The Voice of the Gem City

News August 11, 2022

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

An argument over a video game led to a shooting in Palatka Tuesday afternoon that has authorities searching for a 15-year-old, according to Palatka Police. Travis Kemp Jr., 15, and a 19-year-old allegedly were arguing over the game when Kemp pulled a firearm and shot the victim in the chest. Palatka Police were notified around 3:39 p.m. after the older teen was taken to North Florida Putnam Hospital. He was later taken to a trauma center and is expected to recover, say police. A search for Kemp went on through the night without results. By Wednesday morning they were asking the public’s help in finding the teen. An arrest warrant  for aggravated battery and possession of a firearm by a minor has been issued. Contact Putnam County Sheriff’s Dispatch at 386-329-0801 or call Northeast Florida Crime Stoppers at 1-888-277-8477. A cash reward is available.

First day of school 2022-23 is over and the long-term haul begins. School districts in Putnam, Flagler and St. Johns reported relatively smooth openings although some glitches occurred especially regarding traffic. 

In Putnam County one 14-year-old girl in Palatka was reportedly “tapped” by a school bus. Students were getting on a bus and the girl was crossing in front of the bus that’s driver didn’t see her. The girl was bruised, according to one source. Putnam County Sheriff’s Office said there were fewer traffic issues than last year when people were adjusting to combined schools. However, Kelley Smith Elementary in the Francis area is one problem area due to parents coming early to line up to deliver and pick up children. Lines at times back up to State Road 20. Palatka Junior-Senior High School is another area of heavy traffic.

In St. Johns County traffic was also an issue as some 50,000 students headed to class. Rezoning, a new high school and more than 100 new portables are expected to help with growth issues. Newly-constructed Beachside High School on County Road 210 won’t open until next week because of construction issues. 

In Flagler County traffic and safety concerns had Superintendent Cathy Mittlestadt and Sheriff Rick Staly appearing in a joint video to let people know school resource officers would be at each school. Sheriff’s deputies also were on hand at schools to help with traffic issues.

Beach erosion near the Flagler Beach pier led Flagler Beach commissioners to call a special meeting Wednesday. How to address the situation at the pier and for almost three blocks north led to discussion but little action. Commissioners didn’t go with okaying a proposed $15,000 emergency response study. In part that’s because Flagler County is to hear results of a long-term study next week. Also a factor was input from those familiar with the beach and ocean patterns who predicted the shifting sand will return as it has done in the past. Also carrying weight the oversight by state and federal agencies. Flagler Beach commissioners will talk again during their regular Aug. 18 meeting.

When it comes to the vanishing sand issue at Flagler Beach, every cloud has a silver lining. In the Flagler case, the sand being gone has unveiled an anchor archaeologists think dates to the 1700-1800 period. Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program out of the St. Augustine Lighthouse was on the scene Wednesday digging up the anchor.

Don’t forget if you’re looking for an evening of entertainment, tonight is Concerts in the Plaza in St. Augustine’s Plaza de la Constitucion downtown. The Ancient City Slickers, an old-time Americana band, will be playing from 7-9 p.m. tonight as part of the free city-sponsored series.

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