The Voice of the Gem City

News February 3, 2022

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

Florida Highway Patrol and Putnam County law enforcement are working a serious accident near Satsuma which caused portions of U.S. 17 South to be closed beginning around 8:30 a.m. this morning Several vehicles were involved in the crash, blocking U.S. 17 and Williams Lane. Multiple patients are reported and a number of emergency personnel were working at the scene, according to the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office. Total road blockage of southbound lanes was reported in the area which is near the Putnam Raceway and a small produce stand.

Raising costs for providing infrastructure and other services has area governments looking at new revenue sources. St. Johns County Commissioners are expected to discuss a penny sales tax increase at their Feb. 15 meeting. The issue would go on the November general election ballot. Officials say they have a backlog of more than $500 million in infrastructure needs. Increasing the sales tax from 6.5 cents to 7.5 cents on every dollar would bring in about $49.6 million additional funds a year. In Flagler County officials are looking at upping the impact fees on new construction although the school board won’t be getting as much as they originally sought. The board and county commission have been in a stalemate over the increase since the school board wanted to go from $3,600 to $7,175 for each new single family house built. The board is now talking an initial impact fee of $5,450. It will be the first increase in 17 years.

The body of Pomona Park town attorney Craig Sherar was discovered Tuesday at his East Palatka home, according to the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office. The District 23 Medical Examiner’s Office is conducting a cause of death examination for Sherar, 67, and results are expected today, according to Sheriff’s spokeswoman Allison Waters-Merritt.

Putnam County Sheriff’s deputies and Palatka Police officers were at several locations including Memorial Bridge Wednesday standing to pay their respects as the body of Hillsborough County Deputy Abigail Bieber was escorted back home to Clearwater by fellow Hillsborough officers. Bieber, 30, was killed Saturday apparently by Det. Daniel Leyden who then killed himself at a rental house at Butler Beach where they and other deputies were vacationing, according to the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office.

A teen accused of stabbing to death a fellow student in 2021 will face trial in November. Aiden Fucci, 15, was in St. Johns County court Wednesday for a pretrial hearing regarding his first-degree murder charge. Fucci was 14 when he allegedly stabbed 13-year-old Tristyn Bailey 114 times. Her body was found May 9, 2021, in woods near her home. The two were neighbors in the Durbin Crossing community and students at Patriot Oaks Academy. Fucci’s mother, Crystal Smith, is accused of tampering with evidence in the case, allegedly washing blood out of son’s jeans.

The Palatka Fly-In and Antique Car Show set for this Saturday is being moved to Feb. 12 due to expected inclement weather. Organizers say the decision was made in an abundance of caution for the safety of pilots.

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