News

Church seeks help to restore historic building


ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Caution tape now hangs around Trinity United Methodist Church in St. Augustine. Services are no longer held in the building because of its condition. Members of the church are hoping something can be done before it's too late.

Harold Simmons Jr. has been going to this church on Bridge Street for 47 years, since he was a child.

As he stood across the street from it, a tour trolley drove by and the tour guide commented on the church's history.

"Yes, the trolleys come by and they enlighten the tourists on the rich history of this church here," Simmons noted.

It's one of the oldest Protestant congregations in Florida, dating back to the 1820s. And during the Civil Rights movement, marchers met inside this church for rallies prior to peacefully demonstrating downtown.

Child rescued from St. Augustine waters


ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- A 9-year-old was rescued from waters near Matanzas Inlet Sunday after being pulled away from shore by the ocean's currents.

The boy, who is conscious and breathing, is being evaluated by St. Johns County Fire Rescue.

The father of the boy called 911 to report that his son was being pulled into the ocean around 4:30 p.m. The father said he lost sight of his son in the heavy surf, according to a SJCFR Facebook post.

Multiple fire and marine rescue units responded from stations in St. Augustine Beach and Crescent Beach to the rescue and two SJCFR watercraft were in water when the child was located, according to SJCFR.

First Coast News will continue to monitor this story and bring you updates when more information becomes available.

Driver crashes into stopped school bus


ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- A 20-year-old man is facing charges of careless driving after hitting a school bus Wednesday morning.

Jesse Helms attempted to pass traffic stopped for a school bus on State Road 13 by passing on the right, but instead hit a mail box and over corrected into the left side of the bus, according to a report from Florida Highway Patrol.

The school bus was carrying one passenger at the time of the crash and no injuries were reported.

The flashing lights on the school bus were activated at the time of the crash the report detailed.

Helms was cited for careless driving.


UF digs history and tourism for St. Augustine


ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- The University of Florida is hoping the millions of tourists who visit the Sunshine State each year will see more than the theme parks.

The school wants them to see St. Augustine as well.

Archaeologist Kathy Deagan has worked digs all over the Fountain of Youth park since the 1970s, but the current dig is blowing her mind.

"We almost can't believe it ourselves," Deagan beamed. "After 37 years of working here, and to find this now!"

This is the first time in 60 years anyone has dug this part of the park.

She and her team are finding discoloration in the soil in certain patterns, which indicates a fortification structure was on the site. It could possibly even have been a fort that no one knew about here, dating back to 1565 when Pedro Menendez settled and founded St. Augustine.

This discovery changes things, Deagan said.

Makeover for King Street in St. Augustine


ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- A small, busy road on the First Coast is about to undergo a makeover.

King Street in St. Augustine is scheduled for a drainage and streetscape project.

King St. is one of the main roads residents and visitors travel into downtown St. Augustine. Business owners along the street welcome the improvements.

The proposed project would run from Malaga Street to the Bridge of Lions. The improvements could include new street lights, better drainage, and putting the power lines underground. Some business owners hope additional parking could be a part of the improvements.

Pot Belly's Movie Theater to close in St. Augustine


ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- An iconic movie theater on the First Coast is closing its doors.

After 36 years in business, the owners of Pot Belly's Movie Theater in St. Augustine are retiring.

For years it was the only movie theater in the old town.

It was also a place for owner Kenny Pierce to show off his massive collections of all kinds of things including movie memorabilia, lunch boxes, toy cars and model planes.

Owner Kenny Pierce says it's time he and his wife got some rest, and most of the collectibles will be sold at auction.

Pierce said, "I'm going to be 72 years old this Thursday. The kids couldn't handle all this. It's just too much stuff. What do you do? Do you store it? I've got two sheds already full of it!"

The auction will be Saturday, April 26
at Pot Belly's in St. Augustine.

Domestic dispute in St. Augustine ends with shooting


ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- A man is in critical condition after he was shot Sunday during a dispute in a St. Augustine subdivision.

According to the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office, a 29-year-old man was shot twice during a physical domestic disturbance at 12:30 a.m. in the Royal St. Augustine neighborhood.

The man was taken by air ambulance to UF Health and remains in critical condition.

According to SJCSO, a 59-year-old man involved in the incident fired the shots, but he was not arrested.

"At the present time probable cause did not exist to make an arrest and additional investigation will be required," the SJCSO said in a release.

Two females were also present during the altercation in the 500 block of Florida Club Blvd.