The Voice of the Gem City

January 4, 2021

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

 Palatka City Commission holds swearing-in ceremonies tonight at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall. For the first time in 36 years Mary Lawson Brown won’t be returning to office; she decided not to seek re-election in 2020. Willie “Slurb” Jones won the seat and will be sworn in tonight as will returning commissioner Tammie McCaskill who drew no opposition. A pining ceremony for recently promoted Fire Chief Chris Taylor is scheduled also. Ceremonies also can be viewed online.

Vaccinations against coronavirus are on many people’s agenda today, but officials are warning the amount of vaccine is limited. Both Flagler and St. Johns counties tried first-come, first-serve last week but were overwhelmed. Now Flagler, St. Johns and Putnam have gone to people registering for appointments. Vaccines are being allocated to front line workers such as paramedics, followed by health care workers and people 65 and older. St Johns County has no available appointments and when a second vaccine shipment from the state is received more reservations will be available at Solomon Calhoun Community Center.  Flagler County has set up an online portal to handle vaccination requests. Putnam County began accepting reservations Thursday online or today by calling 386-329-1904 and selecting option#1.  The vaccine being used requires two shots, the second given three weeks after the first.

Four coronavirus-related deaths were reported between Friday and Sunday, according to the Florida Department of Health in Putnam County. On Jan 2 a 67-year-old women and a 94-year-old woman died and on Jan. 3 the deaths of a 92-year-old woman and an 88-year-old man were reported. That brings the death count since March of 2020 to 76. Between Friday and Sunday 156 new coronavirus cases were reported in Putnam, bringing the total number of cases to 4,149. Flagler County reported 204 cases during the three-day period, bringing their total to 3,931. St. Johns County reported three coronavirus-related deaths during the three-day period, bringing the total to 115 deaths. During the three-day period 683 new coronavirus cases were reported. Total cases since March is now 13,756.

A small group rallied Saturday to press for saving the Crescent City Police Department in Putnam County. They’re also seeking the removal of the town’s city manager who put the department on paid leave after questions were raised about training and reviews.  Members of the save the police group say 250 signs are going up in yards around town after people asked for them.

Former Putnam County agricultural teacher and assistant principal Jim Ward  has died. His death Sunday was coronavirus related, according to family members. Ward, who moved to Bradford County to head up the technical school, was a popular and well-liked teacher and administrator.

The year’s end brings good news from the pet rescue group SAFE with shelters in St. Johns and Putnam counties. Robin Kantner-Nordan reports the volunteer group took in 2,575 animals that faced euthanasia during 2020. They had 2,127 pets  adopted and transferred another 484 to their rescue partners in the north part of the United States.

The second Dan McNutt Memorial Golf Tournament benefitting South Putnam Christian Service Center has a new date. The event at The Oaks Golf Club in Crescent City will be Jan. 16.  Rain date is Jan. 30. Registration is limited to 72 players. For more information or to register, call Kitty at 386-467-2061.

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