The Voice of the Gem City

January 5, 2021

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

A housing/retail project expected to daily mean 4,200 more vehicle trips into already crowded downtown St. Augustine goes before the Planning and Zoning Board today at 2 p.m. in City Hall. Developers are proposing up to 165 apartments, 167 hotel rooms including banquet and meeting rooms, restaurant and spa as well as 27,000 square feet of retail and commercial space a marina with up to 65 slips and two parking garages as well as some on-street parking. It’s all going around and by San Sebastian Winery and is off King Street, Riberia Street and the San Sebastian Marina. The San Sebastian Inland Harbor project has tried to get off the ground for years. Due to coronavirus, say city officials, seating will be limited. They’re also not allowing anyone to phone in comments, but requiring them to line up outside and come in one at a time to speak.

Palatka City Commissioner Mary Lawson Brown stepped down from the dais Monday night after 36 years on the commission. Stepping up to be sworn in was Willie “Slurb” Jones who ran for the seat after Brown decided not to seek re-election. Also sworn in was Commissioner Tammie McCaskill who did not have any opposition for re-election. Because of coronavirus, seating was limited but a video and zoom calls from people including former U.S. Rep. John Mica and State Rep. Audrey Gibson added a celebratory note. On hand to give Brown a key to the city was Mayor Terrell Hill who has been in the hospital with coronavirus.

Palatka City Hall, meanwhile, remains closed to the public because of coronavirus cases. In addition to Mayor Terrill Hill, at least six other staffers including Community Resources employees next door to City Hall have tested positive. At the Palatka Police Department three employees have tested positive. Officials at Monday’s meeting observed a minute of silence for Deborah Foster who died Saturday reportedly with coronavirus. Foster, who was a senior records clerk with the Police Department, had been with the department since 2015 and one Facebook post from a fellow worker recalled with affection how “she always greeted you with a smile but could set you straight if you didn’t get your paper work in on time.”

Alachua County Sheriff’s detectives are investigating an apparent murder- suicide that left two boys, one 11 and the other 17, dead in Hawthorne Monday. A 45-year-old woman was taken to an area hospital with a life-threatening gunshot wound, according to the sheriff’s office. Deputies responded after a 4:30 p.m. call reporting shots fired at a house at 16331 SE County Road 2082.

In Flagler County a witness to an accident is being praised for stepping in to help rescue a man ejected from his scooter after a collision with a vehicle around 11 p.m. Sunday night on Palm Coast Parkway. Tyler C. Jacques, 18, was seriously injured after the wheel of a sedan reportedly struck his scooter. Witness Christina M. Atwell, 42, was helping the victim when Flagler County Sheriff’s deputy Austin Dalrymple arrived. Both the scooter and sedan were on fire as the two prepared to move the injured man. An explosion caused them to quickly pull him away from the site. Florida Highway Patrol is investigating. Name of the sedan driver, 18, has not been released.

Florida Department of Health in Flagler County reported 29 new coronavirus cases on Monday. Total is now 3,959. One case was taken off the report for Jan. 2. Putnam County reported 12 cases Monday for a total of 4,161. St. Johns County reported three additional deaths bringing the total since last March to 118 deaths. On Monday, 101 new coronavirus cases were reported bringing the total to 13,858.

Susan Orlean’s The Library Book is the title for St. Johns Reads 2021. For the 16th year St. Johns County is holding their county read that this year moves up to January. A St. Johns Reads 5K Race at Nocatee on Jan. 30 concludes events. Several weeks ago Putnam County’s One Book One Putnam announced they’ve selected three books for their countywide read and are stretching the event over three months. Paulette Jiles’ News of The World s the book for January, Wanda Duncan’s Cracker Gothic is for February and Stars of Alabama by Sean Dietrick will be the book for March.

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