The Voice of the Gem City

August 9, 2019

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

Palatka officials will try again in negotiations with Palatka Boathouse Marina LLC to come up with a plan for the company to run a city tour boat, maintain a fuel farm and serve as dock master for the city-owned docks. At one point at Thursday’s city commission meeting Commissioner Mary Lawson Brown made a motion to terminate the contract with Boathouse saying it was time to go out for another contractor. She later withdrew that motion and agreed to try and work with the group after listening to City Attorney Don Holmes and Mayor Terrill Hill. Commissioners Tammie McCaskill and Rufus Borum voted against that course, splitting the commission 3-2. Efforts to come up with a contract more favorable to the city led to the latest proposal but still fall short of what commissioners seek. Hill said he asked the item be put on the agenda because he was at his “wit’s end” reagarding negotiating. Boathouse is seeking a 6 year initial contract with two basic automatic renewals totaling an additional 13 years, concession approval along much of the riverfront and the potential for several hundred thousand dollars in equipment buy back if their contract ends.

New deputy recruits and all school resource officers in Flagler County found themselves facing gunshots and unfamiliar surroundings Thursday during a training exercise meant to ready them in case of a school shooting. The training was at Community Baptist Church on Old Dixie Highway with the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office running the realistic scenario that included gunshots, screams and victims. Sheriff Rick Staly, who opened the exercise to media, said he wanted people aware deputies and resource officers are ready for worst-case scenarios.

With little comment Palatka City Commission Thursday night approved continuing the annual fire assessment for fiscal year 2019-2020. The fee, unlike taxes, hits almost everyone.

A committee formed to look at the issue of Airbnbs in St. Augustine will hold the last of their three scheduled public meetings Aug. 14 at 5 p.m. in the Alcazar Room at City Hall. Known as the Short Term Rental Committee, the seven-member group is looking at ways to address the contentious issue, which finds private houses in residential neighborhoods being rented out. It’s become a full-time business with some companies buying houses specifically to gain rental money. Homeowners have protested the practice, which involves frequent turnover of guests. Registration of short-term rentals is among proposals to address problems. Other issues: intensity of use, life/safety, handicapped accessibility, parking and noise.

It’s the last weekend of summer for students and teachers in Putnam, Flagler and St. Johns counties who return to classrooms Monday. In Flagler County tonight enjoy Movies in the Park at Central Park in Palm Coast’s Town Center. The family-friendly movie is A Wrinkle in Time and will be shown at 8:30 p.m. On Saturday Teens-In-Flight Inc. hosts a Hangar Party fund-raiser at the Palm Coast Elks Lodge 2709. The organization allows teens to earn a private pilot’s license at no cost. Goal this year is $35,000. Also Saturday from 12;01 a.m. t 6 a.m. it’s the Midnight Fishing Frenzy at the Flagler Beach Pier.

In Palatka tonight the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office hosts a Float-In and Movie at the Putnam Aquatics Center on Westover Drive. The movie is Zootopia and the party is from 7-10:30 p.m. It’s a first-come, first-serve event since space is limited. Those under 17 need to be accompanied by an adult. Food is available for purchase with proceeds benefitting the P.A.L. program. And tonight through Sunday River City Players hold their second and final week of the comedy play Election Day at the Larimer Arts Center.

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