The Voice of the Gem City

March 1, 2021

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

A bicyclist taking part in a 72-hour endurance race in St. Johns County was struck and killed early Sunday morning and two women bicyclists with him were seriously injured, according to Florida Highway Patrol. The three were apparently taking part in Sea to Sea, a three-day non-stop expedition race that began and ended in St. Augustine. The race put on by ARGeorgia featured teams trekking, paddling and biking some 300 miles in the non-stop race. The three were struck around 2:30 a.m. by a 27-year-old St. Augustine man whose sedan was headed north in the outside lane of U.S. 1 near Interstate 95. For some reason he veered to the right and struck the three, FHP reported. The bicyclist who died was National Guard Capt. Troy Manz, 46, a physician from Evansville, Ind. Injured were a 46-year-old woman from Freeburg Ill., and a 41-year-old woman from St. Louis. The three were wearing helmets and in the bike lane. The driver stopped to help, according to a resident in the area who also gave aid. A hit-and run accident involving two other cyclists on County Road 304 has been reported but not confirmed.

Sunday’s accident comes as a St. Augustine man begins his cross-country bicycle ride today from San Diego, Calif., back to St. Augustine. Retired Army veteran Dave Parramore is seeking to raise awareness for veterans impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Last year he raised money for the Wounded Warriors Project by biking 500 miles to Key West.

Florida Department of Health reported 14 new deaths in the Putnam-St. Johns-Flagler county area between Friday and Sunday. In Putnam County three new coronavirus-related deaths were reported on Friday. The deaths of an 89-year-old woman, 76-year-old woman and 76-year-old man bring the death total to 126 since counting began last March. Between Friday and Sunday 23 new coronavirus cases were reported in Putnam for a total of 5,842. St. Johns County reported eight new deaths, bringing their death total in a year to 197. In addition, St. Johns passed the 20,000 mark for coronavirus cases with 115 new cases upping the total to 20,095. Flagler County reported three new deaths, bringing their total to 92 for the year. In addition 89 new cases were recorded in the three-day period, bringing their case total to 5,965.

St. Johns Count begins early registration for the 2021-22 school year today. You can register a student by going to the district site at or by going to the website of the school where the student is assigned.

Several municipal elections take place in the three counties on Tuesday. A two-way race for the Flagler Beach City Commission has seen one of the candidates hospitalized. Paul Harrington, who has run several times in the past, was reportedly hospitalized last week after Flagler Fire Rescue responded to a call at his home. Incumbent Eric Cooley has suspended most campaign activities.

A salute to barrel racers, supporters and just plain nice folks who came together Saturday at the Palatka Horseman’s Club for a fundraiser for Dede Eubanks. Organizers say they’re amazed at the response and the outpouring of help. An accident at home led to partial paralysis for the former barrel racer who has always been willing to help others. Eubanks, who is undergoing therapy five days a week, was able to attend using a motorized wheelchair. Some of the barrel racers donated their winnings to the fund for Eubanks. One mother from South Georgia who drove her daughter down to compete in the event ended up buying 400 tickets for basket drawings and gave her daughter another $100 for tickets. Just a couple of examples of the generosity on display.

Spring is here and so are the feathered visitors. Phil Peterson, who lives in Putnam County on the St. Johns River, had a Yellow-headed Blackbird on his feeder this weekend. That  sighting made the rare bird list put out by the Florida Ornithological Society. Birders speculate the bird may have been blown off course by the storms that hit Texas.

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