This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.
Get out and vote. Today is the Presidential Preference Primary in Florida and polls are open in Putnam, Flagler and St. Johns counties. Turnout is reported lighter than usual. Polls are open until 7 p.m. tonight. More than one million people voted early.
Deputies, detectives and communications operators who just wouldn’t quit are being credited with locating a kidnapped woman and the boyfriend who allegedly took her. On Sunday Eliza Mari Colay, 25, was reportedly beaten and put into a black vehicle in the area of East Bay Street in Palatka. Law enforcement earlier had responded because of an incident between Colay and Carl Oxendine, 39, and concern over the woman’s safety caused them to list her as missing and endangered. Colay called detectives after a social media posting but authorities said she sounded under duress and wouldn’t meet with them. Later a post on her Facebook page said she was OK. Deputies kept looking and on Monday afternoon Oxendine’s vehicle was found in the area of County Road 305 in Flagler County. The black car had been sprayed with blue and gold paint apparently to disguise it. Putnam and Flagler deputies attempted to stop Oxendine because of erratic and violent behavior. The first effort to use a pursuit intervention technique failed but the second was successful. Colay was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. Oxendine was booked into Flagler County Jail on two outstanding warrants for possession of a firearm or ammunition by a convicted felon and also charged with two counts of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer. Additional charges of kidnapping and aggravated assault are pending.
Coronavirus concerns continue in what officials are calling a “fluid” situation. St. Johns County now has three people infected. Putnam and Flagler counties have reported none. Putnam County commissioners hold a special meeting Wednesday at 9 a.m. to go over issues relating to responses to the situation as well as other items. Meanwhile, new Palatka city manager Bill Shanahan has sent out a memo saying he is canceling all city implemented public meetings of large group until April 1. That includes all commission meetings and city recreation programs. Another precautionary measure is to have people do as much business by email or telephone. In addition Shanahan has reduced office hours to 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Flagler County Commission meets tonight at 5 p.m. to officially declare an emergency situation. Bunnell city commissioners meet at 8 a.m. and Wednesday and Flagler Beach meets at 5:30 p.m. Thursday to formalized their emergency declarations. Palm Coast met over the weekend.
Coming next week Putnam and St. Johns counties will have their food service departments helping out children who normally depend on getting breakfast and lunch at schools. Backpacks had been sent home for spring break, which was to be for a week. The extension to a second week called for by the governor has officials trying to find ways to help children who might not normally have enough food. Programs will allow prepackaged food to be picked up at schools or specified bus stops.
National Park Service has closed both the Castillo de San Marcos and Fort Matanzas in St. Johns County because of the virus. No word on when those will reopen. While many county facilities and programs in St. Johns have been closed, beaches, parks open green spaces, the St. Johns Golf Club and trails remain open.
Rumors continue to circulate over the virus. Pay attention to sources. On Facebook, for instance, one post concerned two coronavirus cases in Putnam County. Turned out they were referring to Putnam County, New York. Nine counties in the United States are named Putnam.
And let the making lemonade out of lemons award go to the Back 40 Urban Café in St. Augustine. On Sunday they were offering anyone buying a Corona beer to be able to also be able to purchase a roll of toilet paper for 50 cents. One roll per family.
As for today, Happy St. Patrick’s Day.