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Detectives with the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office Thursday raided an Internet casino on State Road 21 in Melrose. A search warrant at Rainbow Café was served following a month-long investigation. About $33,000 in cash along with two Fish tables and 10 slot machine-style computers were seized. “We are targeting the people ultimately responsible for having the illegal gambling machines – the owners of these businesses,” said Sheriff H.D. “Gator” DeLoach. No arrests were made Thursday but the investigation is continuing.
The active search for two boaters missing off the coast of Florida has been suspended. Authorities called it an “extremely difficult” decision. The search began after Jacksonville firefighter and paramedic Brian McCluney and Virginia firefighter Justin Walker failed to return from a fishing trip Friday out of Port Canaveral. Coast Guard and volunteers have since searched an area in the Atlantic from south Florida to the Carolinas, covering an area about the size of Montana.
Opioid-related deaths are down overall in Florida by 10 percent in the first six months of the year, according to the State Medical Examiner Commission. The three-county District 21 made up by Putnam, Flagler and St. Johns counties did even better showing a drop of 34 percent in deaths directly linked to opioids or where opioids were present in the body. Helping reduce numbers of deaths – police and paramedics now carry Narcan, a nasal agent that helps restore breathing functions after an overdose. Tighter state rules on prescription drugs also are credited. Groups continue to try and increase awareness of the dangers of opioids. In St. Augustine at City Hall a Stop the Stigma St. Augustine and International Overdose Awareness Day celebration is Aug. 28. A candlelight vigil for International Overdose Awareness Day is Aug. 31 at Flagler Beach’s Veterans Park.
High school football dominates area towns tonight as the season kicks off in Putnam, St. Johns and Flagler counties. In Palatka eyes are on Palatka High and Pedro Menendez High game at Veterans Memorial Stadium. When the pair met last time it was a heart-breaker of a game for Palatka with the final score 66-65. Crescent City will play Madison County at home. Interlachen plays Trenton High School in Trenton. Games start at 7 p.m.
The Rat Island Yacht Club is adding some oomph to the Palatka riverfront today as sailors turn out for sailboat racing. The regatta starts at 6 p.m. It’s part of a series that will continue over the next two months. Meanwhile, at the Bronson-Mulholland House on Madison Street in Palatka you can enjoy regional art with a look at paintings by James “Eddie” White of St. Augustine. His Endangered Florida show and sale is from 4-7 p.m. and is sponsored by the Putnam County Historical Society. The show is free and open to the public. Dianne Jacoby will be on hand portraying Charlotte Henry White. Mrs. White and her husband were the second owners of the house and she once oversaw a Freedman’s Bureau School for former slaves in Palatka.
Someone apparently thought a pair of $279 Costa Anna sunglasses would be the perfect look. Unfortunately the individual allegedly shoplifted them after distracting a clerk at the Rainbow Shades store in St. Augustine and now the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office is looking for the woman. They’re asking the public’s help and have posted a surveillance photo from the shop on Facebook.
Beach-goers in St. Augustine and Flagler Beach will have some company this weekend. At Vilano Beach, the three-day Florida Skimboarding Pro/Am Tournament begins today with riders from around the world joining in the action. At Flagler Beach on Saturday it’s the 10th annual First Coast Surf & Beach Festival. This surf festival gives children with autism or related disabilities a chance to participate in event surfing activities with a little help from area surfers.
If you’re looking for a way to be upbeat, go catch the beat at the Larimer Arts Center in Palatka on Saturday. Sybil Gage and her Merry Band of Royal Catahoulas will be performing a mix of speakeasy blues and jook joint jazz from 7-9:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 at the door of the center, 216 Reid Street.
This weekend St. Monica’s Catholic Church celebrates the church’s 160th feast day. Saturday and Sunday events are scheduled at the church at 410 Oak Street in Palatka. The church was established in 1858.
This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.