This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.
Announcement the Republican National Convention isn’t coming to Jacksonville may have brought a sigh of relief from Duval County’s sheriff but it will be a blow for area hotels, restaurants and attractions. They were hoping to see fiscal boosts to businesses hard hit by coronavirus. In announcing the decision to switch to Charlotte, N.C., and parse down the convention, President Donald Trump noted health concerns saying, “To have a big convention it’s not the right time.” Safety concerns also played a role, according to some convention officials. Duval’s sheriff recently said he didn’t have the personnel, plans or money to handle crowd safety.
In Putnam County officials from municipalities are meeting today with county officials to talk about distribution of federal Coronavirus Relief Funds (CARES Act). At Thursday’s Palatka City Commission meeting commissioners gave the OK to hiring a coronavirus consultant in the hopes that might offer more information about what qualifies for reimbursements. Some items such as personal protection equipment and overtime are obvious, but the city is looking for other possibilities as well. City Manager Don Holmes said the plan is contingent on getting reimbursement for hiring a consultant.
Coronavirus numbers and deaths continue to climb in Flagler, Putnam and St. Johns counties. Flagler County reported another death Thursday, a 73-year-old Seminole County resident who was in treatment in Flagler. On Thursday 26 new cases were reported in Flagler bringing their total to 724 reported since counting began in March. In Putnam County another death was reported Thursday, a 55-year-old Putnam County man. He’s the 12th virus-related death. The Florida Department of Health in Putnam County reported 32 new cases with one transfer. Overall count is 1,083. In St. Johns County, 47 new cases were reported. Their total is now at 2,708.
A new public works building, an assistant city manager and increases in city sewer and water apparently are in Palatka’s future if the City Commission has its way. The items came up during the online budget workshop and city commission meeting Thursday. A couple of years ago commissioners voted for five years of automatic increases of up to 10 percent yearly for sewer and water charges. This will be the third year. Mayor Terrell Hill several times mentioned a new public works building with funding coming from several areas in the budget. He says the city already owns property where it can be built and the building will provide a better working environment. This is the second time this year and the third time in a year-and-a-half he’s tried for the building. At one point he wanted to move all city facilities including City Hall to five miles from the current downtown City Hall location.
The Florida High School Athletic Association reversed itself Thursday night and won’t allow start of the fall sports season until Aug. 24. Summer conditioning workouts can continue.
A rabies alert has been issued for northwest St. Johns County after a laboratory confirmed a case associated with a feral cat. The Florida Department of Health in St. Johns County issued the alert for 60 days for the area within the zip code 32092.
The fugitive fleeing Palm Beach County and wanted for questioning in the death of two sisters committed suicide after St. Johns County Sheriff’s deputies caught up with him Wednesday, according to law enforcement officials. Anthony Ashan Stoutt, 23, refused to pull over and a high-speed chase began on Interstate 95 in St. Johns. Stop sticks were used to disable his car near the State Road 207 intersection. Stoutt then shot himself. He was taken to an area hospital where he died, according to officials. Stoutt had a restraining order against him from one of two sisters found shot to death in their home in Lantana.
A coronavirus throat swab testing is available today from 1-3 p.m. at the Interlachen Community Center. Town officials asked the Department of Health in Putnam County to hold the event to make it more convenient for area residents to be tested. Remember don’t eat or drink anything for 30 minutes before the test.