This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.
Get your dictionaries ready – North Florida’s 14 top spellers take the stage tonight at Jacksonville University to strut their vowels and consonants at the First Coast Spelling Bee. Contestants include Manischa Wijayawardhana, a sixth-grade student at Switzerland Point Middle School, in St. Johns County; Caleb Rimpel, 8th grader at Christ the King Lutheran in Flagler County; and Armand Küykendall, sixth grader at Miller Middle School in Putnam County. Channel 4 will broadcast the bee and stream it on News4Jax.com, 8-10 p.m. tonight. Winners from around the country compete later in Washington, D.C., in the Scripps Spelling Bee.
Palatka City Commission looks at the fate of the Tilghman House tonight. The city–owned building is leased to the Palatka Art League that has been maintaining the facility including repairs and painting. Florida Pest Control last year donated tenting the house after termites were discovered and the city told the League they needed to find a way to take care of the problem. City Manager William Shanahan will make his recommendations. Citizens can speak beforehand. Mayor Terrell Hill is having the city manager look at city-owned buildings around the town leased by non-profits and determine the “highest and best use” of the properties. Word is at least one businessman has been offered the opportunity to buy the house. City meeting begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall. On the consent agenda is also a list of surplus properties that can be sold.
Two men found at the scene of a burglarized home in Melrose Wednesday were taken to the Putnam County Jail after an investigation showed more than $35,000 in items had been taken from the residence, which was described as trashed. Charges ranged from burglary to possession of methamphetamine and hydrocodone. Justin Lee Harris, 28, was booked into jail on a $23,000 bond. Justin Michael Buchler, 36, had a $31,000 bond. Harris was found near the house, Buchler was tracked down further away trying to cover himself with the dirt from two gopher turtle burrows. He’s facing additional charges related to endangering threatened species.
Putnam County deputies responded to reports of a dead person at a house on Nicole Drive on State Road 19 South this morning. A Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman said authorities believe the 31-year-old woman died from natural causes. She reportedly had recently been to two area hospitals seeking medical attention.
Flagler County Sheriff’s Office has launched a Cyber Crimes Unit in response to concerns over increased online enticement of children by sexual predators, child exploitation and child obscenity and pornography cases. On Tuesday they made heir first arrest charging 15-year-old Elijah James Cousin from the Mondex area with five counts of possession of child pornography and one count of manufacturing child pornography. He used a PayPal account allegedly to sell images and several Internet related accounts for “trading, sharing and selling child images.” The teen said he made “a couple of hundred dollars,” according to reports. He was turned over to the Department of Juvenile Justice in Daytona Beach who refused to accept him. He was then released to the custody of his guardian, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Historian and educator Lenton “Pop” Herring is guest speaker at the Hawthorne History Museum Saturday, the last day of Black History Month. A longtime history teacher, Herring’s program is entitled “From the Outhouse to the White House.” The lecture is at 2 p.m. at the museum housed in New Hope United Methodist Church, which is where Herring was baptized in 1958. The lecture is open to the public.
St. Augustine Historical Society has selected the Fort Mose Historical Society: African American Community of Freedom Inc. as recipient of the 2020 Herschel E. Shepard Award. The group was chosen for their initial and sustained efforts to preserve the site of the first black settlement and to spread its history.