The Voice of the Gem City

February 26, 2021

Palatka officials are talking about the possibility of Jenkins Middle School becoming a community center. Mayor Terrell Hill at a city commission meeting Thursday said nothing official was set but if the school district closes the school at the end of this year it could become a center for the northside community. The issue came up as commissioners looked at applying for a coronavirus inspired grant from the federal government. City staff proposed applying for wider sidewalks in areas where stormwater work is going on in both the north and south sides of Palatka. One commissioner pushed for using the money instead for a pool, while a couple of others wanted to see a new community center that could also serve as a shelter in time of hurricanes and for the homeless. Both projects would go on the city’s northside. Commissioner Tammie McCaskill pointed out only about two weeks remain before the grant would have to be submitted and questioned whether such changes could be made in that time. Fred Fox, an independent grants contractor, noted the money is supposed to be for projects that promote social distancing rather than ones that bring more people together. Eventually by a 4-1 vote the commission went with the sidewalks but Hill said a workshop is needed for commissioners to tell staff what they want to see prioritized when it comes to projects.

The body of an 18-year-old Volusia County man was recovered Thursday shortly after noon from the Intracoastal Waterway in Flagler County. Ritchy Volmar and another teen left from the Bings Landing in Flagler on a jet ski Wednesday and during their ride Volmer fell off. His friend tried to find him butthen notified authorities. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Flagler Sheriff’s Office and fire rescue searched for Volmar but his body wasn’t found until Thursday. He had attended Flagler Palm Coast High School.

A special meeting of the Crescent City Commission Wednesday to dissolve the city’s police department was for nought as it turned out. The advertisement for the meeting did not include necessary information including where to find a copy of the proposal. That meant the decision had to be nullified and the second and final reading to close the department will be brought up at the regular March 13 meeting. Former Mayor Brett Peterson raised questions earlier about advertising issues and Diane Sykes, who has been a leader of opposition to closing the department, pointed out the problem at the meeting. The mayor eventually asked her to leave for being disruptive. Putnam County Sheriff’s Office will take over law enforcement with the city possibly paying about half a million dollars yearly for the service.

Azalea City Brewing Company in Palatka early in the week received a top state award from the Northeast Florida Regional Council for their renovation of the former Coca Cola Company into a craft brewery and tap room. On Thursday they found themselves looking at empty holes in the ground in the front and back of their newly renovated property. Seems someone dug out their newly planted azaleas.

St Augustine High School girls basketball team made it to the Class 5A Final Four tournament in Lakeland on Thursday where they were soundly defeated 67-36 by Melbourne Palm Bay. The Yellow Jackets had an exceptional regular season and qualified for the finals. Much of the focus the last couple of days has been on their push to wear Black Lives Matter shirts during warm-up. St. Johns County School District said regular uniforms and warm-up gear were required.

Florida Department of Health in Flagler County reported 45 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, bringing their total to 5,877. St. Johns County reported 45 new coronavirus cases, bringing their total to 19,982. Putnam County reported nine new cases for a total of 5,820.

At Q.I Roberts Jr.-Sr. High School in Putnam County FFA member Isaac Harper has been working on hydroponics this year for his supervised agricultural project. On Thursday he harvested the romaine lettuce he’s been growing and donated it to the school cafeteria. Today students are enjoying it as part of their fresh salads.

Great weekend to get out. In Flagler County on Saturday Flagler Auditorium is showcasing Cherry Drops, a retro pop-rock band, along with several other performers. In Palatka some 200 barrel racers are expected at the Palatka Horseman’s Club Saturday for a day of competition in a benefit for Dede Eubanks. Admission is free and you can take part in live and silent auctions, cake walks and a barbecue dinner. Action begins at 11 a.m.

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