The Voice of the Gem City

August 27, 2019

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

The public’s response to the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office for stuffed bears and other toy animals has the department overwhelmed. The bears, etc. are given out by deputies to people in nursing homes and other places and the department had run out of their Cuddly Care companions. They asked the public for help and now are calling for a cease fire. “You guys outdid yourselves!” the Sheriff’s Office as they thanked the public and said they have enough for now.

Melrose Fire Department turned out for a vehicle fire Monday in the George’s Lake area. Turned out there was a mix-up on location and the vehicle fire was actually on a dirt portion of Bellamy Road just inside Clay County. Clay Fire Rescue was on the scene when Melrose arrived but Melrose helped with a fuel leak that kept reigniting.

The former general manager of the Palm Harbor Golf Course is facing grand theft and fraud charges following a six-month investigation. Timothy Spangler, 47, was fired and during an investigation detectives found he allegedly had parents pay him directly for golf summer camps and weekend lessons instead of making the checks to the city. The amount totaled nearly $5,000.

State legislators heard from citizens during a meeting Monday at the River Center in Palatka about the St. Johns River and other North Florida waterways. Toxic algae was a topic raised by several in the audience. A warmer summer that started early contributed to the early blooming. Those algae blooms can cause rashes and stomach problems and even some neurological problems. Since the St. Johns flows north, larger cities including Jacksonville are now facing the algae as it drifts in the river.

Labor Day is Monday with local, state and federal government offices announcing closures. Palatka is among governments noting no residential garbage pick up on Monday. Services resume Tuesday.

St. Johns River State College will hold the second annual Distinguished Alumni Awards reception and dinner on Oct. 3 at River House in St. Augustine. The college, with the main campus in Palatka, also serves St. Johns and Clay counties. This year’s honorees include Judge John Alexander, Greg Baker, Dr. Rebecca Faunce-O’Leary, Margo Pope, Sheriff David Shoar and Doug Wiles. All graduated from St. Johns.

As expected Embassy Suites by Hilton in St. Augustine Beach is seeking to appeal a judge’s decision against allowing a splash pad at the recently rebuilt three-story structure. The judge upheld the Beach commission and the planning and zoning board in denying the facility which would be next to public beach land. A variety of issues and concerns were cited.

You can make a difference to Putnam County children by lending a hand with the Feed the Need program. That’s the program that provides a backpack of food for children to take home over the weekends. Volunteers are needed a couple of hours a month to help sort the food and send it to the schools. It happens every other Tuesday and kicked off this morning at Bramlitt’s Plumbing Warehouse in Palatka. To find out more or get involved, message or call 386-937-3862. More than 800 children each week take a backpack home so they’ll have something to eat over the weekend.

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