The Voice of the Gem City

News October 28, 2021

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

A tornado watch is in effect for parts of Northeast Florida until 5 p.m. today. That includes Flagler, Putnam and St. Johns counties. A possibility of high winds and hail is in the forecast with afternoon showers possibly extending into the evening.

Pensacola businessman Clint Studer compared an effort to revitalize and upgrade Putnam County to an “Iron Man competition and a long, long journey,” during a meeting Wednesday night. Studer was giving an update on progress made over the last two years plus the results of a survey paid for by Palatka Young Professionals. “We started at the one yard line and now we are on the 20 yard line,” he said of progress.  According to the survey, he said education will play a major role, a view echoed by St. Johns River State College President Joe Pickens. Studer said the survey showed the earlier the better to get kids ready for school and although graduation rates have gone up, the third grade reading scores are low.

An 11-year-old girl has been arrested in Flagler County for making false reports of an active school shooter. It’s the second time in two months the girl has called the Sheriff’s Office 9-1-1 line to report an active shooter and saying multiple shots were heard. On Tuesday she told the dispatcher her name was “Andy Caor” and hung up when the dispatcher asked to talk to a teacher. A Code Red went into effect for the school and firefighters and deputies turned out. Sheriff Rick Staly said: “Threats are not a joke and false reports are not a prank! Obviously, this child has serious issues and is crying out for attention and help, but this is not the way to get it.” The girl was arrested making a false report of a shooting, misuse of 9-1-1 system and disruptions of a school function. She was released into the custody of her parent by the Department of Juvenile Justice.

On Wednesday St. Johns County schools were dealing with concerns regarding a threat circulating on SnapChat and had extra security at the campuses of Pedro Menendez High School in southern St. Johns and Nease High School in northern St. Johns. The post was circulating in other districts and other states as well with no specific school named. St. Johns school district officials said while they did not think the threat was credible, the extra deputies were at the school in “an abundance of caution.”

Palatka City Commission will hear about a proposed development on River Street on property formerly the site of Florida Furniture and Wilson Cypress Company at tonight’s 6 p.m. meeting. The $146 million project would include RV lots, a hotel, 3,000 seat amphitheater, marina, townhouse units and multi-family apartments, according to Colin Bingham, the CEO of the private development company Community Development Coalition Corporation. Several local businesspeople are involved in the project. Commissioners also will be reviewing a couple of rezoning proposals for other property and deciding whether to drop the distance between liquor serving establishments and churches from 300 feet to 100 feet. Also to be considered dropping the distance between liquor serving establishments from 300 feet to 100 feet.

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