The Voice of the Gem City

October 13, 2020

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

A mentoring program for new teachers in Putnam County is paying off, according to district school officials. At a national education roundtable held via the internet officials noted the district’s Novice Teacher Mentor program has improved teacher retention for new teachers from 65 percent to 93 percent in three years. Superintendent Rick Surrency and Kristin Carroll, an administrator on special assignment in Human Resources, led the round table.

The Florida Department of Health in Putnam County Monday reported two new coronavirus cases, both were linked to a confirmed case. That brings the total number of cases since counting began in March to 2,211. Flagler County reported 15 new cases, bringing the case total to 1,875. St. Johns County reported 30 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total to 5,726.

A power pole that caught fire led to a power failure and spill at a sewer lift station in the Shores area of St. Augustine early Sunday morning. St. Johns County officials say about 5,000 gallons of sewage flooded the field and perimeter ditch at one of the Master Lift Stations at 493 Domenico Circle. The sewage was vacuumed up and no surface water was impacted, said county officials. Also reported on Friday was a sanitary sewer overflow at Pump Station 64 on East Marina Cove Drive. Clean-up of about 6,000 gallons was reported after a pump system failed.

Flagler County Sheriff’s Office and the District Medical Examiner’s Office are investigating the death of a man found Monday in a recreational vehicle parked in front of Auto Zone in Palm Coast. The death was not considered suspicious with no trauma reported. The man, in his 40s, was reportedly headed back upstate to New York along with a female companion. Their RV developed mechanical problems on Interstate 95 and they exited to Auto Zone waiting for the store to open.

A candlelight vigil Monday night at St. Johns Classical Academy honored the lives of two Middleburg boys killed after an accident Friday on State Road 16 in St. Johns County. Luke Kennedy, 16, was the driver and Parker Rowley, 17, the passenger in a car that failed to yield the right-of-way to a pickup truck, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. Rowley died at the scene, Kennedy was taken to the hospital where he died two days later. The two were described as best friends.

A bit of return to normal in Putnam County this Friday as several groups sponsor a free viewing of Pixar’s Onward movie. The movie will be shown at the Francis Sports Complex, 8012 St. Johns Avenue, Palatka. Movie starts at 7 p.m. Bring a chair or blanket and snacks. Social distancing is encouraged. Putnam County Parks and Recreation, Palatka Police Athletic League, Palatka Young Professionals and the Putnam County Library System are sponsoring the event. On Saturday normal returns to the St. Johns County Fairgrounds as the 61sst annual Cracker Day opens. In addition to barbecue and pony and horse contests, this year’s celebration includes a Farmers Market with 40 plus vendors. Entry cost is $5 per carload.

Downtown Palatka Inc. merchants expect to make a decision on the annual Christmas Parade this Thursday. Normally held the day after Thanksgiving, the parade is in danger due to coronavirus mandates. City of Palatka officials, which would normally issue parade permits, are waiting on a decision from the Palatka City Commission, which is taking reopening of events on a two week-by-two week basis. The Veterans Day Parade has been canceled in part because of not enough time to plan. The American Legion Bert Hodge Post No. 45 does plan some kind of ceremony for Nov. 11 at the post.

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