This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.
Springtime events are returning to the area even as organizers look for ways to keep things safe during coronavirus. The Players Championship at Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach begins official play today. Since only 20 percent of the normal number of tickets were allowed to be sold, crowds will be down. That’s not good news for restaurants and other businesses that normally get a boost from the national tournament. Real money isn’t of much use. The tournament has gone plastic for everything from tickets to food purchases. In Daytona Beach Bike Week is on with crowds expected to build as the annual motorcycle gathering goes into its second and final weekend.
The Bardin bridge off State Road 100 outside of Palatka is open again, according to Putnam County officials. The bridge, which is being rebuilt, was closed Wednesday due to concerns over the safety of the structure. An engineer cleared it last evening. Reduced speeds and weight limits remain in effect.
Law enforcement said good-bye to one of its own Wednesday. Funeral services were held on the porch of the historic Bronson-Mulholland House in Palatka for Willie Washington, longtime Welaka Town Council member, former Welaka police chief and former Putnam County Sheriff’s deputy who broke down several racial barriers.
A St. Augustine man faces two counts of attempted murder after allegedly firing into a car of people on Tuesday night. One of those in the car called 9-1-1 to report the shooting that happed around 8 p.m. in the area of South Nassau Street. The victims were able to identify the shooter as Cedric Lavelle Grayer, 27. A perimeter was set up and a K9 unit found Grayer hiding on a porch on a neighboring street. St. Johns County Office deputies reported he had a firearm. In addition to attempted murder he faces one count of armed burglary of an occupied dwelling, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, battery against a K9 and armed possession of MDMA.
Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly had a busy day Wednesday. First, he conducted a traffic stop for speeding and then spotted a van with New Jersey plates that was reported stolen. Staly followed the van north on U.S. 1 and gave updates to deputies who set up stop sticks. The sticks deflated the passenger side tires and the vehicle came to a stop on State Road 100 in Bunnell. Driver Stephen Allen Nichols, 70, told deputies the car was a rental and he paid for it. The rest of the story came after the rental company and police in Waterbury, Conn., were contacted. Nichols rented the vehicle on Jan. 8 and was supposed to return it Jan. 10. On March 1 the company reported it stolen. Nichols was charged with grand theft of a motor vehicle and booked into the county jail on a $2,500 bond.
Palatka City Commission looks at appointing a new finance director tonight. Current director Logan Becker is taking a new job with the Putnam County clerk of court. City manager Don Holmes is recommending Dawn Shank for the job. Among items on the consent agenda purchase of 11 new patrol and police administrative vehicles. Cost is not to exceed $420,000. The department is still short several officers.
Putnam County commissioners hold a meeting tonight at 6 p.m. They’re seeking citizens’ comments on a Community Development Block Grant coronavirus application designed to help prepare for, prevent or respond to health and economic impacts of coronavirus.
Florida Department of Health in Putnam County says vaccination efforts temporarily are being moved from the Putnam County Fairgrounds. That’s to accommodate set up for the upcoming fair that begins next Friday. New location will be at the testing site at 1101 Husson Avenue across from William D. Moseley Elementary in Palatka. Testing will only be held on Mondays at the site through March.
Florida Department of Health in Flagler County reported 19 new coronavirus cases in their Wednesday report. That brings the total number of cases since March of last year to 6,180. St. Johns Country reported 29 new cases for a total of 20,413. Putnam County reported six new cases for a total of 5,916.
Interlachen Town Council is giving the go-ahead for Fourth of July celebrations. Only they’ll be on Saturday, July 3. Putnam County Commissioner Larry Harvey normally oversees the event and says planning is starting now.
Brought to you by WPLK and WIYD radio in Palatka.