The Voice of the Gem City

News 9/18/2020

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

A coastal flood advisory for the weekend may change some people’s plans. In St. Johns and Flagler counties forecasts call for beaches to experience unusually high surf and tides, dangerous currents and strong winds due to what’s being termed a “moderate” nor’easter. The weather system is also bringing warnings for inland low lying areas and the St. Johns River Basin where tides are predicted to be between one and two feet higher. St. Johns is urging people to use extreme caution at the beach and avoid swimming in the ocean. Check flags at the beach and remember if you see red flags don’t go in. Lifeguards routinely are pulled off beaches Labor Day, but beach patrols reportedly will be stepped up Saturday and Sunday. In St. Johns you can find out about beach access through the mobile app, Reach the Beach.

Florida Department of Health reported one coronavirus-related death each in Flagler and St. Johns counties Thursday. The death in Flagler is the 22nd since counting began in March. Seventeen new coronavirus cases were reported also, bringing the case count in Flagler to 1,614. St. Johns County’s death brought their total to 65 deaths. Also reported 45 new coronavirus cases for a total of 4,991. In Putnam County on Thursday 28 new cases were reported minus one transfer. Overall total is 2,017 cases.

Flagler County will be able to add 15 additional firefighters for three years following a $3.26 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA waived the cost share requirement, which means the county won’t have to provide a match sum. The 15 additional firefighters will represent a 17 percent increase of the current staffing level of 87 frontline firefighters, said Fire Rescue Chief Joe King. Putnam County recently qualified for a $2.3 million grant from FEMA and will be adding 12 firefighters for three years. The FEMA grants include both salaries and benefits.

A proposed landfill expansion in Keuka, west of Interlachen, has some Putnam County residents protesting. Opponents to the proposal were out with signs Thursday at State Road 20 and County Road 315. On Saturday they plan to be at the Hitchcock plaza at 10 a.m. and the Interlachen Post Office Monday at 4 p.m. The new dump would go at a closed mine pit near Waste Pro’s landfill off Keuka Road. A special Interlachen Town Council meeting is set for Sept. 23 at 6 p.m. on Zoom. The Zoning Board of Adjustment in Interlachen earlier rejected the exemption needed for the expansion. That decision was appealed to the Town Council.

Palatka Art League is holding a two-day yard sale beginning this morning and continuing through Saturday. The sale is at the Tilghman House on River Street.

On Saturday the free Farm Share Food Giveaway is from 8-11 a.m. at the Putnam County Government Complex, 2509 Crill Avenue in Palatka. Volunteers will load the food in people’s vehicles and the giveaway is on a first-come, first-serve basis. Farm Share and Florida farmers partner. Food is fresh but considered unsellable to grocery stores because it has blemishes or is not the right size.

A longtime fixture at the corner of State Road 207 and Interstate 95 is about to close up shop after 35 years. Next Sunday will be the last day for the St. Augustine Flea Market. Baptist Health has the 23 acres under contract and the St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners earlier this week approved rezoning to allow for 525,000 square feet of office and commercial use, including hospital use. Proposed name: The Pavilion at S.R. 207. The 207 corridor in St. Augustine has seen increased development including a couple of housing complexes and some commercial chain fast food establishments.

Putnam County Sheriff’s Office was celebrating Thursday acknowledging Sgt. Lisa Conover’s 35 years of service. A shift leader in the Emergency Communications Center, she’s earned a reputation for being quote “the calm in the storm.”

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