The Voice of the Gem City

September 8, 2020

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

The Crustacean Nation is back. We’re referring to the shrimpers who turn out yearly to take advantage of the annual shrimp run on the St. Johns River. Fishing writer and guide Jim Sutton with the St. Augustine Record keeps up with the armada and the hundreds of shrimpers who cast nets from piers along the river especially in Palatka.

Coronavirus cases over Labor Day weekend brought Putnam County’s total to 1,864 cases since counting began in March. Florida Department of Health in Putnam County reported seven new cases on Monday, 14 on Sunday and 15 on Saturday. In Flagler County the total is now at 1,454 with 41 cases reported Monday, 19 Sunday and 26 Saturday. St. Johns County’s total is at 4,675 with 42 cases Monday, 56 Sunday and 48 Saturday.

An auto crash this morning on State Road 100 blocked the roadway west of St. Johns River Water Management District headquarters. Traffic heading to Gainesville and Q.I Roberts Jr.-Sr. High School was being diverted to County Road 309C.

A damp weekend for Labor Day. The rain gauges at WIYD/WPLK recorded three-and-a-half inches over the weekend with two-and-a-half of those falling Monday.

Some people were working Labor Day including the crew removing the St. Augustine monument to Confederate war dead. The out-of-town construction company hired to do the work is placing metal supports around and underneath the memorial that has been in the Plaza de la Constitucion in downtown St. Augustine more than 100 years. Moving is scheduled to Trout Creek Fish Camp nearly 20 miles north of St. Augustine. Owner Randy Ringhaver offered to place the statue there and is putting in a park to house the obelisk that lists the names of St. Augustine residents who died fighting for the Confederacy during the Civil War.

The St. Johns County Republican Executive Committee won’t be supporting St. Augustine commissioner Leanna Freeman in her bid for re-election. Last week the committee voted to removed her from the official slate of candidates which means she won’t be running with the party’s support and her name won’t be showing up on mailers, digital literature and other marketing materials put on by the party. Freeman recently voted to take down the city’s Confederate memorial to the war dead. Party officials cited other questions about her voting record and her lack of attendance at the party’s official meetings. Freeman, an attorney, is running in a non-partisan race to keep her seat. She faces a Democrat, Barbara Blonder, a Flagler College professor.

Former Palm Coast City Council member Mary DiStefano, 83, died Saturday after a brief illness. She retired to Palm Coast 28 years ago but soon was working in the health care industry. In 2003, DiStefano ran for city council and won with 69 percent of the vote. She served two terms.

Proposed updates to the Putnam County Comprehensive Plan and the Future Land Use Map will be reviewed by the Putnam Planning Commission Wednesday at 4 p.m. The meeting is being conducted on ZOOM and will be streamed on YouTube. The plan and map help officials make determinations about future growth in the county. To make comments contact Planning Manager Mike Brown in advance.

Area law enforcement is seeking a 41-year-old man who violated a no contact order after being released from jail. When Putnam County Sheriff’s Office found out about the violation they called Jeremy Scott Morel at his job in St. Augustine. Shortly after that they received an alert Morel’s ankle monitor had been tampered with. St. Johns County detectives attempted to locate Morel and the monitor was found at his workplace. Witnesses said he had ripped off the ankle monitor. Warrants are out on Morel for violation of the no contact order in a battery case. He is a registered sex offender and a convicted felon, whose latest address is in Interlachen. If you have information, contact CrimeStoppers of NE Florida at 1-888-277-8477. Tips are anonymous and eligible for a reward if leading to an arrest.

A 15-year-old who went missing from his home Friday was found safe within several hours of the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office sending out requests for help. Jedediah Santmyer was found on County Road 308D in the Crescent City area and appeared unharmed. His family reported him missing and because of developmental issues, he was considered endangered.

Coronavirus caused Rotary Cub of Crescent City to cancel their annual Swine & Wine Fundraiser. The club has decided to pre-sell smoked whole pork butts with all proceeds to go toward the club and their “Dollars for Scholars” program that funds scholarships for local high school seniors. Butts are $25. To order contact any Rotarian or call 3860937-2021. Deadline is Oct. 2.

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