The Voice of the Gem City

LOCAL NEWS 8/3/2021

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.
Chance of precipitation in the three-county area is at 100 percent today with thunderstorms expected this afternoon and rain continuing into the evening. The WPLK/WIYD gauge in Palatka showed half-an-nch of rain overnight. Our East Palatka weatherman reported an inch of rain but also a rainbow this morning.
A surge in coronavirus cases, particularly the Delta variant, is adding to the workload for schools districts as they prep for August openings. Some St. Johns County parents already have a petition circulating demanding masks in schools although Gov. Ron DeSantis has mandated no masks and the district says masks are optional. Flagler County also says masks are optional. Flagler teachers and staff are already back at work with students returning on Aug. 10. Putnam County School Board meets today at 3:30 p.m. Putnam County Superintendent Rick Surrency says masks are optional although they’re highly recommending if you can’t social distance, wear a mask. High on his list of needs for this school year is more bus drivers. They’re need 32 drivers, about one-third of the bus force. In Putnam teachers are returning Aug. 10 with students due back Aug. 17. St. Johns County has an optional pre-planning day for teachers Aug. 6 with preplanning Aug. 9-13. Students will be in class Aug. 16.
The coronavirus upswing is putting the pressure on area hospitals. Putnam Community Medical Center reportedly has about half its beds being used for virus patients. In Flagler County AdventHealth Palm Coast has some 80 hospitalized for the virus, according to the Florida Department of Health. The hospital is licensed for 130 beds. Among people hospitalized in Flagler is Victor Barbosa, Palm Coast Council member. He’s the second member of the council to come down with the virus.
A two-vehicle crash in Palm Coast Monday led to the death of one driver, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. The crash happened shortly before 12:15 p.m. at Royal Palms Parkway and Point Pleasant Drive in Palm Coast. A blue Acura driven by an adult man and a gray Honda Civic driven by a teenage girl were involved in the that caused the Acura to flip, coming to rest on its roof. The male driver was killed. FHP is investigating.
A Palatka man is in Putnam County jail without bond charged with aggravated assault, false imprisonment and resisting an officer with violence after an armed standoff early Saturday morning. Palatka Police officers and Putnam County Sheriff’s Office deputies were called to a house off Husson Avenue around 1:30 a.m. after reports Lancy Keenon, 43, was holding a woman hostage. Eventually an officer was able to use a stun gun and Keenon was taken into custody.
Putnam County School Superintendent Rick Surrency and Putnam Sheriff Gator DeLoach are back from New Orleans and the National School Safety Conference where they presented a program on the county’s guardian program. The guardian program was initiated by the two organizations in 2018 to provide protection for students by training school personnel in defense techniques. The annual conference brings in school resource officers from around the country.

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