The Voice of the Gem City

February 24, 2021

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

Putnam County Sheriff’s Office is calling the death of 20-year-old Nyeisha Nelson a homicide after the young mother was positively identified during an autopsy by the District 23 Medical Examiner’s Office. Col. Joe Wells during a press conference Tuesday said fingerprints were used to identify Nelson, 20, who was last seen Feb. 11. Her disappearance triggered a countywide search. Remains were discovered in a shallow grave Saturday in a wooded area off County Road 308 outside of Crescent City. Details of the crime including cause of death were not being released. No suspects have been named. Wells did say evidence was found in Nelson’s gray Honda Accord which was located Feb. 18 but did not elaborate. Someone else may have driven the car and the Sheriff’s Office is seeking information about that and any other details regarding Nelson. A self-employed hairdresser, Nelson had taken her 5-year-old daughter to school on Feb. 11 and was seen by a neighbor. Her family reported her missing the next week after not hearing from her for several days. A reward is being offered for information.

Florida Department of Health in Putnam Country reported one new coronavirus-related death Tuesday. The death of the 91-year-old woman brings the total to 123 in Putnam. In addition, eight new coronavirus cases were reported plus one transfer out of county. Total is now 5,791 since last March. St. Johns County reported 42 new cases, bringing their total to 19,905. Flagler County reported 16 new cases, bringing their total to 5,813.

St. Augustine says its moving forward to bring festivals back to boost the economy of the tourism-driven town. However, Monday more festivals were announced canceled during the city commission meeting. Not happening this year will be the Celtic Games and the St. Patrick’s Parade in March and the Easter Parade in April. Also out will be the annual Drake’s Raid and Lions Seafood Festival. Rhythm and Ribs has been moved to October. Still on is the 36th annual Cathedral Festival at the Mission Nombre de Dios. The three-day event begins Friday and will include temperature checks, spacing and sanitizing. Food, live music and a midway are part of the event as is the always popular super raffle with a $10,000 top prize.

Flagler County School Board is seeking help from the county commission and Palm Coast officials to keep the Belle Terre Swim and Racquet Club open. The district has owned the club since 1996. For the second time in six years the club has a deficit. Since more adults than children use the facility, the school board is looking for financial help from other government entities.

Call Palatka City Hall and you may have trouble finding your party. City officials have announced resignations by three department heads and one coordinator. Human Resources Director Debra Robinson and HR coordinator Courtney Stephens, Planning Director Bernadette Fisher and Finance Director Logan Becker have left or will be leaving. Becker is becoming chief administrative officer for the Putnam County Clerk of Court and will stay with the city until mid-March. The HR department only came into being several years ago. Before that personnel matters were handled by the city manager. The planning director post has in recent months been part time. Fisher was hired in November.

Congrats to Ponte Vedra Girls Soccer Team and Bartram Trail Girls Soccer Team in St. Johns County for their wins on Tuesday night. The wins mean both are Final Four bound.

A St. Augustine police officer is credited with rescuing an individual from drowning. The man apparently had a seizure while operating his motorized wheelchair and the chair went into a pond behind the Gate gas station off Mizell Road last Monday. Officer Nicholas Argitis was first on the scene and found the individual face down in the pond. He pulled him onto dry land where the man began coughing and vomiting up water. Fire Rescue determined the man had had a seizure and he was taken to Flagler Hospital and released the next day. Argitis went the extra mile at the scene retrieving the man’s wheelchair and belongings and taking them to the camp where the individual lived. In earlier reports we incorrectly identified the St. Augustine officer as a sheriff’s deputy. Argitis is a 2019 graduate of the Criminal Justice Academy at St. Johns River State College where he was class officer.

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