Putnam County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a possible drowning at Lake McMeekin in Hawthorne. A neighbor found a local man in his later 50s dead in the lake Sunday. Earlier in the afternoon the man was seen sitting on the dock near his residence. The victim’s name is not being released pending notification of next of kin.
Masks are in the news as more area governments get ready to vote on requiring them to help contain the spread of coronavirus. On Wednesday during a special called meeting the Palatka City Commission passed an order requiring wearing masks indoors. Mayor Terrill Hill said the rules don’t apply to Putnam County, Palatka Housing Authority and the Putnam School District adding those entities could come up with their own rules. Because of increases in coronavirus case numbers Putnam County has closed many of its offices. Palatka City Hall is again closed to the public as is the fire department and the police department. Crescent City has closed its city hall.
St. Augustine earlier passed a requirement for face masks but St. Johns County commissioners haven’t followed suit. St. Augustine Beach commissioners Thursday didn’t pass a face mask proposal but are recommending people wear masks. In Flagler County Palm Coast Mayor Milissa Holland is expected to make the proposal for face masks at Tuesday’s meeting, and Flagler Beach City Commission Chair Jane Mealy is expected to do so at the Thursday Beach meeting. Flagler County commissioners may take up a proposal this week.
The mask issue comes up as Flagler, St. Johns and Putnam counties all registered increases in coronavirus although numbers were coming down over the weekend. As of the July 5 update, Putnam had 539 cases since the coronavirus count began. On Thursday 57 cases, on Friday 27 and on Saturday 23 cases were announced. In St. Johns County total number of cases as of July 5 was 1,325 with 93 announced on Thursday, 73 on Friday and 68 on Saturday. In Flagler County, 383 cases are listed with 10 on Friday and 14 on Saturday.
Hundreds of people gathered Sunday to rally to save the Confederate memorial in St. Augustine’s Plaza de la Constitucion. The obelisk bears the names of almost 40 residents who died fighting for the Confederacy during the Civil War. Two lawsuits have been filed and a study is underway to work out how to move the stone obelisk that’s more than 130 years old. Recently city commissioners by a 3-2 vote decided to move the monument that less than two years ago they favored keeping while adding information about the memorial and Civil War.
A downtown Palatka church was broken into over the weekend in Palatka. St. James United Methodist Church on Reid Street apparently was broken into Saturday or early Sunday. A computer was stolen and the offices and library vandalized. Missing is a safe. The church says thieves can keep the safe but hope they’ll return the church membership book that went back to the 1800s.
A man and woman face multiple charges after being stopped in Flagler County following a multi-county car chase. The 2012 Chevrolet Impala they were in was stolen out of Jacksonville and when a chase through St. Johns County Friday night headed into Flagler County, deputies there were ready. Stop sticks were put out on North Ocean Shore Boulevard and the Impala hit them but kept going. The car was found empty on Bay Drive and a search began using K-9s. Amber Blackman and Jason Respress were found and detained. Respress did not have a valid Florida driver’s license although he did have eight driver’s license suspensions and two convictions for driving on a suspended license.
In Putnam County, the Palatka Art League continues to provide masks for free although donations are appreciated to help defray cost of materials. Elastic is getting hard to find, say Art League officials. So far they’ve handed out more than 4,000 masks. You can get a mask today by going by the Tilghman House at 324 River St., which houses the League. Masks are available from 1-3 p.m.