This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.
Fog this morning delayed the start of the 2021 AFTCO Bassmaster Elite in Palatka. As the bassmasters.com site put it “the launch of the new season is dictated by Mother Nature, this time with a thick fog.” Anglers eventually headed onto the St. Johns River on the first day of the four-day tournament that has brought in top pro anglers from around the nation. Normally they would have taken off at safe light around 7 a.m. According to the Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, weigh-in is still at 3 p.m. even though the time to fish is less.
Florida Department of Health in Flagler County Wednesday issued a rabies alert for Bunnell and the Korona Community after a raccoon tested positive Tuesday. The raccoon attacked a dog, which had been vaccinated. The alert, the first in Flagler in 10 years, is in effect for 60 days.
Crescent City government continues to see turmoil. City Manager Michael Esposito reportedly is leaving for a job as city manager in Clayton, Ga. He’s just completing his first year on the job in the South Putnam town, which is in the midst of a controversy regarding whether to keep the police department or pay the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office to provide protection. Esposito put the entire police department on administrative leave in December because of alleged certification issues. Since then in issues tied to the police controversy, a recall petition for Commissioner Judy West has been filed by residents. The commission meets at 6 p.m. tonight, a rally for people seeking to keep the police department is set for 5:30 p.m. in front of City Hall.
Palatka City Commission meets at 6 p.m. tonight with municipal code changes among items on the agenda. They’ll also look at a contract with Ronald Brown for special magistrate services to hear code enforcement issues.
Palm Coast’s Reilly Opelka lost his pro tennis match at the 2001 Australian Open after a four-hour match that began Tuesday and ended Wednesday. Opelka lost to his best friend Taylor Fritz, who now faces Novak Djokovick, eight-time Australian Open champion.
A log truck wrecked Wednesday afternoon in Putnam County at the intersection of U.S. 17 and State Road 100 in San Mateo. Logs were scattered along the roadway causing traffic detours and delays.
Putnam County school officials are beginning to back pedal on a massive plan to close five schools and build several new ones in the next 10 years. At a school board workshop Wednesday, officials said the new proposal is no longer to close Melrose Elementary School and move those students to Ochwilla Elementary while a new school is built. Instead they’ll put up portables at Melrose for students to use if the school is rebuilt. Parents and residents in Melrose have fought the closing, pledging $25,000 to help keep the school open. Four other schools are still set to close although opposition to the plan is growing in at least two cases.
Florida Department of Health in Putnam County Wednesday reported two new coronavirus-related deaths – an 83-year-old woman and a 74-year-old man. The man’s death is under review. Total number of deaths in Putnam is at 109. In addition 20 new cases were reported for total of 5,659 cases in Putnam. Flagler County reported 32 new cases for a total of 5,550. St. Johns County reported 76 new cases for a total of 19,229.
Putnam County Sheriff’s Office is seeking the public’s help to solve a cold case from 2016. On Oct. 3, 2016, Frank Rutledge, 33, was standing by his truck on County Road 20A in Hawthorne when he was gunned down. No witnesses came forward. A reward of up to $5,000 is being offered through Crime Stoppers of Northeast Florida.
Wednesday marked the 12th anniversary of the disappearance of Haleigh Ann Marie Cummings from her father’s home in Satsuma. She was five years old at the time. Her disappearance in the middle of the night was discovered by her father’s then-girlfriend Misty Croslin, 17, and led to massive searches. There is still an active Florida Amber Alert for Haleigh, who would be 17 years old now, according to the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office.