The Voice of the Gem City

June 24, 2021 The Roving Reporter

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

The first of the annual test results from Florida schools is out with St. Johns County near the top. The Grade 3 Florida Standards Assessments released Wednesday by the Florida Department of Education show districts with higher rates of in-person instruction did best. St. Johns County was nearly at the top with 78 percent of third grade students scoring at Level 3 or higher. Three is considered performing at grade level. Putnam had 39 percent of third graders score at Level 3 or higher. Flagler had 59 percent of students at Level 3. No tests were given last year due to coronavirus. Other test results including state rankings will be coming out later this year, but Grade 3 scores are often a good indication of how districts will do.

A 29-year-old Palatka resident is in jail on a second-degree murder charge after a shooting in Volusia County. Toriano Brooks was arrested Wednesday in Palatka after a five-hour operation overseen by Putnam County Sheriff’s Office Special Operations Bureau. Palatka Police and Florida Department of Law Enforcement took part in the operation on Palatka’s northside. Brooks is the suspect in the murder of Kavon Banks, 35, whose body was found by a passing motorist at the intersection of State Road 415 and Lake Ashby Road in New Smyrna Beach. Brooks, who reportedly got out of prison the first of the month, is charged with second-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and was put in Putnam’s jail awaiting transfer to Volusia.

Palatka Police say they are looking for a suspect in the Tuesday armed robbery of an internet café in Palatka at Midtown Shopping Center at St. Johns and Husson avenues. At 9:45 p.m. a black man reportedly robbed employees of Gold Rush Cyber Café as they left the building with the night’s receipts. An armed security guard confronted the man who fired at him with a handgun and the guard fired back, according to police. No one was reported injured.

A Ponte Vedra Beach man arrested earlier in the year for sexual battery on a 12-year-old girl is now facing charges of possession of child sexual abuse images, according to the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office. Matthew Charles Webster was arrested last week on 10 counts of possession of obscene material. The images were discovered on his cellphone after he was arrested on the sexual battery charge on March 30. The Sheriff’s Office says Webster originally met the 12-year-old through SnapChat during a period when Webster was selling vape pens and marijuana to children and she invited him to her house.

Palatka City Commission will be looking at salaries for workers during Thursday’s commission meeting. They’ve changed the meeting time to 5 p.m. instead of 6 and because a large audience is expected the meeting has been moved to the Putnam County School Board board room, which is across the street from City Hall on North Second Street.

Weather forecasters say the day started off sunny but the chance of rain and thunderstorms is coming this afternoon and evening. At WPLK/WIYD studios in Palatka the rain gauge showed an inch fell Wednesday while the East Palatka gauge showed a quarter-of-an-inch. Our rain expert calls that a George Washington inch.

Hopefully, the rain won’t take away from tonight’s free Concert in the Plaza in downtown St. Augustine. I-Vibes Reggae will take to the gazebo at the Plaza de la Constitucion from 7-9 p.m. Sure to stay dry will be concertgoers to the St. Augustine Music Festival performance at the Cathedral Basilica from 7:30 to 10 p.m. Musicians from the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra are putting on a free concert featuring Mozart.

Look out tonight and the moon is going to seem really bright. It’s the last supermoon of 2021 and is known as a Strawberry Moon. The name came into being from Native Americans because it marks the strawberry picking season in North America. It’s also called the Rose Moon, Planting Moon and Mead Moon. The ancients knew something about the importance of agriculture.

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