The Voice of the Gem City

News August 19, 2022

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

A St. Johns County judge this morning agreed to move the murder trial of a 15-year-old from November to February of next year. Judge R. Lee Smith allowed the move as Aiden Fucci’s attorney reported she still had 50 depositions to take. Fucci was 14 when he was accused of stabbing to death classmate Tristyn Bailey, 13, last year in their Durbin Crossing neighborhood. He is being tried as an adult and the trial was to begin Nov. 7.

Bulldozers took down two buildings Thursday next to Palatka’s railroad station, part of an effort to revitalize the North 11th Street corridor. Mayor Terrill Hill said today code enforcement lien money had been used to help pay for the project. The city earlier bought the two privately owned buildings and is still attempting to purchase a two-story block building that once held Belton’s Cafe. One of the buildings bulldozed Thursday housed Grainger’s Cafe, a longtime restaurant and meeting spot on the city’s northside. The city is using an $8.1 million federal grant for resurfacing and sidewalk projects in an area that will run from the train depot to former Jenkins Middle School. 

Just two more days left for early voting. Today and Saturday elections offices in Putnam, Flagler and St. Johns counties will be open all day. Primary Election Day is Tuesday, Aug. 23, when polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. So far election turnout as been slow. Don’t think primaries aren’t important, in each county at least some elections will be decided on Tuesday. Negative campaigning is going on in all three counties . One reminder — if you get an anti-candidate brochure in your mail, pay attention where it came. Several are mailed by groups out of Tallahassee.

Lightning and thunder swept through St. Johns and Putnam counties Thursday afternoon. Several strikes were reported in St. Augustine including one that struck a water main, requiring crews out to restore service. Another strike was reported at a condo complex on St. Augustine Beach and St. Johns Fire Rescue responded. The threatening weather led to rescheduling of the Concerts in the Plaza that was to feature Bert Hodge and the Thick & Thin Band. They’ll be playing Sept. 8.

The mother of a 26-year-old Palatka man killed in a stabbing in May doesn’t want people to forget. Martha Kearse on Saturday will hold a vigil at Booker Park Saturday for her son, Shiron Brooks. A gathering is set at noon at Booker and a candlelight vigil at 7 p.m. Palatka Police are investigating the May 20 stabbing.

Alarms going off at Matanzas High School Thursday in Flagler County brought a lockdown of the school and a quick response fro the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office and a Palm Coast Fire Department crew. Deputies searched the school per emergency procedures but found nothing. School district officials say they are checking out the alarm system to find out what caused it to go off. Other schools in the district are fitted with the same new system. The alarm went off just after 11:15 a.m. and the search was completed shortly after 12:30 p.m. One teacher quickly sent a noted to the Sheriff’s Office thanking them for their response and saying it had made her feel safe.

Today through Sunday Vilano Beach in St. Johns County will host the annual Florida Skimboarding Pro/Am tournament. Top-ranking athletes from around the world will take part. Competition is from sunrise to sunset each day. Skimboarding is a bit like surfing although the board is shorter and has no fin. Skimboarders run from the beach to build up momentum then into incoming waves and ride their way back to shore.

Northeast Florida Friday night football used to be the place to be. Several groups in Palatka are pushing to restore that destination. Tonight scrimmages are going on at football fields throughout the three-county area including at Memorial Stadium in Palatka. You can help put the heart back in football programs and help out other sports programs as well. Show up, buy a season ticket and get the cheer back in Fridays. First Baptist in Palatka did their part this morning, kicking off with the first prayer breakfast for Palatka High’s Panthers.

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