The Voice of the Gem City

March 19, 2019

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

Deadline is approaching for Rebuild Florida, a state effort to help people repair or rebuild homes significantly damaged by Hurricane Irma. The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity will accept applications through March 29 and funds are available not only for repairing and rebuilding, but to assist businesses in disaster recovery and update local infrastructure to better withstand future storms. For more, go to or call 844-833-1010.

The Lenten Season is underway and in Palatka the tradition of weekly Wednesday concerts continues. Ladies in Harmony will be the featured artists at Palatka’s First Presbyterian Church this Wednesday from 12:15-12:45 p.m. The concert at the church on South Second Street is free. A love offering may be given.

Palm Coast City Council meets today to go over details of a contract with their new city manager. Matthew Morton, who has been a manager in Washington state, will be getting a base salary of $145,000 a year. That’s about $30,000 less than former manager Jim Landon was making. Morton, 44, will be eligible for annual raises on the same percentage as other employees will get. He sets that percentage. Morton is scheduled to start April 8.

Florida Highway Patrol reports a fatality on Sunday in Flagler County. Jason Richards, 46, of Winter Haven, died Saturday after his motorcycle veered right off Colbert Lane and ran off the road. Richards, who was wearing a helmet, died at the scene. A motorist behind him didn’t see the crash but stopped to help. Richards was staying in Flagler and attending Bike Week in Daytona Beach. The mega-motorcycle event ended Sunday. Flagler Sheriff’s Office had an increased law enforcement presence countrywide and during the 10-day event deputies conducted 940 traffic stops and handled 98 traffic crashes.

Bryan Helms, principal at Interlachen High School, is the Putnam County School District’s principal of the year. Tiffany Scranton at Mellon Elementary School has been chosen assistant principal of the year. Scranton, who won the top teacher award back in 2010, is one of five finalists for state assistant principal of the year honors.

A traffic stop in Palatka Sunday morning led to the arrest of a convicted felon from Jacksonville for guns and drugs. Cleophus McCaskill, 49, was jailed on a $109,000 bond and faces 13 charges. McCaskill’s car was sopped on East Oak Street near U.S. 17 for having the wrong tag on his Chevy Impala. After deputies stopped the car, the scent of marijuana was apparent and that led to a search of the car. McCaskill was released from prison in 2007 after serving 14 years for an attempted murder. With him Sunday was his wife who is a teacher in Duval. She was cited with misdemeanor possession after a marijuana cigarette was found in her purse. She admitted to knowing there was an AK47 and marijuana in the vehicle.

The revamped and reorganizing Palatka Blue Crab Festival will be three days on Memorial Day weekend. Volunteers are needed. The Crab committee is lining up bands including one out of Palatka known as The Paper City Hustlers. They’re a three-piece cover band playing a wide variety of music from classic rock to reggae to country.

And if you’re taking part in the Putnam County Fair, plants including berry bushes and horticulture, 4-H exhibits and conservation landscape tray are being accepted today from 2 to 6 p.m.

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