The Voice of the Gem City

May 20, 2020

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

Palatka city commissioners called a barely-advertised special meeting Tuesday to make the decision to put brick intersections in the South Historic District. They will take bricks from other historic streets to make up the new intersections. They call it harvesting and streets chosen to lose their bricks include South 14th, North Eighth and North Seventh streets. City officials say about 20 percent of bricks are normally broken when streets are repaved. One resident suggested the number would be much lower if they did it by hand instead of using bulldozers. Few people knew of the 5 p.m. meeting, which was not advertised until Tuesday in the local paper. Commissioners attended online. Next Thursday is the regularly scheduled city commission. Why a special meeting was needed was not clear.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement says an investigation into complaints Flagler County’s former tourism director was favoring some companies and benefitting from the practice is not true. Matt Dunn was fired last year with the county saying it was going in a new direction for tourism. Earlier he had been suspended by County Administrator Jerry Cameron who sought a criminal investigation. FDLE says they did not find evidence to support complaints Dunn diverted public funds for his personal benefit. While Dunn did have some business relationships with friends, FDLE did not find evidence he favored them.

St. Johns County commissioners voted Tuesday to spend $2 million in an effort to get tourism back on track. Destination marketing proposals have been made by the St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches Visitors and Convention Bureau. In a 5-0 vote, commissioners agreed to basically loan themselves $2 million with the money to be paid back. Right now the county is facing a major drop in bed tax revenue, which comes from tourists and is added on to short-term accommodation bills. Marketing is seen as the way to put St. Johns back in the tourism game.

Putnam County Sheriff’s Office reports a missing man in the Interlachen area who they considered endangered was found Tuesday shortly after a request went out for public help. The man reportedly had threated self-harm. A number of law enforcement officers searched the area and the man was located and taken into custody shortly before 11:25 a.m.

Three people including a 7-year-old girl were injured during a two-vehicle wreck on State Road 207 at Lightsey Road early Tuesday morning, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. A pickup driven by a 43-year-old Orlando man was headed north in the southbound lanes of SR 207 when he collided with a SUV driven by a 28-year-old St. Augustine woman. Three children, the 7-year-old girl and two boys, one 3 and the other 4, were passengers in her car. The girl was critically injured, the two drivers received critical injuries.

Fourth of July will be a lot quieter this year. Flagler Beach and Palm Coast have both made the decision not to hold fireworks and other celebrations. That means no fireworks and no parade in Flagler Beach on July 4 and no fireworks in Palm Coast on July 3. St. Augustine is expected to make a decision by the end of this month as to whether to hold Fireworks Over the Matanzas, an event that draws thousands.

Florida Department of Health in Putnam County reports no new coronavirus cases as of the Tuesday count. Flagler County is at 167. St. Johns is at 233. The state coronavirus website is the subject of some controversy after an information systems manager was reassigned from overseeing the online dashboard that provides information on counties and the coronavirus. She sent an email about the change and that has stirred up political controversy including some questioning the validity of data being released.

Putnam County Parks Department is looking for a way for seniors – those 50 and older – to have a way to socially interact while maintaining social distancing. They’ve come up with Parking Lot Bingo. Seniors would park in the recreation parking lot, tune in their FM radio to the department and have bingo cards and daubers delivered to their cars. Winners get to honk and flash their lights. Prizes are needed. To find out more, call Recreation Manager Tess Simpson at 386-329-0469.

 

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