The Voice of the Gem City

News September 10, 2021

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

The $10 the City of Palatka spent to buy the gym at now-closed Jenkins Middle School might have been better spent on a fast-food meal. It certainly would have been a cheaper investment. At Thursday’s Palatka City Commission meeting commissioners agreed to spend $190,000 for a new roof and a sprinkler system for the facility off North 19th Street. They then agreed to spend an estimated $50,000 for new air conditioning when Community Affairs director Eddie Cutwright told them problems had developed with the system. Commissioners agreed it was better not to piece-meal the repair work but just replace everything. Already budgeted was nearly $81,000 for costs, maintenance and supplies for the building for 2021-22 fiscal year. That brought the total to $320,000. That’s in addition to about $50,000 already budgeted this fiscal year for the building that includes some offices. Commissioners say those offices can be rented out. In addition, Mayor Terrill Hill again brought up the issue of buying all of the Jenkins school and consolidating city offices there. Cost of the property — about $5.5 million.

St. Augustine today kicks off three weekends of their Sing Out Loud Festival, billed as one of the biggest music festivals in the Southeast this September. Last year the event went virtual due to COVID-19. This year the free events will be live again at locations including St. Augustine Amphitheatre, Colonial Oak  Music Park and various bars in the area. On Saturday as part of the festival local poets and songwriters will hold the Ancient City Poets Showcase at the Art Studio of St. Augustine Beach at 7 p.m.

 At a workshop Thursday Palatka City Commission got a briefing on the American Rescue Plan Act funding, a $1.9 trillion project aimed at helping communities in recovery efforts after being hit by COVID-19. Palatka is looking at receiving about $5 million. Seven areas of potential projects are covered under the act although Palatka commissioners seemed especially interested in the affordable housing portion.

A childhood friend of a Flagler County woman is in jail after he stole her car and her 5-year-old child, according to Flagler County Sheriff’s Office. Andrew Allen, 27, was a passenger in the woman’s car when the two apparently got into an altercation Wednesday after stopping at the Circle K gas station on Palm Coast Parkway. He went in the store and she got out of the driver’s seat only to have him come back out, get in the car and lock it. He eventually let her get her purse and belongings but then drove off with the child still in the back seat. Deputies stopped the vehicle at the intersection of U.S. 1 and Commerce Boulevard, taking Allen into custody on charges including kidnapping, grand theft and simple battery, and he’s being held on no bond. The 5-year-old was recovered safely.

Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine will be closed from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. beginning this evening for roadway striping, according to the  Florida Department of Transportation.

On Saturday the Rockin 4 Rhett fundraiser will be at Putnam County Fairgrounds in East Palatka from 4 to 11 p.m. Live music, food trucks, beer tent and silent auctions are part of the benefit for the family of Rhett Kehoe, who is two and diagnosed with leukemia.

In St. Johns County Saturday the annual Endless Summer 10K and 5K Beach Run/Walk takes place at Anastasia State Park beginning at 7:30 a.m.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks on the United States by Islamic terrorist groups and ceremonies are scheduled in Putnam, Flagler and St. Johns counties. In Palatka ceremonies are set for 9:45 a.m. at the Putnam County Government Complex, 2509 Crill Ave. In Flagler County Palm Coast Fire Department holds a remembrance ceremony and dedication of the Survivor tree at Heroes Park at 6:30 p.m. Flagler Tiger Bay Club hosts Chief Micheal Fisher at a commemorative anniversary public program at 4 p.m. at Flagler Auditorium. In St. Augustine the annual ceremony of remembrance is at 8:30 a.m. at the Fire Department station on Malaga Street. A Survivor tree will be dedicated. The saplings in the ceremonies are direct descendants of a single pear tree known as the Survivor Tree discovered at Ground Zero in Oct. 2001.  

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