The Voice of the Gem City

News May 14, 2021

Wolfson Children’s Hospital Bass Tournament continues today with VIPs and sponsors fishing on the St. Johns River from Palatka. Saturday is the culmination of the tournament with some 800 fishermen headed out from the city docks in the morning. Weigh-ins are scheduled to begin at the riverfront at 3 p.m. both days. Tickets are still available for the bass boat, motor and trailer grand prize. Drawing is May 22 and tickets can be purchased by going to the Wolfson site. The bass tournament is a major fund-raiser for the Jacksonville-based hospital and a big annual economic boost for Palatka area businesses.

Businesses and governments are assessing the potential impact of the federal Centers For Disease Control announcement that fully vaccinated people don’t have to wear masks in many indoor settings. Health officials are speculating the change will be an incentive for more people to get the vaccine. St. Johns County parents already are lobbying to have the mask requirements removed. Now Putnam County parents are pushing for a similar change and the CDC announcement should increase the pressure.

Florida Department of Health in Putnam County reported one new coronavirus-related death in the Thursday report, bringing the death total to 151 since counting began in March a year ago. Putnam also reported 13 new cases for a total of 6,572. St. Johns County reported two new coronavirus-related deaths for a total of 214. St. Johns reported 33 new cases Thursday for a total of 22,827. Flagler County changed its death total dropping deaths by one for a total of 110 coronavirus-related deaths. They reported 13 new cases for a total of 7,371.

The body of a missing Nocatee man was found Thursday in a pond by a St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office dive team. Authorities began looking for Frank Robertson, 73, Wednesday after he was last seen at his home between 2:30 and 3:30 a.m. Robertson was legally blind.

More than 220,000 people have signed an online petition at asking that a 14-year-old boy accused in the stabbing death of a 13-year-old female classmate in St. Johns County be tried as an adult for first-degree murder. Aiden Fucci is currently charged as a juvenile with second-degree murder in the death of Tristyn Bailey, who reportedly slipped out of her house to meet Fucci. St. Johns Sheriff Rob Hardwick is scheduled to meet with the girl’s parents today. Nearly $40,000 has been donated to the Bailey family through a GoFundMe account.

Palatka Mayor Terrill Hill and other commissioners let tempers fly at Thursday’s city commission meeting, chastising Gov. Ron DeSantis and local Rep. Bobby Payne for failing to invite any of them to an impromptu breakfast Monday morning in Palatka. About a dozen business people and elected officials were asked to join DeSantis by Payne. Among them was longtime attorney Don Holmes, who is currently city manager. Some commissioners questioned his loyalty for going to the meeting. Holmes apologized noting he wasn’t even introduced to the governor at what was a basic meet-and-greet.  Hill said city commissioners not being asked was racist. All of the commission is black.

Weekend activities in Putnam County include the Wolfson tournament and an auction at St. James United Methodist Church in Palatka on Saturday. St. James holds a breakfast from 7-9 a.m. at the fellowship hall at 400 Reid Street with an auction preview before the auction begins at 9 a.m. Antiques, trips, oddities and upscale items will be up for sale.

This weekend St. Johns County continues Romanza Festivale of Music and the Arts with musical events ranging from classical music to jazz to opera at Ancient City Baptist, St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church and Trinity Episcopal Church tonight and Saturday. Go online to for the schedule. Tonight The Beach Boys play at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre and Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famer Buddy Guy and the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band play at the Amphitheatre Saturday. At Francis Field Saturday it’s the AS IF!The’90s Fest. At the St. Johns County Fairgrounds on Saturday the St. Johns County Cattlemen’s Association hosts the St. Augustine Shrine Club for a barbecue, car show, corn hole tournament and barrel racing jackpot from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

In Flagler County the Flagler Palm Coast High School Thespian Troupe goes back on stage for the first time in a year. Today and Saturday they offer performances of the Stephen Sondheim musical Into the Woods.

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