The Voice of the Gem City

Nov. 11, 2020

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

Due to coronavirus concerns, scaled back Veterans Day observances are going on today in the tri-county area. In Putnam County, members of Daughters of the American Revolution put wreaths at various memorials. Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3349 held a rally and then walked Memorial Bridge at 11:11 a.m. The time is a reminder of the end of World War I in 1918, which took place at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month as the guns went silent. The post later hosted an open house at their post on Reid St. American Legion Bert Hodge Post 45 also held a ceremony at their post at 11:11 a.m. followed by free barbecue dinners for veterans and their families. Weather concerns sent the Veterans Day ceremony planned in Flagler County indoors to Flagler Auditorium with ceremonies livestreamed on their hosted YouTube channel A drive-thru style barbecue lunch for veterans and families followed at Palm Coast City Hall. Ceremonies set for Central Park became virtual. Instead of their usual ceremonies, St. Johns County Veterans Council put together a documentary honoring Korean War veterans. You can see that on YouTube. Portions of it also are showing on a documentary being aired tonight on WJCT-PBS.

A reminder that schools, government offices, the postal service, banks and a number of businesses are closed today in honor of Veterans Day, a national holiday.

A three-car accident on State Road 100 Tuesday afternoon took the live of a 47-year-old Melrose man. Florida Highway Patrol still is investigating the accident that happened near the intersection of 100 and  Bardin Road in Putnam County around 5 p.m. FHP reports a 59-year-old woman from Palatka and a 72-year-old woman from Florahome were headed west on 100 when the driver lost control with the vehicle swerving right and hitting a guardrail. The vehicle then headed left hitting an oncoming eastbound vehicle head on. The 59-year-old driver remains in critical condition. Her passenger had minor injuries. The Melrose man who was driving the vehicle hit head on died. His 46-year-old woman passenger, also from Melrose, was in critical condition. A third vehicle struck the back of the Melrose car. That driver’s injuries were minor.

After four hours of discussion Tuesday, the future of the Confederate statue on the Putnam County Courthouse lawn in Palatka remains uncertain. County commissioners voted to give supporters of moving the statue 90 days to come up with $200,000 to pay for the move and relocation to Veterans Park in East Palatka, next to Memorial Bridge.  Money can only come from within Putnam County, a decision that drew groans from supporters. Rumors have surfaced that Black Lives Matter and other outside groups would be paying the costs. The actual move may cost more than $200,000 with the initial funds being used to pay for hiring an engineering firm and then getting proposals for the cost of moving and resetting the statue. If the money isn’t raised in three months, the commission will revisit the issue to keep the statue where it is. If that happens the St. Johns Avenue sidewalk entrance might be closed so no one has to walk by the statue. Also proposed, a plaque explaining the Civil War and, later, a statue to Robert L. Jenkins Jr., the county’s Vietnam Medal of Honor winner who died saving others. He was black.

Forecasters are keeping a weather eye on Eta, which has regained its status as a hurricane earlier today. It is expected to weaken before making landfall and coming across northeast Florida as a tropical storm or depression. Showers and thunderstorms are possible by Thursday morning.

Florida Department of Health in Flagler County reported 14 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, bringing their total to 2,311 since counting began in March. Putnam County reported six new resident cases with one case merged and one transfer out of county.  Their total is now 2,493. St. Johns County reported 82 new cases bringing their coronavirus case total to 7, 034.

St. Johns River Water Management District’s governing board on Tuesday re-elected Gen. Douglas Burnett of St. Augustine to serve a second year as chairman. Sen. Rob Bradley of Fleming Island will be vice chair, Susan Dolan of Sanford secretary and Ron Howse of Cocoa treasurer.  The other board members are Douglas C. Bournique of Vero Beach, Cole Oliver of Merritt Island, J. Chris Peterson of Winter Park and Janet Price of Fernandina Beach.

Don’t forget today is a good day to say thanks to a veteran.

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