Something of everything when it comes to weather today. Tornado watches were in effect for Putnam, Flagler and St. Johns counties until 11 a.m. A strong cold front brought severe thunderstorm warnings into the early afternoon. Clear weather is expected for the rest of the day.
A two-vehicle accident left four people dead Friday in Flagler County on State Road 100. Florida Highway Patrol is investigating the wreck that apparently was a head-on collision shortly before 9 p.m. in Andalusia in West Flagler. A mother and her two daughters reportedly were returning to Flagler County from a family gathering in San Mateo in Putnam County. The other driver was headed toward Palatka. After the crash the cars both caught fire. The girls reportedly attended Belle Terre Elementary and Indian Trails Middle schools.
Coronavirus numbers grew over the weekend. Florida Department of Health reports 56 cases in Putnam County. The latest is a 60-year-old woman in Crescent City. Also reported a 42-year-old woman in Hawthorne, a 42-year-old woman in Palatka, a 13-year-old boy in Palatka and a 16-year old boy from Palatka. St. Johns County has reported 190 cases and four deaths. In Flagler number of cases is up to 75.
Beach restrictions are being eased. It began with Jacksonville’s mayor announcing reopenings but only for several hours twice a day. On Friday afternoon St. Johns County announced beaches would be open from 6 a.m. to noon seven days a week. Flagler County opened parks beginning Friday and Flagler Beach and the county will reopen beaches beginning at 6 a.m. and running to early morning. Afternoon hours are expected to be added after a meeting today. Crowds were light over the weekend, according to officials. Some national media was showing photos of crowded beaches, but that apparently was old stock photos.
One thing every county has in common is that the beach is for exercise not sitting. Not following the rules led to a Pennsylvania man being arrested. While officers talked to the man found sitting near the dunes at Jacksonville Beach they found out he was a fugitive from justice. Mario Matthew Gatti, 30, was wanted in connection with a deadly shooting near Pittsburgh. He now has some Florida charges including giving false information to a law enforcement officer and possession of a new legend drug without a prescription. He’s in jail facing extradition.
Students will be learning from home for the remainder of the school year following a decision by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. The Saturday announcement means yet another shift for parents and teachers.
In Flagler County School Superintendent Jim Tager is looking at some sort of graduation ceremonies and hopes to have a plan by the first of May. It’s likely to different from any in past years.
Educating from home has meant a number of activities are having to be cancelled and adjustments made. For seniors, who already face the loss of graduation, proms and awards banquets, finding out about scholarships means more research. In Putnam County, applications for the annual Cade Bramlett scholarships are being sought by the family. His family gives two $1,000 scholarships annually to St. Johns River State College in memory of their son. You can find out more by contacting Bramlett Plumbing in Palatka.
Masks are the new fashion accessory. Everyone who’s anyone is wearing one including the statue of Pedro Menendez in front of the Lightner Museum in St. Augustine and the two lions on Anastasia Island. City Manager John Regan gave the go-ahead for Pedro as a way to reinforce the safety message. On the island Pax and Peli, the two copies of the lion statues in St. Augustine, are now sporting specially made blue masks thanks to Wolfgang and Miki Schau who gave the statues in 2015. In Palatka at the Country Feed store owners have added a mask to a hay bale as a reminder to keep safe.