This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.
The saga of ousted City Manager Bill Shanahan and the City of Palatka apparently isn’t over. A special meeting has been called for today at 4 p.m. to reconsider his dismissal last week. Palatka Mayor Terrell Hill called the meeting saying the reasons for the firing need to be discussed. He and Commissioner Justin Campbell were the only two to vote against giving Shanahan the boot. Commissioner Rufus Borum made the motion to get rid of Shanahan who was still within his probationary six month period. Borum was backed by Vice Mayor Mary Lawson Brown and Commissioner Tammy McCaskell Williams. Borum gave no reason but Brown brought up the resignation of City Clerk Betsy Driggers, which Shanahan apparently forced following an investigation into alleged remarks she was said to have made. In earlier comments Shanahan said he turned the investigation over to Capt. Matt Newcomb, second in command at the Palatka Police Department. Because of coronavirus and distancing, the meeting is being held online. You can watch by going to the city Facebook site or directly to YouTube.
The Florida Department of Health (in Putnam County has announced another COVID-19 case. The latest is a 71-year-old Satsuma man and brings confirmed cases up to 43. Age range remains between 6 and 82 with only one virus related death. In St. Johns County cases are at 177, up one. In Flagler 45 cases have been confirmed.
Putnam County Sheriff’s Office has had one deputy test positive for the coronavirus and that’s put six other Sheriff’s Office employees on quarantine. Col. Joe Wells said the deputy quickly realized he had the symptoms and that helped limit his exposure to others. The deputy faces two weeks of quarantine and then must test negative twice before returning to work. When the deputy was exposed is being investigated. The Sheriff’s Office will review GPS data to track who else the deputy was in contact with and those people will be notified. The deputy is not hospitalized and is recovering, Wells said.
Emergency management systems are working as residents in Putnam, Flagler and St. Johns found out Tuesday when tornado alerts were issued early in the afternoon. A tornado was reported near Interlachen and a number of lighting strikes were seen in northern Putnam County. Heavy rains hit Florahome and Bostwick while Palatka only had ¾ of an inch of rain. St. Augustine saw heavy rains. Flagler County only saw a little rain fall. Today chances for rain are higher, which is good news since Putnam and St. Johns counties are having moderate drought and Flagler is “abnormally dry,” according to weather experts.
Storm chaser Logan Parham was having an eventful day Tuesday. He’s posted a picture on his Facebook page of a very tiny yet intensely rotating storm he caught around 4 p.m. The field where he spotted the mesocyclone is one where St. Johns, Flagler and Putnam touch. “The only thing missing is a tornado,” he wrote. For which the rest of us say thank you.
Putnam County Commissioner Larry Harvey is urging people to go online to the Clerk of Court’s site where a list of people who are owed money is available. You can download the necessary forms from clerk.putnam-fl.com. Check out their Facebook site as well.
Coronavirus is forcing changes in how people interact including giving birthday greetings. JuAnne Weeks in St. Augustine turns 93 today and normally her neighbors would stop by to say hi. Weeks was a schoolteacher and her husband head of Flagler Hospital. Son Len is a former mayor. With social distancing people aren’t stopping by but neighbors Dennis and Virginia Wissel found a way to send congratulations. Dennis painted a sign declaring “Happy Birthday JuAnne. 21 Plus.”
If you don’t believe we’re living through an episode of The Twilight Zone, consider this. It’s April 15th Federal Income Tax Day when people normally are rushing to pay taxes to the Internal Revenue Service. This year the IRS is sending us money.