The Voice of the Gem City

News January 25, 2022

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

An Alabama man wanted in a double homicide is in St. Johns County jail waiting for detectives to take him back to his home state. John Peyton Scott III, 41, was captured Monday afternoon after deputies who had been warned he was believed to be traveling in the area spotted his red Ford Eco Sport. They used a PIT maneuver in the area of Interstate 95 and International Golf Parkway to stop him and took him to the jail on two warrants charging him with capital murder. Helena, Ala., detectives are coming to St. Augustine to pick him up. Scott is the main suspect in the Jan. 19 deaths of Sharon Tarwater Whited, 40, and her father, Charles E. Tarwater Jr., 75. Scott lived in the residence with the two, according to reports. Whited was the mother of two girls and had adopted her two nephews after her brother died. A 12-year-old grandson of Charles Tarwater discovered the bodies. Helena is outside of Birmingham.

Not so cold in the area today with a high near 56 expected. However, showers are expected, mainly after 1 p.m. and the chances continue through tonight and into tomorrow. Much of the state is facing rains so that may make for a difficult day for Putnam County resident Gina Gillman who’s down at the Orange County National Golf Course taking part in a 100-hole golf marathon to benefit Folds of Honor. That’s the program that provides educational scholarships to spouses and children of America’s fallen and disabled service members. Originally from South Africa, Gina wanted to say thanks to U.S. service members and is hoping to raise enough to fund one scholarship which is $5,000. As of yesterday she had about $3,000, You can help out by donating on her Facebook site.

Housing is on the minds of St. Augustine and St. Johns County officials. On Monday St. Augustine city commissioners heard proposals about making housing more affordable. One proposal — building housing on three city-owned parcels. Commissioners voted to hire a consultant to do feasibility studies on the properties at 450 N. Holmes Blvd, which has 82.4 acres and could fit 500 units; 865 Fish Island Rd., 31.4 acres, 380 units; and 800 Plantation Island Drive South, 2.3 acres, 36 acres. On Thursday the city’s Planning and Zoning Board will discuss the city’s proposed mobility plan and decide on their recommendation to the city about a mobility fee ordinance. Reduction of downtown traffic is among proposals. Today St. Johns County Commission is holding a growth management workshop today looking at future growth and infrastructure needs. Four topics — local government’s role in managing growth, current growth trends and infrastructure needs, transportation planning and concurrency and additional considerations for new development proposals.

City of Palatka has officially canceled the public hearing set for Feb. 10 for establishment of city-wide brownfield area. Citizens were vocal in their disapproval at a meeting earlier this month. The brownfield designation is given to areas with hazardous pollutants or contaminants usually in the soil or water and the plan was to declare it for the entire city. Good for economic development if you’re a developer, not so for people wanting to sell houses or maintain their property value. The cancellation notes the city “Is not proceeding with this designation at this time.” Some concerned about the proposal are suggesting residents still send in a letter to the city opting out of having their property included in the designation.

Putnam County Sheriff H.D. “Gator” DeLoach was among 59 Florida sheriffs standing up with Gov. Ron DeSantis. In a statement at the Florida Sheriffs Conference they Law enforcement and first responders have sadly become the targets of ridicule and contempt from elected officials across the country, but Florida remains a sanctuary of support for men and women in blue. We know our governor has our backs. Other cities and states are defunding police departments while Florida, under Governor DeSantis’ leadership, is supplying law enforcement officers with the resources and backing we need to keep Floridians safe.”

Flagler County commissioners have given the go-ahead to a $16 million library on the south side in Bunnell. The Monday vote came after Flagler Library Director Holly Albanese presented a conceptual rendering and offered a plan that would meet several needs of the county including as a disaster-recover facility and a shelter. For eight years the plan has been on the back burner but Albanese’s plan includes funding sources such as the American Rescue Plan and money made from passport preparation. It will be built in Bunnell across from the Sheriff’s Operations Center and could be in place by 2024.

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