The Voice of the Gem City

News July 6, 2022

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

Scarlett O’Hara’s on Hypolita Street has been a landmark in St. Augustine for more than 50 years. No more. On Tuesday the restaurant as well as Dos Gatos, a cocktail bar next door, announce they were closed. “Skyrocketing costs, the pandemic’s lingering effect on tourism and the natural change of guests’ taste have won the day,” read the post. It’s the latest closure of some longtime businesses downtown that have seen a shift in the last few years. One factor not mentioned — the increasing number of homeless that the city has and has not addressed. Changes expected with a new push for mobility by the city including efforts to remove private vehicles may have contributed, according to some observers. Dos Gatos was in the news in May of 2021 after a man allegedly being harassed shot and killed another. Whatever the factors leading to the closings, for years the porch at Scarlett’s offered a great view of the passing parade of tourists and natives. Putting a twist on the ending of the novel Gone With the Wind where the heroine was named Scarlett O’Hara, the statement concluded: “Anyway good night Scarlett. We really did give a damn.”

People upset over career felons may be breathing a sigh of relief with Tuesday’s announcement from the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office that Jamie Armstrong, 33,  of Crescent City, has been sentenced to 20 years in Florida State Prison in Raiford. He’s classified as a prison release reoffender whose June conviction is the 22nd time Armstong has been found guilty and convicted of a felony.  The latest case involved five felonies from 2021 including breaking into a garage and stealing items as well as breaking into a truck. The day after the break-ins he was stopped on a traffic infraction and some stolen items were found by deputies. Later more stolen items were found in his home. Armstrong last year made the news during that spree when he allegedly cut off his ankle monitor and fled only to be captured 11 days later in a shed across from a Dollar General. Of Armstrong’s conviction, Sheriff Gator DeLoach thanked  the State Attorney’s Office for their diligence in “getting a career criminal off the streets and preventing him from further tormenting our community.”

By a 4-1 vote Tuesday, Palm Coast City Council ended a 16-year relationship with Waste Pro. In the trash-hauler’s place will be FCC Environmental, a company that began in Spain. The council approved a seven-year $32 million contract with the company despite a number of people speaking in favor of Waste Pro. The FCC contract was slightly below the proposal by Waste Pro, but came after negotiations with the city, another issue that raised questions from residents.

St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a shooting early Tuesday morning that sent a woman to the hospital with several wounds. Deputies were called to a shooting in Rosella Court, a neighborhood off Wildwood Drive, south of St. Augustine. Officials say the shooting at about 5:45 a.m. appeared to be an isolated incident and that the woman’s injuries were non-life-threating. K-9 deputies and a helicopter were searching are for a suspect.

With summer midway, people continue seeking ways to give their children things to do. For the 10th year the St. Augustine Yacht Club is holding their annual programs to teach kids how to sail. The week-long camps are open to kids from ages 5 and up. For some scholarships are available, funded through the club’s annual Race Week that brings in boats from around the state to race. Another summer staple is Vacation Bible School. Coming up in Putnam County are VBS programs at New Beginning Baptist Church  and St. James United Methodist Church in Palatka. This Saturday St. James at 400 Reid St. in Palatka offers kids a chance to meet farm animals during a pet-and-greet from 9 to 11 a.m. Pastor John Schafer will be doing a blessing of the animals ceremony. You can pre-register for their VBS with a farm theme coming July 15-17. New Beginning holds their VBS July 18-22 with pre-registration July 16 during a fun day. If your church is holding a VBS, drop off the information to WPLK and WIYD at our station at 1428 St. Johns Avenue.

Florida is settling into a rain in the afternoon cycle. A 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms today after 2 p.m. and a 30 percent chance after 7 p.m., according to National Weather Service. Despite that rain heat index values in the afternoon are as high as 106 so drink water and enjoy the shade.

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