The Voice of the Gem City

News January 11, 2022

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

One Book One Putnam holds its 2022 Reading Kickoff Party tonight to introduce this year’s book — The Incredible Winston Browne by Sean Dietrich. Incredible is one of a dozen books by the man many know as Sean of the South and this one is set against the background of a small town and baseball. It should be a perfect combo for Palatka and one that will bring back memories of Palatka’s baseball past. Former Baltimore Orioles pitcher Bill Swaggerty and Mary Elizabeth Wisham, daughter of League of Their Own inspiration Mary Nesbitt Wisham, will be speaking at the event at the Palatka Municipal Golf Course clubhouse in Palatka from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Menu for the event has a definitely baseball flavor with hotdogs, popcorn and Crackerjacks served up by Rotary Club of Palatka Sunrise. As always the kickoff is free and open to the public.

City of Palatka cancelled two meetings Monday citing “COVID-related issues and unavailability of staff and board members.” Officials said in the interest of public safety the special called workshop between the Palatka City Commission and the Airport Advisory Board as well as the Community Redevelopment Agency meeting which includes the commission were cancelled but would be rescheduled. So far Thursday’s Palatka City Commission is still on although there is talk of making it a Zoom meeting. A workshop on declaring the entire city a brownfield is scheduled. That brownfield designation is raising some concerns since it indicates developed land within it may have soil contamination due to hazardous waste. And that could cause problems for people wanting to sell their property.

A traffic stop in Flagler County Saturday led to the arrest of a Putnam County woman wanted on several counts. Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies stopped a speeding vehicle in the area of State Road 100 West and Water Oak Road. The driver said she didn’t have a driver’s license with her and after other attempts to confirm her identity failed, refused to let deputies do a fingerprint scan but did admit to an arrest warrant out on her for child support. She then locked the door and would not come out of the vehicle. After deputies were able to enter the vehicle, they found she was Shamiah Lakida Jones, 30, with  active warrants from Putnam for failure to appear for possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. Her driver’s license had been suspended for child support. Flagler charged her with providing a false name to law enforcement and driving while license suspended with knowledge. She was jailed and is being held on a $3,150 bond.

Chilly weather has arrived and also a high rip current risk warning for beaches in northeast Florida and southeast Georgia, according to the National Weather Service. That risk will continue through Wednesday and makes it dangerous to swim.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says Flagler County has until early February to get the last three easements needed to move forward with a $17.5 million dune restoration project in Flagler Beach. Without those easements the 2.6 mile project could be doomed. Originally 141 easements were needed so that dune restoration could begin to help protect the area that was hard hit by Hurricane Michael. Without the three easements the project could go to deferred status and that might mean loss of the money.

An Interlachen couple remains jailed as the investigation into suspected mistreatment of dogs continues. Patricia Desrosiers, 57, and James McLoon, 49, were taken into custody earlier this year after an investigation that began in November of 2021. They are now facing 39 counts of animal neglect, say officials. McLoon also is charged with cocaine possession. In 2019 the couple reportedly was under investigation for animal neglect and surrendered nine dogs in an effort to get a handle on the problem.

Betty Willis, 96, would have appreciated her funeral service Monday. People spoke with affection of the “little old lady in tennis shoes” who along with the late Sara Elrod made the Putnam County Senior Center a reality. Back in the 1980s when she ran for the Palatka City Commission an opponent put the little old lady tag on her and she turned it to her advantage. She lost by only 73 votes. She was a mainstay of the GFWC Woman’s Club of Palatka and the Putnam County Historical Society. She also was an animal lover. A friend who runs a ferret rescue brought a ferret named Patches to the service and spoke of Betty’s delight in the small mammals. Betty would have loved it.

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