The Voice of the Gem City

News August 30, 2021

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.
St. Augustine is getting a special show today — the return of historic cannons to the Castillo de San Marcos. Since 2018, 22 cannons from the Old Fort have been undergoing restoration at Texas A&M University. The cannons were due back sooner, but the coronavirus pandemic slowed things down by more than a year, say park officials. Visitor entrance fees paid for the $400,000 restoration of the cannons. The fort was completed in 1695, ordered built by the Spanish Royal Family as a means of providing more permanent protection from the British and other potential invaders. The fort will reopen Tuesday.

Be careful when you’re out today. While no rain is expected, National Weather Service is calling for the heat index to be 102. 

 A Tallahassee judge has ruled school districts have the right to set mask policies as long as they have “compelling state interest” and an action plan. That flies in the face of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ decision to allow parents rather than school administrators to make decision regarding face masks. DeSantis is expected to fight the ruling. Putnam County School District says for now masks will be voluntary. They say they will continue “to monitor COVID-19 and local health officials.” St. Johns County last week announced school employees including teachers and visitors will be required to wear masks.

Funeral services for St. Johns County Youth Resource Deputy Jody Hull were held Saturday. Hull had been battling COVID-19 and most recently worked as a youth resource deputy at St. Augustine High School. He had worked in St. Johns for four years and before that four years for Putnam County Sheriff’s Office.

A GoFundMe account has been set up to help the family of Flagler County Sheriff’s Office Detention Deputy Paul Luciano, who died last week. Luciano is the first detention deputy to die in the line-of-duty in Flagler and has been hospitalized while fighting COVID-19. He is thought to have contacted the virus while working at the jail. Flagler Sheriff’s Employee Assistance Trust established the account.

A new county court judge is being added to St. Johns County. Craig Atack, Lauren Blocker, Denise Mensch, JoAnna Pang, Benjamin Rich and Alyssa Shorstein are the six names up for consideration by Gov. Ron DeSantis. The county judge seat will be the first added to St. Johns since the 1970s. The request went through the Legislature.

Palatka City Commission is looking at a busy Thursday. After cancelling a budget hearing and city commission meeting last Thursday due to lack of quorums, the city moved the meetings to this Thursday. That’s also the day the city’s Historic Preservation Normally meets and they looking at several items including review the draft of an updated Palatka Community Redevelopment Plan.

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