The Voice of the Gem City

June25, 2020

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

Fireworks won’t be part of the Fourth of July this year, but that’s not stopping individuals from firing off pyrotechnics. On Wednesday Palatka police and Sheriff’s Office deputies were responding to complaints about fireworks in the Palatka area. First it was a four-block area including Laurel Street and 14th Street. Then the fireworks calls switched to Palatka’s northside, keeping officers busy for hours. Complaint calls also were received from the Tierra Woods area.  Cities across the country for a couple of weeks have been dealing with fireworks complaints. Explanations range from people being bored because of self-quarantine  to conspiracy theories regarding civil unrest. A reminder fireworks including Roman candles, mortars and rockets are only legal for the public to fire on Fourth of July and New Year’s. Sparklers are okay.

Palatka City Commission meets tonight via tele-conference at 6 p.m. On the agenda is appointment of an acting city clerk. Longtime City Clerk Betsy Driggers left several months ago apparently pushed out by City Manager William Shanahan, who later found himself fired in a 3-2 vote. Longtime Commissioner Mary Lawson Brown is scheduled to be saluted as the commission votes on naming the city’s marina area for her. The vice mayor is not seeking re-election to the commission where she’s served more than 35 years.

Expect to see school boards and teacher unions in negotiations following the signing of a state bill to fund schools that includes the largest compensation package in Florida’s history. The $500 million in funding is expected to bring base salaries of K-12 teachers to $47,500.

St. Augustine City Commission holds a special meeting Friday about requiring people to wear masks. City Manager John Regan asked for the meeting pointing to heavy increases in coronavirus cases. More testing, a series of marches and increasing numbers of tourists are among probable causes for the increases. The meeting is at 9:30 a.m. and will be online. The resolution should be available sometime today, say city officials.

As of the Tuesday report by the Florida Department of Health St. Johns County has had 548 cases of coronavirus since the pandemic began. On Wednesday 35 new cases were reported.

Flagler County, which has had small or no increases for coronavirus cases, is seeing an uptick. In the first four days of the week, 26 cases were reported. That includes the five additional cases announced Wednesday. A reduction in mask wearing is one possible explanation, say officials. Total coronavirus cases in Flagler is now at 250.

Florida Department of Health in Putnam County announced 19 new cases on Wednesday. That brings the total to 261 cases. None of the new cases is travel related and 12 of the cases had direct contact with a confirmed case. Fifteen of the 19 cases were from Palatka, and ranged in age from 7 to 61. The four other cases were from Crescent City with three cases 8 or younger.

Building permits for Florahome’s historic Village Improvement Association clubhouse in Putnam County have been secured and volunteers are at work on the exterior including stabilization and restoration needs. A couple of discoveries including local names J.L. Davies and John Weingart, husbands to VIA board members, written on boards. Turning up in the attic was a huge wasp nest, fortunately uninhabited, according to restoration organizer Meri-lin Solana Piantanida. Donations for the renovations are being accepted.



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