The Voice of the Gem City

Local news 12/21/2020

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

One arrest has been reported after rival groups held rallies on Saturday for and against keeping the Confederate statue at the courthouse in downtown Palatka. Putnam Alliance for Equity and Justice called for a rally to remove the statue. After that, Stand Your Ground Putnam decided to hold a counter rally to put out their side. The Putnam County Commission earlier this year voted to consider the move but required supporters come up with $200,000 raised in county to pay for the move. Several rallies have been held both for and against the move with Saturday’s described as “smaller but more vocal.” Tensions were higher and that apparently led to an incident where one of the supporters of keeping the statue allegedly grabbed a cell phone from a pro-move protestor. A deputy witnessed the action and that led to the arrest, according to the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office.

Protests aren’t over. Putnam Alliance has posted flyers calling for people to come to the commission meeting Tuesday at the Putnam County Complex on Crill Avenue to demand commissioners relocate the Confederate statue. They’re calling it the Move It Rally! College student Tevel Adams who along with former college student DarNesha Leonard have become the faces of the movement, posted raising the $200,000 in three months within Putnam “are tasks that are almost impossible to achieve.” They are urging people to speak at the meeting and plan to be in the parking lot throughout the morning. Putnam County Sheriff’s Office will be on hand, as they are for all commission meetings.

A 61-year-old DeLand man died Saturday shortly after midnight in a single-vehicle crash in Flagler County, according to Florida Highway Patrol. Name of the victim was not released. The driver was driving a Jeep SUV north on U.S. 1 when shortly after passing Royal Palms Parkway in Palm Coast, the Jeep went off the road into the median and collided with a tree. The Jeep then headed back onto the northbound lanes, coming to a stop across both lanes.

The Seventh Judicial Circuit has a new judge following the appointment of Kenneth Janesk II by Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday. Janesk, who lives in St. Johns County, will fill the position left vacant by the retirement of Judge Patti Christensen, who had asked someone be appointed who was familiar with Putnam County. Janesk has been a prosecutor in the Seventh Circuit State’s Attorney office since 2011, serving as managing attorney of the Putnam County office. He is expected to be assigned to Putnam.

Florida Department of Health in Putnam County on Sunday reported the coronavirus-related death of an 85-year-old man. That brings the death total in Putnam to 64 since counting began in March. Between Friday and Sunday 152 new coronavirus cases were reported in Putnam, bring the year’s total to date to 3,536. Between Friday and Sunday, coronavirus count in Flagler County was 92 cases, bringing the total number of cases to 3,273. St. Johns County saw 424 new cases between Friday and Sunday. Total number of cases reported is now 11,300 since March.

Sheriff’s offices in St. Johns and Putnam counties were busy promoting the Christmas spirit over the weekend. On Sunday Secret Santas at Walmart and some special elves from the community helped deputies provide nine Putnam County youths in foster care with a brighter Christmas. Each child was able to spend up to $100 and purchases ranged from Nerf guns to pillows, fuzzy coats and pajamas. Afterwards, deputies took their special guests to the Sheriff’s Office for breakfast and a chance to get to know one another. In St. Johns County on Saturday St. Johns Sheriff’s deputies took part in the West Augustine seventh annual Toys for Tots distribution at three locations. Private individuals, St. Johns County, West Augustine CRA and the Atlantic Cost Youth Marines helped make the event possible.

Don’t forget schools already are out in St. Johns and Putnam counties. Today is the last day for Flagler County students before they head out for their Winter Holiday break. Students return Jan. 4.

Today is known as Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year and the day that’s the official start of winter. If the weather clears, tonight you can see Jupiter and Saturn come so near to each other they appear to be one. Last time it happened was 800 years ago and the apparent merging forms what some call the Christmas star. Look to the southwest sky around 6:30 p.m. tonight for the best view.

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