The 21st Annual Tallahassee Jazz & Blues Festival brought swing music, jazz, blues and a little bit of rock ‘n’ roll to the city. Tallahassee Museum hosted the two-day festival that featured talent from Tallahassee, Thomasville and beyond.

The festival is an arm of Saltwater Music, structured by Del Suggs, the organizer and emcee of the event who is also a professional musician and leadership development speaker.

“The reason we started this festival 21 years ago was because there was no place where you could take your family to enjoy blues before,” Suggs said.

Saturday’s opening act was the Thomas University Jazz Ensemble, from Thomasville, Ga., who played tunes like “Mustang Sally.”

Following the jazz ensemble was the Royal Garden Dixieland Band, which brought music from New Orleans, the city considered one of the birthplaces of American jazz and blues. It played classics including “Canal Street Blues” and “Just a Closer Walk with Thee,” explaining the history of each song performed.

Other performers from Saturday’s lineup included the Tallahassee Yellow Dog Band, first-time festival performers. Returning groups included the local bands Roadhouse and the Zach Bartholomew Trio.

The veteran performers of Tallahassee Swing returned after more than a decade of performing at the annual festival. Tallahassee Swing closed out Saturday’s event with melodies by Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra and Glen Miller.

Following the audience’s cries for an encore, the band’s last tune was a cover of the classic “Jump Jivin’.” The band has played locally for 23 years.

Gwendolyn Johnson, a retiree who recently moved from Hawaii to Tallahassee, said she enjoyed the event.

“I have really had a good time,” Johnson said. “This was a great event for all ages.”

Residents like Howard Rich, 57, said the event doubled as a great learning and entertainment experience.

“The blues fest is a great way for the younger generation to be exposed to Dixieland jazz and blues, and that’s where rock ‘n’ roll started,” Rich said. “Everyone understands rock ‘n’ roll, but they don’t know the roots of rock ‘n’ roll.”

Sunday kicked off with performances from the Swingin’ Harpoon Blues Band who crooned its original tunes “No Word in Front of American” and “I Ain’t Too Young to Play the Blues.”

The up-tempo band Rhythm Abuse followed suit with a tribute to Johnny Otis, who is considered the “godfather of rhythm and blues,” who died earlier this year.

Local band Bogazedi played a tribute to James Brown.

The ACME Rhythm and Blues band, dubbed by Suggs as “Tallahassee’s favorite dance band,” got the audience moving with its up-tempo melodies.

Tony Johnson, 53, a Tallahassee resident, said the weather was perfect for the event, despite threats of thunderstorms.

“It’s been great hearing contemporary jazz, classical jazz and blues,” he said. “This was great for a family outing.”

The two-day festival ended with performances by the Thursday Night Music Club, (so-named because it rehearses each Thursday night), who played a tribute to Quincy Jones

Broadway is coming to the Charles Winter Wood Theatre on April 4. “Smokey Joe’s Café,” a “songbook musical” made famous after more than 2,000 performances on Broadway, will feature players from Florida A&M’s Essential Theatre.

“Smokey Joe’s Café” functions as a jukebox. Multiple storylines develop throughout the course of each song played, but there is no overall plot.

The play is a “songbird musical” set in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Era of the 1950s and ‘60s. It features famous tunes including “Jailhouse Rock,” “Hound Dog,” “Yakety Yak” and “On Broadway.”

Michelle Robinson, the director and choreographer of the show, revamped the play for Essential Theatre. Robinson starred in Broadway’s “Chicago” for more than 13 years and is a former New York City Rockette. She’s no stranger to musical theatre or dance.

Robinson said she kept most of the show’s original choreography and tunes.

“This show is going to be a real walk down memory lane for those people familiar with this time period,” Robinson said. “For those not familiar, I think it’ll be a really nice introduction to this style of music.”

The audience can expect romance, relationships and heartaches throughout the show.

Lisa Lauray, the production’s stage manager and a senior theatre student from Tallahassee, called the play a feel-good experience that will have audience members tapping their toes.

Lauray also said she expects the visual elements to impress the viewers.

“The set is nice and there are great costumes,” Lauray said. “The guys look great in their tuxedos and the ladies look so nice in their evening wear. Even the casual looks are great.”

