Lift Putnam! Executive Director Jim Padgett has reportedly stepped down as head of the organization. The group was formed to help be a positive change for education. A new director is being sought. Lift Putnam! Board members were before the Putnam County Commission recently seeking $25,000 for the program that funds pre-K scholarships for four-year-olds in need. During the workshop session the commission proposed giving $15,000 this year and look at the amount next year.
A new craft distillery bill in committee in Tallahassee would give a boost to the industry including businesses such as the St. Augustine Distillery. The bill for the so-called “moonshine industry” would eliminate the existing six-bottle-per-person sales limit and more than triple the current annual production cap upping it to 250,000 gallons. Some legislators on the Business & Professions subcommittee are proposing additional safeguards.
Two restaurants on Utility Drive in Palm Coast were broken into early Thursday morning and the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office is seeking a pair of burglars. About $4,000 in cash was taken from Mr. Pancho Mexican Grill and $150 in cash from Millennium Bistro Café. In addition $600 damage was reported. Another $500 was lost from spoiled food after burglars left a fridge door open. The two males were dressed in black and wearing masks and gloves in surveillance tapes.
An accident across from Flagler Palm Coat High School around 1:40 p.m. Thursday sent two people to the hospital with severe injuries, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. No students were involved in the two-vehicle collision at the intersection of State Road 100 and Bulldog Drive. One victim was flown to Halifax Hospital in Daytona Beach. The other was taken by ambulance. A blue Malibu reportedly broadsided a Corvette. The accident is under investigation by FHP.
Palatka will be getting a $388,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for ongoing work on the North Third Street sewer project. New city manager Bill Shanahan told Palatka City Commissioners at their Thursday meeting that notification had come earlier in the day. No matching funds are required. Commissioners will meet again Tuesday in order to officially accept the grant.
In non-Christmas news, the annual SEA Rails to Trails Festival and Gullah Geechee Heritage Celebration is Saturday at Armstrong Park in Elkton in St. Johns County. A bike ride at 9 a.m. begins the festival with the Gullah Geechee celebration from noon to 9 p.m. and including live music, food vendors and cultural arts and crafts. In Palatka BSA Troop 62 holds its annual fried chicken dinner from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. You can eat in or take out dinners from the fellowship hall at St. James United Methodist Church. Flagler College in St. Augustine holds its winter graduation Saturday. That’s closed to the public but the college will host an open house Sunday at their downtown location.
In Christmas happenings:
In Putnam County Saturday it’s the Ugly Sweater Walk at Ravine Garden State Park from 9 to 11 a.m. and Christmas at Ravine Gardens from 6 to 9 p.m. at the park on Twigg Street in Palatka. On Saturday Crescent City Woman’s Club tour of homes is Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Melrose Christmas Parade is Saturday and Historic Melrose Inc. offers a tour of homes and town Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m.
In St. Augustine it’s the Santa Suits on the Loose Run/Jog/Walk beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday. The annual Wills Family Open House offers a festival of holiday décor and benefits K-9s for Warriors from noon to 7 p.m. Saturday. It’s at 740 S. Heritage Creek Way in St. Augustine. Regatta of Lights is Saturday at 6 p.m. along Matanzas Bay downtown. S. Augustine Concert Band Concert is tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Pacetti Bay Middle School and Sunday at 4 p.m. at Anastasia Catholic Church.
In Flagler County Matanzas High School’s Madrigal Dinner and Show is tonight and Saturday at the Palm Coast school. Flagler Playhouse presents “A Christmas Carol … More Or Less” today through Sunday. Navy Band Southeast Holiday Concert is 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday at Flagler Auditorium and is free.