The Voice of the Gem City

Marcia Lane12:02 PM (5 minutes ago)
to marcia, me

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

Three deaths on roadways in St. Johns County Monday. Two drivers died in a crash around 1:30 a.m. after a head-on crash on State Road A1A in South Ponte Vedra Beach. According to Florida Highway Patrol a Ford Transit van headed south crossed into the northbound lane and struck an oncoming Honda Element. A 42-year-old Massillon, Ohio, man was driving the van and a 29-year-old man from Atlantic Beach was driving the Honda. Both died at the scene, a two-lane roadway. Later in the morning a 24-year-old St. Augustine man died in a single-car crash on U.S. 1 south of International Golf Parkway. The driver was headed south shortly before 10 a.m. when for an unknown reason he went off onto the right side of the road and crashed into a concrete electric pole, according to FHP. He was not wearing a seatbelt and was ejected from the vehicle, dying at the scene, according to FHP.

Putnam County School Board will hear a proposal tonight from Palatka Mayor Terrill Hill to buy former Jenkins Middle School on North 19th Street. The 6 p.m. meeting at district offices on Reid Street follows negotiations between Hill and school district officials although the Palatka City Commission has never voted or discussed in public Hill’s plan to turn the school into a city government complex. The offer is for the city to play $600,000 and give the district the city hall annex on South Second Street in exchange for the 1955 school building. Hill announced his plans at last week’s city commission meeting. School Superintendent Rick Surrency said today it is up to the board to decide if they will vote on the proposal today. At least one citizen has contacted the governor’s office over the transaction. 

According to a post on Facebook, the individual who chalked remarks on the sidewalk below the Confederate soldier memorial at the Putnam County Courthouse has been identified. Officials say he chalked messages around town including “Mother Earth cries” in addition to the one saying “slave owner” at the statue. He is described as having mental health issues. The Facebook site said because of the man’s mental health state and because he “did nothing nothing illegal and no damage to any structure or sidewalk” he won’t be publicly identified.

A Flagler County Sheriff’s Office deputy is credited with saving a three-year-old’s life during a house fire in Palm Coast Sunday. K-9 Deputy First Class Marcus Dawson was among responders to the fire where a neighbor told him he had not seen any of the three residents that day. After calling out several times Dawson went to the back of the house where he saw a fire on the stove that was spreading to cabinets and causing heavy smoke. He heard dogs barking and went onto the patio where he saw the child in bed under the covers. Dawson entered and brought the child out to safety where medical personnel treated him. The dogs got out of the house also. The father had left to get dinner and left an older sibling in the house with the sleeping child.  “Without DFC Dawson immediately running toward danger, even without a safety respirator, this could have been a much different outcome,” Sheriff Rick Staly said.

Palm Coast residents can expect a garbage cost hike no matter who the city council chooses to haul their trash. Waste Pro, which has had the city contract since 2007, and newcomer FCC Environmental Services submitted the only two bids for the five-year contract. FCC Environmental was higher than Waste Pro, which has drawn complaints about service recently. Officials say the bids indicate no matter who is chosen residents will see garbage rates go up if the current twice-a-week service is retained. Waste Pro would go up 30 percent, FCC would be 66 percent higher.

At tonight’s Fruitland Peninsula Historical Society meeting, former Crescent City Mayor Nancy Harris will be talking about some of the city’s past efforts including the establishment of Crescent City’s historical district. A 7:30 p.m. meeting will be held on Zoom only. To see the program, email Tim Earle at

Prospective jurors were heading into Putnam County Courthouse Monday morning and Sherry Jones, supervisor of the criminal division, was checking off names. She made several people’s day when she told them the jury pool was full and they didn’t have to serve. Jone said it was a “great turnout of jurors” and a positive sign. “Hopefully it means we’re getting back to normal,” she said, noting coronavirus has sometimes made it hard to get enough jurors for trials.

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