The Voice of the Gem City

November 19, 2020

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

Signs are popping up this week in the yards of Putnam County teachers and school employees nominated for top honors in the district. The district’s human resources department put up the signs at employees’ homes in Putnam County as well as some in St. Johns, Clay and Alachua counties. Naming of the 2020-21 teacher and school-related employee of the year comes later in the school year.

Two law enforcement officers in St. Johns County are on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation into a shooting incident Tuesday night in St. Augustine. The officers were responding to a domestic disturbance call at Park Place Condominiums on Masters Drive around 9 p.m. Tuesday. A man identified as Dustin Acosta, 28, reportedly was drunk and attempting to drive off. A physical confrontation occurred when people at the residence stopped him. According to reports, officers were called to the residence and entered the condo finding Acosta holding a handgun and despondent. They attempted to calm down the situation and told him to put down his gun, but he pointed it at them and the two officers shot him. Acosta died at the scene. Officers have been identified as St. Augustine Sgt. Kevin Carroll and St. Johns County Deputy Kristapher James. It is the first officer-involved shooting event for either, say officials. In the last 10 years Acosta has been arrested a dozen times in St. Johns including multiple times for resisting police and marijuana possession. He also has been charged one time each for hit-and-run, shoplifting and reckless driving.

A yet-to-be voted on contract between the St. Johns County teacher union and the school district will raise starting teacher salaries about $6,500. Negotiators say pay for new teachers would go to $45,535. Currently it’s $39,000. Gov. Ron DeSantis in June signed a bill putting aside $500 million for teacher raises with $400 million going for minimum teacher salaries and $100 million for other pay raises. St. Johns County got $7.9 million funding from the state.  Ideal goal was $47,500 for new teachers but St. Johns negotiators couldn’t find enough to pay that. All school personnel will get a minimum salary increase of 2 percent. The contract still must be ratified.

This Saturday Keep Putnam Beautiful and the Putnam County Historical Society continue their sprucing up efforts at the Bronson-Mulholland House. KPB executive director Nicole Grace says efforts will be focused around the Putnam Historical Museum next to the house. The session begins at 8 a.m. and should last about an hour. Volunteers are welcome.

The state will seek the death penalty of the man indicted in the recent stabbing death of a St. Johns County woman, according to State Attorney R.J. Larizza. Derrek Perkins, 35, was indicted Oct. 14 on one count of first degree murder, one count of burglary of a dwelling with assault/battery while armed and aggravated stalking with a weapon. Larizza said Perkins “savagely stabbed” Brandi Brooker about 14 times as she pleaded for her life. The 35-year-old mother of two was stabbed as she arrived at the home where she was staying in the Hastings area, Larizza said. Perkins was hiding in wait for Brooker. She had just broken off a relationship with him. Reportedly he had earlier tried to run her over.

New chair of Flagler County School Board is Trevor Tucker. Custom would have meant member Colleen Conklin would be the next chair, but instead Tucker was chosen in a 3-2 vote. Tucker was chair two years ago. Conklin just won her sixth term to the board. Some speculated it was a party line vote with Tucker a Republican and Conklin a Democrat.

Florida Park Drive, from Farraday Lane to Palm Harbor Parkway, in Palm Coast will be closed to drivers Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Florida Power & Light is replacing a key power line infrastructure wooden pole with a concrete pole as part of their infrastructure hardening pole.

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