The Voice of the Gem City

News 3/9/2021

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

A three-hour Palatka Community Redevelopment Agency meeting Monday ended with revisions to some proposed goals and strategies. That means the revisions will be coming back before the group. Wording saying “shall” was changed to “may”, something that allows the agency more flexibility in decisions. Unlikely to happen will be appointing an administrator for the CRA, which oversees tax spending in the North and South Historic Districts and the Downtown Business District. Mayor Terrell Hill did raise the possibility of again hiring a Main Street manager in the future. The board, which includes the Palatka City Commission, County Commissioner Jeff Rawls and one downtown businessperson, also looked at a request for funds to rehab a house in the South Historic District. Once guidelines are drawn up that will come before the CRA again.

Three teens in Flagler County are facing charges after allegedly harassing, attacking and robbing a special needs teen. Flagler County Sheriff’s Office detectives tracked down the three after a three-week investigation of the Feb. 17 incident. The 19-year-old victim told deputies three teens she knew only by nicknames accused her of damaging their vehicle. She got in the vehicle and asked to be driven home. They refused and instead terrorized and beat her, according to detectives. They took her phone from her when she tried to call 9-1-1, tried to taser her and punched her in the face and head repeatedly, according to the report. The victim eventually got away and a neighbor came to her aid. After an investigation 16-year-old Jack Edward Fisher, and two 17-year-old girls — Madeline Alexis Zinno and Angelina Hernandez – were taken into custody. The Sheriff’s Office said confessions were obtained and the three face a variety of charges related to the incident. Zinno also was charged with possession of fentanyl, marijuana and methamphetamine. The three were turned over to the Department of Juvenile Justice in Daytona Beach.

Practice rounds begin at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach today as The Players Championship gets underway. Normally this would be Military Appreciation Day although coronavirus has tamped down the usual celebration. National Guard’s 125th Fighter Wing is doing a flyover in the area as a salute to the nation’s military. A #Match4Military fundraiser is underway.

Some students and staff at Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind were evacuated Monday after a bomb threat was received at the school in downtown St. Augustine. Campus police and law enforcement investigated the threat received Monday afternoon. By 4:15 the school’s day buses were allowed to leave campus and parents and guardians were notified of the delay. The threat is under investigation.

A man who authorities say shot himself following a day-long standoff in Fleming Island in Clay County Sunday is the only suspect in the killing of a woman in St. Johns County. St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office said Gregory Wayne Hopkins, 54, was in a relationship with the woman who lived in the northwest part of St. Johns County. Her name has not been released. St. Johns deputies found her body in the residence on Ivy Lakes Drive when they went to check on her at the request of the Clay County Sheriff’s Office. St. Johns Sheriff’s Office said the woman died from gunshot wounds and the death was the result of domestic violence.

Florida Department of Health in St. Johns County has changed their coronavirus death count, removing two cases and dropping the death toll to 198. On Monday St. Johns reported 17 new cases, bringing their total to 20,347. Flagler County reported one new coronavirus-related death on Monday, for a total of 94 since counting began in March of last year. Flagler reported 11 new cases for a total of 6,147. Putnam County reported four new cases bringing their total to 5,901.

A new finance director for the City of Palatka is expected to be approved by the Palatka City Commission Thursday. Lauren R. Shank will be sworn in at the meeting at City Hall. The job became vacant following the recent resignation of Logan Becker, who has taken a job with the Putnam County Clerk of Court.

Flagler College is celebrating. Their men’s basketball team won their first Peach Belt Conference tournament championship Sunday after defeating Georgia Southwestern State University, 73-60.

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