This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.
The signs are up on U.S. 17 and State Road 100 as contractors prepare to resurface roadways in a $3.4 million project getting underway this month and continuing through late this year. Halifax Paving Inc. has the state Department of Transportation contract for milling and resurfacing of the roadway from St. Johns River Water Management District on 100 to U.S. 17 in Palatka. Also included drainage improvements and shoulder treatment, installation of roadway signage and guardrails, traffic signal upgrades and sidewalk installations and box culvert replacements. Lane closures will not be allowed Mondays through Fridays from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. so that should help with morning commutes and bus traffic.
In Palatka businesses, government and lots and lots of volunteers are ready for the four-day Bassmasters AFTCO Elite beginning Thursday. The nationally-known and televised Bassmasters Elite series officially begins tomorrow although the Putnam County Tourism Development Council and the Putnam Chamber of Commerce began work months ago for the event that Thursday and Friday sees 94 of the world’s top anglers on the St. Johns River. On Saturday eliminations will see that number drop to 47 and on Sunday it’s the top 10 anglers. Launch each day is 7:30 a.m and weigh-in will be at 3:30 p.m. at the Palatka riverfront and the public is welcome. Lots of events for the family are planned along the riverfront Saturday and Sunday. Dana Jones with the Chamber says economic impact will be felt throughout the county at gas stations, motels, camp grounds, restaurants and shops. Since this is the start of the series anglers have had more time to scope out the area and began coming in last Friday — which explains some of those really nice bass boats you see being towed around the area.
In St. Johns County the push is on for help from the Florida Legislature for funding to cope with continuing growth that’s bringing in lots more students. St. Johns is adding 120 new portable classrooms next year due to that rapid growth. A couple of St. Johns School Board members were in Tallahassee last week talking with state legislators Sen. Travis Hutson and Rep. Paul Renner, both of whom have parts of St. Johns, Flagler and Volusia counties with Renner also representing part of Putnam. St. Johns is seeking more money for high growth allocation. The funding comes through grants and helps with building new schools. One of the board members, Bev. Slough from northern St. Johns, is hosting a town hall discussion on growth next Tuesday night at Freedom Crossing Academy, a K-8 school that was built for 1,500 but already has 2,200. The pressure of growth is being felt at all levels with the St. Johns County Commission discussing putting a referendum for an additional penny sales tax on November’s ballot.
In Flagler County at a special ceremony the Flagler Chapter of Sons of the American Revolution has awarded a K-9 Deputy Sheriff with their Life Saving Medal. In October of 2021 K-9 Deputy First Class Marcus Dawson saved a three-year-old boy from a burning building. Dawson was first to arrive at the scene and after calling out for anyone trapped inside entered the burning building. He found the boy hiding a blanket in a bedroom and carried him to safety.
Noon Kiwanis Club of Palatka Thursday hosts former National FFA Advisor Janet Grey as guest speaker with gardening tips, agriculture information, making treasures from trash and more. The meeting, open to the public, is at the Palatka Municipal Golf Corse clubhouse, 1715 Moseley Ave., in Palatka.
It’s going to be a busy weekend in Palatka. In addition to the Elite fishing tournament, the 11th annual Fly-In and Classic Car Show will be Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Palatka Municipal Airport off State Road 100. A volunteer group has stepped up to help with the fly-in started by Airport Manager John Youell, who is retiring in March. Concerns over pilot safety due to weather conditions led to the fly-in being cancelled last weekend. This Saturday you can enjoy food and flying at the event which includes warbirds, airplane and helicopter rides and classic cars. A $10 parking fee per car will go to support the airport and encourage aviation in Putnam County. It’s a great chance to look around the airport, talk with pilots and enjoy the classic cars being brought in by several car club. SKyDive Palatka will have skydivers jumping throughout the day.