St. Johns Avenue in Palatka may get a real makeover – becoming a one-way street with diagonal parking. Mayor Terrell Hill made the suggestion at Monday’s Community Redevelopment Agency board meeting. Saying he was just one vote Hill turned it over to the rest of the board, which includes the Palatka City Commission and County Commissioner Jeff Rawls. They were all enthusiastic. That means back to the drawing board for city staff and consultants with Ayers & Associates who have been putting together a plan for downtown over the past several months. Citizen input has been an important part of that plan. The new proposal may get a lot more citizen input, particularly from those who remember when city officials tried this a number of years ago.
Five children have been removed from a home in Flagler County and their parents have been jailed for child neglect without great bodily harm. The children, ranging in age from three months to 12 years old, have been turned over to the state Department of Children and Families. Flagler County Sheriff’s Office responded to a welfare check request by Flagler school officials Friday at the home on Espanola Road in Bunnell. The septic tank had not been functioning for a couple of years and waste was going directly onto the ground. Some interior walls were missing and rotting ceilings, floors and mold were found. Parents Tiffany Berry, 31, and Nicholas Carter, 34, said efforts to get help from the landlord failed as did efforts to get assistance from various agencies including DCF.
Putnam County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate a shooting Monday afternoon in Interlachen that left one man in stable condition. Deputies were called to the scene at Oakcrest Drive and Sixth Way around 2 p.m. and found Richard Socoloski, 37, of Interlachen, who they say was shot once by his neighbor Bermore Malave Rodriguez, 49, also of Interlachen. Witnesses say the two neighbors were arguing when Malave Rodriquez shot Socoloski. Socoloski was treated at the scene and then flown by air ambulance to an area hospital. Deputies arrested Malave Rodriguez and took him to the Putnam County jail on charges of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. Charges could change as the investigation continues.
A crash involving two semis this morning in St. Johns County has traffic tied up on Interstate 95 North at State Road 16. Florida Highway Patrol is investigating the crash and St. Johns County Sheriff’s deputies said the area would be closed for an unknown amount of time. Traffic was backed up for miles. The crash site is near the St. Augustine Outlet malls. Crews were on hand cleaning up a fuel leak. Drivers are being advised to use either U.S. 1 or State Road 13 as alternate routes.
Former Palatka city commissioner James “Jimmy” Bryan Jr., 85, has died. Bryan, who retired from Georgia-Pacific after 42 years, was active in the community including working with Boy Scouts, the Elks and Palatka Jaycees. For several years he was in charge of the Palatka Azalea Festival. From 1974 to 1986 he was a city commissioner. He learned public service early, his father Hank had been city manager and his mother Nell, was a longtime English teacher in Palatka.
Florida state legislators are concentrating on the final days of the 2020 session ,which draws to a close March 13. A controversial short-term rental bill apparently has run into trouble in the Senate where its sponsor is having difficulty getting enough votes to get it out of committee. Officials from Putnam, Flagler and St. Johns counties have all made the trek to Tallahassee opposing the bill that gives authority over short-term rentals to the state rather than local government. It’s seen as yet another attack on local home rule. More successful is a bill regarding term limiting local school board members to eight years. That’s already passed the full House and is headed to the Senate. If it passes the public would vote on it in November since it requires a change to the State Constitution. Opponents say the bill isn’t needed — just let the voters decide every four years who they want.