The Voice of the Gem City

July 29, 2021 News

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

National Weather Service is calling for a drier couple of days with rain chances at 30 That’s a good thing since the WPLK/WIYD rain gauge in Palatka recorded 5.5 inches after two thunderstorms Wednesday soaked the area. Our East Palatka meteorologist reported 2.5 inches. In downtown Palatka several major streets were flooded and traffic coming over the bridge slowed. Downtown St. Augustine also reported heavy flooding.

A multi-agency law enforcement effort including Putnam and Volusia Sheriff’s Offices has led to federal indictments of 15 people allegedly involved in an intricate methamphetamine trafficking organization. The eight-month investigation headed by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the FBI focused on multiple locations around the country including several homes in South Putnam outside of Crescent City. A drug raid July 17 in Crescent City by Putnam deputies and federal agents led to the arrest of Alejandro Alvaro, Jonathan Ontiveros, Miguel Ortiz and Jose Martinez. Another man was arrested in Seville. In Missouri a Crescent City man, Francisco Arroyo, already in custody on another charge, also was charged. All 15 are charged with conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance. Sheriff Gator DeLoach noted drug trafficking often crosses jurisdictional boundaries and unprecedented amounts of meth, fentanyl and other deadly drugs currently are pouring across the Mexican border.

One of the men arrested as part of a federal methamphetamine bust in several states is now in Putnam County jail after being extradited from Missouri. Francisco Arroyo, 27, is a suspect in the shooting death of a Crescent City man and the wounding of two of his brothers earlier this month. Currently Arroyo is only charged locally with possession of a weapon by a convicted felon although the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office is seeking a murder charge. He was released from state prison in December 2020 after serving a 10-year sentence for armed robbery. Arroyo was arrested in Missouri July 14, after a nationwide warrant was issued for his involvement in the shooting death of Mark Arbelo Jr., and the wounding of  Alexander Desmond Arbelo, 21, and Angel David Arbelo, 22. Alexander Arbelo, who was shot in the stomach, reportedly remains hospitalized. The Sheriff’s Office described the shooting as part of a domestic situation with occupants of an apartment on Gunby Court that turned into a gunfight.

St. Johns County School District is moving forward with a new dress code policy that may not be quite what some protesting students were hoping for. On Aug. 3 the St. Johns School Board will vote on the draft policy that has evolved after several months of contention and the forming of a committee to come up with a policy that is more gender-neutral. In the new version separate categories for male and female students have been removed. The changes come after some Bartram Trail High School girls were found in violations of dress code policies earlier this year and later about 80 photos in the yearbook were altered to bring the necklines of girls’ clothing up in compliance with policy. Some students and parents raised a ruckus and one parent sought and got an investigation of potential violation of Title IX law that deals with sexual discrimination.

Bunnell City Commission has appointed two residents to complete the terms of two commissioners who resigned earlier this month. Robert Barnes and Tina-Marie Schultz will serve for the next eight months after the decision by the remaining three commissioners Monday. Seven people submitted applications although one county employee had to withdraw his because the county has a new policy regarding potential conflict of interest. The seats became open after one commissioner stepped down following his wife’s death and the decision to move to New Hampshire to be nearer his family and the other commissioner has suffered two strokes in the past few months and cited health issues. The two posts will be up for election in March 2022.

Putnam County Medical Center Volunteer Gift Shop is holding a one-day only Whale Of a Sale today in the Butler Building. The sale runs until 2 p.m. today and helps the volunteer group.

The popular band Grapes of Roth headlines St. Augustine’s Concerts in the Plaza tonight from 7-9 p.m. The free concert series is in the Plaza de la Constitucion downtown every Thursday through Labor Day.

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