The Voice of the Gem City

News November 23, 2021

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

As the Thanksgiving countdown continues, remember to take care of government business by Wednesday otherwise you’ll probably have to wait to Monday. In Putnam and St. Johns County, schools will be closed Wednesday through Friday. In Flagler County, students and teachers have the whole week off. All three campuses of St. Johns River State College will be closed beginning Wednesday.

Speaking of schools, Putnam County School District Human Resources staff members have been traveling the roads delivering signs to employee of the year nominees — both teachers and support personnel. The signs will go up in their yards. Staffers report a few challenging roads but they made all their deliveries to employees living in Putnam, Clay, Flagler and Volusia counties.

The attorney for a man charged with manslaughter after an altercation in St. Augustine in May that led to the death of Adam Amoia has filed a “stand your ground” petition. Luis Casado is charged with manslaughter and carrying a concealed firearm. Attorney Patrick Canan says Amoia and another man “began to suddenly and in concert violently attack” Casado outside the Dos Gatos bar on Hypolita Street. His client, said Canan, was “afraid for his life and shot his firearm to prevent serious bodily injury or even death.” The petition included an autopsy report showing Amoia’s blood alcohol concentration level was more than three times the legal limit and hydrocodone and marijuana were also in his system. The petition will be heard by a judge in April 2021.

Flagler County Sheriff’s detectives are investigating the death of a local house painter who died Saturday. Witnesses say Michael Joseph Ursini, 42, was at a job site when he was seen, his clothes on fire, jumping into a canal at Longview Way. An explosion may have occurred beforehand and smoke was seen coming out of a van on the site. Ursini was found face down in the canal and efforts to revive him were not successful.

Yet another wanted felon has discovered breaking the law while driving through Flagler County isn’t a good idea. A traffic infraction by driver Benjamin Jacob Bowie, 23, led to Flagler Sheriff’s deputies pulling him over. He was nervous and reaching toward the floorboard when they stopped him and made him exit the vehicle. He resisted and tried to return to the car. A strong smell of marijuana led deputies to search the vehicle, finding a bag with two firearms, magazines and ammunition on the the floorboard on the driver’s side. They also found 12.4 grams of marijuana and in the truck two more firearms and ammunition plus a rubber skeleton face mask and full-face knitted mask. A check showed Bowie was a fugitive from Pierce County, Ga., wanted for grand theft auto, and he had recently been arrested by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office for resisting arrest with violence and possession of cannabis. He is now in Flagler jail on no bond facing charges including carrying a concealed firearm, resisting officer without violence and possession of cannabis under 20 grams.

Palatka’s readying for the annual Christmas Parade Friday at 7 p.m. Being in a small town can make a difference. Sam Deputy, who oversees the parade down St. Johns Avenue, posted this morning he was in need of an honor guard to carry the American flag. Within a few minutes Alex Sharp responded he’d see if the the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office honor guard might be able to help. This year the Putnam County Historical Society is hosting refreshments at the Bronson-Mulholland House before the parade from 5-7 p.m. It’s open to the public and a chance to get a sneak peak at the decorated house.

Thanksgiving food buying just got a little scarier. Publix is limiting the amount of some foods that can be bought — only two items of certain foods will be sold per individual due to delivery issues and increased demands. Signs are up in all stores and items include canned pie filling, canola oil, bacon, sports drinks, paper napkins, disposable plates and cups and canned cat food. For listening cats, the two limit refers to boxes of canned food. Staff can still buy 10 cans of cat food at a time. Thanksgiving is safe.

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