The Voice of the Gem City

September 25, 2019

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

By spending $7.6 million Tuesday Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet put more than 8,100 acres in Putnam and Walton counties under conservation easements. Those easements restrict future development while allowing owners to continue uses such as agriculture. The easements are in perpetuity so future buyers can’t develop either. In Putnam $2.873 million will be paid to Wetland Preserve LLC for a 3,564-acre easement. That will be part of the Etoniah/Cross Florida Greenway Florida Forever project and helps complete the Florida National Scenic Trail. Land is owned by Ben and Louann Williams.

A plane crash at St. Augustine’s Northeast Florida Regional Airport Tuesday morning sent two people to the hospital for treatment of minor injuries. Florida Highway Patrol is investigating the crash of the Cessna 337 Skymaster that occurred during takeoff when the landing gear reportedly malfunctioned. The pilot and passenger, ages 78 and 73, were taken to Memorial Hospital in Jacksonville.

Flagler County tourism officials want to find out what people think of the county’s tourism efforts and how they can be improved. Residents are being asked to comment on a short online survey on the county’s website.

Flo Garris, who retired earlier this year after a 27-year career as a school crossing guard in Palatka, has died. Garris was 97 and had retired in February from overseeing the five points intersection near Moseley Elementary School. Her obituary called her a “cherished employee” with the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office, She became a crossing guard after 30 years with Georgia-Pacific. In 2014, when she was 94, Garris was awarded a lifesaving medal for her heroism in protecting a little boy from being run over by a car after a bike accident left him in the middle of the road.

A Flagler County detention deputy resigned Tuesday. Jared Tazewell, 34, had been under investigation for allegedly using excessive force on a disabled and mentally incompetent inmate. The Sheriff’s Office had indicated firing was likely. Tazewell reportedly struck an inmate in the face after the man struck Tazewell with his walker.

St. Augustine business owners and downtown residents are expected to attend a city-led meeting today to look at ways of coping with changes in the downtown area. The public meeting at City Hall from 3-5 p.m. will look at proposals by City Manager John Regan to deal with the changing character of the city’s downtown night environment. Changes in liquor permitting, increased police presence, more clean-ups downtown and improved street lighting and sidewalks are up for discussion.

In Palatka Thursday city commissioners will look at the issue of moving city hall, the police department and the sanitation department including trucks to the western edges of the city. Mayor Terrell Hill, who has promoted the effort, says the move and other options have been discussed. Last year a similar effort brought protests and the item was tabled. The meeting is at 6 p.m. Thursday at the current City Hall, five miles from where the new city hall would be in a business park.

Former Pedro Menendez High School linebacker Willie Harvey had a special gift for his mother on her birthday Sunday. Harvey was promoted to the Cleveland Brown’s roster Saturday evening and suited up for the game against the L.A. Ram Sunday. The 23-year-old rookie saw lots of action on special teams. The other St. Johns County graduate on a NFL roster is St. Joseph Academy graduate Cairo Santos who is playing for the Tennessee Titans.

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