The Voice of the Gem City

LOCAL NEWS 7/14/2021

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

A warrant has been issued in a shooting that left one man dead and his two brothers wounded early Tuesday morning in Crescent City. No name has been released. Putnam County Sheriff’s Office detectives talked with a number of people after deputies were called to the shooting in the area of Gunby Court and Walnut Street around 2:30 a.m. A spokeswoman said the brothers were “embroiled in a domestic situation with occupants of an apartment on Gunby Court and a gunfight ensued outside the apartment.” Officials say the shooting was an isolated incident. Deputies reported three people were found with gunshot wounds including Mark Anthony Arbelo Jr., 24, of Crescent City, who died at the scene. Alexander Desmond Arbelo, 21, was shot in the stomach and taken to the hospital. Angel David Arbelo, 22, was shot in the leg and released from the hospital. A dark-colored Jeep involved in the incident was located and recovered by deputies during the course of the day. If you have information, contact CrimeStoppers of Northeast Florida at 1-888-277-8477 and possibly be eligible for a reward.

A proposed ordinance designed to preserve and protect veteran-related landmarks and memorials was put on hold by the Putnam County Commission Tuesday. The meeting drew about 100 people with the majority opposed to the ordinance which has been tied to a Confederate memorial on the lawn of the Putnam County Courthouse although all veteran-related statues and memorials are covered. People grew restless during the lengthy meeting that included a Port Authority meeting and a workshop on several issues including IT proposals. People who had entered the boardroom before the meeting had to exit and go through a metal scan as did their belongings. Several Putnam County Sheriff’s deputies were on hand and a couple of times the crowd called out remarks with one woman going up to the podium while the IT presentation was going on. Commissioners after more than two hours agreed to put the ordinance on hold with suggestions to expand the scope of the protection to include more historic monuments not just ones for the military.

Bunnell City Commission will be choosing two citizens to fill two seats on the commission left vacant following two resignations. Bill Baxley resigned last week calling it more of a retirement. He’s decided to move to New Hampshire to be near family, following the death of his wife. Baxley served on the commission eight years and was in the final stretch of his third three-year term. Over the weekend Commissioner Donnie Nobles resigned. He had a stroke several months ago and was recovering when he suffered a second stroke. Both seats are up for election in March 2022 and commissioners agreed to appoint two citizens to fill the seats until then. People interested should send or drop off application letters and resumes to City Hall.

St. Johns County will have law enforcement officers at all 46 of the district schools for the coming year. The School District Tuesday announced the expanded partnership with the St. Johns Sheriff’s Office. Currently 63 officers make up the Sheriff’s Office Youth Resource Division. Before now, 10 of the district’s schools had security workers trained under Florida’s Guardian program. For the coming school year those workers will be replaced by deputies. School officials say the officers both keep schools safe and enforce laws but also  build up a rapport with students. Sheriff Rob Hardwick says with the expansion of the statewide Safe Schools Act, the additional officers will only make a modest impact on his budget and that of the district. Two schools – R.B. Hunt Elementary and Ketterlinus Elementary – have St. Augustine Police officers as their resources partners.

When Dr. Iftikhar Ahmad celebrated his 30th year in practice in Palatka, he handed out to patients a bag declaring: I Treat. God Cures. That dedication was remembers Tuesday as former patients, Putnam Community Medical Center staff and fellow Rotarians gathered to dedicate a legacy garden at the hospital in memory of the doctor who served the Putnam County community for 45 years. His widow and two daughters as well as grandchildren were on hand for the ceremony to Dr. Ahmad who died in 2020.  Jeannette Stanley was one of those patients. She recalled first being introduced to Dr. Ahmad by fellow physician Dr. Bennie Massey and then taking her mother to him. Later she too became a patient of Dr. Ahmad and stayed with him until his retirement. That was the sort of rapport the immigrant from Pakistan built with all his patients.

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