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Two dead in early morning I-10 collision

A fatal crash on the interstate near mile marker 335 involving a vehicle traveling in the wrong direction killed two people about 2:30 am Friday, according to Maj. Gerald Gonzalez of the sheriff’s office.

Emile McPherson Whitney, 47, of Ocala was heading westbound in the eastbound lanes of I-10 in a 1997 Jeep Grand Cherokee when it hit head-on the 2005 Honda Odyssey driven by Nge Thay, 20, of Jacksonville, which carried eight passengers.

Two of those passengers, Ta Nu, 47, and Kaw Lay, 37, both of Jacksonville, died at the scene.

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Storm zaps power for 2400 customers

A crew dismantles the large tree that fell onto a W. Ohio Ave. duplex the evening of October 7.Sunday night’s thunderstorm knocked out power for an estimated 2400 Baker County customers and left a number of north Macclenny residents looking for new places to live.

About 8:30-9 pm a large uprooted tree fell into the roof of a two-unit duplex at 675 W. Ohio Ave., puncturing sizable holes that made way for the nearly 3-inches of rainfall that accompanied the storm the evening of October 7.

The next morning, the 2130-square-foot duplex’s occupants were busy moving out as a work crew dismantled the tree outside.

“It shook the house,” recalled Connie Walker, an 8-year tenant of the property owned by Donnie and Barbara Gaines.

Next, Ms. Walker said, water began coming through the air conditioning vents. Then, the bedroom ceiling collapsed on her mattress.

Ms. Walker, who works for the Florida Department of Transportation in St. Augustine, said she was able to remove most of her property, besides the bed, before it was damaged. Her two pet dachshunds went unharmed as well.

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Ousted commissioner pushing for fees, casts sole vote against budget

After Michael Crews was elected to the Baker County Commission in 2008 he began calling for measures to ease the tax burden on property owners by implementing special assessments that everybody would pay to cover the costs of public services.

He’s still spreading that message just weeks before he leaves office after losing his re-election bid in an atmosphere of public protests over county budget issues, including the continued use of reserve funds to cover deficits, and pending sand mine proposals.

Mr. Crews cast the only vote against the $28.2 million 2012-13 county budget at the commission meeting on October 2, which he later explained was his way of saying that the county had not done enough to ease the tax load on property owners by spreading out the costs of public services more equitably.

“I did not vote in support of the budget for multiple reasons,” Mr. Crews said in an interview on October 8. “One is because the way it is currently done is a burden (on too many property owners) because the cost of services is falling on the few.”

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5-year probation thefts, fraud

A Sanderson man was placed on a five-year probation after pleading on September 25 to four counts of grand theft and fraud for what amounted to a one-man crime spree starting late in 2011.

Aaron Roy Davis will be on house arrest the first year of that term, according to court records. Circuit Judge Phyllis Rosier ordered him to avoid contact with all of the six victims he stole from through March of this year.

A later hearing will determine the restitution amount that will be part of the probation obligation.

Mr. Davis was arrested for stealing property including tools, a trailer, farm implements and fence posts during that period. He was also charged with defrauding a pawn shop and scrap yard by representing himself as the owner of items he turned in for cash, but those charges were dropped as part of the plea agreement.

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