The Voice of the Gem City

July 26, 2019

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

Fish Island in St. Augustine will remain undeveloped after Thursday’s vote by Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet to purchase the 57 acres for $6.5 million. A strong push by residents and conservationists helped the effort to save one of the last remaining undeveloped waterfront properties in St. Augustine. The island can be seen on the right of the 312 Bridge when heading to Anastasia Island. Two other pieces of property — one in Wakulla County and the other in Charlotte Count – also will be purchased using Florida Forever conservation funds.

Commercial growth is coming in Palatka. Preliminary permits have been pulled for an Aldi’s grocery store. Aldi is the common brand of two German family-owned discount supermarket chains. The company has more than 130 stores in Florida including ones in St. Augustine and Palm Coast. The Palatka store is set to go at the corner of State Roads 19 and 100, where a mattress store is currently located. Also going through the permitting process is a Captain D’s planned on SR 19 across the road from the Publix Shopping Center.

A former St. Johns County first responder and lieutenant with St. Johns County Fire and Rescue faces two felony charges after being arrested on suspicion of stealing narcotics from an ambulance. Matthew Hooker allegedly took two doses of morphine from an ambulance at Fire Station 8 in April. He was arrested this week.

St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office Thursday recovered a silver Nissan sought in an alleged shooting incident Tuesday in West Augustine. Deputies found the vehicle abandoned in a wooded area several miles from where the event occurred. It was stolen out of Volusia County. St. Johns continues its investigation into the shooting.

Palatka is without an animal control officer following the retirement of Nora Baker earlier this week. The position is through the Palatka Police Department and officials there say they will begin looking for someone to fill the post. For now they’re relying on Putnam County Animal Control. Anyone who has ever dealt with Nora knows they’ll have some big shoes to fill in order to find someone else as competent and compassionate.

The U.S. Senate has confirmed Wendy Berger as U.S. district judge for the Middle District of Florida. The Middle District runs from Fort Myers to Jacksonville. Berger is a former circuit judge in the Seventh Judicial Circuit and has been serving as a judge on Florida’s 5th District Court of Appeals since her 2012 selection.

You can enjoy Christmas in July with The Grinch tonight at the Putnam Aquatics Center on Westover Drive from 7-11 p.m. Putnam Parks and Recreation is hosting the Float In movie. Cost is $5 per person. On Sunday the Readers Repertory Theater in Palatka will present the comedy Greater Tuna at 2:30 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church’s Fellowship Hall on Second Street. Cost is $5. Kirk Collier is directing.

In St. Augustine Saturday at 7 p.m. it’s Unscripted Comedy from the Corazon. The comedy at the Corazon Cinema and Café features a variety of improv troupes. At the St. Augustine Art Association on Marine Street, enjoy the artwork of Jean Troemel.

Get up early Saturday and take a free bike ride during Tour de Palm Coast in Flagler County. You can ride along the scenic route of St. Joe Walkway. The tour leaves promptly at 8 a.m. from Palm Coast Community Center. Bring water and wear a helmet.

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