This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.
Florida Department of Health is urging people to wear masks as protection against transmitting coronavirus. In Putnam County the Sheriff’s Office is now requiring patrol deputies to wear N95 masks when dealing with the public and deputies at the courthouse will screen people before they’re allowed to enter. That comes after one Putnam County corrections deputy was hospitalized and a patrol deputy was isolating at home after both tested positive for coronavirus. Authorities believe the deputies, who didn’t have contact with each other, were exposed while off duty. Masks were a major topic of an on-line St. Johns County School Board workshop Tuesday as board members looked at proposals for returning to school. Among suggestions is that students wear masks while on buses. Temperature taking is being discussed also. St. Johns has several plans depending on what the coronavirus situation is like when school begins again in August. One possibility is that students will at least start with on-line instruction at home. Decision on the plan isn’t expected until July 14. Parents must decide by July 10 if they want their children to attend St. Johns Virtual School or a brick-and-mortar school. In Flagler County, where new Superintendent Cathy Mittlestadt recently took over the district, parents just finished a survey regarding reopening of those schools.
Coronavirus case numbers continue to rise. In Putnam four new cases were announced on Tuesday, bring the total to 242 since counting began. Latest cases include three Palatka women – 48, 51 and 69 in age — plus a 68-year-old Crescent City woman. In St. Johns County 21 more cases were announced on Tuesday, bringing the total to 510. In Flagler County, six new cases were announced bringing that total to 244.
After an investigation that began six months ago, a Flagler County man has been arrested on several charges including lewd and lascivious battery, lewd and lascivious molestation, unlawful sexual activity with a minor and interference with child custody. The case began in November when deputies were dispatched to Legacy Vacation Resort in Palm Coast regarding four juveniles reported missing from outside Flagler County They found the juveniles with George Proulx, 66, who according to the juveniles allegedly put an unknown substance into their drinks and then performed sexual acts on them. On Monday detectives took Proulx into custody at his home where he had packed up and told officers he was ready to leave the area. He apparently wanted to go to Thailand. Currently he’s in the Flagler jail with no bond. Additional charges are expected.
A decision by the St. Augustine City Commission to take down the Confederate memorial in Plaza de la Constitucion continues to draw opposition. The commission had said the statue would be coming down quickly but didn’t say where it would be moved. A lawsuit is expected to delay that move. Plywood panels have been erected around the obelisk and a fence is now up in the Plaza. Mayor Tracy Upchurch, Vice Mayor Leanna Freeman and Commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline voted to remove the monument put up to honor some 40 Confederate soldiers who died but had no burial site. Commissioners Roxanne Horvath and John Valdes voted to let the statue remain.
The recently completed section of Ninth Street/State Road 20 in downtown Palatka was the scene of two accidents on Monday. The first car, whose driver allegedly was reaching for dropped glasses, hit a Department of Transportation sign and plowed into a palm tree in front of a house at Crill Avenue and Ninth. The second accident saw a vehicle plow through a fence and into a city-owned house on South Ninth and Laurel streets.
A new business in Palatka held its grand opening Saturday then was broken into later in the weekend. The Wild Azalea boutique is a women’s and children’s shop at 3701-B Crill Avenue. Fellow business owners and friends are posting photos on Facebook of the apparent burglar. He’s a young white man heavily tattooed including his upper body and his face. Contact local authorities if you have information on his identity.