The Voice of the Gem City

September 17, 2020

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

The big pink bus cruised through Putnam and St. Johns counties Wednesday making stops at county Republican headquarters and building up support with their Women for Trump 2020 theme. Pres. Donald Trump’s daughter-in-law and adviser, Lara Trump, was on board along with former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Trump senior campaign adviser Katrina Pierson. Enthusiastic groups greeted them and were all in on the message to keep working for the re-election of the president.

Putnam County is getting funding for 12 new firemen for three years through a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The grant for nearly $2.4 million will provide for salaries and benefits for the 12 additional firemen. Normally such grants require a matching contribution from counties, but this program waives that requirement. Putnam is in the process of seeking to upgrade the fire fighting system, which depends heavily on volunteers.

Courts in Flagler and St. Johns counties were back in session Tuesday holding trials. Both cases involved drivers charged with speeding, eluding officers and putting others at risk and both ended in guilty verdicts. Both were jury trials and both were over quickly. Thomas Kiruthi, 41, of Palm Coast, was found guilty of felony fleeing and eluding and drunk driving. Kiruthi, who sped off when deputies tried to stop him as he drove 90 mph through a 45 mph zone, was tracked to his home where he made a run for the house but was tackled by a deputy. In St. Johns County Lascelles Forsythe was found guilty of three charges fleeing and eluding, criminal mischief threats against a law enforcement officer. Safety precautions were in place in both counties with court staff working with health departments to keep coronavirus chances at a minimum.

Florida Department of Health reports two coronavirus-related deaths in Flagler County and one in St. Johns County. The Flagler deaths were a 71-year-old man and a 91-year-old woman; one was a hospice patient. Flagler has had 21 coronavirus-related deaths since counting began in March. Flagler health officials reported seven new coronavirus cases on Wednesday bringing the total to 1,597. The death in St. Johns brings total number of coronavirus-related cases to 64. On Wednesday 30 new coronavirus cases were reported, bringing the total to 4,952. Florida Department of Health in Putnam County reported seven new coronavirus cases plus three transfers bringing the total to 1,990 cases.

Putnam County School Board will be naming athletic facilities at Palatka High School after a local man who was a stand-out playing for the Palatka Panthers and who went on to play for the University of Florida and have a career in the National Football League. The player – John L. Williams, of course.

Putnam County groups are rallying against a proposed dump expansion in the Keuka area of west Putnam. A protest is set for this afternoon at the intersection of State Road 20 and County Road 315. Protests are also scheduled Saturday and Monday.

A Flagler County man is in jail without bond on charges relating to stalking his ex-girlfriend, violating a no contact order, resisting arrest and criminal mischief. Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies were called to a residence in Bunnell on Wednesday after a woman called to say her ex-boyfriend was trying to get in and violating a no contact order from a previous domestic violence case. The suspect, James Simmons, 46, had left when deputies arrived, but he was found a couple of hours later when the Volusia County’s Sheriff’s Office AirOne spotted him during air surveillance

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