A protest targeting the Confederate soldiers memorial and the oak trees on the Putnam County Courthouse lawn set for Saturday has morphed to Your Vote Is Your Voice and is now moved to the Putnam County Government Complex on Crill Avenue. Time has been changed from 4 p.m. to 2 p.m. The organizers, two college students, say they want to keep things peaceful and reduce chances of violence from people from other cities. They’re apparently referring to a counter-protest planned by a St. Augustine group and including Putnam County residents. The Your Vote group also plans to bring in non-residents including the Rev. Ron Rawls, who lives in Gainesville and is minister of St. Paul AME in St. Augustine. By law the Your Vote group must keep 150 feet away from the Supervisor of Elections office because early voting is underway. The St. Augustine group is planning a rally at the courthouse at 2:30 p.m. Putnam Sheriff Gator DeLoach earlier issued a statement that: “Violence isn’t welcomed and property destruction isn’t welcomed. If any of those two occur, we re going to take action.”
Putnam County is in a graduating mood. Last night Crescent City High School’s Class of 2020 took the graduation walk. Tonight at 8 p.m. Palatka High School holds graduation exercises and Saturday at 7 p.m. Q.I. Roberts Jr.-Sr. High holds their ceremony. On Aug. 13 at 10 a.m. E.H. Miller School graduates. Safety concerns have made some changes to ceremonies including limiting the number of observers, requiring masks and practicing social distancing. You can watch the ceremonies live on Facebook.
Coming up rapidly is opening of schools in Florida. Some are already in session with others to open later this month. This weekend, however, everyone can benefit with the annual Florida Tax Free Weekend beginning today and running through Sunday. No tax applies to clothing, shoes, backpacks, coats, costumes, uniforms and cleats (Up to $60 per item). School supplies up to $15 an item also are on the lists and even computers, at least up to $1,000.
Three coronavirus related deaths have been reported in the area – two in St. Johns County and one in Putnam County. Florida Department of Health Thursday reported two in St. Johns bringing the total of deaths to 33. Fifty-nine new cases were reported, bringing overall cases to 3,512. Putnam County reported the death of a 75-year-old woman, bringing the total to 23 deaths. On Thursday 25 new cases were reported and one transfer out of county. Of those 18 are community-acquired and seven reported direct contact with a known case. Total number of cases is at 1,446. In Flagler County, 15 new cases were reported bringing the total to 989.
Flagler County officials continue to seek easements from property owners along Flagler Beach so they can begin a 15-year plan to rebuild 2.6 miles of dunes. Eleven property owners haven’t agreed although officials recently gained a couple more needed easements. They hope that will help when U.S. Army Corps of Engineers renders a verdict Aug. 17 on how or if they’ll proceed with what is potentially a 50-year, $100 million project.
At Monday St. Augustine City Commission meeting City Manager John Regan will recommend a new location for the cenotaph in the Plaza De La Constitucion that remembers 47 area men who died fighting for the Confederacy during the Civil War. Lead choice is expected to be a site at Trout Creek Fish Camp on State Road 13. Property owner Randy Ringhaver offered the location, which is far removed from downtown.
Speaking of memorials today marks the day in 1921 when funeral services were held in Palatka for Henry Gilbert “Bert” Hodge who died serving on the battlefields of France on Aug. 10, 1918. He was the first Palatka casualty of World War I and American Legion Post No. 45 is named is his honor. One wall of the building on Osceola Street contains a mural commemorating Hodge and World War I.