The Voice of the Gem City

News 12/3/2020

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

For teachers in Putnam County good news as the district school board Tuesday approved the state Teacher Salary Increase Allocation plan that will put more money in teachers’ pay checks. Next step is approval by the Florida Department of Education. The plan is in response to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ push to increase starting  teacher salaries. Some $500 million has been allocated statewide. Putnam’s response will mean base salaries for teachers with up to eight years experience will increase to $45,142. Putnam teachers with more than eight years experience receive a $1,200 salary increase and also a step in pay of approximately $895, according to the district. All salary increases will be retroactive to July 1 of this year.

In St. Augustine you can’t keep good events down even during a pandemic. A virtual event is replacing the traditional St. Augustine Lighthouse luminary festivities tonight. Families around the community, who picked up luminaries earlier this week, will be lighting them up tonight at 6:30 p.m. and sharing via social media using the hashtag #Luminary2020. On Saturday the Garden Club os St. Augustine would normally be holding their extremely popular tour of homes, but that’s had to be cancelled. You can still get in the holiday spirit by going by the clubhouse at 3440 Old Moultrie Road on Saturday between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. and buying one of the hand-crafted wreathes made by area residents. Go to the club’s Facebook page for a preview of the wreathes. Cost is $25-$50 for the one-of-a-kind creations.

Flagler County’s homeless shelter has a new home. For the past 12 years the Sheltering Tree organization has used the fellowship hall at First United Methodist Church in Bunnell to provide a place to shelter the homeless on cold nights. An ongoing dispute with neighbors and Bunnell’s government has led to the shelter moving to Church on the Rock, about two miles away and much larger. With the new facility the Sheltering Tree also will be able to provide a sheltering area for homeless who are either coronavirus positive or suspected of being.

The annual and extremely popular Fly-in and Classical Car Show at the Palatka Municipal Airport won’t be taking place in January. The event that began with a few hundred has grown to more than 8,000 annual attendees. Earlier this year Manager John Youell told Palatka city commissioners he was going to need more help to put on the currently volunteer event and suggested contracting with a production firm. No action was taken. On Tuesday the airport board voted not to hold the event with coronavirus concerns cited.

Two coronavirus-related deaths in Putnam County and one in St. Johns County have been announced by Florida Department of Health officials. In Putnam County, deaths of an 81-year-old man and an 80-year-old woman brought the death total since counting began in March to 60. On Wednesday 32 new positive test results were reported in Putnam, bringing the overall total to 2,814. In St. Johns County, one coronavirus-related death was reported bringing the total to 97. In addition 152 cases were reported bringing the total to 9,085. In Flagler County health officials announced 23 cases, putting their total to 2,786.

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