For the untimely death of former Yellow Jackets football star Tarek Odom. He collapsed this week at the age of 24, playing in a flag football game at Pomar Field. After high school he went on to play college football at Wofford, then briefly in arena football. He most recently returned to help coach the St. Augustine High junior varsity team. An autopsy report is expected soon.
To the St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Zoological Park for forging ahead while looking back. The attraction opened in 1893 and will celebrate its 125th anniversary this year, which will coincide with the opening of a new exhibit, Oasis on the Nile. It remains one of the city’s oldest operating businesses, attracting about 200,000 visitors annually.
For the news that St. Augustine’s Public Works Director, Martha Graham, will be retiring effective March 30. She has led the city into and through some of the more important projects in its history — all with an eye toward preserving history while improving the experience for visitors and residents alike.
“… I really fell in love with the core values — the focus on children first, an emphasis on high-quality instruction — you hear everyone in education say these kinds of things, but they really live it out here. … It was a great match for everything I believed in.”
— Flagler College President Joe Joyner, speaking is a story about his move from superintendent of county schools to his new role, leading Flagler College.
“He died doing something he enjoyed, playing football. … He was that gentle giant, that teddy bear. He was a fun-loving person with everyone he came in contact with. … He was one of those people I don’t think he would have any regrets about anything in his life that he did. I feel God said ‘Well done, son. Well done, son. Come on home.’”
— Belinda McDowell, mother of 24-year-old Tarek Odom, who collapsed this week during a flag football game and died.
“He played the game like that, you could see how demoralizing it must have been to him to not be able to play as a kid. … We called him the ‘Kung Fu Panda.’ Sounds silly, but he really was that gentle, super sweet kid. But boy, he had that athleticism. He’s a St. Augustine football icon and he actually matched that with the type of kid he was.”
— St. Augustine High football coach Brian Braddock, speaking in a story about the death of the 24-year-old former Yellow Jackets football star. He died this week during a pickup football game.
“As somebody who is a military officer, an Iraq veteran, a proven conservative, and then with the support of the president, I’m in a position to exercise the leadership that can build on the great work that Gov. Rick Scott has done to advance economic opportunity, reform education and to drain the swamp in Tallahassee...”
— Rep. Ron DeSantis in an interview after announcing his intention to enter the Governor’s race this year.
“I’m not convinced that having firearms in schools is the answer. … I would be concerned about how this could be implemented.”
— School Superintendent Tim Forson, speaking in a story about a bill filed early in the legislative session that would allow some licensed gun owners to carry firearms onto school campuses.
“We have a proliferation of homelessness and panhandling inside our city. One of the things we’re trying to do is improve our outreach, showing the city working hand-in-glove with service providers.
— St. Augustine City Manager John Regan, speaking in a story about the use of community affairs officers downtown to help with a growing problem of panhandling and homelessness on downtown St. Augustine streets. The problem has exploded after a recent court decision that found panhandling is protected by the First Amendment.