This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.
One new coronavirus related death has been reported in St. Johns County as of Wednesday. That brings the total to 23 deaths since the counting began in March. Seventy-five cases were reported Wednesday bringing the total to 3,104. The Florida Department of Health in Putnam County reported 31 new coronavirus cases and one transfer, bringing the overall count to 1,223. All the new cases are community-related exposure with 12 in Crescent City and 11 in Palatka. Flagler County reported 12 cases for a total of 850.
More options will probably be available for St. Johns County teachers who don’t feel safe returning to brick-and-mortar classrooms. Under the latest proposal worked out between the school district and St. Johns Education Association, teachers who want to retire early will be able to do so if they meet the normal requirements including having worked for 30 years or being at least 62. Teachers going for early retirement would get a $6,200 bonus to help pay for medical costs until they qualify for Medicare at 65. The proposal will have to be approved by union members and the school board. Earlier tentative agreements allow teachers to take an unpaid leave of absence or transfer to teach at St. Johns Virtual School.
A routine traffic stop in Flagler County last week led to a teen being booked for carrying a concealed weapon. The arrest came after a Flagler County Sheriff’s deputy stopped a vehicle for a stop sign violation. The driver didn’t have her driver’s license. The smell of marijuana in the car and the driver and occupant admitting to smoking marijuana in the car earlier led to a probable cause search due to the odor and the. During a routine pat-down 16-year-old Terrell Sampson several times reached toward his shorts and a loaded semi-automatic pistol was found concealed in his boxers. Sampson offered conflicting stories on how he got the gun and ended up being arrested and charged with carrying a concealed firearm and possession of a firearm by a minor. After being booked into the Flagler jail, he was turned over to the Department of Juvenile Justice in Daytona Beach. He’s had previous arrests in Flagler including battery, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, criminal mischief and unlawful possession of a weapon.
Putnam County School District will reopen its 21st Century Community Learning Academies on Aug. 31. The free after-school learning program focuses on academics and enrichment for students in grades K-12 at 11 of the district’s schools. Applications must be completed to get into the program, which runs for two-and-a-half hours Monday-Thursdays. For more, contact Ashley McCool firstname.lastname@example.org or Justin Campbell email@example.com. You may also contact the district’s Department of Federal Programs at 386-329-0543.
LifeSouth holds its annual Backpack Giveaway this Friday at the LifeSouth Community Blood Center at 6003 Crill Avenue in Palatka from 10 a.m. to noon. Backpacks filled with school supplies are available for the first 500 children. Parents and children must both be present at the giveaway, which this year will be conducted as a drive-thru.
A belated happy birthday to K9 Putnam of the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office. He turned nine on Wednesday and along with handler Sgt. Emmett Merritt has tacked missing persons, found lost children and caught numerous suspects. He’s also had his time as a TV star. Putnam still loves going to work but since retirement’s probably on the horizon he’s helping train his replacement, K9 Grace.
Speaking of birthdays, Wednesday also marked that of silent movie star Theda Bara who put the V into vamp in numerous movies including a couple made in St. Augustine. St. Augustine was the star in a number of silent movies thanks to its colonial stone houses, exotic looks and narrow streets. Sand dunes became stand-ins for deserts and the Castillo de San Marcos and big hotels became a backdrop for silent film stars including Rudolph Valentino. You can find out more by reading Silent Films in St. Augustine by Thomas Graham.