The Voice of the Gem City

News June 15, 2022

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

The search is on for a Flagler County man wanted in the shooting deaths of a pair of 16-year-olds killed in separate incidents earlier this year, according to the Flagler Sheriff’s Office. Terrell Sampson, 18, is wanted in the murders of Keymarion Hall and Noah Smith. Already in custody are Tyrese Patterson, 20, Steven Monroe, 23, and Davondre Williams, 18, all members of “Get Stepped On” from the Palm Coast Area. Sampson reportedly is a member of the “Bunnell Side” gang. At a press conference Tuesday Sheriff Rick Staly summed the murders up saying the deaths came from a “beef between two groups of wannabe badasses.” The two teens killed were not the targets, Sampson was, Staly said. Sheriff’s officials noted social media footprints helped in gathering evidence as well as showing premeditation. For several months the rival groups — Get Stepped On and Bunnell Side — have been shooting at each other from cars and posting threatening photos and videos on social media, Staly said.

St. Augustine’s historic downtown is getting another challenge. On Thursday the Historic Architectural Review Board will hear a proposal from Kanti Patel to turn 24 Cathedral Place into a 100-room upscale Hilton with a reception area in the ground floor of the eight-story Spanish style building built in the 1920s. With it will come changes to other buildings in and around Cathedral Place just a couple of doors down from the Cathedral Basilica. Also planned a three-story commercial building on the west side of Charlotte Street and south side of Treasure that will flank a multi-story 100 space parking garage on the exisintlots. Modification of 22 Cathedral Place is in the plans including putting on an elevated roof structure. On Thursday at 1 p.m. HARB will meet in the Alcazar Room in City Hall to hear a request for an opinion of appropriateness about the project. That’s to determine if it will fit in with the current downtown. This is the first step in a process which Patel, an area developer who has a number of properties, says won’t happen for about five years. One of his latest projects was tearing down a hotel and the Barnacle Bill’s restaurant on West Castillo Drive to build The Renaissance St. Augustine Historic Downtown Hotel. The building is supposed to look like multiple houses from the Victorian era.

In Putnam County Florida Department of Transportation is getting underway with a resurfacing project on U.S. 17 North near Bostwick that is expected to take about eight months. The road work involves repaving 17 from West River Road to the Clay County line. Project length is 250 days. Putnam County Sheriff’s Office is reminding drivers to take extra caution as traffic patterns will change.

National Weather Service says temperatures will remain high over the next several days. Today’s heat index values are expected to reach 109 degrees. Avoid being out during the worst part of the heat and stay hydrated. A chance of showers and thunderstorms is predicted mainly after 5 p.m. Thunderstorms Tuesday brought a quarter-of-an-inch of rain at the WPLK station although with the rain came a much appreciated drop in temperatures. 

The Flagler County School district bus driver who was arrested for driving a school bus while drunk back in February was in court Monday for a plea deal. Instead Circuit Judge Terrence Perkins sent Mark McNeill, 60, back to jail. Reason — the judge said he was impaired and his plea couldn’t be accepted. McNeill denied he’d been drinking, refused to take an breathalyzer test but then admitted he was impaired. That’s when his attorney told him not to speak anymore. Court observers said McNeill was having trouble standing and was unsteady on his feet. McNeill was sent back to jail and is to go before the judge today. The original charge dates back to Feb. 9 when McNeill was found to be driving 35 students while in a state of intoxication and charged with child endangerment and felony, drunk driving and resisting arrest. He was fired in March.

In St. Augustine Beach this afternoon the annual Music and Art by the Sea series continues. A weekly art show, music by local DJs and food truck food are on offer beginning at 3 p.m. at the St. Augustine Beach Pier. From 7-9 p.m. the free music concert features Ain’t Too Proud To Beg.

And a belated congratulations to Palatka High School Classes of 1982 and 2002. Both were in town to celebrate class reunions over the weekend. Lots of laughing, dancing and catching up were going on.

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