The Voice of the Gem City

October 12, 2020

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

A data dump by a private lab delayed Florida Department of Health reporting coronavirus statistics over the weekend. Helix Laboratory sent 400,000 previously reported test results to the department and that caused delays to the daily report as officials removed duplicate reports. Putnam County reported 20 new cases over the weekend, bringing the total to 2,209 cases since counting began in March. Flagler County reported 22 cases bringing their coronavirus results to 1,862 cases. St. Johns County reported 61 cases for a total of 5,700.

An ad on Craig’s List selling puppies ended up with a Flagler Beach woman jailed on two felony counts – theft and organized scheme to defraud plus four misdemeanor counts of petit theft. Carissa Sarno was booked into the Flagler County Jail and later released on $7,000 bond. Flagler Beach Police received in all seven complaints where people had paid $200 to $800 up front and then found neither the puppies nor Sarno when they went to pick up the animals. Sarno, 34, in 2015 in Pinellas County was sentenced to three years in state prison for grand theft, exploitation of the elderly or the disabled and organized fraud. She served nearly two years before being released. Officials remind you if you’re looking for a puppy, check with your local animal shelters.

A head-on crash Friday night on State Road 16 at Francis Road in St. Johns County killed a 17-year-old Clay County boy, according to the Florida Highway Patrol report. The 16-year-old Middleburg boy driving the car ignored the right of way of a pick-up track at the intersection with Francis Road, according to FHP. The driver was seriously injured. The 42-year-old woman in the pick-up was not injured, according to the FHP report, and all three people were wearing seatbelts.

An 11-member committee appointed by the Putnam County Commission to determine where the Confederate memorial statue on the courthouse lawn should be located didn’t come to a final decision during their first meeting Friday. Six locations were proposed including leaving it where it is in downtown Palatka. Other locations included Veterans Park by Memorial Bridge in East Palatka, the courthouse annex next to the courthouse, John Theobold Sports Complex at U.S. 17 North in Palatka, the Putnam County Government Complex in Palatka or Melrose Heritage Park on State Road 26. Member David Wade did question the appointment of member LaToya Robinson, who is the mother of one of the two college students who began the push to move both the statue and cut down the Maltby Oak at the courthouse. The committee did not have the authority to remove anyone, moderator Jim Troiano explained. The group will meet again Thursday to make three recommendations to the Putnam County Commission that will make the final decision. Public funds cannot be used to move the statue, commissioners said.

In St. Johns County the St. Augustine Amphitheatre Farmers Market was back in business Saturday after being closed since March due to coronavirus concerns. TO comply with CDC recommendations, the number of vendors was limited to 86 as compared to the usual 115 or so. The market again will be open next Saturday morning. For now the Tuesday market is closed.

A pair of Crescent City volunteer received thanks and a plaque for their efforts to beautify the south Putnam County town. Crescent City Mayor Brett Peterson posted pictures and thanks on Facebook, saying, ”I am so proud of Lisa and Steve Demicie, who have put in countless hours to plant, water and nurture the beautiful plants you see landscaped around City Hall and our Police Department.”

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