The Voice of the Gem City

LOCAL NEWS 8/5/2021

If it’s not raining in your area now, it will be at some point today, according to the National Weather Service. Our WPLK/WIYD rain gauge recorded only one-eighth of an inch Wednesday and our East Palatka correspondent reported one-fourth inch. However in St. Augustine on Anastasia Island one listener recorded four inches of rain Wednesday, and retaining ponds and pools were overflowing.
Construction on what will become the largest shelter-to-service-dog facility in the nation began Wednesday in Ponte Vedra. K9s for Warriors, which began there, says the Campus for K9 Operations will provide shelter, veterinary care and training for more than 150 service dogs in training. The organization says demand for the service dogs continues to grow. The dogs are considered a key in helping returning veterans with issues. Under new rules veterans of any era experiencing symptoms of PTSD, traumatic brain injury and/or military sexual trauma can apply for the one of the dogs, many of whom come from high-risk kill shelters.
LifeSouth’s fifth annual Back to School Backpack Giveaway is Friday morning in Palatka. The first 500 kids accompanied by an adult will receive a backpack full of school supplies at the LifeSouth Community Blood Center at 6003 Crill Ave. in Palatka The giveaway is from 9 a.m. to noon. Blood donors will received a $20 eGift Card and be entered to win an Apple iPad.
School districts continue to contend with concerns about coronavirus and masks. Gov. Ron DeSantis has issued a mandate against masking in schools but some people in St. Johns County are pressing for a mask mandate when schools open Aug. 16. About 1,800 people have signed the online petition. To show how quickly things can change, at the end of last school year, parents were coming before the school board to insist no more masks. St. Johns is expecting more than 36,000 students and 2,500 teachers in their 47 schools when they reopen August 17. 
In Putnam County more than 40 new teachers out of 65 have been going through a two-day teacher academy to help orient them for the upcoming school year.
St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office is asking the public’s help to find two men who reportedly stole $690 worth of perfume from the Walgreens on U.S. 1 in St. Augustine. Video shows two black males, one wearing a black shirt and grey shorts, the other wearing a grey sweatshirt and grey pants. The men left in an unknown vehicle. You can see the photos on the Sheriff’s website. Contact Deputy R. Hines at if you have information.
A counselor with a firm contracting with the Flagler County School District to provide counseling and mental health services was arrested Tuesday on a charge of molesting and raping a 16-year-old patient at his office in Palm Coast. Robert Batie, 60,  reportedly is a licensed clinical social worker and certified addiction professional who had been holding weekly sessions with the girl for four or five months as part of his job with Palm Coast Counseling.
Only a handful of people showed up for a workshop Wednesday to explore expanding the East Flagler Mosquito Control District to Plantation Bay and an area west of U.S. 1 in Flagler County. The proposal includes 5,000 acres in Plantation Bay and 5,000 acres west of U.S. 1 including Sawmill Creek. The board is seeking input for a decision that would increase the land surface they cover by about 13 percent. 
Coming up Friday in Palatka will be a Commissioner Movie Night hosted by Palatka city commissioners. A free showing of “A Goofy Movie” starring Disney’s Goofy starts at 7 p.m. in the grassy area next to the amphitheater on the St. Johns River.
In St. Augustine First Friday Art Walk is coming up. Among special events the annual Butterfield Garage Art Gallery begins its yearly garage sale and St. Augustine Art Association features THEN & NOW: 50 years of Veteran Experience. Participating artist Father Ron Moses Camarda will talk about his experience is the battle of Fallujah that inspired his book Tear In the Desert. Father Ron is pastor of St. Monica’s Catholic Church in Palatka.

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