Jennie McKeon

Digital Content Producer/Reporter

Jennie joined WUWF in 2018 as digital content producer and reporter.

After graduating from University of West Florida in 2009 with a B.A. in Communication Arts/Journalism, she worked for print publications across Northwest Florida including InWeekly, The Destin Log and Northwest Florida Daily News. In 2016, she was named Features Writer of the Year by Gatehouse Media.

Born in Pennsylvania, she admits to being a "Yankee who drinks sweet tea." She dislikes cold weather and is happy to trade a white Christmas for 75-degree weather anytime.

Jennie is a proud volunteer of Gulf Coast Kid's House and Save our Kittens and Cats (SOCKS) in Fort Walton Beach. When she's not reading or listening to podcasts, she enjoys photography, 80s movies, re-watching "The Office" and looking at pictures of your cats.  

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Jennie McKeon / WUWF

Drivers over the Garcon Point Bridge on Sunday will have to dig a little deeper: The toll on the Santa Rosa County span is scheduled to increase to $5.

A Tallahassee judge ruled Wednesday that FDOT would have to implement a previously-ordered toll increase from $3.75.

In December, Leon County Circuit Court Judge John Cooper ruled that FDOT was required to implement the cash toll increase from $3.75 to $5 in a timely manner, but more than two months after the ruling there was no change and the bondholders went back to court.

Jennie McKeon / WUWF

During the winter months, Friday mornings at the Destin Library are dedicated to a writers group for snowbirds who get together to share their latest ideas.

It could be a funny song, a poem or a work of fiction. It doesn’t matter as long as you bring something to the table.

Friday’s meeting was followed by a presentation of works from group members. It was an eclectic mix of creative pieces from some who have been writing for years and a couple who have stepped up to the podium for the first time. 

Make My Day PAC

Walton County Attorney Daniel Uhlfelder wants to use his newfound Twitter following for a good cause. 

Last year, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee filed a bar complaint against Uhlfelder alleging that the attorney was harassing him by repeatedly tweeting about the customary use issue in Walton County. When Uhlfelder shared the news on his Twitter feed, his following went from just over 400 Twitter followers to more than 100,000. 

Jennie McKeon / WUWF

Garcon Point Bridge’s toll will be increased to $5, and it could happen any day, says state Sen. Doug Broxson.

The senator says there needs to be a 10-day notice to the state to implement systematic changes such as signage. At press time, Broxson said, to his knowledge, the state has not been given the notice.

In December, a Tallahassee judge ruled that bondholders of the bridge are allowed to raise usage fees in order to help pay the bridge’s debt, which is more than $100 million.

Flickr

Last month the Okaloosa County Unified DUI Task Force was formed with the goal of preventing impaired driving and keeping roads safe.

The task force — made up of 11 local law enforcement agencies, including the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, Florida Highway Patrol, Fish and Wildlife Service, and police departments — is a first of its kind in the local area, said OCSO Capt. Mark Raiche.

Northescambia.com

After a nine-month hiatus, Santa Rosa County’s recycling program will resume the first week of February. And officials are urging residents to “Get Back to Basics” when it comes to their recycling habits.

“Focus on recycling simple items like clean cardboard, aluminum and steel cans, and plastic bottles and jugs,” said Andrew Hill, Santa Rosa County environmental supervisor, in an email. 

The county’s recycling program was canceled by the Emerald Coast Utilities Authority April 30, 2019, siting high contamination rates and low market values on recycled material.

Jennie McKeon/WUWF

On a recent Sunday morning inside Open Books, a handful of volunteers are busy moving throughout the store trying to fulfill requests for books to send to Florida prisoners.

One volunteer looks through a shelf stacked with old westerns — a popular request — while another grabs a title from the science fiction section. The stacks are taken to a room in the back where two more volunteers are diligently packing up the books to be sent to prisoners around the state.

Gulf Islands National Seashore

More than 179,000 African Americans served in the U.S. Colored Troops (USCT) during the Civil War. The USCT made up over 10% of the Union Army and 25% of the Union Navy, but the service of those men is often a footnote in history books.

Courtesy photo

On the heels of the five-year anniversary of Florida’s Water and Land Conservation constitutional amendment, local cities will  participate in a “day of action” to push for full funding of the Florida Forever land conservation program.

Seven cities, including Fort Walton Beach, Gulf Breeze and Pensacola, will host events to raise awareness about the cause and why it can affect our own neighborhoods.

Dr. Phil Darby / UWF

A partnership between Gulf Breeze Zoo and UWF Biology Department aims to protect and raise awareness about the federally threatened gopher tortoise.

Gage Skidmore/ Flickr

Internet fame can come from the most unusual places.

Walton County attorney Daniel Uhlfelder found his Twitter following increase from 422 to nearly 75,000 as of Monday afternoon, after he shared an article about former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee filing a bar complaint against him.

“On Saturday, I was at my daughter’s ballet recital and I had just about 400 Twitter followers,” Uhlfelder said. “Now it’s close to 75,000. That’s more than Walton County has full-time residents. My notifications are going off every three seconds.”

Okaloosa County

Tuesday morning, state and local officials celebrated the signing of Triumph Gulf Coast agreement to grant $64.1 million for the Southwest Crestview Bypass.

It’s the largest grant awarded in Okaloosa County history, said Triumph Chairman of the Board Don Gaetz.

Gaetz said the grant will help fund about one-third of the $200 million bypass. So far, it’s the largest project the Triumph board has funded.

Courtesy photo

Bernie Regan didn’t think too much of his 100th birthday earlier this month. 

“Now, I’m just working on the next 100 years,” he said with a big smile.

But the World War II bomber pilot was celebrated in great fashion with a party on his birthday (Nov. 8) at American House Senior Living Community where Regan lives with his wife of nearly 76 years, Kay. And last week, he was honored with a proclamation recognizing his military service and his work as a mediator for Okaloosa County courts. 

Jennie McKeon/WUWF

Hundreds of people gathered Friday morning at the Bayside Conference Center at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort for the “Triggered” book-signing event with Donald Trump Jr., and U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz.

Courtesy photo

Caroline Johnson didn’t just crash glass ceilings as a naval fighter pilot. She just flew right past them.

The Colorado-born aviatrix was one of the first women to fly a combat mission over Iraq following the military withdraw in 2011, dropping bombs on ISIS from an F/A-18 Super Hornet.

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