Lauray said working with Robinson has been an amazing, challenging and a refreshing learning experience.

Robinson said she sought to challenge the students with this production and saw it as an opportunity to educate them on the industry using the same standards used on Broadway.

The play will feature high-energy dance numbers, fun songs and colorful lighting, cosmetics and props.

Johnny Williams Jr. provided the show’s musical direction.

The show will run from April 4-April 8. The weekday performances are at 8 p.m. and a Saturday matinee is scheduled for 2 p.m., followed by an evening performance at 8 p.m. The musical will wrap with Sunday’s 3 p.m. showing.

Admission is free to Florida A&M students with valid student ID. For ticket information, call 850-561-2425. 

The sun was barely on the horizon when about 900 runners started onto St. Marks Trail for the 38th Annual Marathon and Half-Marathon on Sunday.

This year marked the race's highest completion rate. Runners finished the lengthy courses, despite high temperatures and humidity levels. Fewer than 10 percent of registered runners failed to show up. Marking the event's lowest no-show rate.

Both marathon and half-marathon runners started out on St. Marks Trail, but separated as runners completed the 26.2-mile marathon or the 13.1-mile half-marathon. Both courses were primarily flat and semi-shaded by canopied trees. The race concluded on the Florida State track.

Tallahassee residents Jay Silvanima and Nancy Stedman, husband and wife, served as race directors.

Silvanima has been the race director for the past six years and said he was thankful for the support of the local community.

"We had so many helpful volunteers," said Silvanima.

Tallahassee resident Linda Zingale, 65, served as an event volunteer. Members of Zingale's

church, Epiphany Lutheran, distributed cold water to runners and spectators as they crossed the finish line.

"It felt good to be supportive," Zingale said. "You can see people feeling accomplished as they cross the finish line and it feels good to be a part of that."

Additionally, Silvanima acknowledged the large number of talented runners who travelled to participate in this year's race.

"This year, we had some of the fastest elite male runners that have ever entered this event," Silvanima said. "We [also] had a course record broken for the female record open."

Leah Thorvilson, 33, from Little Rock, Ark., set the record for fastest female marathon runner in the history of the course.

Thorvilson beat the standing record by more than three minutes. As she finished, Thorvilson attempted to slap the clock reading her record-setting time. Although she missed the celebratory move, spectators continued to cheer her on.

Just three weeks ago, Thorvilson completed the Olympic Trials in Houston, so she said she was worried her  Tallahassee Marathon performance would either be a huge success or huge fatigue-related failure.

"The course was nice; it was very flat and fast," Thorvilson described. "The people along the route were extremely supportive."

First place male and overall marathon winner Solomon Kandie, 34, visited from Albuquerque, N.M., to complete the run. Kandie is originally from Kenya. He said he enjoyed running the course despite the high temperatures.

"I'm looking forward to coming back again," Kandie said. "The people here are so very warm, very kind and very generous and the stations were very well-organized."

Shortly behind Kandie was second-place marathon runner Matt Flaherty, 26, from Chicago.

"It's a gorgeous course. I really enjoyed the experience," Flaherty said. Like Solomon, Flaherty said he was not prepared to run in such high temperatures, but was satisfied overall with his performance.

Several Florida A&M students attended this year's half-marathon.

Anthony Scavella, 20, a senior political science student from Miami, participated in the half-marathon alongside two other cadets of FAMU's Army ROTC unit—Pete Falcone, 19, a sophomore physical education student from Ft. Myers, Fla. and Mason Marshall, 21, a senior political science student from Miami. 

Scavella admits he grew weary during the 13-mile trek, but was encouraged by other runners to keep going.

Falcone said he used this half-marathon as training for an upcoming run he'll complete in March.

"Hydration and stretching are key," Marshall advised long-distance runners.

Paramedics from Leon County's Emergency Medical Services were stationed along both routes and at the finish line alongside the FSU Medical First Response staff to quickly handle emergencies.

The less-than-ideal weather conditions caused several heat strokes, but no one was seriously injured.

"Bang, bang, choo-choo train!" shouted Zumba instructor Sue Tucker from the fit floor as she demonstrated fat-burning dance moves.

