The Voice of the Gem City

March 12, 2021

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

Daylight Savings Time begins early Sunday morning so don’t forget to turn your clocks forward an hour. Fire departments say this also is a great time to change the batteries and check your smoke detectors. Proponents say it gives more daylight time in the evenings. Those less taken point out you’re back to getting up in the dark.

On a positive Daylight Savings Time note, you’ll have more daylight in which to read the third and final book in the 2021 One Book, One Putnam series. One Book Committee’s Stephen Crowley says it’s time to open Stars of Alabama by Sean Dietrich aka Sean of the South. This is the popular columnist’s first published work of fiction. With coronavirus the book committee came up with three books for the county to read this year. Others were News of the World by Paulette Jiles and Cracker Gothic by Wanda Duncan.

Golfer Sergio Garcia leads at TPC Sawgrass at Ponte Vedra Beach this morning after shooting a 7-under 65 on Thursday. That included a birdie-birdie-eagle finish. Darkness brought the first round to a halt with 21 players not finishing. The Players Championship continues through the weekend with NBC carrying the tournament Saturday and Sunday. Garcia won the 2008 Players and has been runner-up twice.

A proposal involving buying three buildings in the 200 block of downtown Palatka came up at Thursday’s Palatka City Commission meeting. Marty Cummins gave a brief presentation for Florida EB5 Investments LLC that includes putting in a restaurant, deli, sports shop, bookshop and events center. He also wanted a change in alcohol laws. City manager Don Holmes noted conditional use requests would be the route to go for alcohol exceptions but Cummins said his four foreign investors including ones from Mexico and Dubai didn’t want to wait. Mayor Terrell Hill said he had talked with Cummins about the plans and the conditional use possibility. Cummins may have been familiar to some. In 2008 and 2009 he tried to get Palatka to change the name of downtown to booktown and said he had foreign investors who would buy up the area and put in bookstores. That commission eventually rejected working with him.

Three Flagler Count teens were arrested earlier this month following an investigation into the robbery and battery of a special needs woman, 19. Flagler County Sheriff’s Office Thursday announced the arrest of a fourth teen – 15-year-old Sabrina Henderson – after they said she conducted a five-day harassment campaign against the special needs woman on Facebook Messenger. She blamed the 19-year-old victim for ruining the teens’ lives. The victim tried to recant her story until detectives found out about the harassment. Henderson was charged with harassing a victim, a first-degree felony, and turned over to the Department of Juvenile Justice, which released the girl to her parent. Sheriff Rick Staly wasn’t pleased “The DJJ System is broken,” he said.

Crescent City Commission once again abolished its police department Thursday. The 4-1 vote echoed an earlier vote that had to be dismissed because the legal notice for the meeting wasn’t properly worded. Police functions will be turned over to the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office but questions remain including what property will be turned over to the sheriff and the total cost. A group of citizens have fought against the change to no avail. Currently the police budget is about $525,000 yearly. Former Mayor Brett Peterson has estimated start-up costs including turning over the police department property will be more than $915,000.

St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office is warning people their agency number (904-824-8304) is being spoofed and used by scammers claiming to be U.S. Marshals. Scammers tell the intended victim their social security number was used to launder money or traffic drugs in Texas, Arizona or New Mexico. Authorities say ask for an ID number and don’t give out money or personal information. Hang up and call the Sheriff’s Office.

A motorcycle crash on State Road 17 South Thursday in the Satsuma area backed up traffic and caused delays. Florida Highway Patrol worked the accident with injuries that happened at U.S. 17 and Pineway Avenue.

The Dunn’s Creek roadway widening project in Putnam County is bringing road closures as a drainage area project is completed. Flagging operations will be in place on Hoot Owl Road on U.S. 17 South today through Monday. Starting Monday on State Road 20 Baden Powell Road will be temporarily closed to traffic through early May. It’s part of the widening improvement project from the Putnam County line to SW 56th Avenue in Alachua County.

Weekend events in St. Johns County include Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder tonight at Ponte Vedra Concert Hall and the St. Augustine Art and Craft Event Saturday and Sunday at the St. Augustine Beach pier. St. Augustine Pilot Club will be selling caladiums and cabbage in the parking lot of Watson Realty off U.S. 1 Saturday from 9 to noon. In Putnam County Rotary Club of Palatka continues its annual blood screening project Saturday at Westminster Hall across from First Presbyterian Church in Palatka.

Florida Department of Health in St. Johns County reports 41 new coronavirus cases for a total of 20,453 since counting began a year ago. Putnam County reported three new cases for a total of 5,919. Flagler County reported 22 new cases for a total of 6,201 coronavirus cases.

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