This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.
Two deaths in Putnam County and one in Flagler County attributed to coronavirus have been reported by the Florida Department of Health during the last 24 hours. In Putnam, a 71-year-old man and a 73-year-old man, both from Palatka, have died. The 71-year-old was reported positive on April 22, the 73-year-old on April 23. In Flagler County a 68-year-old woman has died; she was first reported on May 1. None of the three cases was travel-related. Coronavirus cases in Putnam County are at 120. At one point Monday the number was 121, but officials said in checking they found a 47-year-old Palatka woman had been counted twice. St. Johns County has 214 coronavirus cases and Flagler 141.
Video conferencing for government functions continues. In Palatka, people tonight can see the proposed look for St. Johns Avenue, but only if they have access to a computer or Smart phone. They can also answer survey questions and take part in an online feedback forum. The on-line program taking place tonight comes after only a day’s notice for most people. Sam Deputy, a downtown businessman who heads up the downtown merchant group, pointed that out to organizers adding it was difficult to see details on the plan prepared by Ayers Associates. He pointed out he did not see a traffic light and there appeared to be less parking. “Our police do not have the resources to maintain speed on St. Johns now much less with no traffic lights?” he said. The meeting is at 6 p.m. and you can join by going on the Zoom app. For details, call City Hall at 386-329-0107
The business of returning to normal began slowly Monday with restaurants and retail stores allowed to reopen although only at 25 percent capacity. The word for the day was cautious. A number of restaurants including Musslewhite’s in East Palatka only opened their outside dining although take-out and pick-up continued to be popular. Some attractions reopened in St. Augustine including the St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Zoological Park. Others such as the Old Jail and their trolleys were still working on plans. The Colonial Quarter in the heart of St. George Street stayed closed without plans to reopen immediately. They were one of those taking a wait-and-we’ll-see-if-the-tourists-return attitude. Meanwhile, Simon Properties, which owns more than a dozen shopping centers in Florida, opened St. Johns Town Center, St. Augustine Premium Outlets and The Avenues.
Epic Theatres in St. Augustine cannot reopen yet, but they have found a way to offer movies. They are turning their parking lot into a drive-in theater. Parking is limited so they will charge $20 per car no matter how many people are in the vehicle. Two showings a night — one at dusk and the second half an hour after the first movie ends. If you see both movies, you pay $30. Sound comes through your radio. The theater complex is off State Road 207. Oh, and a snack bar is available including buttered popcorn.
The future location of the Flagler County Sheriff’s Operations Center may be changing – again. The county commission is considering tearing down the original building and constructing either another operations center or a south branch of the library system on the site. The Sheriff’s Office left the building because of mold issues that sickened staff. The new location discussion comes after officials found out the property off Commerce Parkway where they planned to build an operations center and library does not have room enough to expand if both structures are built there.
This is Teacher Appreciation Week. Bet a lot of parents have a new appreciation of teachers.
Putnam County Emergency Management reports recovery Sunday of a disabled boat on Crescent Lake following reports of the vessel in trouble. A 19-foot center console boat and two adults, two children and a dog were found and safely recovered by Marine Unit 39 from the Crescent City Fire Department.
Putnam County Library System has extended their Harry Potter at Home through May 31. The Harry Potter S.T.E.A.M. Book Club begins Thursday and features science, art, math and engineering using the popular series. You can find out more by going to www.FunInPutnam.com. If you do not have a library card, you can get an Instant Digital Card using your mobile phone number.
Food needs continue. In St. Augustine you can help out by taking part in two drive thru food drives designed to restock critically-low local food pantries. St. Johns County government in partnership with United Way of St. Johns is hosting. The first drive thru is this Saturday from 9 a..m. to 4 p.m. at the St. Augustine Amphitheater. A second drive thru will be next Saturday, May 16, at Ponte Vedra Concert Hall.
A food give-a-way sponsored by the Putnam St. Johns Farm Bureau Monday in Hastings proved really successful. Fresh produce was to be available from 2 to 4 but it was all gone by 3:30 p.m. The Farm Bureaus in the northeast Florida area recently purchased $39,000 worth of food from local farmers to help out their ag operations that have been hard hit by the coronavirus epidemic.
Today is #Giving Tuesday Now. Feed the Need of Putnam County is taking part with a goal to raise $10,000 to fight hunger in Putnam County. Funds will be used to continue the weekend backpack program through the summer months. The backpack program is normally closed during the summer but organizers expect the food need to be greater this year because of outfall from the virus. You can go to feedtheneedofputnam.org, donate on Facebook or contact Denise Bramlitt, at Bramlitt Plumbing in Palatka.