The Voice of the Gem City

August 4, 2020

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

It’s Labor Day weekend the traditional last hurrah of summer for many. Expect government offices at city and county levels in Putnam, Flagler and St. Johns counties to be closed Monday as well as many businesses. If you’re on the roads, drive carefully. St. Johns and Flagler counties are expecting crowds at the beaches and lifeguards are on duty. Check for flags and posted signs to know water conditions. Rip currents are possible. If you’re caught in one remember to swim parallel to shore until you’re out of their pull. In St. Johns County shuttles are running throughout the long weekend at Mickler’s Landing in Ponte Vedra and to the St. Johns County Pier at St. Augustine Beach.

A Gainesville man died Thursday morning in south Putnam County near the Cross Florida Barge Canal. Florida Highway Patrol reported the wreck happened about 9:20 a.m. at State Road 19 and County Road 310. A sport utility vehicle was traveling east on CR 310 when the driver turned north onto SR 19 and entered the right of way of a southbound tractor-trailer, according to FHP. The front of the semi hit the front left of the SUV. The driver, a 24-year-old Gainesville man, was taken to Putnam Community Medical Center where he died. FHP reports he wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. The semi driver, a 46-year-old Ocala man, had minor injuries. Traffic was diverted for several hours due to fuel leaks and the crash investigation.

A two-vehicle crash late Thursday evening in the Melrose area blocked roads for several hours. Putnam County Fire Rescue, Florahome-Grandin Volunteer Fire Department and Melrose Fire Department responded to the crash at State Road 26 and State Road 100. Injuries were reported. Florida Highway Patrol is investigating.

About half of what’s known as the 100 block in downtown Palatka has been purchased by Palatka attorney Charlie Douglas, who is currently chairman of the Putnam County Chamber of Commerce. Douglas and his wife, Bethany Douglas, are listed as managers of Blue Crab Development Group LLC, purchasers. Purchase price was $2.56 million. The property includes about a half block from Reid Street to St. Johns Avenue that faces South Second Street and includes half-a-dozen connected buildings including the three-story Moragne building. The rest of the block is owned by the City of Palatka. Douglas also is part of a group that last year bought the former Penney’s building, which currently houses the Bingo Palace and is catty corner to the newly purchased property. Douglas is managing partner of Douglas Law Firm, which has offices in several cities. He says the building will allow his firm to expand. Reportedly St. Johns River State College will rent apartments for student athletes in some of the other buildings.

Putnam County Sheriff’s Office is seeking the public’s help in finding a 15-year-old Crescent City boy considered endangered. Deputies this morning were looking in the area of Rainbow Road for Jehdeiah Santmyer, whose family described him as having developmental delays with the mentality of a 10-year-old. If you see him, call the Sheriff’s Office or 911.

The Flagler Beach City Commission has appointed building official Rick McFadden as the city’s interim city manager. The move came at a special meeting during a budget workshop Thursday. Last week the city appointed Police Chief Matt Doughney to temporarily fill the city manager job left vacant by the death of Larry Newsom. Doughney would have to withdraw from his police pension in order to take the post.

St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office is seeking help identifying two suspects in a home burglary Wednesday in Flagler Estates. What appeared to be two juveniles on bicycles were spotted heading east on Cedar Ford Boulevard shortly after the burglary. Nothing was reported missing but the residence was ransacked and an estimated $20,000-$25,000 damage reported.

St. Johns County School District reported Thursday one student tested positive for coronavirus. The student is at Ponte Vedra High School and 31 other students who had contact have been advised to quarantine for two weeks. Florida Department of Health in St. Johns reported 72 new cases Thursday bringing the total number of cases since counting began in March to 4,485. Putnam County reported 13 new cases bringing the overall total to 1,818. Flagler County reported 11 new cases bringing the total to 1,340.

Normal is creeping back including high school football. Tonight Palatka High School Panthers host West Nassau High School Warriors. Only 30 percent of Veterans Memorial Stadium seating can be used. You can stay at home and listen to the game on WIYD 1260 AM or 104.9 FM or go online to putnamradio.com. Tune in at 6:45 p.m. Other teams are resuming games next week.

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