The Voice of the Gem City

LOCAL NEWS 12/22/2020

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

Coronavirus-related deaths were reported in Putnam, St. Johns and Flagler counties on Monday. An 89-year-old woman and an 82-year-old man died in Putnam County, according to the Florida Department of Health in Putnam County. Death total since March is at 66. Also reported Wednesday 29 new coronavirus cases, bringing the year’s total to 3,565. St. Johns County reported two new coronavirus-related deaths, bringing their total to 110 deaths. Another 189 coronavirus cases were reported in St. Johns, bringing their year’s total to 11,491. Flagler County reported one new coronavirus-related death putting their total at 47, An additional 39 cases were reported, bringing the total to 3,314.

A group calling itself the Putnam Alliance for Equity and Justice is before the Putnam County Commission this morning to demand commissioners relocate the Confederate soldiers memorial on the Putnam Courthouse lawn. They say the commission’s decision to move the statue only if $200,000 to cover the move is raised by individuals in the county in three months “are tasks that are almost impossible to achieve.” The commission came up with the solution after the group held a couple of rallies. Others groups including Stand Your Ground Putnam want the statue left. Many people sought to have the issue put to a vote.

Two people who touched the lives of thousands of children in Putnam County have died. On Friday Tony Alred, 75, unexpectedly died. Alred was an assistant football coach for the Palatka High School Panthers. He also served as wrestling coach for 28 years. On Monday, Cheryl Owens, 73, died after an extended illness. She and her husband, Sweet, were the Palatka Recreation Department for decades helping children learn about and enjoy sports. The city has named a baseball field in their honor off Moseley Avenue, near the National Guard Armory.

If you have business to do with government officials, better get at it. Most government offices are closing Thursday and Friday. In Palatka no garbage pickup is scheduled for either day although recycling trucks will be running Wednesday. St. Augustine is offering a Christmas present — free parking available in city lots on Dec. 24. Just be sure you’re in a city lot. Private operators aren’t offering the same break.

Christmas holidays will make a difference in coronavirus testing. No health department testing is scheduled for Thursday through Sunday. Testing will resume in Flagler, St. Johns and Putnam counties on Monday.

Florida Department of Health in Putnam County is conducting a survey to help in finalizing a Community Health Needs Assessment. Director Mary Garcia is asking people to take the survey since that will help the department focus on the areas of need in the community. The survey is available online.

Christmas always brings memories. In St. Augustine a post about the Indian River Fruit Market on U.S. 1 has drawn more than 620 thumbs up and loves. R.W. Perry posted his Aunt Helen owned and operated the stand for 50 years until it was closed sometime in the late 1980s or early 90s. She had another stand on St. George Street and also owned an orange grove. That’s brought back memories of when an orange in the stocking hung from the mantle was considered one of the treats of Christmas.

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