The Voice of the Gem City

March 10, 2021

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

The federal government may be mandating new homes be elevated but St. Augustine is fighting back after some unintended consequences. Federal Emergency Management Agency now requires raising the ground level for new construction. Unfortunately that means existing homeowners are finding their property then gets flooded. St. Augustine City Commission is directing staff to come up with regulations that curb infill construction that raises ground level. That comes after an eight-person committee looking into the issue recommended lot grading plans, incentives for property owners to use building techniques that don’t require land filling and a limit on lot paving.

School districts in Putnam, St. Johns and Flagler counties are gearing up for spring break. That begins next week and runs through Friday, March 19. In Putnam that Friday also will mark the beginning of the Putnam County Fair, which runs for a week and involves a number of students who will be showing animals in the steer, swine, rabbit and poultry shows.

Crescent City and the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office are hammering out details of a contract where the Sheriff’s Office takes over law enforcement in the South Putnam town for an annual fee. Commissioners had voted to turn over enforcement but the vote had to be rescinded because the final meeting was not properly advertised. Now the two entities are going over a contract, something Commissioner Lisa DeVitto had urged before. She was the only commissioner to vote against closing the department. A number of citizens have fought losing their local police department but to no avail. A workshop was held Tuesday in an effort by the commission and the sheriff’s office to have a new contract ready in time for the city’s Thursday meeting.

Palm Coast government is looking at a multi-million expansion of the Palm Coast Tennis Center. The proposal would turn the center off Belle Terre Parkway into a Regional Racquet Center with 42 tennis and pickleball courts, a clubhouse and space for other amenities. It’s aimed at an older crowd as compared to Indian Trails Sports Complex which features more youth oriented sports including soccer, softball, baseball and lacrosse. First phase of the project is expected to cost $5.7 million. Park impact fees, Community Redevelopment Agency funds and Tourism Development funds are being looked at to pay the cost.

Florida Department of Health in Putnam County reported a new coronavirus-related death Tuesday, that of an 81-year-old man. That brings the death toll to 131 since counting began last March. Also reported eight coronavirus cases and one transfer in for a total of 5,910 coronavirus cases. Flagler County reported 15 new coronavirus cases, bringing their total to 6,161. St. Johns County reported 35 cases for a total of 20,383.

Putnam County’s coronavirus community testing site at 1101 Husson Avenue in Palatka is closed today but will reopen Thursday. Between March 15 and April 2 the test site will only be open on Mondays. Staff will be assisting with vaccinations on other days. Gov. Ron DeSantis recently expanded the age group eligible for coronavirus vaccines.

Facebook was buzzing Tuesday as an episode of a show known as Ghost Loop featured a Palatka location. The description on the show site reported: “The Spirit Hunters arrive in Palatka, Florida, where a mother lives in fear of an entity that crawls on the ceiling of her home and into her children’s bedrooms. The team is rocked when the spirit attaches itself to Chris in an attempt to cross over.” Some critics have called Ghost Loop The Travel Channel’s “fakest show”. You can make up your own mind since the Palatka show entitled Cradle to the Grave runs again on March 30th and 31st.

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