The Voice of the Gem City

September 6, 2019

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

St. Augustine is shaking off Hurricane Dorian and celebrating this weekend including holding a birthday celebration for itself. On Sept. 8, 1565,  Pedro Menendez de Aviles landed about where the Mission Nombre de Dios is now located. On Saturday at 10 a.m. a ceremonial landing will be held and Bishop Felipe Estevez will hold a mass near where the first mass was celebrated 454 years ago. The re-enactment is free and open to the public. Afterward re-enactors will be at the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park celebrating the first Thanksgiving in the New World and holding cannon and musket firing demonstrations. Regular admission fees apply although St. Johns County residents get in free.

St. Augustine merchants are celebrating too, hoping to pump the tourist trade back up after the hurricane. The annual Sing Out Loud Festival begins today and continues through Sunday. Billed as the largest free musical festival in Florida, the event will be held each weekend in September at a variety of places including the St. Augustine Amphitheater and in several downtown locations. Nearly 300 acts are scheduled. Tonight is also the regular First Friday Art Walk with 30 galleries throughout downtown and on Anastasia Island taking part from 5-9  p.m.

The City of St. Augustine is doing its part to encourage people to come downtown. Street and parking lot enforcement has been suspended until Monday. It will still cost $15 per vehicle per entry at the downtown parking garage.

Tonight in Palatka the city commission has called a special meeting at 5 p.m. to hear staff suggestions and get public input on a plan that will cut garbage pickup to once a week for residents. A 90-day trial period is proposed before a final decision is made. City officials say crews will then have time to work on other issues including increased tire, grocery cart and illegal dumping cleanups. No cut in costs for residents is proposed. Commissioners also will hear who the finalists are for the city manager job, a post that’s been vacant more than a year since they fired the then city manager.

Flagler County Sheriff’s officers responding to concerns over a Pheasant Drive resident ended up in a five hour stand-off Thursday. Attempts to contact Federico Guevara Jr., 52, were unsuccessful and deputies finally sent in a motorized robot who found Guevara, an apparent suicide by gunshot. Guevara reportedly had beendepressed following his wife’s sudden death two months ago. He was a government contractor who installed high-tech surveillance equipment. Officials said he was known to be heavily armed.

Don’t forget St. James United Methodist Church in Palatka holds its twice-a-month breakfast this Saturday from 7 to 10 a.m. at the church fellowship hall at 400 Reid Street. The $5 breakfast is open to the public. It normally goes to 11 a.m. but will close early since the church kitchen is being used later in the day by Bread of Life, which feeds the homeless. Their facility is currently undergoing renovations.

A Flagler County deputy and five adorable baby sea turtles are the subject of a video filmed during Hurricane Dorian. Sgt. Greg Tietje was on patrol at Mala Compra Beach when he rescued the baby turtles during the storm. The newly hatched turtles were trying to get to the ocean but became disoriented ending up by a lighted restroom. The sergeant went by several times eventually giving five baby turtles a helping hand out to sea. When baby turtles emerge from the nest they normally use cues to find the water including the slope of the beach, the white crests of waves and natural light on the ocean horizon. However Dorian blocked those signals and had them discombobulated. The video is posted on the Sheriff’s Office website

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