This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.
Rain was on everyone’s mind Tuesday as northeast Florida saw heavy storms in some areas providing a break from a dry spell. In Palatka lightning took out power for some residents in the Ravine Gardens area including taking out stoplights on Crill Avenue. Some areas on State Road 100 reported hail. Maybe Palatkan Alice Cooper summed it up best on Facebook: “Thank you Lord for this rain … thought I heard thunder but now think it is the leaves of the droopy azaleas and the crunchy blades of grass CLAPPING!” More clapping may happen today with rain predictions at 50 percent.
Putnam County School District employees will see an increase in their paychecks after the school board Tuesday approved an estimated $2.6 million for across the board pay raises for all employees. A 1 percent pay raise going back to July 1, 2018 and a 2 percent pay raise taking effect July 1, 2019 will up salaries. The increase, the first across-the-board increase since 2006-2007, is expected to be a plus when it comes to hiring and retaining employees.
A group that helps the homeless in Flagler County apparently will appeal a Bunnell zoning board decision that would end First United Methodist Church of Bunnell hosting a cold weather shelter for the homeless. The Sheltering Tree aka Family Assistance Center has run the facility for 11 years. The church recently filed for a special exception to the zoning code in order to upgrade restrooms to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, supply shower and laundry facilities for hurricane relief teams and upgrade Fellowship hall facilities. The church has residential housing around it, but commercial establishments are near by as well.
Putnam County firefighters battled brush fires Tuesday including one on Lake Como Drive in Pomona Park that destroyed a camper and double-wide mobile home. No one injured but two dogs were rescued from the property whose owners were out of town. Another brush fire was reported in Bardin. That fire hit a wooded area on Bardin Road near Midway Baptist Church and was ignited by lightning.
In St. Johns County today a ribbon-cutting ceremony opened Fire Station 5 at 3370 U.S. 1 South in St. Augustine. The station replaces two nearby stations that were originally volunteer fire departments and will serve a dual purpose as both a fire station and the southeast region command center for the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office. Another station is under construction near Veterans Parkway and Racetrack Road to the north.
St. Johns County Commissioners Tuesday voted to spend up to $550,000 for preparation work on two projects to restore coastlines battered by recent hurricanes. The projects include one-time dune restoration on South Ponte Vedra Beach and a multi-year project with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for beach renourishment at Vilano Beach. The county will be spending some $32.6 million on the projects.
Belated congratulations to Jackson Storey who won the Beck 5K race Saturday in Palatka. It was his fourth straight win, this time in just 17 minutes 10 seconds. The Run benefits the ARC of Putnam County and is sponsored by Beck Automotive Group.
Plans to resell cigarettes went up in smoke for a Hawthorne man who allegedly attempted to sell stolen smokes in Interlachen. Putnam County Sheriff’s Office says the incident began when a delivery driver who had unloaded supplies at the Hawthorne Food Store was approached by a woman wanting to know about lakes in the area. He answered her and drove off only to discover at his next stop that 30 cartons of cigarettes were missing from the truck. A check of video at the Hawthorne store reportedly showed Byron Hall, 35, of Hawthorne, unloading the cigarettes. Two days later deputies were dispatched to an Interlachen convenience store after reports of a man selling cartons of cigarettes in front of the store. Videos confirmed the man was Hall who on Sunday was arrested for burglary of an unoccupied conveyance and grand theft. He’s being held without bond for failing to appear in court on an unrelated charge.