The Voice of the Gem City

January 28, 2021

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

A Flagler County high school student found himself arrested and jailed Wednesday over a song where he threatened a school administrator, according to the Flagler Sheriff’s Office. A resource deputy at Matanzas High School heard about the online song and discovered Joseph Washington, 18, recorded the song allegedly in retaliation for being suspended for using offense language while on campus. In the song he threatens physical harm to the faculty member. Deputies say Washington admitted writing and recording the song saying he knew the consequences could be arrest. But he said he didn’t intend to carry out the threat, calling it just a “fantasy.” He was arrested and booked into the jail but released by a judge pending trial. Sheriff Rick Staley said such threats aren’t taken lightly “especially when it comes to our schools.”

Ali Pressel, a veteran teacher at Creekside High School, is the 2021 Teacher of the Year for St. Johns County. Pressel was honored Wednesday at school district headquarters on Orange Street. Pressel teaches science-related courses within the district’s Career Academics program. Also named was Rookie Teacher of the Year Lauren Woods, a math teacher at Valley Ridge Elementary School. Also announced, Principal of the Year is Tina Waldrop of Osceola Elementary School and Assistant Principal of the Year is Melissa Lime of Freedom Crossing Academy. The annual teacher honors are sponsored by INK!, (Investing in Kids), a non-profit educational foundation that provides support to St. Johns schools.

Longtime Palatka City Commission Mary Lawson Brown, who just stepped down from the commission, will be at tonight’s commission meeting but on the other side of the dais. She’ll be giving an overview of black history in Palatka, in recognition of Black History Month coming up in February. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. and can be viewed online.

Putnam County School District holds its annual spelling bee Friday at 10 a.m. You can watch students linking their consonants and vowels since the bee will be streamed live on the district’s YouTube channel.

Florida Department of Health in Flagler and St. Johns counties each reported one new coronavirus related death Wednesday. Flagler has recorded 69 deaths since counting began last March. On Wednesday they reported 41 new coronavirus cases bringing their total to 5,109. St. Johns County now has 158 coronavirus related deaths. On Wednesday they also reported 89 new cases for a total of 17,784. Putnam County reported 59 new coronavirus cases for a total of 5,360.

Florida continues seeking ways to more efficiently distribute coronavirus vaccine. They might want to take a hint from Mount Pleasant , S.C., where city officials called in a drive-thru expert – the manager of the local Chick-fil-A. He quickly untangled the drive-thru vaccine lines and got the operation moving smoothly.

Times running out to see St. Augustine’s Nights of Lights Festival. Sunday is the last day to see the 27th annual light show featuring more than three million lights. Trolleys and trains are still running. The business community had hoped to convince city officials to continue through Valentine’s Day in order to help draw more people.

In Flagler County the Rotary Club of Flagler Beach will host the annual Race of the Runways for Rotary 5K on Feb. 20. The unique event takes place at the Flagler Executive Airport and allows participants to run or walk along lighted runways under a searchlight from a circling helicopter.

Putnam County Chamber of Commerce is looking for festivals or events to sign up for TDC money. The money goes to events that bring a substantial number of overnight visitors to the county. Applications are available Feb. 1-24. Coronavirus concerns already have caused most county festivals to cancel for this year.

Friday is the last day to sign up for Putnam County Acceleration programs in county. The programs include Cambridge. Contact Dr. Melissa Coleman at 386-329-0543.

It can be hard to get law enforcement’s attention. In St. Johns County residents in Durbin Creek subdivision have been trying to stop parents picking up Creekside High School students from parking their cars in the neighborhood. Drag queen Spar-Kelly came up with a solution. For three days she stood in the street during pick up time, holding up a sign THIS IS NOT STUDENT PICK-UP HONEY. On Wednesday a deputy showed up to patrol.

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