The Voice of the Gem City

October 23, 2020

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

A new public works building to go on municipal airport property and costing up to $3.5 million apparently is in the future for Palatka. It will house garbage trucks, city vehicles and city employees. City commissioners Thursday gave the go-ahead to staff to advertise for a design-build solicitation, look into financing for construction and get permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to declare the property surplus. The facility would be next to the business park off St. Johns Avenue and at 22,000 square feet would be double in size to the current one on Ocean Street on Palatka’s Northside. Commissioner Mary Lawson Brown said it would mean getting the facility out of a residential neighborhood and Mayor Terrell Hill indicated it would be the start of a revitalization of the Northside. Commissioner Rufus Borum asked if other city offices might be moved to the site in order to consolidate operations, but didn’t get an answer. Hill attempted last year to have city hall moved to the business park.

Voting turnout continues to break records as registered voters take advantage of early voting and mail-in ballots. As of Thursday 38 percent of registered voters in St. Johns County had cast ballots. In Flagler County 36 percent of people have voted and in Putnam County 27.6 percent have already voted. Polls remain open through Oct. 31.

A 30-year-old St. Augustine man has been arrested in Putnam County for robbery after allegedly taking a $7,900 gold chain from Kay Jewelers in Palm Coast. During an investigation Flagler Sheriff’s Office detectives were able to identify the red Nissan truck that Tyrone Hunter got into after he reportedly snatched the gold chain and ran out of the store on Oct. 6. On Oct. 13 they tracked down the truck, which belonged to Hunter’s father. Further investigation led to issuance of a robbery by snatching felony warrant for the arrest of Hunter, who was taken into custody by deputies in Putnam County.

In Putnam County a grant program to help individuals and households hit by the coronavirus crisis is now open. The program is funded through the federal CARES Act and provides up to $2,500 to household impacted by coronavirus. The program provides assistance in the form of mortgage, rental and utility assistance. The grant program does not require repayment. United Way of St. Johns County is processing applications. You can submit applications on line to or call United Way at 904-829-9721. Deadline is Dec. 4 or until the funds expire.

Palatka’s Christmas Parade is officially off. Sam Deputy, who heads up the parade for Downtown Palatka Experiences, Thursday sent out a statement that the group and the city had made the “difficult decision” to cancel the parade. The parade is usually held the day after Thanksgiving and in recent years draws about 17,000 viewers and more than 2,000 participants. The difficulty of instituting social distancing protocols related to coronavirus was cited.

A man accidently rammed into a Ponte Vedra Beach liquor store after his foot slipped on the gas pedal of his BMW SUV, according to reports. A steel beam in the AAW Wines & Liquor store kept the vehicle from going all the way into the building. No one was injured and the driver was able to drive his vehicle. The store stayed open and expected to reopen today.

A special Mass will be said tonight at 6 p.m. in St. Augustine at the Cathedral Basilica as the diocese celebrates its 150th anniversary as the first Catholic Diocese in Florida. On Oct. 23 and 24, 1870 Bishop Jean-Pierre Verot led celebration’s in the newly completed cathedral.

Among weekend events:
Flagler Beach Police Department plans a unique Halloween event this Saturday from 6-8 p.m. at Wickline Park. They’re calling it the Beach Boo Drive and it offers a socially distanced way to trick-or-treat.
Putnam County Environmental Council will be celebrating World Fish Migration Day Saturday and once again seeking to free the Ocklawaha River this Saturday from 10 a.m. until noon on the west side of Rodman Dam.
Civil War re-enactment called The Fight for Dixie’s Land is set for Saturday and Sunday at Rodman Plantation. Admission is $5.
St. Augustine Amphitheatre’s Farmers Market will be open this Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

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