The Voice of the Gem City

News January 5, 2022

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

A live oak tree may get a second chance — Palatka’s Planning Board has delayed a decision on cutting down the 50 inch diameter tree that a St. Johns County company wants to remove as they develop residential housing at 6805 St. Johns Ave. Matthews Design Group made the requester Cottages at St. Johns work. The planning board Tuesday first denied their request by a 3-2 vote. Then company officials came forward and asked for additional time to work out another plan. Palatka is an accredited Tree City USA. Live oaks are considered super trees, noted city planning officials. Slow-growing, they have superior ability to stabilize soils, provide flood remediation and heat reduction and mitigate the effects of pollution. A single live oak can add $30,000 to the value of property.

Bunnell has a new police chief, or will after the Bunnell City Commission okays the choice at their Jan. 24 meeting. Michael Walker, former police chief in Lake Helen, was one of five applicants for the job advertised in mid-December. City Manager Alvin Jackson chose Walker but noted interim chief Brannon Snead will remain in place until the commission gives its okay. The opening came after Chief Tom Foster announced his resignation/retirement in early December. That came after a highly critical job review by Jackson where Foster was given 30 days to complete a list of improvements.  Foster in the past has had good reviews. After his resignation, Sgt. Matt Mortimer also resigned. Mortimer’s conduct on the job was reportedly a major part of Jackson’s criticisms of the chief.

Johnnie Pasco celebrated her 100th birthday at the St. Johns County Council on Aging Community Senior Center on Marine Street Tuesday. Pasco was active in the St. Augustine’s civil rights movement in the 1960s. She’s always had an appreciation for the area’s past. She played a key role in saving the house where she still lives on West King Street. That house was once home to black author Zora Neale Hurston who lived for several years in St. Augustine. Among her books was the best-seller Their Eyes Were Watching God, a classic about the Harlem Renaissance.

Get up early enough in the morning and head over to State Road 100 in Palatka and you’ll see the newest business in Palatka — Ed’s Donuts. You can’t miss it. Between 5 and 7 a.m. lines of cars go through the drive in for doughnuts, kolaches and biscuits. Most of the early morning crowd works shift. Ed’s is open until the early afternoon. There’s no eat-in.

Beverly Beach Town Commission knows the right way to say thanks. On Monday they voted unanimously to donate $10,000 to the Flagler County Health Department. The money comes from their $107,000 share of the American Rescue Plan. The health department said Commissioner Jeff Schuitema is underfunded. Even so they were able to help the town make it possible to put on a town wide vaccination effort.

Flagler Auditorium begins their latest concert series with Winter Dance Party this Friday, a celebration featuring hit songs of the 1950s. John Mueller’s Winter Dance Party is the official live and authentic re-creation of the final tour of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper and is the only show endorsed by the estates of the three performers. The show features more than two hours of high voltage entertainment and includes songs such as That’ll Be The Day, Peggy Sue, Oh, Boy, Rave On, La Bamba and Chantilly Lace. The performance is at 7 p.m. at Flagler Auditorium in Palm Coast. Tickets are available on line.

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