This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.
Hard to believe but school is just around the corner. In Flagler County teachers will be going back Aug. 3 for a professional day followed by a week of pre-planning. Flagler students return Aug. 10. In Putnam County Aug. 10 sees staff returning for an in-service day followed by a week of preplanning for teachers while St. Johns teachers have an optional pre-planning day Aug. 6 followed by a week of pre-planning and in- service. St. Johns County students return Aug. 16 and Putnam County students Aug. 17.
School openings are coming just as a national pediatric group is suggesting masks for anyone over the age of two, even if they’ve been vaccinated. American Academy of Pediatrics released the suggestions Monday. They’re also recommending potentially requiring COVID-19 vaccines and vaccine proof. All that’s in opposition to recommendations from the Centers for Disease control and Prevention, which recently said vaccinated students and staff won’t need to wear masks in school. They aren’t advising schools to require shots for teachers and vaccine-eligible students.
Bestbet is returning to St. Johns County with a gambling facility at State Road 207 and Interstate 95. St. Johns County issued a permit July 15 for the 40,000 square foot cardroom, and company officials say they plan to create a first-class state-of-the art facility. They once owned the Greyhound Track & Poker Room on Race Track Road in northern St. Johns County, which was empty from 2012 until recently purchased for a housing project. Bestbet’s new project will go into property next to the old St. Augustine Flea Market site. Baptist Health has a contract on that property and last year announced they would build a hospital and emergency room on the property.
Flagler College in St. Augustine is working under an interim president – former University of North Florida president John Delaney — as a nationwide search is underway for a new president. Delaney, an attorney, is a former mayor of Jacksonville and has been on the job since July. Joe Joyner, superintendent of schools for St. Johns County for 14 years, was chosen to head Flagler College in 2017 and retired in June of this year.
A 32-year-old Crescent City man who has eluded Putnam County Sheriff’s Office deputies for two weeks ended his run Saturday although he didn’t give up easily. Jamie Armstrong was released from jail a month ago and cut off his ankle monitor beginning an 11-day search. He eluded deputies a couple of times but an anonymous tip led deputies to a shed on County Road 309 Saturday where deputies caught up with Armstrong as he tried to head over a fence. First they used a stun gun to stop him and put him in handcuffs. Taken to a patrol car he resisted and headed off again only to be caught and bitten by K-9 Jaeger. Taken to a patrol car again, he resisted again but wasn’t successful. Armstrong was charged with two counts of escape, possession of drug equipment and resisting an officer without violence. In addition, he’s a suspect in the theft of $300 from a Dollar General. He’s in jail without bond.
Beginning Thursday a new traffic pattern will be in effect for northbound lanes of U.S. 17 at Dunn’s Creek Bridge. The pattern runs from south of Hoot Owl Road to just north of Horse Landing Road. Northbound traffic will be shifted to one lane across the existing Dunn’s Creek Bridge. Southbound traffic will remain one lane across the new Dunn’s Creek Bridge. Flagging operations and lane closures will be from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. GLF Construction is estimated to complete the $36.5 million roadway widening project by fall 2021, according to Florida Department of Transportation.