The Voice of the Gem City

News November 10, 2021

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

Putnam County schools are taking the effects of the pandemic into account as they work on five major areas of focus including academics, the whole child and safety and modernization of schools, according to School Superintendent Rick Surrency during the District School Board meeting Tuesday. His comments were part of a review of the district and programs. Mental health in recent years has become an increasing focus and that’s continued during the pandemic. In 2018 the district hired two mental therapists. Currently they have 184 students, an increase of 45 over this time last year.

A Bunnell police sergeant with more than 19 years experience died Tuesday afternoon after suffering an apparent heart attack during training exercises, according to officials. Sgt. Dominic Guida was a veteran of both the Bunnell Police Department and the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office. The incident occurred while he was in training with Sheriff’s deputies at the county’s training facility and burn tower on Justice Lane in Bunnell. He was rushed to Advent Health Palm Coast but died about 90 minutes after the original attack.

Palatka Mayor Terrill Hill’s pursuit of Jenkins Middle School as a new location for city hall, police, fire and sanitation departments as well as a variety of area services and non-profits apparently is continuing. On Tuesday he asked Putnam School Superintendent Rick Surrency to be at the commission’s Nov. 18 meeting. Last month Hill made a $1.2 million off for the 37-acre school on Palatka’s Northside that has been closed this year as part of a consolidation effort by the district. The offer was about 27.8 percent of the value of the school. While school board members were all positive about the proposal, Surrency pointed out on the advice of attorneys an offer for at least 90 percent of the value of the property was needed.

Putnam County has lost several longtime residents who have made a difference for years. Pat Walker, 93, of Palatka, who died Sunday, was the widow of E.L. “Punk” Walker, mayor of Palatka for 20 years. She was active in the community in her own right and had successful careers in real estate and banking, as well as working with her husband in his pharmacy business. Masters Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. Norma “Jo” Dunn, 89, who also died Sunday, influenced more than three decades of children during her teaching career at Moseley Elementary School. A longtime resident of Palatka, she moved to Ormond Beach two years ago. Johnson-Overturf Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. In Melrose, Patrict “Fats” White, 49, died Friday following a brief illness. A former baseball coach at Interlachen High School he was heavily involved in Babe Ruth Baseball in Melrose. Johnson-Overturf is handling services.

Schools in Putnam, Flagler and St. Johns counties will be closed Thursday in honor of Veterans Day, which salutes all those who have served in the U.S. military. Because it is a federal holiday government offices, post offices and banks will be closed. Plans are underway for Veterans Day celebrations including a parade at 10 a.m. down St. Johns Avenue in Palatka with Vietnam War veteran George S. Crawford, 88, Grand Marshal. American Legion Bert Hodge Post 45 is in charge of the parade.

A new high school currently under construction in St. Johns County now has a name. By a 3-2 vote Tuesday, the St. Johns County School Board voted to name the school Beachside High School. While it’s in the northwest part of the county and not the ocean, it is near the Beachwalk community off County Road 210. The school is to open for the 2022-23 school year and serve grades 9-12 with a capacity of 2,100.

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