The Voice of the Gem City

News February 14, 2022

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

You can bet Virginian John Crews has a fond spot in his heart for the St. Johns River right now. On Sunday he ended up the winner of the AFTCO Bassmaster Elite at the St. Johns River in Palatka with a four-day total of 75 pounds 4 ounces of bass. He edged out Bob Downey of Hudson, WIsc., by 1 and 1/4 pounds, to win $100,000. Crews, in his 17th year on the Series, came in second in the St. Johns Elite in 2020 and fifth in 2019. Downey came in second on Sunday and third place was taken by Masayuki Matsushita from Japan. Crews fished Rodman Reservoir, the main river and Rodman canal, using a variety of lures, said he “mixed it up based on the weather.” For details, go to

In St. Augustine an ordinance that’s part of a push to get cars out of downtown is up for a vote at tonight’s 5 p.m. meeting of the St. Augustine City Commission. The ordinance provides parking and shuttle alternatives, pedestrian and bicycle improvements, and street design recommendations that will reduce vehicular traffic and congestion downtown, say proponents. Also part of the ordinance a one-time Mobility Fee for any new residential or non-residential  development and redevelopment activity that requires a building permit, results in increased use of existing property and impacts the city’s transportation infrastructure. The plan goes into effect May 17 if it gets through two hearings.

Ria and Bob Alvarez will receive the de Aviles Award this afternoon at 4:30 p.m. at a special ceremony at The Alcazar Room at St. Augustine’s City Hall. The de Aviles is one of the city’s highest honors and is a salute to the couple’s work in the re-enactment community.

Putnam Community Medical Center has a new CEO coming in next month. Brian Nunn, who’s been in health care for 30 years, will start March 14, coming from a hospital in Florence, S.C.  CEO Mark Dooley left in September to be closer to his family and Chief Financial Officer Natalie Park has been filling in.

Flagler Beach officials say a new and reduced lifeguard zone will “tighten up” the lifeguard program and improve it. It will also reduce costs about $25,000. The beach’s lifeguard zone will go from eight towers covering about 16 blocks to six towers and 12 blocks. A mobile tower will be available to go north of Fourth Street when needed. This summer is expected to be the first “normal” one since Covid-19 surfaced.

You can find lots of opportunities to have a Happy Valentine’s Day today. Florists, of course, are swamped and candy sales are brisk. The Arts Council of Greater Palatka Inc. offers a special way to celebrate tonight with their High Life Jazz Series concert at the Larimer Arts Center, 216 Reid St., Palatka from 7:30-9:30. Orlando pianist Harry Rios Jr., singer Margie Nelson and musicians John Skidmore Jr. and Buffalo Munn are providing the entertainment. A special dessert table offers a sweet way to enjoy the evening. Tickets are $15 and you can reserve a table by calling 386-538-4092. A few tickets may be available at the door.

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