Forty years ago in 1977 the courts were busy in Apalachicola in spite of a positive report by Terry Herron, youth counselor with the Division of Youth Services. It not clear what happened to the two young gentlemen in the first article. Were they arrested? Who knows. Maybe they spent the rest of the summer cleaning up the beach.
Our Chasing Shadows question this week: Was the sea oat crime wave ever ended? If you know, please contact the Times at 653-8868 or Lois Swoboda at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Raid on icebox nets cool cash
A burglary that may have started out as an early morning raid on the refrigerator netted some cool cash - $1,300 was taken from a freezer in a home in Apalachicola.
Two juveniles were apprehended in connection with the incident and charged with burglary of a structure with intent to commit larceny, which is a felony, Terry Herron, youth counselor with the Division of Youth Services said.
The youths, ages 14 and 15, were released into the custody of their parents.
The theft was discovered when Donnie Wilson, owner of Wilson’s Seafood, returned to his locked house on 21st Street in Apalachicola on the evening of August 1 and notices dirty ice cream dishes and spoons lying around the kitchen. Wilson checked the freezer and discovered that money was missing.
Wilson said he had placed a bank bag containing $2,000 cash and $18,000 in checks in the freezer before going out of town on Sunday.
The cash came in from seafood truck routes on Saturday afternoon when the bank was closed, he explained.
The house had been entered through a window, he said. Some lunchmeat and ice cream were also missing. Wilson said none of the checks were taken and $700 in cash was also left in the bag; $684 of the missing money had been returned.
The youths were apprehended following an afternoon spending spree. They purchased candy, boots, and ice cream and paid some bills around town, Herron said, adding that one of the boys’ mothers noticed her son had an unusually large amount of cash in his possession.
Juvenile arrests drop lately
Juvenile crime is down in Franklin County this summer, according to youth counselor Terry Herron.
Herron, who works for the Florida Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, said only one juvenile was arrested during the entire month of July and he was picked up for fighting.
Herron said the number of juveniles arrested has been as high as 35 in a single month.
Summer oystering, permitted on an experimental basis for the first time this year, should be given some of the credit for the drop in teenage crime, Herron said, adding that many area teenagers are working this summer because of it.
He also mentioned the National Youth Corps, a job program funded by the Comprehensive Employment Training Act (CETA), which has employed 30 area youths this summer, as having an impact on juvenile crime.
Finally, he said that a Division of Youth Services program, called the Community Work Project, in which youthful offenders are sentenced to working in the community without pay to make retribution for their transgressions, has helped reduce teenage crime.
“They’re learning that they’re going to have to work for the community for free if they break the law,” Herron said. “A lot of them have decided that they don’t want to spend the summer working without pay.”
He said last summer some of the youths had to pick up trash on St. George Island, others had to collect cans on Carrabelle Beach and some had to perform janitorial duties at the county courthouse.
This summer the program’s eight non-volunteer participants are going to build an announcers booth at the Carrabelle High School football field, Herron added.
Franklin County Sheriff Jack Taylor said the summer oystering might have helped cut juvenile crime, but he didn’t think it was the main factor in the drop in the number of arrests.
“There are fewer arrests because we’ve caught the rest of them and sent them off,” Taylor said. “It’s the same ones that do it over and over. We keep plugging at them.”
“Sure it helps. Putting people to work and giving them something to do keeps them out of trouble,” he continued. “But I don’t think it’s that so much as the other.”
Herron said Taylor’s theory might just be pretty accurate.
“We did break up a couple of gangs several months ago,” he said. “And we sent off some of the key leaders.”
Sea Oats charges send men to jail
Three St. Augustine men were sent to jail Monday for possession of sea oats.
The plants are protected by state law because they hold sand on dunes and prevent beach erosion.
The trio, Gerald Lee Shugart, 29; Michael Allen Stevens, 27 and Johnnie Melvin Simms, 34 were each sentenced to 60 days in jail and fined $500 after pleading no contest to charges of possession of sea oats. Franklin County Judge Susie Measamer suspended 30 days of each jail sentence. Each man waived his right to legal counsel and right to trial by an attorney judge.
The men were arrested around 2:30 a.m. two weeks ago as they attempted to leave St. George Island.
Three Florida Marine Patrol officers set up a stake out at the Bryant Patton Bridge, the only connection between the island and the mainland, after receiving a tip. They apprehended the men with a contraband cargo of 30,000 sea oats laying neatly bundled in bunches of 25 in the back of a late model, orange and white Dodge Ram Charger.
Sea oats are cut because there is a lucrative black market business in selling the stalks to florists for use in dried flower arrangements.
They bring two cents a stem as picked, but retail for up to $2 a stalk in northern cities after the oats have been cleaned, sprayed and lacquered.
The fate of the 30,000 oats, which were retained as evidence, will also be determined by Judge Measamer.
Capt. C. V. Holland of the Florida Marine Patrol said he would suggest that they be turned over to the Division of Beaches and Shores, Florida Department of Natural Resources. That agency tests the seeds from the plants and, if they are mature and will germinate, propagated plants to be set out on state owned beach areas.
Holland said the arrest was the largest involving sea oats in three years and that he thought it was a significant one. He added the same men had been arrested a few days earlier for cutting sea oats on the east coast of Florida.
That and other aspects of the case indicated that the same group had been cutting and selling sea oat for some time on a large scale, he said.
“I feel that these might be the men we’ve been after for two or three years now, although I can’t be sure,” Holland said. “Unfortunately, the maximum fine of $500 isn’t stiff enough to really be a deterrent.”
'I love dogs, but… '
The other day I was walking down Highway 98 in Eastpoint. As I started walking a dog started following close behind. He was friendly so I didn’t pay any attention. A few minutes later I looked around and one became five. I wonder what people passing by thought? I love dogs, but why me, unless I am so loveable and they can tell it.
I had walked about half a mile and I had come upon three more dogs, lying on the side of the road killed by cars. I think Eastpoint has a dog problem.
There are a lot of people from out of town and out of state that stop in Eastpoint asking directions or looking for seafood. I wonder what they think, seeing all these dogs in different stages of decay along the road? To me it’s sickening and also a health hazard.
I love dogs and they know it. But I don’t like them at all lying dead along the road.