This Week in History 12/27/18


5 years ago, 2013

Clay County officials conducted an inventory audit at the Clerk of Court office after the firing and arrest former information technology director Michael John Hamilton of Lake Asbury who was charged with grand theft, dealing stolen property and giving false verification of ownership after allegedly stealing computers at his job.

Clay County School District officials celebrated news that Orange Park High had earned an “A” grade from the state, the first time since the state began its grading system in 1999.

A head-on collision on Russell Road near Pine Hollow Road in Lake Asbury killed the drivers of both vehicles. Stacey Renee Peternel, 37, of Green Cove Springs, and Shanice Sadi Johnson, 23, of Middleburg, were pronounced dead at the scene.

10 years ago, 2008

Describing the climate as “desperate times,” Clay County School Superintendent Ben Wortham said the school district stood to lose $25 million in state funding in the coming year and offered staff reductions as a remedy.

State and area officials converged at the Thrasher-Horne Center for the Arts for the inauguration ceremony for Joe

Pickens, who was sworn in as the new president of St. Johns River State College.

The Clay County Sheriff’s Office arrested Patrice Nigel Plummer on charges of arson causing bodily harm, burglary and arson and misdemeanor trespassing after she allegedly set two apartments on fire and caused smoke damage to two other at Bluff House Apartments totaling $500,000 in damages.

20 years ago, 1998

The Jacksonville Transportation Authority announced the proposed Orange Park Looper, which would drop and pick up riders at Orange Park Mall, travel south on Blanding Boulevard, then east on Kingsley Avenue, then north on Park Avenue/U.S. 17, and then back west on Wells Road to the mall.

The Clay County Sheriff’s Office arrested a 14-year-old boy for bringing a .25-caliber handgun on to the campus at Orange Park Junior High.

In calling for a measure to regulate the industry locally, Clay County Commissioner Pat McGovern blasted title lenders calling them “bloodsuckers” because of how they charge exorbitant interest rates that compound quickly.

30 Years ago, 1988

Keystone Heights Mayor Bill Beam presented retiring Clay County Sheriff Jennings Murrhee with a certificate of appreciation for his 24 years of law enforcement service, of which seven were in service as the city’s chief of police.

Clay County Extension Home Economist Emily G. Harper was honored by the Florida Association of Extension Home Economics Professionals for her work with blind and visually-impaired homemakers.

The Green Cove Springs Fire Department reported that 93-year-old Mattie Solomon died in a house fire.

40 years ago, 1978

S. Bryan Jennings Jr., president of cable provider Clay Video Inc., signed franchise agreements to offer cable TV service to Orange Park and Clay County residents and said the company was purchasing assets from Theta-Com CATV.

The Florida Highway Patrol reported that 8-year-old Edward Russell “Rusty” Zebendon was killed by a car while pedaling his bicycle in the westbound lane of State Road 16 near Thomas Street.

The Clay Citizens Coalition stepped up its efforts to oppose the Jacksonville Electric Authority’s plans to build two 600 megawatt coal-fired plants in the county.


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