This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.
Florida’s chief justice has extended the suspension of criminal and civil jury trials, jury selection and grand jury proceedings through May 29. Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady Monday said intent of the orders is to mitigate the impact of coronavirus. Circuit and county courts will continue essential court proceedings including first-appearance hearings and criminal arraignments, bail hearings for people in jail, juvenile-delinquency detention hearings and hearings to determine whether people should be involuntarily committed under the Baker Act.
St. Johns County commissioners today are extending the local state of emergency for the third time. That’s required in order to keep the county’s Emergency Management plan active and is tied in with assigning equipment, materials and personnel to address the coronavirus emergency. Officials say they’re seeing the highest concentration of people with coronavirus in northern St. Johns County, the area abutting Duval County.
Neither Flagler nor St. Johns county officials appear to favor reopening beaches in their counties, citing concerns over spreading coronavirus. Residents in both counties are pushing for beach re-openings. Flagler County Administrator Jerry Cameron favors keeping the 18 miles of beaches closed. That’s also the case in St. Johns County where 42 miles of beaches would normally be in use. A petition from area surfers in St. Johns is gaining support with more than 11,000 people signing it so far, urging commissioners to open the beaches only to county residents and only for specific hours.
Putnam County Sheriff’s Office is seeking the public’s help in locating a 54-year-old Hawthorne man. Franklin James Cooper was reported missing by his family on March 20. Cooper frequents Daytona Beach, living with a roommate there. He also has a home in Hawthorne and on Feb. 8 returned there for a few weeks. In early March family members said he stopped posting on social media. On March 8 they received a call from him but have been unable to contact the man. If you have information, contact the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office at 386-329-0800.
Lynn Nicely has filed his intent to run for election for Putnam County Supervisor of Elections in 2020. Linda Jean Brydal of East Palatka is listed as his campaign treasurer. Charles Overturf III currently occupies the post.
Even criminals are social distancing these days. In Flagler County the Sheriff’s Office is seeking information on who decided to play the Easter bunny by putting plastic eggs containing pornographic images in mailboxes. Homeowners reported finding the eggs on Sunday. Their mailbox flag was up and when they looked inside they found a plastic Easter egg containing a cracker in the shape of a fish, one sheet of toilet paper, a powdered drink mix and a crumpled up piece of paper containing pornographic images. Sheriff Rick Staly said not only was the person who left the egg “a very sick individual but could actually be spreading COVID-19 by their actions.” If you have information, call 386-313-4911. In Putnam County, meanwhile, thieves are breaking into mailboxes to steal the contents. It’s been going on in the Bardin area off State Road 100 for the last 30 days. Deputies believe there may be more victims and they’re asking people to contact the Sheriff’s Office. Call 386-328-8959 and leave a message including your name and phone number.
Ethelene Odom, long active in civic, political and social events in Putnam County, has died. The Palatka resident and her “gang” of ladies from First Baptist, St. James United Methodist and Woman’s Club of Palatka were supporters of numerous events and for years mainstays at Dunkin Donut after church. She was 96.
Look up tonight – it’ll do your soul good as a supermoon glows in the sky. The earth and the moon are only 221,855 miles apart tonight. Now that’s social distancing.