Release of state graduation rates by the Florida Department of Education Thursday brought all good news for area school districts. St. Johns County is now number two in the state for graduation rates, coming in at 96.9 percent, up 0.8 percent over last year. Flagler County came in with an overall graduation rate of 89 percent. Putnam County saw an increase of 1.5 percent, putting them at 86.3 percent. Florida’s overall graduation rate is now 86.9 percent.
Cause of death of a woman whose body was found floating in the water at Yacht Harbor Marina in Flagler County has been ruled a drowning, according to the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office. The investigation into the death of Alexandra Svetlana Lawson is continuing “to determine the exact circumstance that caused her to drown,” say authorities.
New Palatka City Manager Bill Shanahan wants to hear what Palatka residents believe Palatka wants or needs to grow and develop. He’s getting out in the community and tonight will be at the Palatka Arts Council Gallery opening for Judi Cain’s “Life is Art” exhibit. The event begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Larimer Arts Center, 216 Reid St.
Palatka city commissioners want more information on an ongoing experiment at reducing garbage pickup. At Thursday’s city meeting several commissioners said they want to get numbers regarding how business owners and residents think the once-a-week pickup is working. How to get the statistical information still is to be decided. Also needed, say commissioners, is more education on recycling. They’ve extended the three-month experiment for another month.
Prescribed burns continue. St. Johns River Water Management District on Thursday conducted a 160-acre burn in an area west of Satsuma on the west side of the St. Johns River. The Florida Forest Service on Wednesday had a prescribed burn of 140 acres west of Rodman
A St. Augustine man was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of attempted first-degree murder of a St. Johns County Sheriff’s Deputy. Brad Germain, 42, was convicted in November after attempting to murder the deputy with a homemade pipe gun loaded with a 12-gauge shotgun shell. Germain, speaking to the judge, reportedly said the life sentence was unfair since nobody was actually hurt. The gun failed to fire.
Saturday is the eight annual Florida Mushroom Festival at Ravine Gardens State Park in Palatka. Music, information and food are part of the event. Crescent City Woman’s Club holds a rummage sale at their clubhouse today and Saturday. Saturday is Human Trafficking Awareness Day. In Palatka the day will be marked with walk across Memorial Bridge to “Light the Way, Walk With Me.” At Fort Matanzas National Monument on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. you can see how the women of colonial St. Augustine made thread, cloth and garments.
Putnam Habitat for Humanity continues its build for veterans this Saturday starting at 8 a.m. Volunteers are needed to finish putting up vinyl siding and installing soffit. The house is for Cecil Underwood, 83, and is part of a project to provide housing for veterans.
Pete Dye, a well-known golf course designer, died Thursday at the age of 94. Among his work the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course in St. Johns County. One of St. Augustine’s legendary businesswomen has died Marie Helen Nader, 104, joined with her sisters Annie Nader Pfaff and Yvonne Nader Pearrow to open the Amavon Shop of Ladies Ready Wear. For 40 years the Amavon first on St. George and later on King Street, was the place to shop.
Thursday was National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day. Some St. Johns County deputies spent part of it helping with a cattle round-up. Cowboys were called in to round up the 18 cows that took off from a pasture in the area of County Road 315 near State Road 100. Deputies were making sure drivers slowed down and avoided damage to vehicles and cows.