The Voice of the Gem City

News January 4, 2022

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

The 13-year-old Hastings bicyclist who was killed when a pickup truck ran into his bicycle Sunday has been identified by his family as Xavier Santana. The family has set up a GoFundMe account to pay for funeral expenses. The 46-year-old Hollister man who struck the rear of the bicycle Santana was riding and knocked him to the road reportedly told people at the scene he was avoiding another bicyclist when the accident happened just before 6:30 p.m. on County Road 13 near Cowpen Branch Road intersection. Florida Highway Patrol has not filed charges.

The innovative manager of the Palatka Municipal Airport is stepping down to have more time with family. John Youell, who has managed the airport for some 14 years, has pursued and secured millions in grants to upgrade the airport. He’s brought public attention to the airport with an annual fly-in that has meant thousands visited the airport yearly. The event was canceled last year due to COVID and the Palatka City Commission voted to give the Palatka Airport Advisory Board authority to choose a private firm in 2022 to run the previously all-volunteer event. Youell reportedly will be leaving the airport post in about two months.

The Palatka Airport Advisory Board was expected to be talking about a proposal for private hangars to be built at the airport this Wednesday. Youell’s retirement is now expected to be on the agenda for the noon meeting at City Hall which is open to the public. Those proposed hangars also are the subject of a special meeting between the airport board and the city commission on Jan. 10 at 3 p.m. 

Palatka Planning Board meets today at 4 p.m. at City Hall to hear a request for tree removal at Cottages of St. Johns at their site at 6805 St. Johns Ave. Reportedly the company is seeking to cut down a live oak tree 36 inches in diameter because they say it interferes with their construction path. Some don’t find that a very tree friendly option for Palatka which is designated a Tree City.
An increase in reported Covid-19 cases in the area and concern over potential related health issues is reportedly being cited as the reason Flagler County’s Cracker Day won’t take place this year. The annual event was set for March and is hosted by the Flagler County Cattleman’s Association.

Flagler County Sheriff’s Office is seeking the public’s help — and offering a reward — for information leading to an arrest in a shooting that left one man dead and another dead during a home invasion in Palm Coast on Dec. 29. Zaire Roberts, 23, was found dead at the scene. Although his home address was Georgia, he formerly lived in Palm Coast where some eight years ago he was found guilty of aggravated assault and only recently released from state prison. Sheriff Rick Staly said the department has gotten several helpful hints and a $5,000 reward through CrimeStoppers of Northeast Florida is being offered for information leading to an arrest. Tips can also be sent by email or called into the Sheriff’s Office.

Residents of St. Augustine Beach once again have curbside recycling although the price has gone up and the number of eligible items decreased. Advanced Disposal used to handle recycling but the city decided to go to recycling itself in the fall. That came about a year after Waste Management brought the company. Now the city is in the recycling business and taking items to a different facility where charges are less. However, crews are no longer picking up some formerly recyclable items including glass and aluminum foil and related items. Cost of pick up is also up from $178 per year to $315 per year.

For a pair of Flagler County paramedics, New Year’s Day was special. Flagler County Fire Rescue Lt. Jon Moscowitz and Firefighter/Paramedic Jimmy Melady responded to a call from resident Traci Kuehn when she went into labor nearly 10 weeks early. Baby Girl Sunnie was delivered in Rescue 62 as Firefighter Tyler Allessee drove them to AdventHealth in Daytona Beach. Sunnie arrived at 6:02 p.m. weighing only 3 pounds, 5 ounces. Mother and daughter are doing fine although Sunnie remains in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at AdventHealth.

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