The Voice of the Gem City

March 17, 2021

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

Wearing of the green is practically mandatory today as people celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. March 17 is the one day everyone wants to claim an Irish ancestor. St. Patrick, of course, was a fifth century missionary to Ireland who is credited with bringing Christianity. He also gets credited by some for chasing out the snakes – and, begorrah, Ireland still has none. While coronavirus means the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Celtic games are cancelled in St. Augustine, you can enjoy a traditional St. Patrick’s Day meal. Farmers in Hastings are in the midst of cutting cabbage. Perfect to go along with corned beef.

St. Johns County students and teachers join the spring break pack today. Schools in Putnam and Flagler counties closed for the week Monday. Expect lots of people to head to the beaches, but remember lifeguards won’t be on duty until Memorial Day weekend. Beach fees are being collected.

School districts are looking ahead to graduation. St. Johns County announced Tuesday most high schools will hold graduation ceremonies at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville or the Gator Bowl as most still call it. Exceptions are St. Johns Virtual School and St. Johns Technical High School that will have their ceremonies at First Coast Technical School on May 27 and May 28. St. Augustine High School graduation will be at the Jacksonville stadium June 1, Pedro Menendez High on June 2, Nease High on June 3, Bartram Trail High on June 4. On June 5 Creekside High holds ceremonies at 9 a.m. and Ponte Vedra High graduates make the walk at 7 p.m.

St. Johns County Council on Aging’s Sunshine Center Adult Day Health Care will reopen March 22. The center closed due to coronavirus concerns. Hours of operation for the Phase One reopening will be 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. The facility at 180 Marine Street offers nursing care and specialized activities to adults requiring guidance and personal assistance plus providing respite time for caregivers.

Florida Department of Health in St. Johns County Tuesday reported one new coronavirus related death bringing their death total to 199 since counting began in March a year ago. In addition 27 new cases were reported for a total of 20,600 coronavirus cases. Flagler County reported 13 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday for a total of 6,293. Putnam County on Tuesday reported five new cases on Tuesday with zero cases reported Monday. Total number of coronavirus cases is now at 5,940.

On Thursday the Historic Architecture Review Board in St. Augustine looks at nominating the 200-year-old Huguenot Cemetery for the National Register. The cemetery is on less than an acre at Castillo Drive and Orange Street, but is considered significant because it was the first public cemetery in U.S. controlled St. Augustine. A public health emergency in the 1820s and confusion in the transition from Spanish ownership to American ownership makes it probable the cemetery is actually larger than currently designated, say officials. If the board gives the okay the nomination then goes to the Florida National Register Review Board and if okayed by them to the Keeper of the National Register.

With students on spring break, Palatka’s Cultural and Recreation Department is offering some fun activities at Fred P. Green Park on Main Street through Thursday. The emphasis is on sports and fitness. First Tee Northeast Florida, part of PGA’s golf program, took part the first of the week.

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