The Voice of the Gem City

March 20, 2019

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

Two traffic deaths on area roadways. In Putnam County a 39-year-old Palatka man died on County Road 216 in front of the Georgia-Pacific paper mill Tuesday at 2:45 p.m. Florida Highway Patrol says a semi trailer was parked in front the plant partially in the westbound right turn lane and partially on the shoulder when it was struck by a pickup that traveled into the right turn lane. The front of the pickup collided with the rear of the semi. The passenger in the pickup, Dantonia Williams, died at the scene and the driver Jimmie Gilmore, 81, of San Mateo was taken to Orange Park Medical Center with serious injuries. The driver of the semi, Douglas Green, 50, of Jacksonville was not injured. According to FHP, charges are pending. In Flagler County a motorcyclist died late Monday afternoon on I-95, just north of Palm Coast Parkway. Daniel R Macleod III, 40, who formerly lived in Palm Coast before moving to Hastings was headed north. Noel Cable Kreger of Jacksonville was in a Chevy Cruze, ahead of Macleod and slowed to merge where road construction had recently begun, said FHP. Macleod did not slow down, struck the back of the vehicle and was tossed into the air. He was not wearing a helmet. The accident happened shortly before 5 p.m. Macleod was flown to a Daytona Beach hospital where he later died.

A man the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office describes as a career criminal is back in the Flagler Jail on three additional counts. Tyrone Whitehead, 56, was transferred to Flagler from the Baker County Jail  and also has active warrants from Alachua and Nassau counties. His original charge in Flagler dates back to July of 2018 for a burglary of a Palm Coast gas station where he filled an trash can with merchandise after smashing in the door. Whitehead is being held without bond.

Putnam County authorities got a welcome call Tuesday. This one was from UF Health Shands reporting they had a woman identified as Jessica Schmutz at the facility. The Palatka woman has been missing since March 8 after leaving Flagler Hospital in St. Johns County. Authorities have been searching for her. She apparently walked into Shands Friday but did not give her identity. Schmutz, 34, has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, according to her family.

Palm Coast City Council has given the okay to a contract that will pay their new city manager $145,000 a year. The council didn’t approve a clause giving Matthew Morton automatic annual non-merit raises.

Mission Nombre de Dios continues to seek ways to placate St. Augustine residents over planned changes at the facility off San Marco Avenue. The 26-acre plot includes what’s known as the sacred acre, where the first Mass in North America was held when Pedro Menendez landed in 1565. The Catholic Diocese of St. Augustine wants to put in an 800-seat, open-air amphitheater and a parking garage on other parts of the property. Residents are upset over what it will do to their neighborhood and others are concerned about the possible impact both to traffic and the area.

St. Augustine County Commissioners have given the go-ahead to a $39 million beach restoration project for South Ponte Vedra and Vilano Beach. State and federal grants would pay for $25 million of the project. Oceanfront residents would have to come up with $14 million. The proposed Army Corps of Engineers project includes a one-time dune restoration and a 50-year beach restoration.

Today marks the first day of Spring, also known as the Spring Equinox. Expect longer days and more sunlight from now on. But hold off any celebrations until 5:58 p.m. when Spring officially is sprung.

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