The Voice of the Gem City

LOCAL NEWS 8/9/2021

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.
Putnam and St. Johns counties teachers are heading back into classrooms this week in preparation for schools opening next week. In Flagler County kids are back in school today and teachers are entering their second week. Kind of makes you appreciate the t-shirt that reads: Shhh. If you’re very still and quiet, Monday might not be able to find you.
Flagler County schools will be the first in our three-country area to deal with new coronavirus concerns as they open for classes today. While Gov. Ron DeSantis has said no to mandating masks, the head of Florida Department of Health in Flagler has urged masking indoors in schools, apparently following new recommendations from CDC. A plan by Flagler Health and the Flagler School District to provide rapid-COVID testing to faculty, school employees and staff that would have provided immediate results and kept them in class apparently hit a snag Friday. That’s when the Florida Department of Health issued an emergency ruling requiring that those in close contact with COVID infections must quarantine for at least four days. 
On Saturday the annual Back to School Jam at Flagler Palm Coast High School brought out crowds of students getting school information and giveaways. 
Area governments are working on budgets in preparation for the upcoming fiscal year. Palatka City Commission holds a budget workshop at 3 p.m. today at City Hall followed by a Community Redevelopment Agency budget workshop at 5 p.m. At the city workshop discussion continues on a salary survey aimed at upping pay. Also scheduled is a review of proposed budgets for departments covered by the General Fund. St. Augustine City Commission also will hold a budget review today at 3 p.m. followed by their regular meeting at 5 p.m.
The Florida Highway Patrol investigation into a hit-and-run crash Saturday night in Flagler County continues. A 37-year-old pedestrian was seriously injured about 10:45 p.m. at Old Kings Road and Blairsville Drive. According to FHP reports, the driver of a black vehicle did not stop at a stop sign and struck the male pedestrian. The driver took off in an unknown direction.
As the Dunn’s Creek road widening project continues in south Putnam County, flagging operations are underway this week. Intermittent flagging operations will take place on U.S. 17 at Payne Road and Magnolia Trail today through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Median closures at Islander Road and Butler Drive will remain in place through Aug. 20. The $36.5 million project is set to be completed by Fall 2021.
In Putnam County free COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites are open with a special vaccination site being held today from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Bread of Life, 320 N. Fifth St., in Palatka. No appointment is needed. Testing continues at the Teacher Training Center at 1101 Husson Avenue every Tuesday and Thursday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Vaccination is at Florida Department of Health in Palatka Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The department is at 2801 Kennedy St. in Palatka.
Several restaurants in the area are reported closed due to staff shortage apparently brought on by coronavirus. If you’re planning to eat out, it might pay to call the restaurant before you go.
St. Augustine and Flagler County have come in for kudos from the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation. A joint project to relocate the Meldrim Cottage from Anastasia Island to the Florida Agricultural Museum in Flagler County earned the Museum and the City of St. Augustine a Noteworthy Award in the Organizational Achievement category. The Meldrim Cottage was built in the South Davis Shores neighborhood around 1946 and  remained in the Meldrim Family until 2018 when the property was bought by the city for a park and runoff area. The building was moved to the Agricultural Museum where it’s being used to represent the legacy of the early 20th century turpentine industry in Florida. St. Augustine’s Resilient Heritage in America’s Oldest City project was recognized for Outstanding Achievement in the Resilient Preservation category.

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