The Voice of the Gem City

July 28, 2020

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

A 49-year-old Palatka woman died Monday in San Mateo on U.S. 17 South after her vehicle was struck by a semi that went off the road, according to Florida Highway Patrol. The wreck happened just before 10:30 a.m. on U.S. 17 South at Weerts Road, south of State Road 100. A sedan was parked on the road shoulder when a semi traveling south veered off the grassy right side of the roadway and struck the rear of the sedan. The woman, Kimberly Stone Miller, died at the scene. The semi driver, a 65-year-old man, was not injured. A businessman in the area posted on Facebook that the woman’s boyfriend was returning a U-Haul to him when the crash happened. She was returning fro Miami to Palatka to teach school here. The man said he’d had several conversations with Miller and described her as “very passionate about teaching and the welfare of the students during this Covid 19 pandemic.” He remembered one conversation where she told him, “I love my students, all that I’ve ever taught and the new ones I haven’t met yet. I just love teaching and my students.”

An accident this morning on State Road 19 in Palatka apparently involving a pedestrian is under investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol. One victim is reported, and traffic was being diverted around 10:30 a.m. The accident is across from Captain D’s near the Town and Country Shopping Center.

A Bradenton man vacationing in Flagler County won’t soon forget his beachside vacation at Cinammon Beach in Palm Coast. On Friday the man called the Sheriff’s Office to report finding a small blue package he first took to be a freezer pack. He saw it floating in the water and thought it was trash. When he cut it open, he found a white, powdery substance and called 911. Deputies confirmed it was cocaine and took the package for disposal. Sheriff Rick Staley noted such packages have washed up on shore before “typically when the storm systems start brewing in the ocean.” The 2.7 pound-package is similar to several bricks of cocaine found about eight months ago along Flagler’s Matanzas Shores area. Other bricks washed up in Cocoa Beach and Melbourne and hundreds of pounds were found on the shores of France.

Putnam County commissioners meet today to look over the tentative $151 million budget for Fiscal Year 2020-2021. A three percent salary increase for some line employees is in the budget.

A power outage Monday left more than 500 people without power in Palatka Monday afternoon. The outage hit Florida Power & Light users in the area known as Palatka Heights which includes part of River Street and Ravine Gardens State Park. No word on what caused the outage but a heavy rainstorm occurred  around the time the power went out. Some three inches of rain were reported.

Two coronavirus related deaths have been reported in St. Johns County. On Monday the Florida Department of Health in St. Johns announced the deaths plus 70 new cases. Total is 2,993. In Putnam County seven new cases were reported with overall count at 1,176. Flagler County reported 12 cases for a total of 813.

Flagler County students may be getting two extra weeks of summer vacation now because of delayed school openings, but they’ll find Thanksgiving and winter and spring breaks shorter as the district works to make up the time lost to coronavirus. Teachers will see less time to plan as some teacher work days become instructional days. The issues come before the Flagler County School Board at 3 today as a new calendar is voted on. If the new calendar is approved, schools will get out only two days later than originally scheduled.

St. Johns County teachers who don’t want to return to classrooms because of coronavirus concerns will be allowed to take an unpaid leave of absence if the St. Johns County School Board today goes along with an agreement cobbled out by district school officials and teacher union representatives. Under the agreement teachers would still have the same salary when they return but no guarantee they’ll be in the same position. Three days of pre-planning for teachers in mid-August are being added. That will mean teachers stay on their normal pay schedule even though schools are starting three weeks later than planned. Also among coronavirus-related proposals is allowing full-time teachers to request a transfer to St. Johns Virtual School if they meet requirements and go through an interview.

Coronavirus tests are being administered Wednesday from 3-6 p.m. at the Welaka Fire Department on Palmetto Avenue. Florida Department of Health Putnam County and Putnam County Emergency Management are partnering for the free throat swab-type tests. Don’t eat or drink anything at least 30 minutes prior to testing.

Congratulations to Palatka resident Bill Buck who Monday turned 94. He and his wife, Elizabeth, are now residents at Vintage Care in Palatka. Hear the birthday cake was delicious. Buck taught in Palatka and at St. Johns River State College for many years and was in private business as an engineer.



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