LaVilla School of the Arts in Jacksonville, 6th grader Elian Sandler fears the proposed budget cuts will change his education.

"The teachers are great, the education is great, and they'll help you on through the rest of your life," said Sandler.

He showed up to the Duval County Board Meeting with his Boy Scouts Troop to express his frustration at the process.

"They're making a big mistake," he said.

But school board members say the cuts they're facing leave them little choice.

"There's a lot of issues out there that we can't continue to fund. We try each year, and each year it gets worse and worse," said board member Tommy Hazouri.  

Currently looking at a hole of what they claim will be more than $75 million in the coming school year, Hazouri said none of the options to close the gap appeal to the board, or the community.

Cuts to Program for Disabled Worry First Coast Families

MIDDLEBURG, Fla. -- "Wouldn't you be worried?" asked Toppy Carter.  "Of course.  That goes without saying."

Carter has cerebral palsy and has needed assistance his entire life.

Medicaid pays for Carter to have a helper visit his home, but those visits will now be reduced because of cuts to the provider rates for the Agency for Persons with Disabilities.

Governor Rick Scott approved a 15 percent reduction to the rates on Thursday and they went into effect Friday, leaving many families in a bind.

"There's no way to watch him 24/7," mother Kimberly Farrell said about her autistic son, Jonathan.  "I don't know what I'm going to do."

Both Farrell and Carter receive services from PCA Plus, which is located in Middleburg.

Farrell depends on assistance to run errands and prepare meals, because her husband is serving in Afghanistan. 

Farrell said she is doing her best not to have to put Jonathan in a home.

Career Day for Youth ChalleNGe Academy Thursday

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. -- More than 150 youngsters with troubled pasts will get a glimpse of professional life Thursday.

The Florida Youth ChalleNGe Academy annual career/military day will be held at Camp Blanding.

The 16- to 19-year-olds, all of whom are high school dropouts, will have the opportunity to hear from colleges, employers and the military about their futures.

The Youth ChalleNGe Academy provides a community-based program promoting responsibility, values and the changes that need to be made for a productive lifestyle.

This is the tenth year of the National Guard program, based at Camp Blanding.

Update: Combined Effort Leads to Healthy County

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- St. Johns County's ranking as one of the healthiest in the state is no coincidence, according to one local dentist.

The county ranked third in the state, according to data just released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Dr. Ronald Dixon, a St. Augustine dentist, credits part of St. Johns' high ranking to the work of the county and non-profits.

Dixon serves on the St. Johns County Human and Health Services advisory board.

"I think everybody is pulling together from the same end of the rope," said Dixon, who said the county worked hard for the high ranking.

In Florida, Collier County retained the highest ranking for the second year in a row. Union County came in last, ranked 67.
Duval County graded out as the 46th healthiest county in Florida.