The Voice of the Gem City

November 20, 2019

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

Thanksgiving is a go – County Line Produce at Hastings reopened this morning. The stand on the line between Putnam and St. Johns counties on State Road 207 traditionally opens for business the week before Thanksgiving and lots of area cooks wouldn’t know what to do without them. The Bland family grows produce and runs the stand now in operation for 54 years.

Identity of a body found Tuesday on the grounds of the St. Augustine Visitor Information Center has not been confirmed, according to the St. Augustine Police Department. PIO Officer Dee Brown said the death “appears to be natural causes and there are no signs of foul play.” The body is at the District 21 Medical Examiner’s office and race, sex and name of the person have not been released. The individual was found near the sidewalk on the Center in an area of shrubbery.

Volunteer fire departments in Putnam County were called out this morning to a structure fire in the Interlachen area. The 6:40 a.m. call out was for a structure at Lenora Avenue, Fowler Street and Junior Lake Drive. The fire marshal is on the scene to determine cause of the fire.

St. Johns County administrator Michael Wanchick was fired Tuesday In a unanimous vote by the county commission. It comes after increasing tension between Wanchick and several of the commission with the latest episode dealing with the closing of all of Mickler’s Landing beach access while work was being done on beach restoration in front of 13 private houses. The commission said that was more than they authorized. Clerk of Court and Comptroller Hunter Conrad will serve as interim county administrator but must resign his current position. Wanchick has been with the county since 2007 and will be eligible for 20 weeks of severance pay plus accrued vacation and sick leave and continuing insurance coverage for he and his family for 20 weeks.

Flagler County School Board Tuesday voted down an attempt to open meetings with a prayer or invocation. Board Chair Janet McDonald since summer has sought to have members of the clergy offer a prayer and spotlight their health and wellness efforts to help the community. In the end the board stuck with the way they’ve done things since reportedly in the 1970s.

A 37-year-old man probably won’t be on Santa’s good boy list this year after allegedly stealing his grandmother’s car and leading deputies on a chase around Flagler County Monday afternoon. The grandmother reported Franklin Crawley took the 2015 Buick Enclave without her permission. A Volusia County deputy spotted Crawley and Flagler deputies pursued the man on U.S. 1 where he sped up and began driving recklessly in Bunnell. The chase continued along County Road 13 and later Sawgrass Road where Crawley avoided stop sticks and a patrol car blocking the road. His path was monitored from the air by a Florida Highway Patrol plane and Flagler’s FireFlight helicopter. Stop sticks eventually disabled the tires on the stolen car and Crawley and his passenger, Christian Grasso, 37, fled the car. They were tracked to a house on Wood Ash Lane where Grasso was found in a construction trailer on the property while Crawley was in the garage drinking a Coca Cola. “I hope he enjoyed that soda because we only serve water at the Green Roof Inn,” said Sheriff Rick Staly, referring to the nickname for the county jail. The two men, who have previous arrest histories, face a variety of charges.

A mother-and-daughter team who care about K-9s have helped the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office dogs be a lot safer. Their K-9s United nonprofit has paid for sensory equipment to go in five units to detect if the interiors become overheated and then notify deputies. Debbie Johnson and daughter Emma visited the Putnam Sheriff’s Office Tuesday to see the new equipment in action.

 

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