The Voice of the Gem City

June 24, 2019

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.
Palatka has an interim city manager set to be in place until city commissioners find a city manager. By a 3-2 vote at a special commission meeting Friday, commissioners okayed Elmon Lee Garner. Contract negotiations are being held with Garner, a veteran city administrator whose last job was 20 years with the city of Chattahoochee. City Clerk Betsy Driggers has continued doing her job while filing in as interim city manager for almost a year. The commission in July of last year fired manager Zeriah Folston after six months.

A Flagler County jury acquitted a man accused of attempted murder of his pregnant wife in 2017. Michael Wilson, 33, Friday was found guilty of grand theft for stealing a gun from the house and of a misdemeanor — simple attempted battery — against Ashley Wilson, his wife. He could face five-and-a-half years in prison. He’s already served a year-and-a-half. Sentencing will be in August. Several pieces of evidence weren’t admitted including Michael Wilson saying he heard voices. Wilson said he set the trap because video surveillance cameras were missing and he wanted to protect the home.

Bunnell City Commissioners tonight will hear an appeal of the decision by the city’s zoning board rejecting a permit allowing the Sheltering Tree to continue operating. The Sheltering Tree is the county’s only cold-weather homeless shelter and is located at First United Methodist Church on Pine Street. That meeting is at 7 p.m. at City Hall on West Moody Boulevard.

Vacation Bible Schools are underway in counties around the area. St. James United Methodist Church in Palatka begins its VBS today with classes for youth and adults, a growing trend. Family Bible School begins at 5:30 tonight with a supper and classes at 6 p.m. Adult classes are on faith and why it’s important as well as one on new ways to serve called Fresh Expressions.

Alachua County Sheriff’s Office is seeking information in the April death of a Melrose man. The naked body of Mathew Cemer was found in a canal off Big Lake Sana Fe. The Bradford County Sheriff’s Office originally received the call but Alachua ended up running the investigation. The area is where the boundary lines of four counties including Putnam meet. A reward is offered for information on Cemer’s whereabouts, activities or associates. Contact Det. Charles Beveridge at the Alachua Criminal Investigations Division 352-367-4179.

Changes in St. Augustine parking fees and hours will be proposed at a special budget meeting at 3 p.m. today in the Alcazar Room. St. Augustine city commissioners will be hearing several options including providing parking at the Visitor Center garage for $2 an hour for the first four hours and $15 after that. A second option extends hours of on-street parking enforcement including enforcing parking fees until 9 p.m. nightly and charging for Sunday parking from 1 to 9 p.m.  Under that option fees at the parking garage would stay at $15 no matter how long you park. Parking is big business for the City of St. Augustine. Current revenue from all city parking is $6.1 million.

Palatka’s Animal Control is seeking homes for three pit bull mix puppies. They were found abandoned Sunday at Frances Ball Park and in the words of the police department “are in need of a good home.” If you’d like to adopt one or all, contact Animal Control Officer Nora Baker at 386-329-0115.

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