The Voice of the Gem City

July 28, 2021 News

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

Rain is again in the forecast with predictions at 80 percent for the area this afternoon and 70 percent tonight. Tuesday afternoon’s storm dropped two inches, according to the WPLK/WIYD rain gauge. The Palatka area also saw trees down around town. St. Augustine reported heavy showers as thunderstorms moved through. National Weather Service sees a drop in rain Thursday although by Friday chances are back up to 40 percent.

Palm Coast has a new mayor – David Alfin, a New Jersey resident who is a longtime transplant. Alfin, who is 68 and a Realtor, becomes the fourth mayor of the city, which grew out of ITT/Levitt’s massive planned unit development. Alfin, a past president of the Flagler County Education Foundation, is seen as a more moderate voice and he captured more than 36 percent of the vote in the six candidate race. He’ll be sworn in Aug. 3, taking over from acting Mayor Eddie Branquinho. The special election became necessary after Mayor Millisa Holland resigned, citing family health issues.

Palatka Mayor Terrill Hill is acting as attorney for a Palatka family he says feels threatened by the upcoming release of a former Florida Department of Corrections officer convicted of plotting to kill a Palatka man who was an inmate at Lake Butler. An in-depth story by the Associated Press details how Warren Williams was targeted by guards who belonged to the KKK and how the FBI set up a phony murder of Williams to convict the men. Concerns have been raised about the possible continuing presence of guards in the prison system who belong to hate groups. Williams has filed a suit against the Klansmen and the Florida Department of Corrections.

 Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly is calling on the Department of Children and Families to help a 17-year-old girl who has twice attempted suicide. The girl on June 20 and again on Monday climbed up on the Palm Coast Parkway overpass above I-95 and threatened to jump. A couple of men Monday tried to talk her down before officers arrived, but she prefers to deal with women. Female deputies talked to the crying girl, handcuffing her to the fence to keep her from falling as they waited for a ladder bucket from the Palm Coast Fire Department. The girl was taken to AdventHealth Palm Coast. In a release Staly implored DCF to “intervene quickly and get this juvenile the help she needs before it is too late. She is crying out for help…”

School districts in St. Johns, Putnam and Flagler counties are considering how to deal with an upsurge in coronavirus case numbers. Flagler County will be offering rapid COVID tests through the Florida Department of Health in Flagler. A change in policy the tests mean students who have been exposed do not have to be quarantined for 10 days while results are awaited. However, participating students have to agree to being tested every other day. So far the district is staying with its policy of making masks optional. Putnam County and St. Johns County are also making masks optional. Flagler teachers will be returning Aug. 3 while students go back Aug. 10. Putnam and St. Johns start the week after.

St. Johns County is facing personnel shortage just like everyone else. Now they’ve come up with a novel approach to help take care of yard waste. Residents can become their own trash haulers, dropping waste off for free at the Republic Services facility at 445A International Golf Parkway. Republic has the hauling contract but lack of workers has changed their normal schedule. Drop-off service is for St. Johns County residents only. No commercial trucks or vehicles are allowed. No help is available to unload yard waste. Drop-off times are Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Household garbage and recycling are not affected by the workman shortage.

Bunnell City Commission has appointed two residents to complete the terms of two commissioners who resigned earlier this month. Robert Barnes and Tina-Marie Schultz will serve for the next eight months after the decision by the remaining three commissioners Monday. Seven people submitted applications although one county employee had to withdraw his because the county has a new policy regarding potential conflict of interest. The seats became open after one commissioner stepped down following his wife’s death and the decision to move to New Hampshire to be nearer his family and the other commissioner has suffered two strokes in the past few months and cited health issues. The two posts will be up for election in March.

Putnam County has lost two well-known residents. John L. Key, 65, died July 20 from COVID-virus complications. The attorney owned Key Law Officers, P.A. in Palatka and with his wife Kathy was involved in restarting Two Keys Pub and Restaurant in downtown Palatka. In South Putnam Caroline Skidmore, who died July 20, attended Crescent City High School and later studied music and operate at the University of Florida. She served on the Pomona Park Town Council for a number of years and was active in Lake Como Lodge 200 Order of the Eastern Star holding local and state offices. She founded the Crescent City Parent Teacher Organization and was instrumental in getting a Community Health Services clinic in Crescent City.

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