The Voice of the Gem City

September 11, 2019

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

Residents in Putnam, Flagler and St. Johns counties joined the rest of the nation today to remember 9-11 when the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda launched four attacks on U.S. targets and killed nearly 3,000 people. St. Augustine held early morning ceremonies at the main fire station on Malaga Street. Ceremonies also were held at the Flagler Beach Pier in Flagler County. Putnam County commissioners declared today Patriot Day and a Day of Prayer, Service and Remembrance before ceremonies at the Putnam County Complex on Crill Avenue. At noon, the Putnam Ministerial Association holds a commemorative ceremony in the sanctuary of St. James United Methodist Church. At 6 p.m. tonight Mt. Tabor Baptist Church at St. Johns and Moody avenues holds a service honoring local hometown heroes. First Coast News’ Ken Amaro is guest speaker.

In St. Augustine the iconic carousel in Davenport Park may be on its last whirl. Owner Jim Soules died last week and his family says they plan to close the attraction Sunday. His widow says it will be dismantled Monday and moved to her home in Port Charlotte. The family company recently signed a five-year contract with the city to continue operation of the ride and the family is asking to be released from the agreement. The carousel is on San Marco Avenue by the city’s main library and has been there since 1994. Built in 1927, the carousel was moved to St. Augustine from Fort Wayne, Ind.

In Palm Coast Saturday more than 300 families and groups took part in the 12th annual Intracoastal Waterway Cleanup. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers served as judges for the most unique find contest. Winner was Lia Raposo who found a bread maker.

St. Johns River Water Management District reports rainfall for August was above average districtwide. Flagler County had the lowest monthly rainfall total at 3.3 inches for August while Alachua and Marion counties were well above average with nearly 10 inches of rain. Hurricane Dorian reportedly brought between 1 and 3 inches of rainfall across the district in early September. A narrow band of land in Flagler saw 4-5 inches.

The driver who struck a couple walking by the Tolomato Cemetery during St. Augustine’s Nights of Lights has been found guilty of two counts of DUI causing serious bodily harm and has been sentenced to 7 ½ years in prison. Justin Lee Edwards, 29, also will face three years of probation after prison. Zanobia Sterbia, 20, and Leigh West, 27, were walking by the cemetery on Jan. 29 when Edwards’ truck struck them. He had pulled out of the cemetery parking lot, lost control and then ran into the couple on the sidewalk sending them into the concrete wall and fencing at the cemetery. The couple is still recovering and a motor vehicle negligence lawsuit has been filed against Edwards.

Palatka city commissioners are hearing from citizens regarding a proposal to move city hall from Second Street out to the Putnam County Industrial Park on the edge of the city. Turns out that would be five miles from its current location in the heart of downtown. Good news is its only half a mile from the limits of Francis. Commissioners will be hearing a report on the proposal at a meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday. Cost would be $4 million for buying and renovating a building at the park. Plans include moving city hall, the police department and the sanitation department. Word is the city is now talking about leaving the fire department downtown.

Nease High School was briefly on lock down Tuesday, according to the St. Johns County School District. A man was seen climbing the school fence into the facility. Turned out it was a coach who had gotten locked out.

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