This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.
Tuesday’s elections brought only a few changes in Putnam and Flagler counties. Gordon Sands remains the mayor in Welaka in southern Putnam. Top council member vote getters were Jamie Watts and Marianne Milledge. Watts had previously served on the council but resigned. In Flagler County three races. In Bunnell, Bill Baxley retained his city commission seat. Jan Reeger won a seat for the first time, but by only two votes over Daisy Henry. There’s still a provisional ballot to be counted but not until Friday when the canvassing board meets. That could lead to a recount. Bunnell voters approved all the charter amendments including one that will limit commissioners’ salary increases to no more than the percentage of employees’ raises. In Flagler Beach, Jane Mealy and Rick Belhumeur retained their seats. In the Beverly Beach races, incumbents Debra Wingo and Jeffrey Schuitema won as did newcomer Douglas O’Connor.
A traffic stop and a K9 have taken more than 66 pounds of marijuana off the streets, according to the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office. When Nikita Motley, 28, of Palatka, was stopped for a traffic infraction on Monday K9 Halo reportedly sniffed out the pot that was in vacuum-sealed bags in a box with dryer sheets. Street value of the drugs — $151,800. Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Putnam Sheriff’s Office have been investigating a suspected drug distribution operation in Putnam. Motley, who has been convicted of a drug felony in the past, is now charged with trafficking marijuana, possessing a vehicle known for trafficking drugs and drug equipment possession. She’s also back out on the streets having posted a $50,500 bond Tuesday morning.
St Augustine’s Planning and Zoning Board Tuesday heard about plans by the Diocese of St. Augustine to put an amphitheater and parking garage on the grounds of Nombre de Dios Mission off San Marco Avenue. They also heard from nearly three dozen people opposed to the land use and zoning changes. PBZ took no action. Proposed land changes reportedly are set to go before the city commission which, if passed, could remove the need for a ruling by the board. The board did turn down a request for a medical marijuana center in part of the old ABC Liquor Store at the corner of Ponce de Leon Boulevard and King Street. That’s one of the main entrances into St. Augustine.
Putnam County School District will follow the findings of the state Office of the Inspector General and put money received from the Campbell School building into the capital outlay fund rather than use it for pre-K scholarships. Superintendent Rick Surrency said today “We’re going to follow the law” regarding the money from the sale. Surrency said he considered the report as guidance. The former school and administration building was on the market for more than a year before being sold to Lift Putnam, a non-profit, for $10. Lift Putnam sold it for $450,000 to Edge School and was going to use the money for scholarships. The Inspector General says the money should have gone into capital outlay which is for buildings and repair.
Palatka’s Planning Board Tuesday approved plans for renovation of a building on St. Johns Avenue. Eddie and Sherri Granger have bought the building at the corner of St. Johns and Seventh Street and plan to put four one-bedroom, one-bath apartments upstairs and an upscale antique store downstairs in a building that for many years housed Palm Furniture. Part of the property includes Magnolia Café, a successful restaurant that will continue to operate.