With more than 1,500 residents anxious to begin the new year with a healthy lifestyle, vendors at the fifth annual

Tallahassee Fitness Festival encouraged them to do just that, in various ways.

Tucker and more than 50 vendors and exhibitors promoted regiments for better lifestyles through healthy dieting, regular exercise, nutritional supplements and regular health screenings.

The exhibits ranged from live interactive fitness lessons on the "Florida Blue Fit Floor" sponsored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida to a series of hour-long, Lunch-n-Learn workshops provided by North Florida Woman's Care.

Children were not left out of the movement toward healthy lifestyles. The festival's interactive "Kids Korner" provided children with their own lessons in healthy decision-making, while face-painting and a moonwalk were available for their entertainment.

The Tallahassee Food Garden and the Leon County Schools Foundation hosted a Community Garden. Local sustainable gardener Nathan Valentine taught children how to grow their own healthy foods.

Upon entering the fitness festival on Saturday, patrons noticed the event's new layout.

Felina Martin, co-producer of the Tallahassee Fitness Festival, said the setup was more spacious than in past years and made every vendor's booth and wellness stop more accessible. In her role as event co-producer, Martin coordinated and organized the logistics of the itinerary and solicited sponsors.

Beyond the layout, however, were many other changes this year, including the addition of a new co-producer, Allie Merzer  Fleming of the Fleming public affairs and media agency. According to Martin, Merzer brought a number of useful contacts and industry expertise to help with planning this year's event.

"This year, we had more chefs on the cooking stage than in the past and much more emphasis on environmental sustainability," Martin added.

Among those sustainable exhibitors were New Leaf Market, which provided organic food samples, and Earth Fare.

Martin said the annual festival encourages healthy lifestyle changes.

"If you're changing your lifestyle, it includes healthy living, sustainability and exercise, and that's what our goal is; to change your lifestyle."

Janell Massaline, a second-year history education student from Orlando, Fla., attended with members of Florida A&M's Rampage Step Team. "This is my first year at the festival," Massaline said. "I'm hoping to gain some knowledge about fitness and to take some of the information I've learned here back to members of my team so that they can make healthy lifestyle changes as well."

Other event patrons like Vincent Palmer, 32, a FAMU alumnus practicing mental healthcare and personal training, were excited about the technology showcased during the festival. Palmer was interested in seeing some of the less invasive fat-reducing technologies such as the Laser Body Sculpting Center's exhibit.

"I learned a lot about technological things that can be used to cut fat as opposed to just traditional working out," Palmer said.

Sodexo Flavours' Executive Chef, Chef Shac, short for Shacafrica Simmons, led the several of the day's live cooking demonstrations. Simmons serves as executive chef of Florida A&M's Dining Services. Simmons' recipes included several quick and easy meals for on-the-go lifestyles, such as fat-free yogurt parfaits, gluten-free Chex mix, and omelet-like frittatas.

"The key is proper planning," Simmons said while cooking in front of patrons. "Also, as you're shopping, try to stay along the outskirts of the grocery store. It's when you start going down the aisles that you start picking up things you don't need—like cookies."

Simmons also encouraged everyone to eat in moderation and to buy locally grown produce. Additionally, she mentioned the need for supporting sustainable and organic farmers and fisheries.

The event ended with the fifth Annual FIT Awards, a ceremony recognizing local businesses and individuals for leading the way in local health and wellness efforts. Some of the winners included Chelsea Salon and Spa in the Beauty Salon & Spa category and Weight Watchers for best Weight-Loss Program.

Winners were selected through a period of online voting prior to the event.

by Denecah D. Nickerson, Dalton Agency, Account Service Intern

McDonald’s Summertime has officially kicked off, and while this is a great season
for families to enjoy the sun and outdoors, our Columbia, S.C. office has
recognized that not all families are so lucky. There are a number of
families that are still struggling to provide nourishing meals for their
families, and together, the Dalton Agency in Columbia and the McDonald’s
Co-op of Columbia agreed this was a community need that we wanted to
contribute to.

To help service the Columbia community, the McDonald’s Co-Op has teamed up with Harvest Hope to sponsor an in-restaurant food drive. With children on vacation from school, the summer months spark the highest demand for food donations, and from now until July 4, non-perishable food item donations are being accepted at any of the Columbia-area McDonald’s restaurants. Harvest Hope is ensuring donations go to families directly in the Columbia area.

