The Voice of the Gem City

LOCAL NEWS 9/9/2021

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.
Palatka City Commission meets again tonight, not once but twice. The first meeting is a special called workshop at 4 p.m. regarding American Rescue Plan funding. That’s the $1.9 trillion federal program aimed at helping communities in recovery efforts after being hit by COVID-19. Putnam County Commission met earlier this week to talk about how to spend $7.2 million. While some pushed for putting the money on countywide water and sewer, broadband access and law enforcement’s communications system, County Commissioner Paul Adamczyk noted the need to help community groups, many of whom are the hardest hit by reduced funding. At 6 p.m. the Palatka commission holds their second commission meeting of the month. Last week they were looking at non-profits housed in city properties. The recommendation from Community Affairs is to sell two properties, give away two and renegotiate the dollar-a-year leases. At tonight’s meeting Community Affairs is discussing putting a new roof on the recently acquired Jenkins Middle School gymnasium and offices and installing a new sprinkler system. The city paid the school district $10 for the gym recently. The gym is not on the list to be sold or given away.
The death of a man involved in a shooting Tuesday with a St. Johns County Sheriff’s deputy in Fruit Cove has been ruled a suicide by the District 21 Medical Examiner’s Office. According to the Sheriff’s Office, Deputy Jylton Tusha pulled over Joshua Thornton, 33, at River Oaks Plantation subdivision off State Road 13. As Tusha approached Thornton fired a gun and the deputy fired back, say officials. The medical examiner ruled Johnson died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. The deputy’s bullet went into the man’s shoulder.
Putnam County Sheriff’s Office is asking the public’s help to find a man who reportedly attacked a woman in Interlachen and set her home on fire. Jordan Green, 33, allegedly went to the residence, got in an argument with the woman living there and struck her in the head. She fled with her children to a bathroom and locked the door. Shortly after she smelled smoke and came out to find one room on fire. The victim got her children and ran to a neighbor’s house and Green left the house. Green, who lives in Interlachen, was on probation for a reported attack in May where he was charged with felony battery of a person 65 years or older. The Sheriff’s Office says Green is considered a prolific offender and is a convicted felon.
Several well-known people in Putnam County have died. In Palatka Dairy Queen co-owner Barbara Smothers died following a brief illness. She and husband, Howard, have owned the landmark Dairy Queen on St. Johns Avenue since 1996. She’s been an active member of the community and a business owner who cared about her customers and Palatka. Also dying after a brief illness was Michael Eugene Orand who originated the concept of 1st Coast Recyling Inc. where he was vice president of the company. Former Welaka Chief of Police and Putnam County Sheriff’s Office member John Blahak died Saturday following an extended illness.
Wednesday’s downpours from passing hurricane Mandy brought heavy storms in the St. Augustine area. According to observers, the downtown was flooded as well as areas on Anastasia Island. Also flooding were areas along State Road 207 coming into St. Augustine. Rapid growth may be taxing the drainage in the area.
Palatka City Commissioner Rufus Borum has filed his intention to seek re-election, according to Supervisor of Elections Charles Overturf III. This is for the 2022 election cycle.
This weekend expect some young faces on the river as the Coming to Palatka Junior/High School Bass Tournament takes to the St. Johns. Anglers from South Georgia and Florida will be competing in an effort to take-home the title and a chance to advance to Bassmasters’ Junior/High School Nationals. Launch and weigh-ins will be held at Palatka City Dock Saturday and Sunday.

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