The Voice of the Gem City

March 15, 2021

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

This may be the ides of March but for students, teachers and school personnel in Putnam and Flagler counties, this is a week to celebrate. Schools in both districts begin a week-long spring break today. St. Johns County students and teachers only will be on holiday Wednesday through Friday. By the way you’ll remember the ides of March on the 15th is also the day Roman emperor Julius Caesar learned who his friends weren’t in 44 B.C. when they stabbed him to death. Imagine a few other politicians know just how he felt.

Ponte Vedra Beach is returning to normal today after The Players Championship ended Sunday with Justin Thomas winning by one stroke on the Stadium Course at Sawgrass. Thomas had a spectacular Saturday and Sunday finishing 14-under 274 to win. The 27-year-old beat Westwood by one stroke. This is Thomas’ 14th tournament win on the PGA tour.

An 18-year-old Palatka man was in serious condition after a single-car accident Sunday morning, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. The driver was northbound on State Road 19, south of Caravelle Farms Road, when he crossed into the southbound lane,, then ran off the road and when he attempted to get back on the road lost control of the vehicle, which overturned several times. The crash happened at 4:36 a.m. FHP said the driver was wearing his seatbelt.

In person jury trials are scheduled to begin again today in courts in the Seventh Judicial Circuit, according to Chief Judge Raul Zambrano. The circuit includes Flagler, St. Johns, Putnam and Volusia counties. Most jury trials were suspended in mid-March of last year and again in late December due to coronavirus. Most court function have been handled with judges in the courtrooms while defendants and lawyers either appeared in person or from remote locations. While juries will be seated again, observers won’t be allowed in the courtroom but can watch trials on YouTube.

Palatka Young Professionals have moved the traditional Blue Crab Festival to Labor Day weekend, Sept. 3-5. However, they have decided to hold a one-day event on May 29 during Memorial Day weekend, the traditional time for Blue Crab. All that depends on permit approvals from the city of Palatka. Members say the May run will give them a chance to see how crowds respond to the event.

Florida Department of Health in Putnam County reported two new coronavirus-related deaths Saturday – a 62-year-old woman and a 78-year-old man. The death total in Putnam since counting began last March is 133. Between Friday and Sunday 17 new coronavirus cases were reported in Putnam for a total of 5,936 cases. St. Johns County reported 101 cases over the three-day period for a total of 20,557. Flagler County reported 58 new coronavirus cases for a total of 6,260.

Putnam County Fair Authority is gearing up for the opening of 2021 Fair in East Palatka this Friday. On Tuesday entries in horticulture must be delivered between 2 and 6 p.m. On Thursday take entries for bakery, candy and canning divisions between 8 and 10 a.m. Because of the fair the Florida Health Department in Putnam County is moving from the fairgrounds to their Husson Avenue site in Palatka. The change is in effect today through April 2.

Flagging operations will be in place on Hoot Owl Road on U.S. 17 South in Putnam County through today. It’s part of the drainage project in connection with the Dunn’s Creek roadway widening project. Starting today on State Road 20 Baden Powell Road will be temporarily closed to traffic through early May. It’s part of the widening improvement project from the Putnam County line to SW 56th Avenue in Alachua County.

Putnam County Medical Center saluted Willie Wright for his recent retirement after more than 50 years with the facility. You may not know the name but for many, many years he was the person who rolled patients into the surgical room. And, noted PCMC board member Wayne McClain, “always with a smile.”

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