Thunderstorms and lightening woke people in the area as violent weather whipped through and a tornado watch was in effect for some counties. Less severe weather is predicted for the rest of the day as the storms head into central Florida.
Putnam, Flagler and St. Johns counties saw jumps in coronavirus cases Thursday. Flagler went up to a total of 106 with 28 confirmed coronavirus cases in one day. Median age for victims was 58. More tests were being performed as Flagler eased criteria for testing. Putnam County went up seven cases for a total of 75. Median age is 42. Palatka residents testing positive include a 73-year-old man, a 20-year-old woman and a 22-year-old woman. Also diagnosed a 61-year- old woman from Hollister, a 66-year-old woman from Interlachen, a 56-year-old man from Interlachen and a 48-year-old woman from East Palatka. Nearly half did have contact with a confirmed case. St. Johns County is now up to 200 cases with 37 hospitalized. Median age there is 53. They saw an increase of five cases.
Longtime Palatka attorney Don Holmes is Palatka’s new city manager. Commissioners unanimously approved Holmes during the teleconferenced meeting Thursday night. Now they have to find a city attorney, the post Holmes has held for a number of years. Holmes will step away from his law firm, Holmes & Young, but can remain as counsel. Mayor Terrell Hill proposed Valeria Thomas, a former south Florida resident to serve as interim attorney and the commission approved her by a 4-1 vote. Commissioner Tammie McCaskill cast the dissenting vote. She wanted to meet Thomas first. Hill said Thomas has retired to the area and has been an attorney for the Miami-Dade County Corrections Department. The commission will have to put out RFPs when it comes to hiring a permanent attorney, and interviews and a background check will be held.
The search continues for a young man who reported fell off his boat in the St. Johns River Thursday. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Putnam County Sheriff’s Department and other agencies are searching in the Dunn’s Creek area. Sheriff’s Office continued searching until 9 p.m. with FWC taking over during the night. All agencies resumed searching this morning at 7 a.m. and FWC has brought in additional boats. Sonar is being used also.
Residents in Hawthorne responded to a request from the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office to help find a man who removed his court-ordered ankle monitor. A tip from residents led Alachua County Sheriff’s Office Thursday to Eugene Slevin, 24, who was placed on the monitor as part of his conditional release on bond for burglary and failure to register as a sex offender. Slevin will be turned over to the Putnam County jail and booked without bond.
Putnam County Sheriff’s Office reports a missing 12-year-old has been found safe. Susanna Morrison, 12, of Palatka, had last been seen at her home about midnight Wednesday. Deputies searched the area including using K-9s for tracking.
Three members of a family who died in a wreck in Flagler County April 17 will be buried this Saturday. Coronavirus restrictions mean there will be an in-car drive-in homecoming celebration at 11 a.m. at Campus Pavilion of Palm Coast United Methodist Church. Killed in the accident were Wilma Williams, who worked at AdventHealth Palm Coast, and her two daughters, Kaleigh and Mozella. The Williams family formerly lived in San Mateo. Karl N. Flagg Serenity Memorial Chapel is in charge of arrangements.
St. Augustine City Commission continues online meetings this Monday at 10 a.m. The Alcazar Room will be open but seating very limited. Elected officials and city staff may be participating through video conferencing from other locations. Public comment can be made by email, telephone and online viewing. All comments have to be received by 8 a.m. Monday. Go to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Putnam County Parks & Recreation Department giveaway proved all too popular Thursday. The department began taking reservations for “Rec It Bags” containing toys, crafts and info on free online resources for the family. By 9:45 p.m. Thursday they posted a notice they were “overwhelmed with responses” and were halting taking any more orders until they were sure they had enough bags.
Looking for something to do this weekend? Take the GTM (Guano-Tolomato-Matanzas) Reserve’s City Nature 2020 Challenge. Download iNaturalist, a free app, and sign up for the challenge, which includes observing bugs, flowering plants weeds and lichen. The app will help you identify what you find. Besides, it’s a great way to enjoy some time outdoors.