The Voice of the Gem City

News April 6, 2021

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

Students in Florida are taking the 2021 statewide Florida Standard Assessment tests this week. St. Johns County got underway Monday with the writing portion of the test and continues through the week. On Friday St. Johns students will be out but not teachers as they hold a planning day. Testing in Flagler and Putnam counties begins Wednesday and continues Thursday. Other FSA tests are scheduled later this month and in May.

Putnam County School Board holds both a workshop and a board meeting today at district offices at 200 Reid St. in Palatka. The workshop at 5 p.m. deals with the strategic plan that has the district galloping forward with plans to tear down, rebuild and repurpose the county’s schools. This session looks at 7-12th grade configuration, a plan that moves together middle and high school students. Among issues that may be addressed repurposing of administrators from the schools being closed into the new combined schools as well as safety issues, social/emotional health of students and extracurricular activities including sports. After that the school board holds a rare night meeting beginning at 6 p.m. Seating for both meetings is limited although the board can be watched on YouTube.

New names for both Mellon Elementary and Interlachen high schools will come up at tonight’s Putnam County School Board meeting. A facilities naming committee is recommending renaming Mellon Elementary to Mellon Learning Center. The elementary school is being closed and pre-K moved there as well as the students from E.H. Miller School, where the district’s special needs students are currently housed. That’s named for Eleanor Miller, the board chair who headed the push to give special needs students their own place. Also being renamed are Interlachen High School and C.H. Price Middle School. They’ll be combined into Interlachen Jr./Sr. High School. That’s apt to disappoint people who had hoped to see the school named for the late Robert L. Jenkins, the Medal of Honor recipient who died in the Vietnam War. It also means the slighting of the C.H. Price, who basically brought the school district into the 20th century and under whose administration Central Academy became the first accredited black high school in the state of Florida.

Flagler County Fair and Youth Show 2021 has been canceled but the livestock show and sale will happen. The fair was to open Wednesday and run through Friday. The 4-H and FFA Youth Exhibitor Livestock Show and Sale includes a goat, heifer and steer show Wednesday and swine show Thursday. On Friday at 7 p.m. the livestock sale takes place after opening ceremonies at 6 p.m. No gate admission will be charged and the Bunnell FFA will be sole food vendor.

Florida Department of Health in Flagler County reported one new coronavirus-related death Monday bringing their total to 100 deaths since counting began in March a year ago. Thirteen new cases were reported bringing the case total to 6,776 in Flagler. Putnam County reported one new case for a total of 6,071. St. Johns County reported 26 new cases for a total of 21,362.

Palatka City Commission holds a special city commission meeting Wednesday at 6 p.m. at City Hall. A workshop is scheduled at 4 p.m. Both meetings are open to the pubic.

On Monday state officials opened the coronavirus vaccinations to Floridians 16 and older. That’s expected to up the vaccination numbers and, say health officials, help with herd immunity. Herd immunity, which occurs when enough people are protected either because they’ve been vaccinated or had the disease,  makes it harder for a disease to spread person to person. Some estimate 70-80 percent of the population would need to be vaccinated or have had the disease in order for herd immunity to take place. In Florida about 18 percent of the overall population is fully vaccinated which puts the state in line with the rest of the nation where 19 percent are listed as fully vaccinated.

Rotary Club of Palatka’s 25th annual blood screening is in its final weeks. In addition to a complete blood screening profile, a number of other tests are available at a fraction of normal costs. The screenings are at Westminster Hall in Palatka April 10 and April 24 and Crescent City Library April 17. Tests are available from 7 to 9:30 a.m. Schedule your appointment at

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