The Voice of the Gem City

Local news May 21, 2021

This is your roving reporter Marcia Lane

Putnam County Emergency Management is urging people to take extra precautions this weekend because of expected hot, dry and windy weather conditions. That’s the perfect combination to cause wildfires and brush fires to spread. In St. Johns County a prescribed burn jumped perimeters earlier this week, destroying some 700 acres.

Florida Department of Health in St. Johns County Thursday reported three new coronavirus-related deaths for a total of 220 deaths since counting began in March a year ago. In addition 32 new cases were reported for a total of 23,034. Flagler County reported seven new coronavirus cases for a total of 7,419. Putnam County reported four new cases for a total of 6,628.

AdventHealth is going forward with a four-story, 100-bed hospital on 11 acres on Palm Coast Parkway, following a needed zoning change approval by the Palm Coast City Council. The hospital is phase one of the project to be followed by a two-story medical office building. Hospital officials say 400 to 450 positions will be needed for the hospital and about another 300 to 350 for the office building.

Crescent City High School’s Lisbeth Espinoza is the 2020-2021 top scholar in Putnam County, receiving the Robert Webb Award of Excellence Thursday night. The annual ceremony this year was held in person as 119 seniors from Putnam County’s high schools were honored. The late Bob Webb and partner Dick Westbury, who owned a public relations firm in Palatka, began the annual banquet years ago as a way to salute the county’s scholars.

On Sunday flags at government offices in St. Augustine will fly at half staff as the city honors former Mayor George Gardner who died recently. A staunch supporter of St. Augustine and its neighborhoods, Gardner published the weekly St. Augustine Report after leaving office as a way to keep people informed of city government. Sunday would have been Gardner’s 84th birthday.

A 14-year-old Hastings girl reported as a runaway is back home. The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office says an anonymous tip led officers to a house on Olive Street late Wednesday night and Zakhia Uzzle, who ran away May 13. Putnam contacted Department of Children and Families who advised she be placed in her mother’s custody.

Some students at Bartram Trail High School in St. Johns County will be getting back money spent on yearbooks. On Wednesday students got the $100 yearbooks and dozens of girls found their photos had been altered – to cover up cleavage that was more exposed than the dress code allows. Some parents and students were indignant although a disclaimer on the school website warned photos might be altered if not consistent with the student code. Bartram students in March objected to the dress code after some girls were forced to go home and change clothes.

In Putnam County live performances return to the Larimer Arts Center tonight with Chuck Hardwicke, Sam Wimberly and guest Robert Murff performing country, folk and western swing. It’s the first time Live at the Larimer has been held in more than a year by the Arts Council of Greater Palatka Inc. Masks are preferred but not mandatory at the Scarlet-Hill Theater, 216 Reid St. Doors open at 7 p.m. and $5 tickets are available at the door. On Saturday and Sunday tours of the Bronson-Mulholland House at 100 Madison St. are available from 1 to 4 p.m.

Children in Flagler County will be in truck heaven Saturday at Palm Coast Public Works holds a Touch-a-Truck Community Event from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. A variety of trucks including fire engines, police cars and public work trucks will be at Central Park in Palm Coast.

Expect some traffic issues in St. Augustine early Saturday morning as the 41st annual Matanzas 5K and Fun Run heads out from Francis Field and through downtown for the runs put on by Ancient City Road Runners. On Sunday bicyclists will be on the roads throughout the county as the 31st annual Tour de Forts Classic begins at 7:30 a.m. from St. Johns County Fairgrounds in Elkton. Rides set up by North Florida Bicycle Club range from 13 miles to 100 miles. If athletics aren’t your thing there’s plenty more to do including tonight a Spring Extravaganza with the St. Augustine Orchestra at the Lightner Museum and the Old Crow Medicine Show at St. Augustine Amphitheatre. Saturday it’s Family Storyfest at Airstream Row in Vilano Beach, the St. Augustine Ballet providing two performances of Wizard of Oz at Lewis auditorium, Art in the Park at St. Augustine Beach’s Lakeside Park and Limelight Theatre’s Always … Patsy Cline, which also plays Sunday.

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