The Voice of the Gem City

News February 7, 2022

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

Cloudy and chilly are in the forecast for the next few days with some rain coming in early Tuesday morning. Over the weekend gauges in Palatka and East Palatka measured an inch of rain. Beginning Wednesday the weather is expected to become sunny although chilly weather in the evening is forecast. 

Nearly 100 anglers are keeping a close eye on the weather in Palatka as they prepare to take part in the season opening AFTCO Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River. Some of the 94 anglers are already in town readying for Thursday’s opening from the Palatka city docks. Competition days are Thursday through Sunday with anglers taking off at 7:30 a.m. each morning and returning for weigh-ins at the riverfront park at 3:30 p.m.

Flagler County Sheriff’s Office is seeking more information in the shooting death of a 19-year former Flagler Palm Coast High School student. Jamey “JuJu” Bennett was shot and killed in the early morning hours near StorQuest Express, a self-storage facility off Old Kings Road North. Detectives say Bennett was part of a group of about 40 to 50 people who responded to social media invitations for a birthday bonfire. The shooting in the wooded area was reported around 1:45 a.m. and Bennett was taken to Advent Health, where he died from a gunshot wound. Although many fled after the shooting, some witnesses stayed and license plate readers were used to track down others present which included numerous juveniles and students from Matanzas High School. Bennett reportedly may have been trying to defend a woman against assault. He moved to Palm Coast as a junior but was expelled following his arrest in 2021 after being arrested after an incident where dozens of shots were fired at a house on Kalamazoo Lane. Sheriff Rick Staly is asking parents to talk with their children and have them come forward if they were at Friday’s party.

Today in St. Augustine Maria and Bob Alvarez are slated to receive one of the city’s top awards — the de Aviles Award. St. Augustine officials say the couple’s dedication and leadership within the living history interpreter community has literary kept history alive in the Nation’s Oldest City. The presentation is at The Alcazar Room at City Hall at 4:30 p.m. just before the regular commission meeting.

A New York resident died Thursday in a motorcycle accident in Flagler County. The 65-year-old Oneonta, N.Y., motorcyclist  was turning off Old Kings Road onto Fairchild Oaks Boulevard when his cycle was struck by a SUV headed south, Florida Highway Patrol reported. The motorcyclist died of his injuries. The SUV driver, a 37-year-old man from Flagler Beach, was not injured, according to FHP.

On Friday Judge Alicia Washington finally was sworn-in. She’s been sitting on the bench since 2021 after winning election to the Seventh Judicial Circuit in 2020, but the investiture ceremony didn’t take place until this year due to Covid restrictions. She’s the first black judge for Putnam and the ceremony was at the Mary McLeod Bethune Performing Arts Center in Daytona Beach. That was appropriate since Bethune, a leading black educator, at one time taught in Palatka.

Peter Prater, 55, died in Tallahassee recently following a stroke. He was born in Palatka and was a 1988 graduate of E.H. Miller School in Palatka, moving to Tallahassee in 2000 to be with family. He was born with intellectual and developmental challenges and went on to defy lots of predictions. He became a member of the Tallahassee Talkers Toastmasters and was a vice president of public relations for regional Toastmasters. He graduated from Lively Vo-Tech in Tallahassee with a certificate in culinary arts and had worked for the Putnam County School District. As his family would tell you, for more than 30 years he was the No. 1 fan of the FSU Seminoles and was often at the games. He was determined and sweet and a reminder not to make assumptions about people.

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