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NE Florida federal employees impacted by government shutdown

Federal employees in the Jacksonville area are preparing for the impact of the government shutdown.

Our Washington Insider Jamie Dupree says the furlough resulting  from the government shutdown means non-essential personnel in the federal workforce are not working. Jamie says, generally, Congress will act to give these employees back pay once a budget or short-term spending plan is passed.

News 104.5 WOKV is updating a list of the agencies and impacts that are expected locally.  As we receive confirmation we will provide updates here.  Among the agencies we are working to hear from include the FAA and Federal Court.  

U.S. Navy

Civilian employees who are not-exempt from a furlough would not be able to work until a short-term resolution or budget is passed.  Locally that would impact thousands of people in Navy Region Southeast. The precise number is not clear.  

A spokesperson for Navy Region Southeast says they are providing clear guidance to employees as they get it.

Naval Hospital Jacksonville and their five branch health clinics continue to meet operational requirements, so hours of operation, appointment lines, and TRICARE Nurse Advice Line remain open. You may see longer than usual wait times for routine and preventive care and prescriptions because of the civilian furloughs.

Army Corps of Engineers 

Employees were still told to report to work Monday, in order to execute orderly shutdown activities. They are assessing any potential impact to ongoing projects.

National Weather Service

Meteorologist in Charge Scott Cordero says the National Weather Service is considered ‘essential personnel’ so there would not be a local impact.

National Park Service

The Castillo de San Marcos and Fort Matanzas Visitor’s Center are closed because of the shutdown.

Unlike the last shutdown in 2013, the grounds at these facilities are not be restricted from the public. You are, therefore, able to get on the lawn around the Castillo and the beaches at the Fort, just not in the physical structures themselves.

FBI Jacksonville

FBI Jacksonville says all agents and support personnel in field offices, including Jacksonville, are considered exempt from furlough, because their operations are directed toward national security and violation of federal law.

Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette not injured in crash approaching Dames Point Bridge

Five days before the Jaguars play in the AFC Championship Game, running back Leonard Fournette has been involved in a crash. 

It happened on the I-295 East Beltway approaching the Dames Point Bridge today.  

Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Dylan Bryan tells WOKV News that Fournette was not at-fault in the three-vehicle, chain reaction crash.  The driver who caused the collision will be cited for careless driving.  

A spokesman for the Jaguars says Fournette’s car was rear-ended and he was not injured. 

The Florida Highway Patrol thanked Fournette for thanking their trooper for his service and taking a photo with a boy who was involved in the crash.

Jacksonville Jaguars: “We ain’t done yet”

It was chilly in Jacksonville, but that didn’t stop thousands of Jaguars fans from crowding in to EverBank Field Sunday night to welcome home their team- which had just earned a spot in the AFC Championship. 

GALLERY: Jags homecoming celebration

The Jags topped the Steelers in Pittsburgh 45-42 to win the Divisional match. Soon after the game ended, the City and Jags announced they would be opening up EverBank Field for a celebration. Despite only having a few hours notice, fans came out in force.

Head Coach Doug Marrone and several players addressed the crowd, with Defensive End Calais Campbell drawing big cheers by promising “we ain’t done yet”.

Still others led fans in a “DUUUVVAAAALLL” cheer.

While waiting for the team to arrive, fans were entertained by music, the ROAR of the Jaguars cheerleaders, the D-Line drum line, Jaxson de ville, and highlight and hype videos. The Club Level was also packed inside, as fans kept warm while waiting for their team.

Huge cheers rang out when a plane flew over the stadium- which was soon confirmed to be the team plane. From that point, fans were treated to frequent live looks at the team as they deplaned and made their way to EverBank Field. As soon as they got to the field, they came out immediately- with many players heading straight to the fans for high fives.

Many fans told us they’ve been waiting to see this spirit for years. One- who wears customized Jags gear to music raves- tells us he has seen more respect recently, including people yelling “Duval” at him.

Other fans are new converts. We found a person in Steelers gear who said now that the Jags had knocked out the Steelers, she would be rooting for Jacksonville moving forward.

The Jags play the Patriots in Foxborough Sunday at 3:05PM for the AFC Championship. Our partner Action News Jax is the official Jaguars station and will have full coverage throughout the week, including special shows at 7PM and pre- and post-game coverage.

Players react:

Newly rebuilt lanes of I-95 southbound set to open this weekend

Another big change is coming for Jacksonville drivers on I-95.

Newly rebuilt lanes of I-95 southbound just after the Fuller Warren Bridge are slated to open this weekend. With the opening of those lanes comes a big change in the traffic pattern, because there will be a decision point at the base of the Bridge where you’ll commit to going to the Southside, or US 1 or Atlantic.

For I-95 southbound drivers who are heading to the Southside- not much changes. You will take I-95 south over the Bridge and keep driving straight, but traffic will now connect to three newly rebuilt lanes of the highway. If you stay on that main stretch of I-95, there will be no option to exit until Emerson.

After the new lanes open and the traffic shift takes effect, the lanes that you are currently driving on will become collector-distributor lanes, meaning they collect limited traffic and only provide exits for a few select routes.

For drivers leaving Downtown on the Main Street or Acosta- not much changes. You will drive on the lanes that are currently being used, but the difference is that those lanes will eventually connect to the new I-95, whereas now the lanes simply become I-95.

For I-95 southbound drivers who want to take US 1 or Atlantic- you’ll need to exit at the base of the Fuller Warren. There will be a new exit lane on the right just after the San Marco exit, which will ultimately connect you to the lanes that we’re driving on now. Once  you’re connected, the traffic pattern continues as you know it now- with the exit to Atlantic on the left and to Philips on the right.

