This Week in history


5 years ago, 2013
After deliberating six hours, a four-man, two-woman jury convicted a Jacksonville man of two counts of second-degree murder. Cornelius Walston, 30, of Jacksonville, had been on trial for the October 18, 2009 stabbing deaths of David Wiley Smith of Middleburg and Kevin Lee Martin of Orange Park that took place during a brawl outside of Club Myth on Fleming Island.

A 78,000-pound external fuel tank from a decommissioned Space Shuttle made its way by barge along the Intracoastal Waterway from Cape Canaveral and back down the St. Johns River to Reynolds Industrial Park in Green Cove Springs. The tank was donated to the Wings of Dreams Museum in Keystone Heights.

The Clay County Chamber of Commerce basically told School Superintendent Charlie Van
Zant Jr. and the school board to simmer down after a Chamber survey found that 76.6 percent of respondents viewed the bickering between both camps as “harmful to the business interests of Clay County.”

10 years ago, 2008

The Clay County Sheriff’s Office investigated the theft of an $80,000 Ferrari Spider from the Orange Park Mall parking lot. The car’s owner, Robert Hecht, told detectives the car contained $400,000 in jewelry he kept in the front compartment.

Ronnie Munsey, promoter and organizer of the annual Ham Jam, said the festival and barbecue competition would not take place in 2008 due to the slow economy and lack of sponsorships. The event was first launched in 1987.

In a split 3-2 vote, Keystone Heights City Council appointed Karen Lake to the Keystone Airpark Authority – the board that runs the city’s airport – passing over long-time member Scott Roberts. The appointment raised concerns over whether the move was political or based on qualifications.

20 years ago, 1998
Clay County Library System Director Arnold Weeks said the county’s libraries would be getting a new code of conduct as it prepared to open up free internet access to library patrons. The new code addressed accessing internet pornography.

Marion Scott, 14, won first place in the Concert on the Green Young Artist Competition. Along with a $1,500 prize, he was selected as a featured soloist to perform with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra at the Concert on the Green event May 24.

The inaugural March of Dimes WalkAmerica walk in Clay County raised $26,000 to help fight birth defects.

30 years ago, 1988

Circuit Court Judge Giles P. Lewis sentenced Elwood Ireland, 69, of Lake Geneva, to seven years in prison after pleading guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter. He was originally charged with first-degree murder for shooting his wife, Margie Ireland, 60.
The Clay County Sheriff’s Office arrested Alonzo Plummer, 16, for murder, as well as Howard Vaughn Jr., 17, both of Green Cove Springs, for allegedly shooting Rodney Ricks, 20, of a Miller Street address.

Gov. Bob Martinez honored Lakeside Elementary School physical education teacher Kim Tracanna with one of eight Governor’s Leadership Awards. She was the only female teacher to receive an honor from Martinez.

40 years ago, 1978

The Clay County Health Department’s Health Advisory Council recommended the Board of County Commissioners hold public hearings about establishing nighttime hours at the county clinic. The goal was to provide health care access to the indigent.

CETA Director Elaine McBride filed sexual and racial discrimination charges with the Florida Commission on Human Relations against the Clay County Board of County Commissioners, which kicked off a six-week investigation.

In its annual reorganization, Green Cove Springs City Commissioner John Bradley was seated as mayor replacing commissioner Joe Love who was sworn in to a second term in office.


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