The Voice of the Gem City

News February 25, 2022

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

In Bunnell two separate accidents on State Road 100 left at least two people dead this morning, according to Florida Highway Patrol. FHP arrived at the first wreck with a fatality at 6:34 a.m. at SR 100 and County Road 305.The westbound lane was blocked. At 6:54 a.m. troopers were called to State Road 100 and Water Oak Road for a crash involving a fatality.

After a grim story from three mothers about shootings and bullying episodes in Palatka’s Northside over the past two weeks, Palatka Police Chief Jason Shaw Thursday night faced a grilling from Palatka City Commissioners who were visibly and vocally displeased. In part that had to do with how the women said police handled the shootings and repeated requests for help. It didn’t get any better for Shaw or the city. Shaw came back less than an hour later, this time to report a shooting that had just occurred in the 200 block of South 17th Street. No one was injured. That made seven shootings in two weeks, according to Mayor Terrell Hill. Grandmother Latonia Hightower told commissioners of problems going back two years including the recent incident where numerous shots were fired into the back of her house as her grandson sat at a kitchen table. Two of the women said they had bought guns. “I got my 9 (millimeter gun) and I’m walking through my house at night (on guard),” Hightower said. Some arrests have been made related to the shootings with at least three linked, said Shaw. Commissioners say they want an action plan put in place to stop the violence. A face-to-face meeting between city officials, the police chief and the women is set for today. Commissioner Tammie McCaskill will be there. Her son was shot and killed in January 2019 and a suspect arrested.

A 15-year-old suspect in a Palm Coast murder has turned himself in to Mitchell County, Georgia, authorities and is waiting extradition back to Florida. Family members in Florida convinced Da’Mari Barnes, 15 and a sophomore at Matanzas High School, was convinced by family members in Flagelr County to turn himself in. “This was a 15-year-old trying to be a macho man with a gun,” said Sheriff Rick Staly. State Attorney R.J. Larizza said it hasn’t yet been determined whether to try Barnes as an adult in the shooting death of 19-year-old Jamey “JuJu” Bennett on Feb. 5. The shooting occurred during late night party of mostly teenagers in a wooded area near Matanzas High School. An argument between the two developed and escalated.

Memorial services for Clarence “Pooh Bear” Williams Jr. are Saturday at 2:22 p.m. at the Crescent City Junior Senior High School football field. Williams, who died in a single-car crash Feb. 17, was a football star at the school wearing No. 22 and a fan favorite when playing for the Florida State University Seminoles. He played in the NFL before returning to Putnam where he coached at Crescent City and Palatka high schools. Visitation is tonight from 6-8 p.m. at the Crescent City gym.

On Monday special city workshops have been called by St. Augustine and Palatka city commissioners to discuss American Rescue Plan Act priorities. It’s a chance for the public to have a say in where the money should go. St. Augustine meets at 4 p.m. at The Alcazar Room at City Hall. Palatka commissioners meet at 6 p.m. at Price-Martin Center off Reid Street.

During a ceremony Saturday at 11 a.m. at Eva Lyon Park in Crescent City, signs renaming a portion of Old Highway 17 for A. Philip Randolph will be unveiled. They will eventually go up on Old Highway 17 from Junction Road to the current U.S. 17 South. Randolph, who was born in Crescent City in 1889, became a national labor union leader and civil rights activist. He organized and led the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. In Palatka this weekend Florida School of the Arts offers The Secret Garden at the main auditorium of their facility on the campus of St. Johns River State College. The musical based on a popular children’s book will be tonight and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with a Sunday matinee at 2:30 p.m. Arts Council of Greater Palatka Inc. brings back Saturday Nite Live this Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Larimer Arts Center. Area musicians will perform and tickets are $7 at the door.

The 10th annual St. Augustine Spanish Food & Wine Festival is tonight and Saturday at Flagler College.  The 37th annual Cathedral Parish Festival opens today and runs through Sunday on the grounds of the Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche at Mission Nombre de Dios in St. Augustine. In Flagler the seventh annual Princess Place Pow Wow is Saturday and Sunday at the Preserve. 

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