Ravine Gardens State Park in Palatka will be partially closed for 10 weeks beginning Thursday. The state is finally funding repair for damages that began in 2017 with Hurricane Irma. The western portion of the park including interior ravine trails, the bottom of the ravine and a majority of the paved loop trail along the rim will be closed to visitors as work begins. Erosion damage will be repaired and an improved drainage system put in. Terracing and stabilization of the ravine slope and repair of the road are scheduled also. A short portion of the paved loop will be open for walking and running and the Campbell Center including offices remains open.
Prescribed burns this weekend had motorists slowing down in St. Johns and Putnam counties. On Saturday a 1,367-acre prescribed burn in Clay County included the Bayard Wildlife Management area and smoky conditions had Florida Highway Patrol on alert. In Putnam County a prescribed burn in Welaka State Forest slowed drivers down as the fires continued burning Sunday and smoke lingered. At least one car was reported in a ditch.
A Palatka man was booked into the Flagler County Jail on a $100,000 bond Friday charged with leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in the death of a pedestrian, a first-degree felony. Joshua Charles Carver, 33, allegedly struck a 29-year-old Orlando man crossing the road in Bunnell Thursday then fled on State Road 100 where he was arrested by a Putnam County Sheriff’s Office deputy. Carver was driving a van owned by the company he works for – Beck Automotive.
Expect more two-wheeled traffic on the roads this week as motorcyclists begin heading for the 79th annual Bike Week in Daytona Beach. The week runs March 6 through the 15th. It’s also an economic boost for St. Johns, Flagler and Putnam counties.
On Sunday toll booths opened at beaches along St. Johns County’s coastline. You’ll have to pay a toll at the county’s on-beach driving access points and a pass is required from March 1 to Sept. 30 to go on the beach. Four-wheel drive is recommended at ramps at Matanzas Avenue, Mary Street, Crescent Beach and Vilano entrances. Access at Ft. Matanzas and Porpoise Point ramps is temporarily closed. Cost for passes is $10 a day or you can buy season passes. For St. Johns residents it’s $50, $100 for non-residents and $40 for people with disabilities. Annual passes are free for disabled veterans.
Even as beach access opens the St. Augustine Beach Police Department is beginning Operation Lock It Up. They’re seeking to alert property owners to make sure valuables are not left in vehicles and that those vehicles are secured. It’s a word of warning that also applies to people parking at the beaches, say authorities.
College pranks still exist. At Flagler College in St. Augustine maintenance is fighting an influx of ducks landing in the college pool. They’ve tried a fake owl that didn’t scare the birds and then tried a fake alligator head. The ducks made friends with the alligator head. Students at the campus took to a private Facebook page to offer suggestions including launching a cardboard cutout of Henry Flagler wearing sunglasses and a pool float or putting a party hat on the gator head. Some even suggested adding more live ducks. Final choice, however, was lots and lots of yellow rubber duckies that are now floating in the pol.
If you spot a man walking through the area with the sign Love Life, take note. His name is Steve Fugate and the Vero Beach resident has now walked 10 of the 48 continental states with his message. He lost two children – one to suicide and one to an accidental overdose. That led to therapy and eventually finding God. He’s spreading his message to remind others to Love Life. He says the message has brought out the best in others who’ve stopped to find out more. On Sunday he was spotted walking through San Mateo toward Palatka.