The Voice of the Gem City

October 8, 2019

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

Plans for Booker Park on Palatka’s Northside continue moving forward. Mayor Terrill Hill at a meeting Monday said additional work is planned at the park on North 10th Street including using land for walking paths. That’s on land currently occupied by the sanitation department which Hill wants to move. A recent effort to move the City Hall, Palatka Police Department and the sanitation department failed for lack of support from the public — and fellow commissioners. Some $1.7 million in improvements are underway at Booker with money coming from a variety of sources including grants. Two $50,000 FRDAP grants – one for Booker and the other for Hank Bryan Park — are up for review by the city planning board Thursday.

A two-vehicle crash in Interlachen Sunday left one person dead and two others in critical condition. Florida Highway Patrol reports a 2001 Jeep Cherokee driven by Brandy Hunter, 45, of Vero Beach, was headed east on State Road 20 when for an unknown reason the Jeep went off the road onto the right shoulder and then over-corrected back onto 20. The Jeep collided head-on with a 1998 Dodge Durango driven by Cecil Feltner, 58, of Interlachen who was headed west on 20. Hunter died at the scene, Feltner and a passenger in Hunter’s Jeep were taken to UF Health Gainesville with critical injuries. The accident happened near the intersection with Galilee Shores Drive.

U.S. Congressmen John Rutherford and Michael Waltz were in St. Augustine Monday  gaining support for their proposed bill creating the Nation’s Oldest Port National Heritage Area. That area would include watersheds in St. Johns, Flagler, Nassau and Duval counties  and include the St. Johns River, St. Mary’s River and Castillo de San Marcos National Monument. The legislation is aimed at helping preserve the environment and historical properties as the area sees unprecedented growth. St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum has been selected as fiscal agent for the heritage area.

Rough waters and high winds off the coast are causing continuing problems for sea turtles that are being washed back onto the beaches in St. Johns and Flagler counties. Last week 70 young turtles were found on St. Johns beaches brining the total this season to around 120 found. Once the turtles hatch from eggs at the beach they head out into the ocean and to an area known as the Sargasso Sea where a layer of seaweed gives them a place to feed and shelter. However, storms can cause the seaweed to break off and the turtles end up back on the beaches. If you find a turtle, don’t try to return them to the ocean. Call FWC at 1-888-404-3922 and a volunteer will pick up the turtle. They are taken to the Whitney Sea Turtle Hospital where they get medical attention and eventually are released several miles out.

Daily uniforms for Putnam County Sheriff’s Office deputies are undergoing a change for safety reasons. Over the next few weeks deputies will  begin wearing new uniforms made of a cotton-blend material rather than the current polyester material. The uniforms are a slightly different shade of green. Also new will be wearing ballistic resistant vests on top of the uniforms rather than under the uniform shirts. Turns out vests worn under the uniform result in dangerous temperatures during times of physical exertion and prolonged exposure in Florida’s hot weather.

Stop sticks helped Flagler Count Sheriff’s Office arrest two men wanted for felony charges including aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer after fleeing across Clay and St. Johns counties. Deputies were on the lookout for a sedan containing three men wanted after allegedly stealing a trunkful of items from separate Walmarts in Duval and Clay counties. When the vehicle was spotted on I-95 a patrol car was placed in the emergency lane and stop sticks put on the highway. The men didn’t stop but the vehicle became disabled at the State Road 100 exit after the stop sticks did their job on the tires. Two men fled their vehicle while one —  Michael Ellis, 35 – remained in the car. Ellis was arrested and a K-9 used to catch Antrell Bryant, 27. Both are from Orlando. The third man is being sought. Items including Lego playsets, BlueRay DVDs and kitchen appliances were found in the trunk.

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