The Voice of the Gem City

News March 26, 2021

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

Palatka City Commission didn’t approve the Palatka Housing Authority’s one-year plan at Thursday’s meeting, citing a number of concerns including no response to a list of questions sent by City Manager Don Holmes in January. PHA Director Dr. Anthony Woods said he hadn’t gotten the list so none of the questions were addressed in the plan. That didn’t cut it with Mayor Terrill Hill. “We wouldn’t be doing this same dance if the music didn’t keep changing,” Hill said, referring to the unanswered concerns and documents that continue to be changed. A special meeting is expected next week if the answers are forthcoming.

Hopes for a national championship for Flagler College men’s basketball team came to an end Thursday night when the third-seeded Saints lost to Northwest Missouri State, 77-46. It was the college’s best showing since moving to NCAA Division II in 2009.

Bunnell’s utility billing department and Community Development offices are relocating after water leaks forced them out of their complex at the corner of State Road 100 and South Main Street. New location is a storefront in the strip mall behind Chicken Pantry off State Road 100. How long they’ll have to be there is uncertain. Ironically, water leaks forced the departments and city government out of the old Coquina City Hall in 2009.

Putnam County Commission cancelled a special meeting this morning regarding providing more incentives in order to keep the county manager who is one of three finalists for the job of Daytona Beach city manager. Terry Suggs asked commissioners to cancel the meeting since the only item was about his retention. He’s set to interview Saturday in Daytona Beach. Suggs was Palatka city manager before being selected by the county.

Palatka City Commission will continue making decisions on what public events to hold on a case-to-case basis. At Thursday’s meeting city officials sought input from the commission on what upcoming events should happen. Given a thumbs up was the Wolfson Children’s Hospital annual fishing tournament and the Bartram Frolic. Less likely may be a Memorial Day parade by the American Legion and the Palatka Wine Mixer by Palatka Young Professionals. Concerns about crowds during coronavirus restrictions were cited. As usual, event organizers must get permits from the city.

Florida Department of Health in Flagler County reported two new coronavirus-related deaths Thursday, bringing their total to 95 deaths since counting began in March of last year. In addition, 24 new coronavirus cases were reported in Flagler, bringing the total to 6,526. Putnam County reported 12 new cases, bringing the total to 5,995. St. Johns County reported 46 new cases, bringing their total to 20, 918.

Putnam Habitat for Humanity is looking for volunteers this Saturday to finish putting siding on their latest Veterans Villa. The home, for veteran Freddie Lewis and his wife Pauline, is on Westover Drive and the second built for a veteran. Coronavirus limits the number of volunteers on site to 10 so reserve a spot by contacting director@putnamhabita.org.

U.S. Congresswoman Kat Cammack was in Putnam County Thursday. Among the places she visited L&M Farms and packing house. She and owners talked about the importance of American-grown produce.

A pair of South Carolina teens, 14 and 15, found themselves turned over to juvenile authorities after driving the wrong way on State Road 100 last Friday. When a Flagler County deputy stopped the vehicle, it complied and then backed into the deputy’s patrol car. Once the vehicle really stopped the deputy found one juvenile girl in the back seat and the other in the passenger seat but no one in the driver’s seat. The juveniles said they had come from Charleston to visit the father of one and since the vehicle was a Tesla it was driving itself on autopilot. That turned out not be correct. Investigation revealed one of the juveniles had been driving before putting the vehicle in autopilot, causing the crash. The mother of the driver thought her daughter was visiting her grandmother and didn’t know she had left the state.

The 71st annual Putnam County Fair continues today and Saturday. Tonight is the steer and swine sale with bidders buying the animals local FFA and 4-H members have been raising. Rides, entertainment and exhibits are part of the annual event, which last year was shut down by coronavirus. On Saturday, horse games in the morning are part of the planned events.

Palatka Rotary Club continues its 25th annual blood screening event at Westminster Hall across from First Presbyterian Church of Palatka Saturday from 7 to 9:30 a.m. A variety of other tests are available.

St. Johns County holds the Old Town Art Show featuring outstanding artists and craftsmen from Northeast Florida Saturday and Sunday at Francis Field in St. Augustine. The St. Augustine Music Festival continues Sunday with Jacoby Brass Quartet performing classical music at the Pena-Peck House gardens on St. George Street at 3:30 pm. Reservations are required for the free concert due to coronavirus. EPIC Behavioral holds its annul Flower & Garden Expo Saturday and Sunday with a location change to the Sykes Family Farm off State Road 207 in Elkton. Garden related crafts, gardening experts and a children’s activity area will be on hand. Save your ticket and you get free admission to the Taste of St. Augustine event April 25.

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