The Voice of the Gem City

News September 15, 2021

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

This could be the last year of “The Test” as people have come to call the annual Florida Standards Assessments testing. Opponents who argue too much emphasis and time is spent preparing for the annual testing rather than on teaching got a powerful supporter Tuesday after Gov Ron DeSantis called for ending the annual test. Area school districts have frequently brought up concerns with the test. FSA is designed to measure educational progress in Florida students in subject including English language arts and mathematics as well as end of course assessments in algebra and geometry and began in 1971. The issue is expected to come up in the Legislature next year. DeSantis is proposing three tests during the year to measure progress. He’s also calling for eliminating Common Core. Florida Education Association, the biggest teachers’ union, is indicating support.

In St. Augustine a public information workshop to discuss King Street ownership, development and design will be held tonight at 7 p.m. at The Alcazar Room at City Hall. The city wants to take over ownership of King Street from the state. Expect a massive development at the entrance to St. Augustine off Ponce Boulevard to be up for discussion. On Monday the commission, which is getting some pushback from citizens about the development, looked at two rezoning requests regarding the property off RIberia and King streets. Sebastian Inland Harbor involved two property owners, both of whom want their portions rezoned from Planned Unit Development to Residential General Office. The two owners were looking at a joint project but that has changed. More than 20 years ago, then owners got the PUD designation. Commissioners gave the okay to rezoning the PUD to Residential General Office for the property including San Sebastian Winery but rejected the rezoning request for the larger piece. Apartments, a hotel, marina, retail shops and restaurant are all part of the new plan.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is investigating the death of a woman killed Sunday in a jet ski accident in northern St. Johns County. Yelena Kovalev, 37, of Jacksonville was riding on a jet ski with Sergey Kovalev of Washington when the two went under the bridge at San Pablo Road South about 6:30 p.m. FWC says the jet ski was going at about 20 to 25 mph. The drive had crouched down but the woman had not and struck her head on the bridge. She was thrown into the water. St. Johns County Fire Rescue pronounced her dead at the scene after recovering her body.

Florida Department of Transportation reports work will begin Sept. 29 on reconstruction of Drayton Island Ferry in South Putnam County. Brothers Construction Inc. is estimating the $3.1 million project will be completed by late 2022. While the ferry will remain operational the boat ramp will be closed through October 2022. The existing mainland boat ramp will be replaced and ferry slips inland and on the island will be reconstructed.

San Mateo Presbyterian Church is holding monthly fish dinners once again with the September dinner this Thursday. You can pick up the dinners but no dine-in is available currently. The drive-thru begins at 4 p.m. Cost is $10. 

Flagler Beach’s July 4 Committee Tuesday began looking at the future of the popular event. The five-member group was appointed by the commission to look at the future of the celebration which normally includes a parade in the morning and fireworks at night. Some think the festival has grown too big For the last two years coronavirus has led to the decision not to hold the celebration.

St. Johns County School District is hiring a staffing company to help with tracing and notifying people who have come in contact with coronavirus in the schools. As of Tuesday, 1,075 staff and students are under quarantine. The district has more than 36,500 students and more than 5,000 teachers and staff. Maxim Healthcare Staffing Services Inc. starts working with the district Monday, bringing in 10 employees including medical assistants, LPNs and a RN to oversee the project. Florida Department of Health reportedly is unable to keep up with contract tracing in schools. The additional staff should shorten notification time, say officials.

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