The Voice of the Gem City

July 22, 2021

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

Palatka’s riverfront may have a different look after being chosen a winner in Lowe’s 100 Hometowns program. Palatka was one of 100 communities to get a grant from the hardware company which is celebrating its 100th anniversary. About 2,200 applicants competed for the $10 million offered and Palatka will be getting $125,000. When Lowe’s manager Brian Rau told local civic clubs about the opportunity, Putnam County Chamber of Commerce Board Chair Wayne McClain paid attention and the city agreed to go for the grant. The city once had a much larger amphitheater stage and seating, but city officials hacked that back about 15 years ago, in part because of reported safety concerns regarding pilings. An amphitheater upgrade has been talked about in the past and at one point the Blue Crab Committee was putting money into the project.

A man familiar with Putnam County and downtown redevelopment is the new city manager for Crescent City. Charles Rudd will be taking over the post currently filled by interim manager Phil Leary. Rudd, who is economic director for New Port Richey, is the former Main Street manager for Palatka. The commission let him go in 2015 saying they were going in a different direction. Crescent City Commission chose Rudd out of five candidates at a meeting Tuesday. A contract still must be negotiated.

Palatka City Commission meets tonight but the public is being urged not to come, at least in person. An apparent resurgence of coronavirus has city officials exercising extreme caution. A notice from the city said “because of confirmed COVID-19 risk, you are strongly discourage from attending the meeting in person”. For those who decide to come to the 6 p.m. meeting the city is recommending wearing a mask and practicing social distancing. The meeting will be streamed live on the city’s YouTube page.

A 17-year-old lifeguard in Flagler County is hospitalized after a serious spine injury Monday. The first-year lifeguard was at Flagler Beach taking part in training exercises for the Southeast Regional Lifeguard Competition when the accident happened. Lifeguards were practicing what’s known as “dolphin dives” in the surf when the young man hit a sandbar and injured his spine. Other lifeguards immediately came to his aid, according to Flagler Beach officials. He was flown to Halifax Hospital in Daytona Beach and then taken to an Orlando hospital. He was reported in stable condition. Officials said the dive is a routine exercise. 

More than 12,000 people responded to a dress code survey for St. Johns County schools and the majority went with a more conservative approach. Some even commented on the practicality of uniforms. That’s probably not what Bartram Trail High School students were hoping for when they began a push for change. That push came in part because about 80 photos of coeds in their yearbook were edited because tops were lower than allowed in the school dress code. A complaint was filed by one student in federal court regarding inequities between the dress code for male and female students. A committee has been formed and the eight question survey sought input from parents. More extreme dress such as allowing pajamas and lingerie as exterior clothing and having gang symbols on clothing and books drew heavy disapproval.

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