The Voice of the Gem City

February 6, 2019


Swing by Palatka’s riverfront today and you can get a preview of the Bassmasters Elite Series Tournament that officially kicks off tomorrow. Thursday through Sunday professional fishermen will be on the waterways seeking to win the tournament. Boats will be going out daily starting at 7:15 a.m. and must be back in time for the daily 4 p.m. weigh-in.

Future of this year’s Blue Crab Festival may be in the hands of the Palatka Young Professionals, a service group. During a workshop Tuesday with Palatka City Commissioners, PYP members offered their suggestions and listened to those who had actually done the work of putting on the festival in the days when the Memorial Day Weekend event was more successful. Buddy Thompson, who has been in change of the festival for the past several years, decided not to hold one last year and wasn’t going to hold one this year. The city wants the festival to happen and they want to see it continue as a multiple-day event. PYP has said it wants to work with others and their board will vote tonight.

A motorcyclist injured Tuesday morning in a crash in St. Johns County has been identified as Matthew Proper, 23, of Green Cove Springs. Proper ran into the rear end of a car on State Road 13 at Trout Creek Fish Camp, east of the Shands Bridge, according to Florida Highway Patrol. He was thrown from his motocycle and was not wearing a helmet. Proper was taken to Orange Park Medical Center with critical injuries.

Florida Highway Patrol has released the identity of a man killed in a two-vehicle crash Monday evening on U.S. 1 in St. Johns County. Desmond Oesterreicher, 57, of St. Augustine, was headed south on U.S. 1 in a Ford pickup shortly before 7 p.m. Monday when he turned left onto Stokes Landing Road and into the path of a Lincoln SUV headed north. Oesterreicher died at the scene. Grace King, 54, driver of the Lincoln, was taken to Baptist South in Jacksonville with serious injuries.

Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly gave a ride along to a well-known individual Tuesday. With him was Oliver North, who had a central role in the Iran-Contra affair during the administration of Ronald Reagan. North is now president of the National Rifle Association and that’s why he was riding with Staly. The sheriff is one of five finalists for the NRA’s Officer of the Year. He was nominated for helping save the life of a fellow Orange County Sheriff’s deputy in the early 1970s even though shot several times and severely wounded.

Flagler County Sheriff’s Office now says the death of Billye Boyd Jones, 75, was a suicide. Questions had arisen during the investigation of the Palm Coast woman’s shooting death Monday.

St. Augustine’s Easter Parade is being changed to a Saturday. Festival organizers say it’s been a challenge to get individual and organizations to participate in the traditional Sunday morning parade. City commissioners have pushed for the change as well.

The Catholic diocese in St. Augustine wants to put up a parking garage and amphitheater at the Mission Nombre de Dios on San Marco Avenue. That’s one of the city’s most historic spots including being where founder Pedro Menendez celebrated the first Mass in 1565 after he landed. They need to get approval for land use and zoning changes and are running into opposition from neighbors and residents. Concerns include destruction of the historic character of the area, additional traffic on a road many consider overly crowded and noise. The diocese recently fenced the area, which is the site of the massive cross that dominates the city skyline.

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