The Voice of the Gem City

News March 4, 2022

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

This should be the weekend of the 75th annual Azalea Festival in Palatka but issues with getting enough vendors led to cancellation. However, lots of other events are taking place so you can have a great weekend. At the riverfront Saturday the Antique Automobile Club of America’s 23rd annual Open Car Show is Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. At Palatka Junior-Senior High School the fourth annual Azalea Pickleball Tournament will be played out Saturday and Sunday. Tonight singer Jonathan Len brings his Twistin’ The Night Away Concert to the Larimer Arts Center, 216 Reid St., from 7-9 p.m. Tickets are $15 and available at the door for the show paying tribute to music of the 1950s and 1960s. Today through Sunday Skydive Palatka will have parachutists jumping out of planes over Palatka. Jumpers are part of the Round Canopy Parachuting Team — USA and will be jumping from a World War II C-47 known as Tico Belle and a recently acquired C-45. They’ll be at the Skydive site at the Palatka Municipal Airport. On Saturday downtown Palatka merchants are offering a Shop the Blocks event from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. And of course, azaleas are in bloom.

Two arrests have been made in a drive-by shooting in the 1500 block of Laurel Street on Tuesday, according to a Palatka Police Department post. A residential security camera in the neighborhood and another near the Taco Bell parking lot helped police pierce together the story and identify suspects. A fight among juveniles at the parking lot of Taco Bell Tuesday afternoon apparently is linked to five shots being fired inside the house on Laurel. The shooting, with n injuries reported, happened about an hour after the fight. The same individuals were at both incidents. Jazari Fields, 16, of Palatka was arrested and charged with three counts of aggravated assault and one count of possession of a firearm by a minor. Also arrested was Desmond Carr, 16, who was charged with three counts of accessory to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. A third juvenile, whose name has not been released, is being sought on three counts of accessory to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The incident was the eighth reported shooting incident within two weeks. 

On Thursday Putnam County school officials, Palatka Police and Putnam County Sheriff’s Office deputies and the State Attorney’s Office sat down to talk about the ongoing shootings most of which have involved juveniles.  A pattern has emerged where feuds and fighting take place at Palatka Junior-Senior High School and then spill out into the community. Often police are not told about the school incidents and aren’t prepared for possible continued fighting, Police Chief Jason Shaw said at a recent city meeting. Superintendent Rick Surrency on Wednesday said the district was “willing to work with” law enforcement to seek a solution.

The 49-year-old aerobatics pilot who crashed at Northeast Florida Regional Airport in St. Augustine Wednesday has died. Marianne Fox of Corvalis, Oregon, was coming into the airport followed by another aerobatics pilot when problems developed. The second pilot reportedly radioed Fox was having engine trouble and the two were headed for the airport. Fox was approaching from the west when her plane made a hard right turn flying parallel to a runway. The plane crashed into a marshy area 600 yards from the end of the runway. Fox was taken to a hospital where she died Thursday.

Florida Highway Patrol is investigating a crash on U.S. 17 South in Putnam County that left one person dead Thursday. A semi truck and a sedan were reportedly involved in the accident south of Dunns Creek Bridge near Michigan Avenue. The accident, which happened mid afternoon, caused traffic to be rerouted through Hoot Owl Ridge. Major delays were reported with traffic still slow this morning.

A reminder Bike Week is underway in Daytona Beach with more than 500,000 expected for the event that continues through March 13. That means a lot of people unfamiliar with roadways are in the area so use caution when you’re driving.

St. Monica’s Catholic Church in Palatka begins its Lenten Friday dinner servings tonight. Fish fry dinners will be available every Friday night from 4 to 7 p.m. at the parish hall on South Fourth Street. You can eat in or take out.

In St. Augustine, it’s First Friday Art Walk as well as a free recital at the Cathedral Basilica tonight. The art walk includes some 30 galleries downtown and on Anastasia Island open from 5-9 p.m. St. Augustine Art Association opens its Miniature Marvels exhibit tonight also. Today and Saturday the annual Searle’s Sack takes place. It’s a re-enactment of the 1668 event that saw Englishman Robert Searle and his crew invade St. Augustine, kill 60, burn the town and make off with the silver ingots from the Spanish treasury. That lead to the building of the Castillo de San Marcos. Events take place today and Saturday at the Oldest House Museum and the battle is re-enacted Saturday beginning at 4 p.m. in the Plaza de la Constitucion.

Speaking of busy, in Palatka Thursday some people were at the Putnam County Chamber of Commerce monthly meeting at newly renamed HCA North Florida Putnam Hospital while others were at the American Values Dinner with Sheriff Gator DeLoach this year’s honoree. Goal was $35,000, they raised $34,998. The sheriff pulled $2 out of his pocket and they met goal. And yet another group was at the One Book One Putnam event hosting Sean Dietrick who book The Incredible Winston Browne has been this year’s read. You may know the author better as Sean of the South. He opened playing the theme from the Andy Griffith Show and it only took a couple of seconds before the audience was whistling along. He owned the audience from then on.

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