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Arrest for pilfering artifacts

Allen C. HydeA Macclenny man was among 13 suspects arrested across the state and in Georgia last week for stealing valuable artifacts from state lands and attempting to sell them online and at trade shows during the last two years.

Undercover officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) infiltrated a group of men accused of digging or dredging on state property to find the artifacts, some priced at $100,000. Most of the suspects were arrested at their homes the morning of February 27, including Allen Charles Hyde at 53 W. Macclenny Ave.

Mr. Hyde, 49, faces 50 felony counts of dealing in stolen property, one misdemeanor count of theft and 51 felony counts of violating historical resources, according to FWC.

The state agency did not release details of each suspect’s specific offenses like what artifacts they took from public lands or the exact locations of the alleged thefts.

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Cats head into districts in third place

Wes Combs drives to the hoop.It was an up and down week for the Wildcats basketball team going into this week’s district tournament. The Cats defeated Oakleaf easily, but stumbled against the Trinity Conquerors before coming back to beat Interlachen in the last seconds of Friday’s game.

The Wildcats opened the week with a 12-point win over Oakleaf on January 29. CeCe Jefferson had one of his more dominant halves of basketball with 12 points in the paint that helped propel BCHS to an early 6-point lead. The Cats were also sinking baskets from the perimeter in the half with Jesse Gardner hitting two three pointers and Charles Ruise Jr. one of the long bombs.

Gardner was on target throughout the night from the three point stripe. All 12 of his points came from outside the line.

BCHS led 35-29 at the half and kept the Knights at arm’s length while steadily building their lead. The key to the win was good free throw shooting from Johnny Lamb and Cameron Mack in the fourth quarter as the Knights fouled to get back in the game.

Ruise led the Cats with 17 points. Lamb had 15, Jefferson 14 and Mack 6.

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Rayonier says city agent deceived it about property’s use

Lewyn Boyette is the central figure in a legal battle pitting the City of Macclenny against corporate giant Rayonier over a land dispute. The Jacksonville-based conglomerate contends the Macclenny real estate agent fraudulently convinced it to sell him 114 acres that he secretly planned to sell to the city for a sewage sludge disposal site off Steel Bridge Road.

The outcome in the lawsuit, filed by the city against Rayonier on January 15 at the Baker County courthouse, could boil down to a case of “he said — she said.”

Rayonier officials accuse Mr. Boyette of lying last June to induce the company to sell him 114 acres of timberland that he immediately agreed to sell to the city, which needs a new site to get rid of up to 50,000 gallons a week of treated sewage sludge to meet new state disposal standards, for $479,000.

While he did not disclose his plan to turn around and sell the property to the city, Mr. Boyette said he never lied to any Rayonier representatives in his conversations leading up to the property transaction, which called for Mr. Boyette to pay $399,000 for the land.

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Movie rental store is closing down

A customer peruses the discounted titles at Aardvark Video in Macclenny, which is liquidating its inventory ahead of closing its doors later this month.After nearly three decades in business, Aardvark Video in Macclenny is calling it quits later this month. And it’s not because of Netflix, Redbox or other competitors.

Shirley Smallwood, who’s owned the business with her husband Zac since 1984, blames computers and other technology advancements.

She said today’s youth have become so accustomed to using the Internet to access movies and other videos, retailers like her cannot stay afloat. After losing the kids, their parents’ money soon follows.

“Plus people are just impatient,” Mrs. Smallwood said.

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