This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.
Putnam County has another death from coronavirus bringing the total to three, according to the Florida Department of Health in Putnam. The latest victim, reported Thursday, is an 84-year-old Palatka man. Putnam also has another case of coronavirus; this one a 25-year-old Crescent City man. Despite the new case, the confirmed case count for Putnam remains at 127 since one other Putnam case has been transferred to the count for another county. St. Johns County has added another death as well, bringing the total to five. Cases went up three, bringing the total to 231. Flagler County had no new cases and their count remains at 148 with four deaths.
Four up-scale resorts in St. Johns and Duval counties, all owned by the same company, have announced 141 layoffs and 735 furloughs. Mandatory closures and lack of business were blamed by Gate Hospitality, part of Gate Petroleum. Ponte Vedra Inn and Club and Ponte Vedra Lodge and Club in St. Johns and Epping Forrest Yacht and Country Club and the River Club in Duval were affected. That translates to 87 employee layoffs and 486 furloughs at Ponte Vedra Inn, the largest of the resorts. The Lodge had 25 layoffs and 109 furloughs.
Florida cattlemen are taking their own approach to low prices and demands with some beginning to sell beef directly to the consumer. Several Flagler County cattlemen already have been doing the sales. You can find a rancher near you by going to floridacattlemen.org/resources/buy-florida-beef/. Their move comes as some area farmers have set up produce stands on their farms. Recently President Trump announced the USDA would be buying $3 billion in agricultural products that in turn will go to those in need.
Some people trying to watch Thursday’s Palatka City Commission on YouTube found problems including video but no sound and the site freezing up. Others reported they got on and were able to make comments. The problems left citizens without a clear idea of action taken including the contact for new city manager Don Holmes, the contract for the temporary city attorney and budget plans for the North and South Historic Districts including the future of brick streets.
The owner of Flagler Golf Management, which runs Flagler Beach’s Ocean Palms Golf Course, Thursday turned himself in at the Flagler County jail on charges of insurance fraud and making a false police report. Terrence McManus, 54, was featured on the Flagler Sheriff’s Fugitive Friday Bingo report last week. McManus and Flagler Beach have had clashes in the past over the running of the nine-hole city-owned course but lately the relationship has been better. However, course management was expected to come back up at the virtual meeting of the Flagler Beach City Commission Thursday.
St. Augustine is using a new tool to detect possible coronavirus problems. City workers at the wastewater plant have been taking samples of raw sewerage and shipping it to an Arizona lab. European counties have been using water samples and say they can get as much as six days advance notice of coronavirus clusters. It takes about two weeks to get back results. Costs for testing is $200 a sample.
If you’re headed to beaches, be cautious of possible rip currents. The National Weather Service is reporting rip currents are expected today because of a tropical depression forming in the Bahamas. The warnings are up from beaches from Nassau to Flagler counties.
Congrats to Putnam County Principal of the Year Sarajean McDaniel. She’s now one of three finalists for 2020 Florida Principal of the Year honors. McDaniel brought Moseley Elementary School up from an F to a C in three years. That came after the state took over and the principal they brought in was replaced by McDaniel. As of this week she’s in the county school administration office. Her new job includes mentoring other principals. Tony Benford, Moseley’s vice principal, is interim principal at Moseley.
Catholic churches in the Diocese of St. Augustine plan to hold services this Sunday. Today churches were taking orders for seating reservations in order to maintain social distancing.