Ronald McDonald and the Harvest Hope mascot have even been spotted near a
few donation boxes cheering on and high-fiving Columbia residents who
help out!

We are always proud to see our clients placing a high priority on giving
back, as we aim to do the same as an agency. We¹re happy to be partnering
with such a great organization like Harvest Hope, and we look forward to
seeing a large number of donations for these families

Former Tallahassee Community College student Reginald Chatman was tried on Sept. 21 for his involvement in an armed robbery, kidnapping, burglary of a dwelling and assault in 2008. After resuming for closing arguments and jury deliberation on Sept. 22, Chatman was found guilty on all counts. Sentencing will take place on a later date. 

      Chatman, Cory Carroll, Korey Cole and Anthony Keel are accused of attempting to burglarize the Walgreens formerly located on Apalachee Parkway. In the process, the group allegedly abducted, punched and held former assistant manager George Rizkalla at gunpoint.

      According to Tallahassee Police Department records, Chatman, Cole, Keel, Carroll and three of their friends are suspected of robbing more than 30 local businesses and stealing more than $50,000 in 2008 alone.   

Rizkalla testified, in a hushed voice, that around 10:30 p.m. on June 29, 2008, he left Walgreens and picked up dinner from the Chili's on Apalachee Parkway. After a 10-minute drive from Chili's, Rizkalla said he arrived to his former home on Stadium Drive unaware that he was being followed. As he explained, Rizkalla pointed to the route he took home on an enlarged map of Tallahassee.

      Rizkalla said when he got home a young man pushed him to the ground, knocked his glasses off, punched him and demanded he relinquish the keys to his car and Walgreens. Rizkalla said he was forced to keep his head down in the backseat of his car and give his abductors his wallet. Rizkalla admitted a T-shirt was taped to his head to prevent him from seeing anything.

      Upon arrival, Rizkalla testified he gave the robbers the code to the Walgreens safe, which they were unable to open. Rizkalla said one of the young men then put a gun in his mouth and demanded the correct code to the safe, which Rizkalla maintained he had already given them.

      After learning there was only about $3,000 in the safe, Rizkalla said the young men abandoned their semi-failed plan to burglarize Walgreens and decided to withdraw $10,000 from his savings account. Rizkalla was then taped to a chair with duct tape in a suspect's apartment and waited for their return. 

      "They withdrew about $500…and came back after maybe 45 minutes to an hour. Then the driver said, ‘You have more in your account than you said you did. You're going to stay here with us tonight, and in the morning we're going to drive to the Bank of America drive thru and you're going to tell the person working there to withdraw the $15,000 or $10,000 that was in there,' " said Rizkalla.

      After Chatman and his friends left again, Rizkalla said he had to tell them his apartment number where they stole his laptop, digital camera and Internet modem, collectively valued at more than $1,500.

      Rizkalla said he was left alone in the car for more than 15 minutes and managed to escape and call the police.

      Following the incident, Rizkalla said he saw a picture of Chatman in the newspaper in relation to a similar crime and was able to recall Chatman buying weird items and behaving oddly both the day of the robbery and the day before the robbery. Based on that connection, Rizkalla believes Chatman was one of the suspects.

      Chatman's fiancée, Michelle Souffrance, however, said she had been running errands all day and evening with Chatman when the crime happened. Souffrance said Keel borrowed her car and kept it for hours, and that Chatman went to look for the car with another male friend. 

       TPD Criminal Investigator Jeff Mahoney, testified that Chatman admitted to being in the area of the Walgreens and ATMs used the night of the robbery during interrogation.

"[Chatman] said he borrowed his child's mother's car and called Keel to get his car back, then went to [Keel's apartment] to get the car," said Mahoney. Mahoney testified that Chatman's cell phone location contradicted his alibi, but coincided with Rizkalla's testimony.

      Carroll testified that Chatman was the most active during the robbery, and it was he who held Rizkalla at gunpoint and struck him repeatedly.

      Chatman did not testify in his own defense.
The Florida A&M judicial branch plays an active role in protecting the rights of students, though many remain unaware of its functions. The cause of student naiveté is often related to unawareness of their student rights, in addition to a two year hiatus in most judicial activity due to the lack of a chief justice.

