The Voice of the Gem City

News May 17, 2022

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

A Law Enforcement Memorial ceremony put on by the Ten-24 Foundation today honors law enforcement and corrections personnel who died in the line of duty in 2020 and 2021. A ceremony is set for today at 6:30 p.m. at the riverfront in Palatka. Remember to bring a lawn chair or blanket for seating.

Palatka City Manager Don Holmes says he suspects a sign that went up on city property was put there by someone just to “stir up the pot.” The pot is apparently the future of the property at Kirby and Kirkland streets. City commissioners last week voted to sell the property where Hammock Hall, a community meeting building bought by the city using Community Redevelopment Agency money, is located. The building has been a community center for the South Historic District. Over the weekend a sign went up indicating the property is going to be the site of a multi-family development. Holmes said the property hasn’t been sold and he had no knowledge about the sign. An appraisal has been ordered on the three lots that make up the property that takes up about half an acre in the neighborhood that is zoned single-family residential. On the Property Appraiser roll the property is listed at a taxable value of nearly $244,000. 

Two naturalized U.S. citizens who were born in China and now manage sushi restaurants in St. Johns County have been arrested on federal charges of harboring people in the United States. Ge Tang and Yanshen Huang are listed as managers of  Tank’s Sushi Bistros in Nocatee and in Murabella. Criminal charges have been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida after an investigation that began in late 2020. Warrants were served last week at homes the two maintain and for a van. Some of the occupants of the van were citizens of Guatemala in the country illegally. One man said he had paid $10,000 to be smuggled into the country. Van occupants said they were paid $3,000-$4,000 a month in cash, often worked 11-12 hour days and lived at the homes owned by the restaurant managers.

A Ponte Vedra Beach man died in a traffic crash Monday afternoon on Interstate 10 westbound at Lane Avenue. The man, a 55-year-old truck driver, died after his trash truck flipped. Florida Highway Patrol said the truck struck a guardrail, overturned and hit a pole in the median. A fuel leak occurred and that caused delays for hours along I-10. Cause of the crash is under investigation.

St. Johns County is slated to get its first Costco, a wholesale club, in August. This one will be going at World Commerce Center on World Commerce Parkway off Interstate 95. It’s on the same roadway as Buc-ee’s, part of the mega gas station company. Both businesses are in the area of World Golf Village.

Final day for Florida candidates to quality for election by petition ended at noon Monday. Candidates now must pay a qualifying fee based on a percentage of what the elected office salary is. In St. Johns County, Supervisor of Elections Vicki Oakes Monday debuted a new website she says will make it easier to find information.

In Palatka the city-sponsored Blue Crab Festival set for Memorial Day weekend is nearing. T-shirts for the festival are now for sale at $20 apiece in the office of the City Community Affairs Department, next to City Hall.

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