The Voice of the Gem City

September 30, 2019

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

Election 2020 in Putnam County just got more interesting. Putnam County Commissioner Terry Turner, who represents District 3, has decided to seek re-election. He was originally appointed by the governor to fill the position and then won election. Turner had been expected not to run again, and several people have already filed their intent to run. Meanwhile, in Palatka, former City Commissioner Allegra Kitchens is back in politics. She’s announced her intent to seek the seat currently held by Mary Lawson Brown, who has decided not to seek re-election after 35 years. Kitchens, who went out of office in 2015, has remained a watchdog of the commission, attending meetings and speaking out on issues.

A crash this morning on State Road 16 and the Shands Bridge in St. Johns County is under investigation by Florida Highway Patrol. A trauma alert was issued for the wreck that involved a cement truck and a vehicle.

St. Johns County detectives are investigating the death of an individual whose body was found in a portable toilet that caught fire Saturday. The remains are believed to be those of a white female. The District 23 Medical Examiner is expected to perform an autopsy today. St. Johns Fire Rescue was called to North Horseshoe Road about a fire and after it was out discovered the body. The Sheriff’s Office says no missing persons reports are on file matching the description.

St. Augustine has lost two longtime champions. Herbie Wiles, who was Mr. Insurance in St. Augustine, owned an agency on Ponce Boulevard now overseen by his son and was an active volunteer for years. For 12 years he served as a county commissioner. In 2013 he was presented the city’s Order of La Florida award, the ultimate city honor. The funeral will be Oct. 17 at Memorial Presbyterian Church. On Friday Bishop John J. Snyder died. He led the Diocese of St. Augustine for more than 20 years and was known as the People’s Bishop. He’d been a visionary who helped the church and its services grow. Funeral Mass is Wednesday at Cathedra Basilica of St. Augustine.

A typical old-time Florida cottage will have a new home come mid-October. The City of St. Augustine selected the Florida Agricultural Museum in Palm Coast to receive the cottage currently at 91 Coquina Ave. on Davis Shores. The cottage is on property the city bought to develop a small neighborhood park and make improvements to aid storm water management. Site work is set to start today.

The St. Johns Cultural Council has a new executive director — Christina Parrish-Stone, who has been director of programming for the Friends of Hemming Park for the last two years. She says she’ll work to spotlight areas of St. Johns County that don’t receive the attention they deserve. Among those places, she says, is the agricultural-centric area of Hastings. That comes even as UF IFAS for St. Johns County is reactivating its Agricultural Hall of Fame in time for Cracker Day in October.

If you’re in Palatka don’t forget the city’s new policy of garbage pickup only once a week goes into effect this week. You can find out which day you’re scheduled by going to the city’s website. For years the city has had twice-a-week pickup. Officials say this is a 90-day trail period. Either way price of service is going up. Businesses will continue to get five to six days a week service.

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