The Voice of the Gem City

News October 26, 2021

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

The Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach will be offering bigger payouts to winning players.  Officials announced Monday that in 2022 the total purse is going from $15 million to $20 million. That means the winner next year will take home $3.6 million. The move comes after two years of limited fans being able to come to watch actual play, but officials are hoping that will change next year.

Florida Defenders of the Environment suffered a setback in court Monday as a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a lawsuit tied in with efforts to remove Rodman Dam. The dam, officially Kirkpatrick Dam, was built as part of the long-ended Florida Cross Florida Barge Canal project and over the years has become a popular fishing area. For years environmentalists have sought to remove the dam as part of there efforts to restore the Ocklawaha River. Environmentalists charged the U.S. Forest Service should remove the dam since the state didn’t have a permit to operate the dam and Rodman Reservoir in Ocala National Forest in Putnam County . 

Violent weekend in the area with an Interlachen man in Putnam County jail on second-degree murder charges. An argument between Interlachen’s Hector Gonzales, 34, and Crescent City’s Earl Addison, 43, at a Cedar Street residence in Crescent City Sunday evening led to the charges. The two men were acquaintances and got in a verbal argument that escalated, say authorities. Gonzales allegedly stabbed Addison several times. Addison was taken to Halifax Health in Daytona Beach where he died. Gonzales was found shortly after the incident in a convenience store and arrested. No bond has been set. Also Sunday in the Interlachen area, a 40-year-old Palatka man was charged with allegedly choking his girlfriend in her Interlachen area home. Joesph Blackwelder faces one count of kidnapping and also imprisonment and one count of battery. 

Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies conducting a traffic stop for an expired tag Monday in Bunnell quickly found the situation escalating after a grenade was found in the vehicle. Deputies stopped Louis Branson, 65, on County Road 305 for an expired tag and discovered he had been driving on an expired license since 2019. A search of the car uncovered two glass pipes with residue believed to be narcotics. Then they found a device appearing to be a grenade. Branson said he cleaned out a veteran’s house, found the grenade and decided to keep it. The St. Johns County bomb squad was called in and after x-raying the item, which turned out to be life, safely detonated it. Branson was arrested on several charges and booked into the Flagler jail as the investigation continues.

In Flagler County Sunday a traffic stop led to the arrest of a Jacksonville man wanted for attempted murder. A Flagler County Sheriff’s Office deputy on patrol spotted Alexander Wingard, 23, driving on State Road 100 and getting on Interstate 95. FireFlight went into the air to track the vehicle and several additional officers took part in a “felony stop” when Wingard got off I-95 at a gas station on Boulder Rock Drive in Palm Coast. He was taken into custody without incident. He’s wanted in Jacksonville for attempted murder with a deadly weapon and three counts of shooting or throwing a deadly missile.

Congrats to Millegeville, Ga.’s David Lowery who Friday took the lead on the first day of the MLF Phoenix Bass Fishing League regional tournament and never let it go. He won the three-day tournament on the St. Johns River in Palatka Saturday with a total of 62.12 pounds of bass.

Probably no one knows more handling problems and stress caused by coronavirus than school teachers. That’s why the Pilot Club of St. Augustine decided to salute area teachers with a billboard on U.S. 1 just south of State Road 16, says President Liz Whalen. The sign features a “super-hero” teacher with cape and the words: Teachers are frontline heroes. With appreciation, Pilot Club of St. Augustine.

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