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A man is dead near Hastings following a confrontation Wednesday with St. Johns County deputies. The incident began in Flagler County regarding a reckless driver allegedly involved in two hit-and-run crashes as he tried to elude Flagler deputies. St. Johns County was notified around 2 p.m. about the black Dodge that was spotted at State Road 206 and A1A but the driver fled. Later he was spotted at State Road 206 and 305 where he drove head-on into traffic. The pursuit continued onto State Road 207, again with the driver driving head on into traffic. He eventually ended up in a dead-end as the chase came to a halt but then drove through a yard and rammed into a patrol car before heading back onto SR207 where he crashed into an abandoned school bus. That when the suspect exited the car and fired at deputies who fired back. The suspect was declared dead at the scene. No deputies were injured. The shooting is under investigation as is standard procedure. Identification of the suspect is pending confirmation of identity and notification of next of kin.
The Great American Clean Up is Saturday. In Putnam County Keep Putnam Beautiful is lining up workers at locations all over the county for the 9 a.m. to noon litter busting event. You can sign up by email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 386-325-9598.
Flagler County may be reconsidering location of a new Sheriff’s Operation Center. County Administrator Jerry Cameron at a meeting with the Bunnell City Commission earlier this week says the final decision doesn’t have to be made until March 1. Last year the commission voted to go forward with a new center to replace the “sick” building in Bunnell and said it would be located by the public library in Palm Coast. Financial considerations are being cited. Cameron said a long-awaited report from the Centers for Disease Control has confirmed the buildings has problems.
Bunnell Police are investigating the death of a man by gunshot Wednesday. The shooting took place inside a duplex on South Bacher Street. Name of the victim has not been released pending notification of next of kin.
Two women who failed to attend drug court in Putnam County are being sought by authorities. Samantha Hathcock, 31, of Satsuma, and Kelsey Vestal, 24, of Crescent City, “decided to skip out on one too many opportunities to get their lives straight,” according to the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office. Warrants have been issued for their arrest and the public’s help is sought.
PGA officials won’t allow spectators at The Players Championship at Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra after today. The decision came this afternoon as tournament officials grappled with a response to the coronavirus situation. Ticket refunds are available. So far the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in St. Augustine is going forward despite coronavirus, according to the latest information. If that remains the case it will be one of the few in the nation. Boston, New York, Chicago and Savannah have postponed or cancelled their parades. Last night Florida Department of Health confirmed a 63-year-0ld New York man visiting St. Augustine had tested positive for the virus.
Fire crews responded to the Georgia-Pacific paper mill in Palatka Wednesday to put out a fire at tissue converting machine No. 4. The plant was evacuated but workers later were able to return shortly after 1 p.m.
Coming up Friday through Sunday at the Palatka Municipal Golf Course is the annual Azalea Senior Tournament. On Saturday the 2020 Rodeheaver Boys Ranch Bass Tournament takes place.
In St. Augustine you can enjoy a cup of joe and some hands-on time with cats. On Wednesday the Frisky Cat Café opened at 1092 South Ponce de Leon Blvd. Cat cafes are the up and coming thing, it seems. Up front is the café offering coffee and sweets. In the back room you can cuddle up with a cat. That costs $10 but a portion goes to an animal rescue group. If you just can’t let the cat go, no problem – all the cats are up for adoption. Right now appointments are needed. It’s the cat’s meow.
St. Johns County Courthouse was evacuated Wednesday morning after a bomb threat made during an anonymous phone call about 9 a.m., according to the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies cleared the courthouse on Lewis Speedway in St. Augustine and dogs were brought in to search the premises. An all-clear went out about 10:30 and courts were getting back in session.
The decision by the Palatka City Commission to shove the Palatka Art League out of the Tilghman House is beginning to draw pushback from the public. A petition going around reportedly has nearly 1,000 signatures. The city had told City Manager Bill Shanahan to find the highest and best use for city properties occupied by non-profits. He advised turning it into a welcome center, restaurant or shop or selling the historic house on River Street. The city has given the Art League until December to get out but further talks are supposed to be scheduled.
A fire in the Hoot Owl Ridge subdivision in South Putnam County Tuesday night destroyed an unoccupied structure. Units from Crescent City Fire Department and Station 6, Station 12 and EMS 73 responded to put out the fire. No injuries were reported. The State Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating cause of the fire.
Three boaters are safe after their small boat capsized Tuesday in the St. Augustine Inlet. St. Augustine Fire Department sent out their boat to pull two of the boaters from choppy waters. A third boater was able to swim to shore at the northern end of Anastasia Island, according to St. Johns County Fire Rescue. All three were checked out by paramedics. The boat was towed to a dock.
Coronavirus concerns continue and area school districts are taking precautions. In Putnam County that now includes plans to sanitize and disinfect all schools against the coronavirus, Superintendent Rick Surrency told school board members Tuesday. A video posted on Facebook and YouTube today shows how the district is dealing with the situation. All school-related travel is subject to cancellation and rescheduling. In St. Johns County the school board also is reviewing policies and preparations. Superintendent Tim Forson and the board have canceled all out-of-state field studies, interscholastic activities and sporting events.
Meanwhile, St. Augustine is swinging into its busiest festival season. Organizers for the annual Celtic Festival say this weekend’s event is still on and they’re still selling lots of advance tickets. The three-day event begins Friday evening. On Saturday the nation’s oldest St. Patrick’s Day parade will head through downtown beginning at 10 a.m. Events including Highland Games, music performances and entertainment featuring Scottish and Gaelic culture will be going on at Francis Field Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.