      Kashif Smiley, a professional MBA candidate from Miami, is serving as the new chief justice of FAMU's judicial branch. Smiley said the judicial branch hopes to eliminate student unawareness by holding open events this year.

"We hope to inform students of their rights," Smiley said.    

      Smiley also said the judicial branch plans to have at least five events this year to help students understand both the Supreme Court and traffic court better.

      Some of the events on the agenda include a Know Your Rights Forum, which the judicial branch hopes to host once a semester.

"Many students do not know the rights they [have] and what [the Supreme Court] actually does. We want to pass out copies of the governing documents and have an open forum for them to ask questions," Smiley said.

      Smiley said the judicial branch hopes to host Traffic Jam both on FAMU's main campus and the FAMU College of Law twice this school year.

      "This event is to inform students of their rights for parking and the appeals process," Smiley said.

      Before any plans can be cemented, the court is awaiting approval from the senate for the necessary funds.

      Students like Brittany Garvin, 20, a third-year pre-nursing student from Miramar, and Paige Romans, 17, a first-year pre-occupational therapy student from Fort Lauderdale, hope the events get the funding needed.

      "I really would like to know more about my rights. It's in the constitution, but the constitution is more than 60 pages, and no one wants to read through all of that," said Garvin. "Having these events would help students understand what they should do if they believe they are being treated unfairly." 

      Romans said she thinks the events should take place more than every semester.

 "Information like this should be given out every semester, and even at orientation," said Romans. "It would help students know what to do if they are given any reason to appear in court."

      In the meantime, traffic court is held every Thursday in the SGA building, and allows students to appeal any campus traffic citation. The appeal is listened to and the court decides whether to maintain or overturn citations.

      "The Supreme Court works mostly during elections and when we get cases from judicial affair rendering sanction ranging from warning to expulsion," said Smiley.

The Supreme Court has trials when a student gives a request.

      According to the student body constitution and system of student body statutes, after a student makes an appeal, a trial should takes place within one week. In the event of an election dispute, trials are held within three days.

      If students are unsure of what their rights are, they can view the student body constitution and system of student body statutes on the FAMU website in the SGA section.

      According to the student body constitution and system of student body statutes, announcements of all court-held sessions are public, while hearings can be open or closed to public.

Smiley said students should know the court has an open-door policy and encourages them to learn their rights by coming by anytime, if they do not understand or can't find the information online.
The university will hold "Campus Talk" forums next for students to voice their opinions about proposed budget cuts. The first set will be held on April 5 at 6 p.m. in the Cropper Hall basement, and the second forum will be held on April 6 in the Phase II Activity Room.

Florida A&M President James Ammons gave students and faculty an update about the university budget. For more than an hour, Ammons spoke about additional fee increases to the crowd gathered in Lee Hall on March 24. In total, there is a possible 15 percent tuition increase for students.

"There will be tuition increases by a base [rate] of eight percent," said Ammons. "A seven percent increase to the differential fee is still debatable."

Ammons hopes to begin a professional dental program within the next three years despite proposed budget cuts. However, the addition of a program was a secondary concern for most students following the forum. The students were most disturbed by the proposed tuition increases.

"I'm surprised and upset [by the possible] tuition increases. It makes me wonder if the administration is really putting the students' best interests first," said Stephen Okon, a second-year pharmacy major from Miami. "I'm happy [about] having a dental school. It's showing that we're looking toward expanding and growing our university."

Students also voiced their concerns about the administrations ability to manage the university finances and how that relates to student fee increases. Timothy Harmon, a third-year business administration major from Jacksonville was alarmed by possible tuition increases. 

"I think a deeper look into the spending of funds and management of funds should be considered," Harmon said.

FAMU students Aarmondas Walker, a computer engineering and business administration student, and Lisa-Kay Ramsay, a third-year accounting student from Fort Lauderdale, were pleased with the presidents being open with students about university issues.

"The forum today was very informative," said Walker. "I applaud the president for keeping [everyone] well informed of things that are going on in the university."

Ramsey echoed Walkers statement, "I enjoyed being informed about the [budget] crisis and [being able] to express our opinions."