The Voice of the Gem City

News September 22, 2021

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

As the t-shirt says: It’s Fall Ya’ll. Today marks the first day of the season that in Florida can last as long as four days. Expect a couple more days of rain and then some cooler temperatures. Maybe.

On Tuesday Paul Renner officially became House Speaker Designate for the Florida Legislature. The Palm Coast Republican is in Tallahassee with other legislators who are beginning work for the 2022 session that now starts in January. Renner represents the 24th District which includes Flagler, Putnam, St. Johns and northern Volusia counties.

A Putnam County man wanted in a hit-and-run that killed a Crescent City man is in Panama City jail awaiting extradition back to Putnam. Homer Wiggins Jr., 39, was arrested after exposing himself on the deck of a restaurant in Panama City. When a police officer ran his name through the system, warrants for the Putnam crash came up. Wiggins was identified from witness reports after the wreck Aug. 29 at County Road 308 and Palomino Road in the Crescent City area. According to law enforcement, Wiggins was driving a vehicle that struck a van driven by a 64-year-old Crescent City man, who later died from his injuries. A 36-year-old Georgetown also was injured. 

According to a Channel 47 report, Florida Department of Transportation will not build paid express lanes on two parts of a 30-mile stretch Interstate 95 from International Golf Parkway in St. Johns County to Atlantic Boulevard in Duval County. Instead free lanes will be added the entire way. About 100,000 cars use that section of highway daily. Reportedly Gov. Rick DeSantis is pushing FDOT to move away from tolls and express lanes.

Seven Bartram Trail High School students are facing discipline following an incident Friday where they reportedly bullied classmates in the Gay Strait Alliance Club. The seven reportedly yelled homophobic slurs including “There are only two sexes … “ and stomped on Gay Pride flags on campus.The St. Johns County School District is not releasing punishments, citing confidentiality. The boys’ actions fall under disciplinary infractions of the student code of conduct that range from school suspension to placement in an alternative school. Criminal charges also are a possibility.

Palm Coast City Council has voted to keep in place an ordinance banning the parking of commercial vehicles in residential driveways. Only exception is if the vehicles are there on service calls. The 3-2 vote Tuesday came after several months of debate by council and residents.

Closing arguments are underway in St. Augustine today in the trial of an ex-St. Johns County deputy who is charged with aggravated battery. Former deputy Anthony DeLeo was arrested after videos surfaced showing his use of force against Christopher Butler, during a December 2019 traffic stop. Butler was driving 15 miles per hour on Interstate 95 and was described by other deputies at these scene as “naked, sweaty and difficult to corral.” A Florida Highway Patrol trooper used a taser on him.

In St. Augustine Rhythm and Ribs Festival is returning with county music star Travis Tritt on the entertainment schedule. St. Augustine Sunrise Rotary normally holds the event in April but this year it will be Oct. 15-17 at Francis Field. Good news for all the organizations who benefit from Rotary’s generosity.

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