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Operation New Hope founder and CEO Kevin Gay, at the podium, talks about the Jacksonville Port Academy, which his nonprofit launched Tuesday with JaxPort.
Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Mar. 8, 201712:00 PM EST

City notes: Port Academy will help former offenders find new careers


Operation New Hope and JaxPort have launched the Jacksonville Port Academy, which offers nonviolent offenders the chance to re-enter the workforce in the transportation and logics industries.

The first class of up to 15 students will start this month with curriculum created by the University of North Florida and Florida State College at Jacksonville, according to a news release.

More than 10 companies at the port have agreed to take part in the program.

The academy was created after Operation New Hope founder and CEO Kevin Gay toured the terminals in 2015.

“Seeing the growth of the port, we began exploring avenues to discuss workforce needs and began creating initiatives to provide port employers with skilled workers,” Gay said in the release.

Interested employers can contact Lori Frederick at (904) 354-4673 or [email protected].

Marlin & Barrel, Jumbo Shrimp grow sponsorship deal

Marlin & Barrel Distillery and the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp have expanded their sponsorship agreement.

The relationship includes in-stadium signage, announcements and table-top features with Marlin & Barrel products for the next two seasons. There also will be additional promotional offerings and the distillery’s Venture Standard vodka will be the house vodka for cocktails at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.

“Seeing the products that Marlin & Barrel have created and knowing that they do it all here in our community makes this partnership an easy choice,” Ernest Hopkins, Jumbo Shrimp director of food and beverage, said in a news release. “The Venture Vodka is remarkable and, I believe, something our guests will enjoy.”

The Jumbo Shrimp’s home opener is 7:05 p.m. April 12.

JTA takes home three national AdWheel awards

The Jacksonville Transportation Authority won three first-place awards at the American Public Transportation Association’s annual national AdWheel competition. They are:

• “Making Moves,” the authority’s monthly television program, won the electronic media category. The program is hosted by Donna Deegan, a former First Coast news anchor.  The winning episode featured a dozen stories, including JTA’s response to Hurricane Matthew and the Skyway’s new branding.

• Pocket Pledge Safety Campaign took home top honors in the education and partnership competition. It is an effort to decrease JTA’s non-preventable accidents caused by distracted driving.

• The Skyway Economics video won the electronic media category highlighting transit needs with a presentation about the issues facing the 27-year-old people-mover system.

Pitchkolan is Armada captain, George will be vice captain

Jacksonville Armada FC defender Aaron Pitchkolan was selected captain and midfielder Kevan George is vice captain for the upcoming season.

This is Pitchkolan’s first season with the Armada after playing with the Minnesota FC of the North American Soccer League, according to a news release.  The 33-year-old also has six years of MLS experience and is the most experienced professional soccer player on the Armada.

“I’ve been around and have seen the league grow and right now the league is at the highest level it’s been,” he said. “I’ll bring some experience to the younger guys and show them how it works during the professional season.”

George is in his second season with the Armada after starting 27 games last year.

The Trinidad and Tobago native completed 1,152 passes and intercepted 81 passes. He is one of eight returning players from the 2016 roster.

Sam Hunt to perform at Players Military Appreciation Day concert

Country singer Sam Hunt will perform during the Military Appreciation Day ceremony May 9 at the 17th hole at the TPC Stadium Course during The Players.

Hunt is a Grammy-nominated singer whose hits include “Leave the Night On,” “Take Your Time” and “House Party.”

In addition to Military Appreciation Day, The Players provides career military with complimentary admission all week. For vouchers, visit and click on the military link. Parking is not included.

Other military-related events include a job fair 10 a.m.-1 p.m. May 6 and Operation Shower’s group baby shower for 40 military moms-to-be May 7.

Ward is events and promotions director for two media companies

Client Focused Media and Buzz Media Group said Leigha Ward joined the team as events and promotions director.

She will lead the events department at both companies, responsible for selling sponsorships and developing, planning and executing events.

Ward previously was the events and special projects manager at Rowland Publishing in her hometown of Tallahassee, where she planned and executed events for the company’s four publications.

She also was an event coordinator for her alma mater Florida State University and focused on events within the College of Social Work.

Wawa to make Northeast Florida debut in Town Center, Orange Park

Wawa Inc.’s first two Northeast Florida locations under construction will be near St. Johns Town Center and in Orange Park.

The Pennsylvania-based chain said Tuesday it has scheduled groundbreaking events April 6 at 10 a.m. at The Crossing at Town Center, which is at Gate and Town Center parkways, and at 1:30 p.m. in Orange Park at Blanding Boulevard and Filmore Street.

Wawa will have more information on its development timeline that day.

The company has said it plans to open three Northeast Florida stores this year, 10 next year and two to four more annually until it reaches capacity, which could be up to 40 locations in Duval, Clay and St. Johns counties, if not beyond.

NAI Hallmark Partners adds Caroline Sajonz to brokerage team

Caroline Sajonz has joined NAI Hallmark Partners as an associate on the office’s brokerage team.

According to a news release, her hiring is part of an expansion of the company’s full-service brokerage services.

Sajonz’s career began as an account executive with the CI Group in Jacksonville, where she specialized in selling, procuring and installing intelligent commercial office interiors, the release said.

She has a bachelor’s degree in interior architecture with a minor in art from Samford University. Sajonz recently received her Florida real estate license.

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