The Voice of the Gem City

News April 12, 2021

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

Funeral service are being today for Capt. Mark Elam, the Putnam County corrections officer who died Thursday in a motorcycle accident. A procession will leave Johnson-Overturf Funeral Home at 3:30 p.m. and travel to Coventry Oaks Farm on the Springside Cutoff Road in Palatka for a service at 4 p.m. The Sheriff’s Office said some people are expected to line Palm Avenue by the funeral home to show their respect, and drivers are asked to be cautious in the area. Elam, 44, was struck by a Palatka Daily News delivery van early Thursday at U.S. 17 South and North Boundary Road in San Mateo as he headed to work.

A 14-year-old was arrested Friday in connection with six fires set in Palm Coast’s B Section earlier in the evening, according to the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office. The fires were started on wooded lots on Birchwood Drive, Big Dipper Lane, Burgundy Place, Burrell Place and two on Big Horn Drive. The firs spread quickly and in a couple of cases came near to homes. Several fence sections were destroyed. Surveillance video captured images of Nicole Jackson Maldonado, who authorities recognized because of previous encounters with her. She was found with a lime green lighter in her hand on Burbank Drive and refused to talk with officers. She was taken to the jail and charged with five counts of reckless and intentional burning of land and one count of felony criminal mischief over $1,000. She was turned over to the Department of Juvenile Justice who released her to her guardian pending a future court date.

A bicyclist was critically injured Friday night after a hit-and-run in Nocatee, according to the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office. The bicyclist was struck on Crosswater Parkway near the Del Webb neighborhood around 7 p.m. The driver of the vehicle took off, but deputies were able to identify the vehicle and driver. The victim was air-lifted to a nearby hospital. and the investigation is continuing.

Palatka City Commission meets today only this time as the Community Redevelopment Agency board. The board oversees efforts in the North and South historic districts and the Downtown Business District. This is the third time in a week the commission has gathered. The meeting is at 5 p.m. in City Hall on Second Street and is open to the public either in person or by going to the city’s YouTube site.

St. Augustine City Commission meets at 5 p.m. tonight. It will be the first time in years former Mayor George Gardner hasn’t done a run-up to the meeting so citizens know what to expect. Gardner, who died unexpectedly last week, was longtime author of the bi-weekly electronic St. Augustine Report.

At Tuesday’s Putnam County Commission meeting officials review the comprehensive plan that includes allowing up to 24 housing units per acre. That’s double what’s currently allowed. The change is raising concerns among residents especially since the county is talking about the increase in density as a way to handle anticipated growth at edges of the county including to the east near Hastings, the north with Clay County and the south near Crescent City. This applies only to unincorporated areas but will put a burden on cities in the area. If approved the comp plan then goes to the state for review and eventually back to county officials. The meeting begins at 9 a.m. and is open to the public.

Citizen complaints about drug dealing several months ago started an extensive undercover investigation that has led to several arrests and seizure of a large amount of drugs in Palatka last week, according to the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office. Undercover buys at a house at 2812 Lane St. over six months culminated with a warrant and a raid April 7. Methamphetamine, Ecstasy, painkillers and drug paraphernalia were found. Arrested were William Blevins and Tyree Belton for possession and sale. Samuel Fox Jr. and Dorothy Jones-Chiarello were charged with possession of drug paraphernalia. Blevins’ bond was set at $60,500 and Belton’s bond at $41,000.

Florida Department of Health in Flagler County reported 39 new coronavirus cases over the weekend, bringing their total since counting began in March of last year to 6,894. Putnam County reported 25 new cases bringing their total to 6,150. St. Johns County reported 91 new cases, bringing their total to 21,643.

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