The Voice of the Gem City

News 4/22/2021

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

St. James United Methodist Church in Palatka holds its sixth annual Fire Sale Fundraiser Friday and Saturday at 400 Reid Street. It’s humongous this year with goods for sale spilling out of the fellowship hall and into the parking lots and the courtyard. The church holds the annual sale to pay for the fire fee charged by the City of Palatka with extra money going to support the youth ministry. On Friday hours are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. with an auction sale of leftover items beginning at 1. Bake sales will be held both days and a fish box lunch is for sale Friday and a pulled pork lunch Saturday. Get tickets by calling the church office at 386-328-1461

Belle Terre Swim and Racquet Club, which is owned by the Flagler County School Board, continues to face a deficit as the district looks for ways to keep the facility open. The board has asked Superintendent Cathy Mittlestadt to talk with other government agencies about support but so far that’s not produced needed help. Other options include hikes to membership fees and an offer from a for-profit organization that wants either to take over the facility or run it in partnership with the district. Gustavo Calado, owner of PlanetSwim, a Ponte Vedra-based business, is in early talks with the district.

Palatka City Commission holds their regular scheduled meeting tonight at 6 p.m. including hearing a presentation from the Putnam County School Board on changes in school configuration and voting on an $84,000 bid for turf maintenance to AACI Services Inc.

Florida Department of Health in Flagler County on Wednesday reported 15 new coronavirus cases, bringing their total since counting began March a year ago to 7,080. Putnam County reported 24 new cases for a total of 6,319. St. Johns County reported 61 new cases for a total of 22,076.

Several Putnam County School District employees were in the spotlight Tuesday at the Florida Department of Education Bureau of School Improvement gathering. Sarajean McDaniel, former Moseley Elementary School principal and Florida Principal of the Year, gave the keynote presentation about the turn around at Moseley. She’s now the district’s executive director of Leadership Development. Also presentating were Jonathan Hinke, the district’s director of School Improvement, and Jennifer Azula, who is director of Teaching and learning.

Florida Legislature continues in session until April 30 with a final rush of bills in the hopper. The Florida House on Wednesday agreed to ask voters to impose eight-year term limits on individual county school board members. A similar bill in the Senate so far hasn’t made it out of committee. Earlier a bill was being pushed to no longer pay school board members.

St. Johns County residents spotting smoke Wednesday discovered two controlled burns underway, both being worked by St. Johns County Fire Rescue. One involved 800 acres in Moses Creek by St. Johns River Water Management District. The other involved 35 acres in Faver Dykes State Park by Florida Department of Forestry. The burns get rid of underbrush that can provide fuel for forest fires.

Putnam County District School Board holds a special meeting Monday at 4 p.m. to look at a proposed sixth grade class addition to Children’s Reading Center charter school. The school missed the deadline by a week for adding the extra grade but said plans had been underway to be in coordination with the school district plan to add sixth grades back to elementary schools. The district acted much sooner than expected, said Geri Melosh, the school’s founder and former superintendent of the Putnam school district.

Barbecue and a country rock concert with The Rio Grande Band are happening tonight at the GFWC Woman’s Club of Palatka. Putnam County commissioners led by Larry Harvey will be cooking the barbecue including ribs and turkey at the clubhouse on South 13th Street. Call Linda Priest at 904-806-2866 for reservations.

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