The Voice of the Gem City

News 9/3/2020

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

Florida Highway Patrol is investigating a hit-and-run that left one person dead and another injured Wednesday in St. Johns County. Early reports indicate the two cars involved were headed north on U.S. 1 at St. Augustine Shores, when the driver of the second car rear-ended the first and it overturned. The driver continued  on, pulling behind a BB&T Bank building apparently to conceal the car. Witnesses followed him and contacted authorities and St. Johns County deputies located him. The man, who has not been identified, was hospitalized and is cooperating.

A 10th generation Floridian who is reportedly the last commercial citrus grower in Putnam County has banned the University of Florida from using his farm for research. Wayde Alford made the decision after the removal of Gen. William Loring’s monument and his ashes from a UF controlled property in downtown St. Augustine. Alford linked the removal to a statement in June by UF’s president saying he was “personally committed to removing any monuments or naming that celebrates the Confederacy.” Alford said he also resigned from the University’s Hemp Advisory Committee. Previously he’s allowed researchers access to his grove for various research projects and partnered with them for a each production trial. He’s also supplied citrus to three school districts in the area.

A morning wreck on State Road 19 South at the foot of Cross Florida Barge Canal bridge in Putnam County has tied up traffic. Florida Highway Patrol and Putnam County law enforcement are on the scene. Drive with care.

A memorial vigil was held Wednesday evening in the town of Mulberry in Polk County as friends of the Baker family gathered to honor their two sons who were murdered in Melrose last week. The family about three weeks ago moved to Putnam County to be nearer family. The mother woke Aug. 26 to find the bodies of her sons, Robert Baker, 12, and Tayten Baker, 14, in a back room. Former neighbors reportedly organized the vigil. Mark Wilson Jr., 30, who was dating the boys’ aunt and living on the property, is in Putnam jail. Seventh Judicial Circuit State Attorney R.J. Larizza has said the death penalty is under consideration. Due to coronavirus, no grand jury is sitting and that has delayed the normal legal process.

Oregon resident Jorge Salinas has been appointed as chief of staff for Flagler County Administrator Jerry Cameron, according to the news organization FlaglerLive. The post is similar to that of deputy county administrator and some see the appointment as lining Salinas up to step in when Cameron retires next year. Salinas has been an assistant city manager in Oregon for the last five years. County commissioners have met him,

Joint funeral services for two Interlachen brothers killed in an auto accident Friday in Palatka will be held Saturday. Orlando Torres Vazquez, 56, and Jose Gomez Vazquez, 46, died in an accident on Reid Street involving a Palatka Police officer. The two were born in Puerto Rico and both worked at Softex Paper Company in Palatka. Services are Saturday at 11 a.m. at Johnson-Overturf Funeral Home chapel in Palatka. Among survivors is their mother, Carmen Vazquez of Interlachen.

Putnam County Emergency Operations Center and coronavirus testing center will be closed Saturday and Monday in observance of the Labor Day weekend. Coronavirus operations resume at 8 a.m. Tuesday. Florida Department of Health in Putnam County will continue operations remotely through the weekend and holiday for COVID-19 response.   This includes physician reporting, investigations and contact tracing.

 

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