The Voice of the Gem City

July 1, 2020

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

Whether or not to require people to wear masks has governments divided. St. Augustine City Commission at a special meeting last week decided people going in public buildings had to. St. Johns County commissioners at a special meeting Tuesday rejected requiring masks. Commissioner Henry Dean, former head of St. Johns River Water Management District, made a motion for the masks but couldn’t get a second from fellow commissioners. By a 2-3 vote they rejected requiring county employees to wear the masks. Today at 3 p.m. Palatka City Commission meets electronically to vote on requiring masks. The meeting only just met the 24-hour notice requirement and the proposal was apparently quickly put together since a correction had to be sent out after it was found the proposal would have gone into effect at 12:01 this morning, hours before the actual vote. Duval County knows a thing or two about haste. The city announced masks were required indoors as of Tuesday; now the council’s meeting today to find out what the declaration actually involves.

Coronavirus numbers continue to rise. The Florida Department of Health in Putnam County announced 12 new coronavirus cases. That brings the total to 339 with 189 of those recorded during June. Latest cases range from a 14-year-old Crescent City girl to a 71-year-old Interlachen man. Six new cases were reported in Flagler County bringing their total to 310. St. Johns County is now at 948 cases with 57 reported on Tuesday.

If the idea of the majority of the St. Augustine City Commission was to make the memorial to Confederate dead go away quickly, it isn’t working. Two lawsuits are being filed. St. Augustine Police taking down early than agreed the mementoes hung on the fence has brought ill will for the department. Now the city is increasing the size of the fenced in are  they’ve put around the memorial and that’s taking up about a third of the Plaza de la Constitucion where the obelisk stands. Still no word on where the commission will put the monument, which will cost an estimated $160,000 to move.

Putnam County commissioners have called a special meeting in electronic format for Thursday. The meeting starts at 9:30 a.m. On the agenda includes plans for a Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Ace consultant. That’s the law that addresses economic fallout from the virus. Also on the agenda a discussion of future board meetings.

A driver in Flagler Beach who may have hit the gas pedal instead of the brakes had minor injuries after striking several vehicles and crashing into a popular Mexican restaurant near Publix Tuesday. The unidentified woman driver was taken to AdventHealth Palm Coast with non-threatening injuries. Her vehicle hit two cars parked in front of Dahlia’s Restaurant before striking a work van and then going over the curb into the front window of Dahlia’s Restaurant.

A Jacksonville driver in a reported stolen vehicle is in Putnam County jail on an $81,000 bond after attempting to flee deputies and attacking a Sheriff’s Office K9. Deputies spotted the red Jeep Cherokee driven by Christopher Blake Randolph, 31, and found it was stolen. When they attempted a stop, Randolph began swerving in and out of lanes in the area of U.S. 17 and State Road 19, then continuing on U.S. 17 North. Deputies followed, eventually turning off lights and sirens. At West River Road, Randolph made a U-turn in the median and headed back toward Palatka. As he passed officers he took his hands off the steering wheel to shoot double birds at the deputies. Stop sticks had been set up near Palatka, but Randolph went over then and kept going.  A precision immobilization technique or PIT maneuver was executed by deputies but Randolph began ramming the patrol car after deputies couldn’t block in his vehicle. His car was put out of commission but Randolph refused to surrender. K-9 Halo was sent in and the dog bit Randolph who hit the animal in the face several times. A Palatka Police lieutenant used a Taser on Randolph and the attack on the dog stopped.  After Randolph was checked out at the hospital he was jailed. Halo and handler Deputy Gerry Gentry finished working out their shift.

Putnam County has royalty. She’s Samantha Harper who over the weekend was crowned 2020 National Teen Miss Agriculture USA during competitions in Ohio. Samantha will spend the next year AGvocating for Agriculture across the nation. She’s a student at Q.I. Roberts Jr.-Sr. High School.



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