While the FDOT is only opening one exit lane from I-95 southbound to US 1 and Atlantic at this stage, they will open a second one later in the project.

The FDOT says the change is set to be in effect Saturday at 8PM. Prep work will begin Friday night, although there is no clear word at this point what kind of lane closures- if any- you should expect. The opening of the new lanes is subject to the weather.

This is a similar concept to what the FDOT did on I-95 northbound in the same area.  Back in October, newly rebuilt lanes of I-95 northbound opened, and the lanes that had been used during the construction became designated only for Downtown traffic. As it stands, if you want to get to the Main Street, Acosta, or Prudential, you have to exit just north of Emerson. If you do not exit, the highway carries you straight over the Fuller Warren.

The overall project, known as the Overland Bridge project, is slated to be completed in the Spring. It’s aim is to improve the flow of traffic by adding more lanes, while reducing the amount of weaving and lane changing by providing the designated lanes. FDOT says they will have signage up to help with the changes, but they’re asking you to use caution as you and other drivers get used to the changes. 

You can get more information on the FDOT project website.

Watch the Georgia Senate 'Call the Dawgs' before championship game

The state of Georgia and city of Atlanta are ready for their moment in college football’s limelight.

>> Read more trending news

On Monday morning, members of the Georgia state Senate “called the Dawgs” during the session ahead of tonight’s College Football Playoff Championship in Atlanta.

Watch the video below:

Georgia and Alabama kick off at 8 p.m. ET at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Rally cry for Jags fans: Get in early, get LOUD

Jacksonville Jaguars fans braved the cold Friday evening to come out in support of their home team- in the playoffs this weekend for the first time in ten years, which is the first home playoff game since the 1999 season.

“It’s exciting that we’re winning again. It’s been a long, painful process to get back to where we once were, so it’s great,” says Julie Krovicka.

She has been a Jags fan since day one, along with Doug Krovicka.

“We remember what it used to be like when we won so much and this place was packed and you had to have a ticket every Sunday, and if you didn’t, you felt left out. I feel that’s what Shad’s [Khan] got us back to, so it’s exciting,” he says.

GALLERY: City of Jacksonville hosts “Bills Bustin’ Bash”

They’re just a few of the long-time Jags fans who didn’t expect much from this season, but continued to cheer for the team regardless. And now, they feel not only like they’re being rewarded, but the City is as well.

“It’s great, it gives you a really good feeling that they’re being loyal. All the people that cut us down as a city with an NFL team, I think they’re seeing what we’re really made of,” says Thomas Skinner, who’s another day one fan.

He credits Jags Head Coach Doug Marrone for the turnaround. Others say players are coming with an intensity that hasn’t been seen in many seasons, and that’s what’s building wins and success.

“I didn’t know what to expect at the start of the season, because last season we were hoping for the change, and then it didn’t come and it didn’t come, and then the end of the season came and what a huge let down. So yes, I was hoping for it, but did I expect it, no,” says Margie Johnson, who’s rooted for the team ever since moving to Jacksonville in 1997.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry led a rally for fans Friday, including several rounds of DUUUVVAAALL chants. He and Jags owner Shad Khan had the same clear message- they’re calling on fans to get in to the stadium early on Sunday, and to be loud, in an effort to give the Jags every advantage of this home playoff game.

About 70,000 fans are expected to be there when the Jags kickoff against the Bills. JSO wants you to be at the gates by 11AM to get in and seated for the 1:05PM kickoff.

Watch for black ice on the roads

After winter-storm related rain soaked Northeast Florida earlier this week, bitterly cold temperatures are expected to bring black ice to the roadways. 

Master Sgt. Dylan Bryan says Florida Highway Patrol troopers are out late Wednesday night and early Thursday morning helping motorists avoid treacherous spots on the roadways. 

He says if you encounter black ice, which often is impossible to see, take your foot off the gas, maintain steady steering and make sure to stay calm. He says if at all possible, stay on more heavily traveled main roads and avoid more remote areas. 

Bryan says he's happy people took this winter storm seriously and understands most people will be heading back to work. 

If you don't have to be on the roads, please avoid them if you can.

More cold weather shelters opening up in Northeast Florida, how to help

As the First Coast continues to deal with the winter storm system moving through, we're seeing new cold weather shelters opening up to help keep families warm and safe. 

In Baker County, the Ed Fraser Memorial Hospital at 159 N 3rd St in Macclenny opens at 3PM Wednesday. The Raiford Road Church at 9201 South SR 121 in Macclenny opens at 2PM Wednesday. For both locations, you should bring identification, blankets, snacks, and other items. 

In Nassau County, Hilliard Middle-Senior High opens as a shelter at 4PM. You’re asked to bring bed linen, medication, food, and anything else you may need for the night. 

In Duval, there are a few different shelter options: 

-The Salvation Army’s cold night shelter at 900 W. Adams Street is open through Friday. An additional shelter is open at 15 E. Church St, but it only accommodates men overnight. 

-The City Rescue Mission’s cold weather shelter on 234 W. State street is open. Guests can check into the shelter at 2:30 p.m. daily and check out at 10:30 the next morning or until temperatures climb above 40 degrees. 

-The Sulzbacher Center at 611 E. Adams Street is open. 

As many individuals are taking advantage of these shelters, the Salvation Army says it's in need of both volunteers and donations. 

Major Bert Tanner, Area Commander of the Salvation Army North Florida, says if you are interested in volunteering, they're in specific need of volunteers to be watchers overnight at the shelters and to help with feeding. 

As for donations, Tanner says they're in great need of socks, hats, gloves, as well as food. 

If you have donations, you can drop off the items at the Salvation Army shelter locations.

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