Deputies: Meth lab found in back of car at Walmart


ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. — A meth lab was discovered in the back of a car at a Walmart off U.S. 1 in St. Johns County Saturday afternoon, authorities said.

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Deputies were originally called out to the Walmart in St. Augustine for a shoplifter and discovered a meth lab in the back of the suspect's vehicle in the parking lot, according to Chuck Mulligan with the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office.

A Walmart employee said that the suspect tried to take $1,700 worth of goods before being caught with the meth lab.

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Payphones still in business on the First Coast


ID=77387244ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Payphones are now rarer sights than they used to be, but they're still in business on the First Coast.

On the corner of the main city plaza in St. Augustine, next to historic plaques and monuments, there sits a humble pay phone.

Aaron Jockers has used the phone. "I think it's wonderful you have a payphone next to the nation's oldest park. Because it's a relic and antique itself!"

And it still works.

First Coast News did an experiment. Our crew set up a camera on the balcony of building across the street and called the phone.

The phone rang, but many people walked right by.

St. Augustine increases parking for Nights of Lights


ID=77142578ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — Thousands of people will be visiting St. Augustine to experience Nights of Lights during the holiday season.

As the annual display of holiday lights grows in popularity, the city will increase parking capacity to accommodate the plethora of vehicles, the City of St. Augustine announced in a press release.

St. Augustine Police cruiser involved in crash


ID=77067212ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla.- A St. Augustine police officer and two others were injured when the officers patrol car crashed into another vehicle at the intersection of Masters Drive and Ravenswood Drive Wednesday afternoon.

The patrol car was heading northbound when it tried to pass another vehicle around 1:30 p.m when the crash occurred, police spokesman Mark Samson tells First Coast News.

Samson says they do not yet know whether the officer was headed to an emergency call or not.

All three were taken to Flagler Hospital with "non-life threatening" injuries.

The St. Johns County Sheriff's Office will investigate the accident.

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St. Johns County holds round table on managing growth


ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — St. Johns County is one of the fastest growing counties in the country with discussion on Tuesday focusing in on how to better prepare for the future.

A crowded conference room was filled with ideas on ways to get a leg up on development - already nearly 2,300 home permits granted through October this year. While housing stats are not as high as before the crash in 2005, home building is on a huge upswing in various parts of the county, with Nocatee leading the charge.

"We are becoming Jacksonville, we are becoming something that I don't think most of us want," said B.J. Kalaide who was one of many speakers who wanted to voice her concerns to the county commission.

Commissioner Rachael Bennett said part of problem is having staff that can plan.

"Our planners are really reviewers... are not enough of them to actually plan," said Bennett.

St. Augustine Beach government may be changing its ways


ST. AUGUSTINE BEACH, Fla. — The way government works in St. Augustine Beach may be changing.

St. Augustine Beach city commissioners will decide Monday evening if they should have the final say on big projects and developments.

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Surprisingly, the city commission has not had this power for decades.

The issue that brought this to light is the Embassy Suites hotel planned for A1A.

The three-story hotel in St. Augustine Beach is planned for the land south of Anastasia State Park and north of the pier.

Police ID man killed in St. Augustine single-car crash


ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — A man has died following a single-vehicle crash in St. Augustine, authorities said.

The victim has been identified by the St. Augustine Police Department as 52-year-old Paul Drew Packer.

The accident happened about 3:50 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 24 at the intersection of Hildreth Drive and Douglas Avenue.

According to police, Packer was driving a 2014 Nissan Sentra when he failed to stop at a stop sign and the car jumped a fence, striking a fence and a fire hydrant before crashing into a tree.

Packer was airlifted to UF Health Jacksonville where he was later pronounced dead, police said.

Investigators say he was not wearing a seat belt and speed is believed to be a factor in the crash.