The Voice of the Gem City

March 28, 2022

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

The search continues in South Putnam County for Jose Lara, the year-and-a-half old Hispanic boy, who went missing from his backyard Sunday. This morning a fresh bloodhound and handler from St. Johns County were brought in to again search the area around what was described as a family compound in an area off U.S. 17 South near the Volusia County line. Teams of officers on foot then began again searching what was described by Putnam County Sheriff’s Office Col. Joe Wells as a heavily wooded area with dense underbrush and brambles. Jose and his sister were playing in the yard with their mother watching when the little girl wanted to go inside to clean up. When the mother came back out around 1:15 p.m. her son was missing, according to the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office. A search by family began and a 9-1-1 call was made about 1:45 p.m. Handlers with bloodhounds as well as the Volusia Air One copter covered the area. One bloodhound, named Grace, found one of the boy’s toys on a track in the area. The grid search continued until around midnight with night vision equipment and drones in the sky as well. Marion County has sent in a copter today. Jose is described  as a “very active” little boy and was wearing a blue shirt and blue jeans. He understand Spanish and English. Sheriff’s spokeswoman Allison Waters-Merritt said a number of area law enforcement agencies have volunteered their help. Asked what the public could do, she said pray. Florida Department of Law Enforcement has issued a missing child alert. So far there is no evident to suggest any criminal activity, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Flagler County and Flagler Beach law enforcement were dealing with their own emergency Sunday after a bomb threat to the Flagler Beach pier was received. That led to evacuation of the pier and surrounding area and the closing of State Road A1A. Shortly after midnight authorities allowed the roadway to reopen after no bomb was found. Reportedly the threat is thought to have been traced to a Clearwater individual and his brother who used a livestream video account to broadcast prank calls to police. The man allegedly has mental issues. The investigation is continuing.

St. Augustine Race Week is underway, but don’t expect motorcycles. Race Week in the Nation’s Oldest City has to do with sailing. This weekend was the Youth Regatta along the Bayfront. On Tuesday and Wednesday inshore racing takes place along the Tolomato River with offshore racing in the Atlantic Ocean beginning Thursday.

Elite Airways LLC began expanded flight service at the Northeast Florida Regional Airport in St. Augustine this weekend. The Portland, Maine, based company Saturday began flying on Saturday southbound and northbound on Sundays from the Portland International Jetport to St. Augustine.  Their existing service between St. Augustine and Newark is adding a third day of flights through May.

Animals in the news this weekend. At the Putnam County Fair Friday, word is people and companies were very generous to kids at the annual Market Steer and Swine Sale.The sales help defray costs of raising and feeding the animals. Great weekend reported for the Crescent City Romp in the Swamp 2022. While some controversy had developed because of concerns about what the mini-hydro boats might do to bother birds nesting on an island in Lake Stella, reports are the birds came and went as they always do. Meanwhile, over in St. Johns County on Sunday a couple of horses were loose on U.S. 1 just north of Northeast Florida Regional Airport. Motorists were stopping, and the horses were eventually captured and returned to their owners. 

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