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Time to re-think recreation plan

Jim McGauley- Impressions

Two recent developments — the ongoing turmoil over use of existing public ballfields and the recent exit of the First Coast YMCA from the scene except for fee-based sports — would seem to present us with a golden opportunity.
It’s time to re-think the entire public recreation picture in Baker County.
The county commission, unless it prefers unbounded discussions during its meetings about who gets to use the ballfields when, should take the initiative and reach out to the City of Macclenny to form a consolidated recreation department.
Remnants of the YMCA organization (a local board of directors still exists) should be brought into the mix as well, with or without cooperation from the First Coast organization that, if I was a betting man, probably is looking for a way of pulling out of Baker County altogether.
Good riddance. Read More »

Man refused to surrender a child

A Glen St. Mary man was arrested for felony cruelty toward a child and interfering with the custody of a minor on the Cops-child-cruelty-pixafternoon of April 10 after he refused to hand over a child in a court-ordered exchange.
Clayton Easter, 22, confronted mother Ashley Stevens of Jacksonville when she went to his residence on Franklin St. and she told Deputy Jeremiah Johnson that he spit in her face. The suspect carried the child outside and the deputy told him Ms. Stevens has a court order to pick up the child, and Mr. Easter replied, “You can’t take my child from my hands. I know the law.”
Deputy Johnson repeatedly requested the suspect hand over the child but he refused and cursed at the officer. The deputy called dispatch for more officers and Mr. Easter positioned the child between himself and any officer that tried to get close to him. The authorities couldn’t get close to the suspect in fear of injuring the child. Read More »

15-year term for string of burglaries

One-half of a two-person team responsible for a rash of home burglaries in Baker County before and after Christmas, 2012 drew a 15-year prison sentence in return for multiple no contest pleas in circuit court on April 8.charles-w.-cope
Charles Wayne Cope, 36, until recently indicated he would go to trial for his role in eight burglaries between November 29 of that year and mid-January 6 and at one point insisted on defending himself before William Salmon of Gainesville was reinstated as his taxpayer-funded attorney.
His co-defendant Julie Driggers, 44, entered similar pleas in November of last year and was placed on a five-year probation after serving more than ten months in county jail. She was poised to testify against Mr. Cope had the case gone to trial. Read More »

Glades ICE jail reported closing

Joel Addington
Managing Editor
reporter@bakercountypress.com

An administrative officer with the Baker County Sheriff’s Office says there’s no cause for alarm at a report that the Glades County jail that served as a model for the struggling Baker County facility is closing for lack of ICE inmates.
The facility will reportedly close in the next few months, according to a story in the Glades County Democrat published April 10.
Two days before, reporter Charles M. Murphy wrote, Glades County Sheriff Stuart Whiddon made the announcement at a meeting of the Glades County Commission, citing a loss of inmates from the federal agency Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, that cost the jail $1 million during a two month period.
“We had a meeting with ICE in Miami last Friday and had a heart-to-heart with them and they told us it probably won’t get much better,” the sheriff was quoted as saying.
He explained the Glades County jail needs at least 400 inmates to stay afloat, but it has averaged about 200 in recent months.
Officials in Baker County, where federal inmates including ICE are housed, have said they need about 400 inmates in all, including local prisoners and those from other federal agencies, to remain financially viable. Read More »

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