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This Week in History

Posted 5/16/24

Five years ago, 2019 •  Known as the "Miracle on the St. Johns River," a Boeing 737 plane bounced off the NAS-Jacksonville runway during a severe thunderstorm.  MOBRO Marine, Inc. in …

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This Week in History


Five years ago, 2019

•  Known as the "Miracle on the St. Johns River," a Boeing 737 plane bounced off the NAS-Jacksonville runway during a severe thunderstorm. MOBRO Marine, Inc. in Green Cove Springs was tasked with transporting and lifting the plane out of the water in Reynolds Park, where the National Transportation Safety Board could conduct its investigation.

• Controversy surrounded Sheriff Darryl Daniels when secret audio recordings were released that suggested Daniels paid JSO Officer Cierra Smith to keep their romantic relationship a secret. Daniels’ wife, Denise Daniels, allegedly used her cell phone to record Smith. 

•  U.S. District Judge Mark Walker ordered Clay County and 31 other Florida counties to provide ballots in Spanish and to hire Spanish-speaking employees as poll workers.

• Clay County Deputy Jacob Hawkins was recognized as a recipient of an Outstanding Law Enforcement Officer award for saving the life of a U.S. federal agent who was ambushed and shot three times in a parking lot in Oakleaf Plantation in 2017. 

10 years ago, 2014

  Outside study revealed Green Cove City employees earn 8.7% less than other workers from similar-sized cities in Northeast Florida.

• The Board of County Commissioners voted 4-1 to extend its contract with Waste Management Inc. for another seven years with rate reductions and other items worked into the contract. The commissioners also voted 5-0 to direct county staff to begin shutting down its in-house processing facility for recyclables – where recyclables are separated by hand – in favor of outsourcing that process. 

20 years ago, 2004

• A Clay County Grand Jury cleared Sheriff Scott Lancaster of any wrongdoing in the wake of allegations he used a county credit card for personal expenses and lavish trips. The citizen panel also cleared Lancaster on charges of ticket fixing, failure to comply with public record requests and charges of improper use of county vehicles and county jail inmate labor.

• The U.S. Postal Service collected more than 27,000 pounds of food in the 2004 “Stamp Out Hunger” annual food drive, more than double the amount collected in 2003

• Community leaders broke ground on the new Rotary Club of Orange Park Memorial Pavilion at Moosehaven retirement community along River Road in Orange Park.

30 years ago, 1994

• The Clay County Drug Task Force arrested nine people for various drug charges in a sting in the area of Middleburg Avenue and Pine Street in Green Cove Springs.

• Michael Eugene Downs, then-31, of Orange Park, ended up in a three-and-a-half-hour standoff with the Clay County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team after he threatened police with a 9mm semi-automatic handgun. Downs, who had been under investigation for child abuse allegations, locked himself and his son in his home during the standoff.

• A Clay County Grand Jury indicted Floyd William Damren, then-43, of first-degree murder, armed burglary and aggravated assault for the death of Donald R. Miller, 46, of Palatka.

40 years ago, 1984

• Clay Utility asked the Florida Public Service Commission to allow the water and sewer provider to raise rates for the first time since its incorporation in 1974.

• Orange Park Town Manager Ken Nipper told town council he would resign effective Oct. 2, a move that caught council members off guard.

50 years ago, 1974

• In the wake of a two-day festival featuring bluegrass, religious and folk music slated for Phillip Spencer’s property off County Road 218, the Clay County Commission repealed its restrictive ordinance banning music festivals

• Orange Park High School Principal Thomas Moe announced the school would shift from a quarter system to a semester system the following fall