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.  

Ways to Connect

One Hopeful Place


Update: Ferris Hill Baptist Church in Milton will be open Wednesday night. 

Local organizations are preparing for the first cold night of the 2020 winter season by opening up shelters for the homeless or heatless today and Tuesday night.

But in a pandemic, there are more precautions for staff and volunteers.

“It will be different,” said Bonnie Barlow, CEO of Bridgeway Center in Fort Walton Beach. “It won’t be perfect, but what we learn tonight we’ll apply tomorrow.”

Flickr

Like so many other events in 2020, the Oasis Florida’s World AIDS Day event has shifted to a virtual evening of raising awareness and remembering the lives lost. Despite advances in science and medicine, new HIV infections continue at alarming rates in the state of Florida.

Strive/Courtesy photo

As Transgender Awareness Week comes to a close each year, the Escambia County-based advocacy group, Strive, typically holds a Transgender Day of Remembrance to remember transgender people who were lost to violence.

But like so many events in 2020, the annual memorial/celebration of life will go virtual this evening.

Creative Commons

Okaloosa’s Board of County Commissioners had their first meeting with newly sworn-in members Paul Mixon and Mel Ponder. One of the big issues on Tuesday morning’s agenda was the proposed ordinance about feeding birds at public beaches, which passed 4-1.

The issue came to the board about two weeks ago when restaurant owners on Okaloosa Island complained that birds had become a “huge distraction” for customers. 

Needpix.com

Local environmental advocates are more optimistic about the future following Saturday’s election results, but there’s still a long road to tangible action on climate change. 

Representatives from local and regional organizations such as Healthy Gulf, 350 Pensacola and Environment Florida held a virtual meeting Monday night to discuss the impacts of the election and what a Biden presidency could mean for climate action. 

City of Fort Walton Beach

A partnership between the city of Fort Walton Beach Police Department and the Homelessness and Housing Alliance (HHA) provides a new layer to community policing with the city’s first stability specialist who will work alongside police to address the needs of people who are unsheltered. 

Sgt. Dustin Rosenburg has been working in the community policing unit for years. He says the department often gets called to respond to issues around the area’s homeless population. But without many resources, officers are left with few options. 

Don Barrett/Flickr

The city of Destin has added two amendments to its charter with overwhelming approval on Election Day.

One of the biggest changes will be a maximum building height. According to the amendment, which passed with nearly 83% of the votes, no new buildings can exceed six stories (75 feet) in height, unless approved by 60% of voters in a general election.

Jennie McKeon/WUWF Public Meda

Whether their ballots are already cast or they’re heading to the polls Tuesday, voters are fired up this election season.

On Saturday afternoon, at the Chester Pruitt Park, the Okaloosa NAACP and Real Women Radio Foundation hosted a “Fired Up and Ready to Vote” rally encouraging people to vote early before the polls closed or make a plan to vote on Tuesday. In between the “Cha Cha Slide” and “Thriller,” community leaders spoke about the importance of this election.

Pexels Stock Photo

On Tuesday, Santa Rosa County voters will decide to make the county Florida’s first “Sanctuary for Life.”

The nonbinding referendum would be purely symbolic as abortion is legal in Florida up to 24 weeks into pregnancy unless life-threatening conditions are present. 

On the ballot, voters will choose "yes" or "no" on a nonbinding referendum that asks, "Shall the citizens of Santa Rosa County declare that Santa Rosa County is a Sanctuary for Life?"

Jennie McKeon/WUWF Public Media

Just 11 days before Election Day, President Donald Trump made a campaign stop in Pensacola Friday night.

Thousands — many of them in the trademark red hats — gathered at ST Engineering hours before Air Force One landed. President Trump was introduced by a roundup of local and state politicians, including Gov. Ron DeSantis, U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, and State Rep. Alex Andrade.

Fresh from his final debate with former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump arrived at the podium saying “Eleven days from now, we’re going to win my home state of Florida.”

Jennie McKeon/WUWF Public Media

More than a month after Hurricane Sally made landfall as a nearly Category 3 storm, the impacts are still evident on local beaches. 

While Sally made landfall near Gulf Shores, Ala., it was the beaches to the east that took a bigger hit, said Frederique Beroset, biologist and founder of Dune Doctors

Okaloosa County Supervisor of Elections

The Okaloosa County elections office has closed the Crestview office to the public after Supervisor of Elections Paul Lux and an employee have tested positive for coronavirus. 

It’s not the best timing as early voting kicks off Monday, said Public Relations and Voter Education Coordinator Katie Fults, but staff is doing “everything we possibly can to be safe.”

“It’s like we’re swimming in shark-infested waters,” she said. 

School Cents Make Sense

 

Okaloosa voters on Election Day will decide on a half-cent sales tax that could boost School District revenue for the next 10 years.

With an estimated forecast of $256 million, the half-cent tax would provide needed revenue for long-overdue projects throughout the district. Newly elected Superintendent Marcus Chambers said his top priorities include safety initiatives, new AC units, and roofs. 

A handful of community members spoke at the Okaloosa County School Board meeting Monday night addressing the removal of the novel “White Fragility” from a high school English class.

Jennie McKeon/WUWF Public Meda

Debris cleanup from Hurricane Sally is still underway as another storm is expected to roll in Friday night. 

In Santa Rosa and Escambia counties, piles of debris are lined up in front of neighborhoods and businesses. Local officials are urging citizens to be patient as crews work to remove debris or secure their debris to mitigate further damage. 

In Escambia County, residents can drop off debris at these locations:

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