The Voice of the Gem City

March 15, 2019

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

Palatka is starting all over again the process of hiring a new city manager. At a special called meeting Thursday commissioners decided to start over after finding that of the eight semifinalists chosen out of about 120 applications two had already gotten jobs elsewhere and three didn’t return the requested additional information. That left only three and at least one commissioner said none were her top choices. Several suggestions on how to proceed including one from Mayor Terrell Hill to hire someone temporarily through the Florida League of Cities as acting city manager. Other commissioners favored leaving City Clerk Betsy Driggers in the spot and urged her to apply. At the commission’s request City Attorney Don Holmes will be checking with a firm that vets applicants. A definite time line will be in place this time, say commissioners.

Several deaths on area highways. On Wednesday evening, Harry Cherry, 60, was struck while riding his bicycle on East River Road in Putnam County. Cherry was headed south when he was knocked into a ditch by a car, according to Florida Highway Patrol. He was taken to Putnam Community Medical Center where he died. Cherry was not wearing a helmet. An 89-year-old woman from South Carolina was driving the Toyota Sienna that struck Cherry, who was a familiar sight in the area. In St. Johns County Thursday morning a pedestrian who ran onto State Road 207 was struck and killed, reports FHP. Joseph R. Ronchetti, 36, was taken to Orange Park Medical Center in critical condition and later died. He reportedly ran into the path of a Nissan Titan driven by a 43-year-old driver headed east on 207, just east of the I-95 exchange. This morning FHP is investigating a hit-and-run that left one person dead on U.S. 17 North near Westover Drive in Orange Park. The semi-truck driver involved in the wreck continued driving on 17 and is being sought.

Florida Highway Patrol has identified the three men killed in a head-on collision Wednesday near San Mateo in Putnam County. All three were in a flatbed truck hauling cabbage at State Road 100 at Tram Road. Driver was Haymon Boynton 65, of East Palatka, Passengers killed with Lloyd Douglas, 61, and Benjamin Nelson, 50, both of Hastings. Isiais Chaluisant, 30, of Orlando, was in the semi in the accident and remains in critical condition.

The Sheltering Tree in Flagler County found people have a heart as their dinner and dance raised $11,645 for the county’s only cold weather shelter. The Tree offers overnight facilities at Bunnell’s First United Methodist Church and provides food, sleeping blankets and clothing to those in need.

National Pi day – Pi as in the mathematical symbol – was Thursday. They were taking it seriously at St. Johns River State College where the Palatka campus Academic Support Center hosted a pie — as in dessert — contest. First place went to the library’s Ann Spinler and her chocolate pie, second to FloArts’ Kandie Smith and her banana cream cheese pie and third to Adult Ed’s Lillian Schmidt and her key lime pie.

In Putnam County, Florida School of the Arts offers the play Servant of Two Masters tonight through Sunday. Saturday Night Live at the Larimer has Stephen Chandler and his band Sleek at 7 p.m. Saturday. In Melrose Saturday artists will be demonstrating their painting skills in Heritage Park. At Log Cabin Winery in Satsuma it’s a St. Patrick’s Day gathering including legendary classic country performer TK ‘Kim” Hilton and corned beef and cabbage dinners. In Flagler County Matthew Gurnsey, the Kilted Man, offers Celtic Music at the Flagler County Public Library at 10 a.m. Saturday. In Palm Cost Saturday and Sunday it’s the 2019 Seafood Festival at Central Park in Town Center 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. In St. Augustine Saturday and Sunday enjoy the St. Augustine Community Chorus and the St. Augustine Orchestra in a pops concert entitled I Hear America Singing.

Congrats to Tim Smith, Putnam County’s clerk of courts, who Thursday was honored at the American Value Dinner by the Boy Scouts of America. On hand for the ceremony was his family including brother Caca Smith. Caca was wearing both his Eagle Scout medal and his God and Country medal. Later Tim got a frantic call from his brother who had lost his God and Country medal. When Tim checked the parking area at Ravine Gardens State Park this morning, there was the medal. Talk about the luck of the Irish.

And the luck of the Irish to you on St. Patrick’s Day Sunday when everyone is Irish.

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