The Voice of the Gem City

December 31, 2020

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

Putnam County will begin vaccinations Monday for coronavirus, according to a release from Putnam County officials this morning. Florida Department of Health in Putnam released the plan through the county with first responders set to get first doses. After that healthcare providers and those 65 and older will be vaccinated. Those 65 and older need to register for the first round so either go online to or on Monday call 386-329-1904 and select option#1. Calls will be taken weekdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Flagler County began distributing Monday with emergency workers first and St. Johns County followed. Pattern so far has been for those working directly with health care to be next followed by those 65 or older. Some teachers in the state are now saying educators should move higher up the list noting they’ll be back in classrooms Monday.

A 34-year-old man died Wednesday after his pickup crossed the yellow line on State Road 100 in Putnam County and crashed into a tractor-trailer, according to Florida Highway Patrol. The accident, which happened during the morning near Roberts Lane west of Palatka, tied up traffic for a couple of hours. The 59-year-old Alachua County driver of the tractor-trailer had minor injuries. The investigation is continuing.

Florida Department of Health in Putnam County Wednesday reported the coronavirus-related death of a 75-year-old Putnam man. Death total since March is 72. Also reported 46 new coronavirus cases with one transfer into Putnam. Total number of cases is 3,906. Flagler County reported 28 new cases Wednesday for a total of 3,637. St. Johns County reported 166 new cases for a total of 12,828 cases. Coronavirus test sites in Flagler, St. Johns and Putnam counties are closed today and Saturday for the holidays.

Most government offices are closing early today as people ready for New Year’s Eve and a New Year on Friday. Don’t expect garbage, trash or recycling services on Friday, although WastePro customers in Putnam and Flagler should see service on Saturday. Palatka City Hall is expected to reopen Monday after a week-long closure due to at least seven cases of coronavirus. Also reopening Monday will be schools in Putnam, Flagler and Clay counties.

A New Year may be coming as well as a vaccine, but coronavirus continues plaguing people. Rotary Club of Crescent City announced on Facebook they are cancelling the 2021 Catfish Festival due to coronavirus. The virus caused them to cancel this year’s festival also.

On Saturday, supporters of keeping the Crescent City Police Department will gather at noon at the Crescent City Commission chambers on Summit Street to protest closing the police department. The department was put on paid administrative leave by the city manager after concerns were raised over training and certification of officers. The group is also calling for the resignation of city manager Michael Esposito. Supporters of keeping the department say the city has begun removing signs about the rally, telling them they are in the city right-of-way. The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office has been handling law enforcement duties and has offered to provide the service permanently.

Changes in Putnam County government mean this is the last day for longtime Clerk of Court Tim Smith who is leaving a few days early. Smith decided not to seek re-election. Coming in a little early thanks to his appointment by the governor will be Matt Reynolds, who won the clerk’s seat earlier this year.

Many are looking forward to seeing 2020 out and 2021 in. One Irish tradition calls for opening your door at midnight to let the Old Year Out and the New Year in. After 2020 some are suggesting opening up all the doors, windows and even the garage to be sure the year is gone. What you’ll be eating New Year’s Day to ensure a lucky year depends on where you’re from.  The Pennsylvania Dutch will be going for pork and sauerkraut, the Southerner will be sitting down to greens, corn bread, rice and black-eyed peas for luck.  Be sure you clean your plate this year. Happy New Year.

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