The Voice of the Gem City

News November 8, 2021

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

Schools will be the topic of two meetings with Putnam County Superintendent Rick Surrency this week. Tonight the public can get an update on Covid-19 update, health services and the district’s five-year plan during a meeting at 6:30 p.m. at C.L. Overturf district offices on South 18th Street. An option to attend via Zoom is available online. On Tuesday at the school board meeting at 3:30 p.m. at district offices on Reid Street Surrency will give a state-of-the-schools update.

A wild weather weekend has north Florida residents drying out today. In Palatka five-and-a-half inches of rain fell over the weekend as a nor’easter brought winds and rain to Putnam, St. Johns and Flagler counties which were already facing the effects of a king tide. Those tides mean water is about six to 12 inches higher than the usual highest tide. South Ponte Vedra Beach and Vilano Beach residents in St. Johns County watched their shorelines washing away with some areas reporting three to six feet of beach gone. Making it frustrating for many is that the Army Corps of Engineers has just completed a renourishment project including by the large cross at the Mission Nombre de Dios. The renourishment is part of a 50-year, $144 million effort. At least three boats slipped their moorings and ended up hitting the Bridge of Lions. On Friday a sailboat with three adults, one child and a pet had to be rescued from the vessel when it became stuck under the bridge, according to witnesses. Although some of the worst weather came in Friday and Saturday even Sunday residents were still coping including having King Street in St. Augustine, the main downtown street, closed for a period. In Putnam reported winds Friday were so strong that the St. Johns River not only overflowed its banks but lifted fish and shrimp out of the water, stranding them on docks. Talk about having supper delivered to your door. Some docks along the river including the East River Road area were reported still underwater today.

The suspect in an apparent murder-suicide attempt in Palm Coast has died. Matthew Wright, 35, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head after being taken to Halifax Hospital Thursday after the shooting at a Bunker Knolls Lane residence. Still in critical condition is his alleged victim, Gia Troutman, who was shot four times. 

A Starke man is in Columbia County jail facing first-degree murder and grand theft auto charges after a shooting Friday night that reportedly left a Palatka man dead. Ted’Qwon Lee McGowan, 20, was identified as the gunman after Starke Police responded to East Brownlee Street residence Friday night and found the body of a man in his 30s at the scene. He had been shot several times. McGowan was arrested Saturday in Columbia County.

One woman was killed and Putnam County man critically injured in a four-vehicle crash early Saturday morning on U.S. 17 South near J.P. Hall Boulevard in Clay County. According to Florida Highway Patrol, two sedans were heard south on U.S. 17 around 6 a.m. when a 38-year-old Jacksonville man’s sedan for unknown reasons collided with the other sedan’s right side sending that vehicle across the median and head-on into a pickup truck driven by a 46-year-old Palatka man. The pickup then crashed into the left side of a semi driven by a 57-year-old Apopka man. The 35-year-old Orange Park woman in the sedan in the head-on crash died at the scene. She was not wearing a seatbelt, according to FHP. The 28-year-old driver of the car was critically injured as was the Palatka man.

Despite the weather, St. Augustine High and Palatka High schools played football Friday night at Foots Brumley Field in St. Johns County. The game is the second longest running football rivalry in the state. St. Augustine shut out Palatka, 35 to 0. WIYD was to cover the match live but officials wouldn’t allow set up in the press box, probably due to coronavirus. Since electronics and rain don’t mix the broadcast couldn’t take place, however WIYD provided updates quarterly for the much-anticipated event. Word is the weather was so fierce from wind and rain that umbrellas were flying across the stands.

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