The Voice of the Gem City

News October 25, 2021

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

Putnam County Commission holds two meetings Tuesday. The first is at 9 a.m. at the County Government Complex off Crill Avenue in Palatka and will include local redistricting changes. Based on 2020 U.S. Census figures, county commission districts have been redrawn to make the districts roughly equal in population numbers and some changes have been made including putting Bardin under one commissioner and changing the lines of the South Putnam district to accommodate expected growth. At 2 p.m. the commission will meet as the Transportation Committee to look at road proposals. Both meetings are open to the public and available online.

St. Augustine City Commission meets tonight at The Alcazar Room at City Hall at 5 p.m. Special recognition of Ryan Aiple by the St. Augustine Police Department and recognition of Limelight Theatre are on the agenda. Coming up Thursday at 9 a.m. the Planning and Zoning Board holds a special meeting to discuss a proposed ordinance to implement the current Mobility Plan and to establish a Mobility Fund. The Mobility Plan is now part of the Comprehensive Plan and members will be looking at parking and shuttle alternatives, pedestrian and bicycle improvements and street design recommendations. One apparent push of the plan is to cut down on automotive traffic. Use of the Downtown Parking Facility is emphasized and new parking prices in existing downtown parking locations will be reviewed. Prices will be going up. It’s a meeting business owners and residents will want to attend.

Palatka staff is looking to city commissioners about the possibility of reducing the required distance between churches and business serving alcohol. That’s up for discussion at Thursday’s commission meeting as is reducing the required distance between drinking establishments. Right now the distance is 300 feet, the staff is looking at 100 feet. The issue was touched on by Mayor Terrill Hill at a recent meeting where medial marijuana dispensaries were discussed. Although the dispensaries can currently go in any commercial district, commissioners are looking at putting them in the downtown business/entertainment district and riverfront district. Palatka Commission meets Thursday at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

Putnam County School Board member Holly Pickens  has filed her intent to seek re-election, according to Supervisor of Elections Charles Overturf III. Pickens serves District 1 in South Putnam.

An 18-year-old Flagler County man has been sentenced to 45 years in prison following pleading guilty to the murder of another teen in 2019. Marion Gavins Jr. was 17 when he shot and killed 18-year-old Curtis Gray outside a smoke shop in Palm Coast. He also pled guilt to three other charges incurred during his stay in the county jail awaiting trial. Among those was the assault of a corrections deputy. Gavins got 40 years for the murder and five years for the other three charges.

Free musical events are returning to St. Anastasia Catholic Church on Anastasia Island. The Let There be Music series opens Nov. 7 at 4 p.m. with a free concert by American classical pianist Scott Watkins. Now in its 12th season, the series will hold 24 music events through May 2022.

Sea turtle nesting season officially ends Sunday but nearly 18,000 turtles are still incubating in eggs on 177 nests in St. Johns County, according to turtle patrol officials. So far 647 nests have hatched more than 57,000 sea turtles that have flippered their way into the Atlantic Ocean. Remember to be cautious and leave the nests alone. 

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