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As coronavirus concerns continue spreading, events, festivals and fairs are being cancelled. Among sporting events it’s The Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach. First word was golfers would continue play today through Sunday but without spectators. Now the decision is the PGA tournament is off as will be the next two PGA tournaments. In a blow to businesses and visitors the City of St. Augustine has authorized cancellation of this weekend’s Celtic Music and Heritage Festival and the accompanying St. Patrick’s Day Parade Saturday. Also cancelled the upcoming Lions Seafood Festival and Rotary’s Rhythm and Ribs Festival. Clay County has cancelled its fair. Before heading out to any event, check that it’s still scheduled.
In an indication the crisis won’t be going away immediately Crescent City in Putnam County has announced cancellation of the 42nd annual Catfish Festival set for the first weekend in April. Crescent City Rotary Club along with many of the town’s residents put on the festival, which pays for scholarships for area students. Rotary says it has enough in reserve to continue providing scholarships for next year. So far the Putnam County Fair, which begins next Friday, is still on.
Health officials continue to remind people of the need to practice some basic good health practices including washing hands and staying at home if you have symptoms of the either coronavirus or the flu. Those with weakened immune systems are urged to be extra cautious. A check shows currently 41 people have died in the U.S. from coronavirus. For the 2019-2020 flu season that began in September more than 14,000 have died in the U.S.
School districts in Putnam, Flagler and St. Johns counties will be out next week for spring break. Today is a teacher planning day in Flagler and St. Johns counties so students are out there.
A driver in a pickup truck died on I-95 North in Palm Coast early Thursday evening. Florida Highway Patrol is investigating the accident that happened after a semi-truck belonging to T. Williams Trucking of Raleigh, N.C., developed mechanical problems and had to stop in the middle lane of a three-lane northbound I-95 segment north of Palm Coast Parkway intersection. The driver had put out cones behind the semi and was walking back towards the truck when a pick-up approached and apparently not slowing, hit the rear of the semi sending the vehicle’s front end under the semi. The driver, who had to be extracted by firefighters-paramedics was pronounced dead at the scene. It was the final of four accidents occurring along a four-mile stretch between 3 and 7 p.m. No serious injuries were reported in the other three wrecks.
St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office has identified the man who pulled a gun and shot at deputies and in turn was killed by their gunfire Wednesday near Hastings as Joshua Christopher Noles, 37, a transient living in Daytona Beach. The shooting came after Noles drove through Flagler County and into St. Johns causing several hit-and-run accidents. Noles was convicted in 2019 on 10 counts of possession of photographs, film or other representation that knowingly includes sexual conduct by a child. He was a registered sex offender. As is Sheriff’s Office policy, the three deputies involved are on paid administrative leave during the shooting investigation.
A 38-year-old Jacksonville man has been sentenced to eight years prison in the hit-and-run deaths of two St. Augustine women bicyclists last year. Henry Haigler pled guilty in January to leaving the scene of a crash involving death. In addition to the prison time he must serve seven years probation, his license is suspended for 10 years and 250 hours of community service are required. Haigler told detectives he “freaked out” when he realized he hit the women and drove off. Cell phone records indicate he was using the device at the time of the collision and he admitted he didn’t see them, but only heard a “hard thud” when he hit the two women.
While many things are cancelled due to coronavirus, the Pilot Club of St. Augustine is shouldering on Saturday. They’ll be holding their annual caladium sale at the parking lot of Watson Realty on U.S. 1 South from 9 a.m. to noon. Sale proceeds held fund club projects ranging from support of youth to patriotic programs. Farm-fresh cabbage also will be for sale during pick-up with proceeds benefiting the Donnie Heymen Scholarship Fund, which supports youth involved in the building trades.
This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.