This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.
Two new coronavirus-related cases have been reported by the Florida Department of Health in Putnam County bringing the total to 154. On Monday a 72-year-old woman who was in direct contact with a confirmed case was added. Today a 32-year-old woman from Interlachen was reported positive. She also was in direct contact with a confirmed case. A breakdown by area shows Palatka, the county’s largest population area, has the most cases with 98. Interlachen has had 20, East Palatka 12 and Crescent City 8. Numbers range from one to four cases in other areas of Putnam. Flagler County is at 189 cases and St. Johns County has 260. No new cases have been reported in either county today.
Palatka is bracing for a planned march and rally at the Putnam County Courthouse Thursday. Putnam County Sheriff’s Office officials say they have worked diligently with organizers to ensure a peaceful demonstration. Organizers say they will ask for removal of all the oak trees including the historic Maltby Oak on courthouse property and for removal of the Confederate soldier statue. They say oak trees have historically been used in hanging blacks. One organizer said they would then plant another tree. Historic research shows scaffolding was built for the legal hangings in Putnam, which were not held on the current courthouse lawn. Thursday’s protest is set for 4-7 p.m. Palatka Mayor Terrell Hill is planning to be at the march and is urging Palatka citizens to show up to show support.
St. Augustine Monday had another day of marches tied to the death of a Minneapolis man in police custody. The protests were peaceful. Among leaders was Gainesville’s Rev. Ron Rawls, pastor of St. Paul A.M.E. Church in St. Augustine. He has led several attempts in recent years to get rid of Confederate monuments without success. Rawls told reporters issue of police brutality and unfair and unjust policies are continuing issues for blacks.
St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office has released a 21-page report on a murder-suicide in Ponte Vedra Beach Feb. 7 detailing events of the double shooting. The report says Christian Ramos killed himself after shooting a 17-year-old. The victim’s name was not released under Marcy’s Law, which allows families not to have victims’ names revealed. The two teens were friends. Three guns and a number of drugs were found in the bedroom where they died at a home on Solano Cay Circle. Both had alcohol and drugs in their systems, autopsies showed.
New Palatka City Manager Don Holmes now has a new administrative assistant. Sunni Krantz has been hired for the job. She formerly worked for Holmes when he was the city’s attorney and in private practice.
In Palm Coast commissioner Bob Cuff has decided not to seek re-election. For many years he was an attorney with ITT and in private practice. He’s been an active member in community events.
Palatka’s own man of soul has died. Abe Alexander, 75, was a musician and businessman with a showman’s heart. He shared his love of music and pizzazz as band director at Central Academy and then Palatka Central High. He later represented several local security firms in the area. His band Abe and The House Rockers was well-known throughout the area. Karl N. Flagg Serenity Memorial Chapel is in charge of arrangements.