The Voice of the Gem City

February 26, 2020

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten season for Christians. Churches in Putnam, Flagler and St. Johns counties are holding services today. You’ll spot those who have taken part since traditionally a cross of ashes is placed on the forehead. St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Flagler County may have the most innovative plan – this morning you could drive up to the outside of the church to receive the ash cross.

Putnam County Library System is looking for volunteer tutors to meet with adult learners at the various library branches. The first two-part workshop series is Friday from 1-4:30 p.m. and Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., both at the Palatka Library. Attendance at both sessions is required. Training can be completed online. Additional sessions are being set up in March in Crescent City and Interlachen.

More than 1,000 students from Nease High School will be going to the new HHH high school, according to St. Johns County school officials. That will relieve the crowding at Nease, which now has nearly 3,000 students. The announcement was made at a town hall meeting Tuesday night. On Thursday another meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. at Bartram Trail High School. The new school, set to open for the 2021-22 school year, will not have seniors its first year so that those students  can graduate from the schools they’ve been attending. Also planned another high school — III –in the area of Twin Creeks project. No opening date has been set.

Four finalists have been chosen in the search for a new school superintendent in Flagler County. The School Board Tuesday chose Vernon Orndorff, Dr. Earl Johnson, Cathy Mittelstadt and Dr. Janet S. Womack to be interviewed. Not making the short list was School Board member Colleen Conklin, who stepped back from her duties while the search was on. Orndorff, a former director of Flagler’s school district leadership development, now has a superintendent post in Texas. Mittelstadt is an assistant superintendent in St. Johns County. Johnson has headed the school district leadership development for three years. Womack is an education consultant. Current Flagler Superintendent James Tager is in the DROP program and will be leaving this year.

People are rallying behind the family of a woman killed Monday on U.S. 17 north of Palatka. Kristal Sanders, 42, was chasing a family dog that darted onto the road around 6:30 p.m. She was struck by a Jeep driven by Ronald Stengrim, 53, of Hawthorne, who was unable to stop. A GoFundMe account has been set up to help with funeral expenses. Goal is $4,000, as of late morning $3,085 has been raised.

The nor’aster that went through over the weekend added to damages at the St. Augustine Municpal Marina. The city hs been waiting on funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the state to repair damage done by Hurricane Dorian. The nor’easter did more damage, and the St. Augustine City Commission now has agreed to taking up to $300,000 from marine reserves for damaged docks. It’s bad enough that the city is moving some boaters to hotel rooms.

Coming on Saturday to Hastings will be the 2020 Sporting Clay Shoot for ages 18 through 35. The Putnam-St. Johns County Young Farmers and Ranchers is putting on the event from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Call 386-866-5170 for more information, registration or sponsorship forms.

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