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A Pennsylvania man remains in critical condition following a shootout with St. Johns County deputies Wednesday in Ponte Vedra Beach. Deputies stopped Richard Arthur Bonsell, 28, on A1A. Bonsell had been reported missing on April 17 to the Lewistown, Pa., Police Department. Reportedly he told friends and family he was going fishing on April 17 but didn’t return. On Wednesday deputies located him driving an allegedly stolen black Toyota Tundra on A1A in Ponte Vedra. He reportedly opened fire on a deputy, who returned fire. Bonsell drove off ending up in the parking lot of Sawgrass Village Publix shopping center on Front Street. Deputies and a SWAT team surrounded his vehicle eventually using a gas canister and apprehending Bonsell, who had life-threatening injuries. Not clear is whether he was shot by deputies or if the wound was self-inflicted.
Palatka city commissioners meeting tonight will consider hiring Don Holmes as city manager. Holmes, who is city attorney for Palatka, has filled in as city manager before and began doing so again almost two weeks ago after the commission fired manager Bill Shanahan who had been with the city about five months. Tonight’s meeting will again be shown online although a few seats may be available inside City Hall. Call to make reservations for the 6 p.m. meeting.
Coronavirus cases continue to be diagnosed. Three new cases were reported Wednesday in Putnam County, according to the Florida Department of Health in Putnam. The total is now 68 cases with the latest a 63-year-old woman from Palatka, a 41-year-old woman from Palatka and a 28-year-old woman from Satsuma. Only the 63-year-old had contact with a confirmed case. In St. Johns County reported cases are at 195 with seven of those non-residents. Flagler reports 78 cases.
Flagler County opened beaches Wednesday and, according to reports, the day went smoothly. Only limited hours are allowed with Flagler Beach agreeing to 7-10 a.m. daily. Unincorporated areas of the county including Beverly Beach and Marineland are opening beaches from 7-10 a.m. and 6-8 p.m. daily. Sitting or parking and group activities on the beaches aren’t allowed; activities such as walking, fishing and surfing are.
Demands for food for those in need are continuing to be met in the Putnam-Flagler-St. Johns counties area. Bread of Life, being run out of the fellowship hall of First Presbyterian Church of Palatka, is serving 50 plus daily with help from various community groups and individuals. In Flagler County, Grace Community Food Pantry is seeing an unprecedented number in need. Verdego, a longtime garden center in Bunnell, is among those stepping up to help. Beginning yesterday and continuing through Saturday, the garden center will turn over 100 percent of its revenue to the pantry. They’re hoping to make at least $20,000 for the pantry.
Attorney Mike Perry has stepped up to become executive director of Lift Putnam, a group dedicated to helping more children in need be able to attend Pre-K programs. Down the road that’s expected to mean an academic boost for children because they get an earlier start at schooling. Original director Jim Padgett resigned some four months ago from the volunteer organization.
St. Augustine area radio reporter Al Brennan has died at the age of 79. According to some reports, his death is linked to the coronavirus. Brennan had suffered from several health issues through the years. Through the years his distinctive voice and style were familiar to listeners on WFOY, WSOS, WAOC and other radio stations no longer on the air.
Ever longed to attend that institution of higher magical learning known as Hogwarts? The Putnam County Library system is offering the opportunity with Hogwarts at Home virtual activities based on the popular Harry Potter book series created by J.K. Rowling. A virtual Harry Potter S.T.E.A.M. Book Club is starting up the first full week of May. Curriculum offers a fun look at science, technology, engineering, arts and math using ideas from the books. Contact the library’s Jeremy Yates via Jeremy.firstname.lastname@example.org. Where else are you going to get a chance to hatch a dragon’s egg?
This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.