The Voice of the Gem City

News June 24, 2022

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

Calvary Baptist Church and Palatka officials were expected to sign a memorandum of understanding Thursday night that would have had the city paying $35,000 to repair the pool at Family Life Center and open it to the public. Instead the cat was among the pigeons as several commissioners disclosed discussions that the center is being sold. Pastor Herbert Johnson at first said he didn’t know anything but later said he had been talking with developer Colin Bingham. Johnson said he had not taken the proposal to his board or the congregation. Bingham was the one who disclosed to several commissioners and the city manager that he was buying the facility for $1.2 million and fixing it up. His plans include putting affordable housing on other parts of the property. Eventually the church would have first option to buy the facility back. Bingham also  is involved in a proposed development at the old Florida Furniture/Wilson Cypress property on River Street. He pointed out commissioners have wanted more affordable housing and that’s what he would be providing. His project also would include some tiny houses of about 220 square feet. Questioned about operation of the pool if the sale took place, there was more confusion. Johnson said he expected the church would have control and that the $35,000 from the city would not give the city a say in operations. A new MOU is being drawn up including the third party potential and that will come back before the commission next month. Mayor Terrill Hill suggested he and Bingham get together and see if the $35,000 can be raised privately.

A phone call from Virginia eventually led to a high speed chase in St. Johns County and the arrest of a 16-year-old Wednesday, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. The teen called the Orlando Police Department Saturday threatening to kill an Orlando police officer and detective. No word on why he made the threat but Orlando put out a BOLO alert after the teen stole his father’s Ford Escape and headed from Virginia to Orlando. A warrant for his arrest was issued. A FHP trooper spotted the vehicle on Interstate 95 and State Road 9B and attempted t stop it. A high-speed chase began with speeds reaching more than 100 mph. The teen was reported driving recklessly, switching lanes, flipping off the trooper and nearly colliding with several other vehicles, according to the report.The trooper performed a PIT maneuver as traffic began increasing and was able to stop the suspect’s vehicle on I-95 North of County Road 201. 

Palatka’s St. Johns Ship Building is now owned by Americraft Marine, one of the privately-owned Libra Group’s companies. The deal, announced Tuesday, indicates the company will look at expansion. In a press release, Americraft Marine CEO Omear Khalid said St. Johns Ship Building “has the right leadership and skilled workforce to accelerate the future of U.S. shipbuilding and advance the urgent need for Jones Act-compliant, future-focused U.S. vessels.” The Jones Act, aka the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, includes federal law requiring all water transportation vessels carrying goods between U.S. ports must be U.S. built, owned, manned and flagged. Among pluses for the buy — St. Johns Ship Building is already involved in construction offshore wind servicing vessels.

Temperatures are soaring this weekend as is the heat index which will be in the triple digits. Good news is rain chances today and Saturday are at 60 percent plus. 

Crescent City is busy this weekend. Today and Saturday Woman’s Club of Crescent City on Summit Street is holding a yard sale. On Saturday it’s the Arts and Farmers Market from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the corner of Summit Street and Central Avenue and features food, vendors and music. Get ready for fireworks in the evening as the 10th annual Red, White and Boom! returns at Central Dock. Food, music and games are scheduled from noon to 9 p.m. hosted by Crescent City Yacht Club.

Hastings offers Hello Summer!  on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Main Street at Al Wilke Park. Rotary Club of Hastings says expect a street market, music, food and fun.

The Spotlight Performers in Flagler County perform Little Shop of Horrors this weekend at the Flagler Playhouse on Moody Boulevard in Bunnell. Shows are tonight and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Ancient City Poets in St. Augustine holds their monthly poetry read and celebrates Pride Month at the Waterworks building on San Marco Avenue from 2:30-4:30 Sunday. 

Mary Poppins Jr., a shortened version of the original, is on stage at Lewis Auditorium in St. Augustine today through Sunday. 

St. Augustine Music Festival continues live performances of classical music this Friday and Saturday at the Cathedral Basilica. Friday it’s Postcards From Vienna, Saturday Danses and Spells, both at 7:30 p.m. While free, space is limited so reserve seating by going to the festival web site.

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