The Voice of the Gem City

News February 15, 2022

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

St. Johns County Commissioners today are talking about putting a penny sales tax on the November ballot. Proponents say it will help with backlogged infrastructure project needs which total about $500 million. According to the county $220 million is needed for roads, $55 million for a sheriff’s office command center, $30 million for two new fire stations and relocation of a third station, $88 million for five parks and $49 million for libraries. Also on today’s agenda transportation mitigatioin development agreements for a proposed 3,500 unit residential development. That project know as Greenbriar Helow is to be a Planned Unit Development and also will require a Comprehensive Plan amendment.

In Palatka on Wednesday the Putnam Zoning Board of Adjustment is looking at a permit application to spray biosolids on property off Old U.S. 17 near Lake Como. The Volusia County landowner is facing some strong opposition from Putnam residents who note while the county already has two such facilities this one would go on a high and dry piece of property that during rains would send the semi-treated human waste down into wetlands and eventually Crescent Lake. Don’t Poop on Putnam signs have gone up around the county. The public hearing is at 3 p.m. at the government complex, 2509 Crill Ave., Palatka.

A Crescent City man is in Flagler County jail on $98,000 bond after being arrested Friday following a three-day crime spree. An armed and dangerous BOLO went out on Jason Gray, 38, after Putnam issued the alert he was wanted for aggravated assault with intent to commit a felony, shooting into an occupied vehicle and possession of a firearm by a convicted in-state felong. Deputies found Gray driving a white four—door Cadillac around 11 p.m. Friday in the area of U.S. 1 and Matanzas Woods Parkway. Stop sticks were deployed and Gray was caught. In addition to the warrant from Putnam he faces charges from Flagler for possession of marijuana (under 20 grams) and driving while license suspended — habitual.

A bipartisan letter from Florida congress members has gone to the U.S. Department of Agriculture head supporting efforts by the state to get the USDA to to make a disaster declaration for counties impacted by freezing temperatures Jan. 29-31. U.S. Congresswoman Kat Cammack, a Republican, and Congressman Darren Soto, a Democrat, led the letter pointing out how areas of Central and South Florida saw temperatures drop to their lowest in more than a decade. That brought prolonged damage to crops in some 30 counties. Florida’s ag industry in 2019 generated $7.8 billion from a variety of agricultural crops.

Flagler County now has a timeline for their efforts to get three  needed easements from Flagler Beach property owners for dune restorations. The county is looking at using an eminent domain legal maneuver in May to get the property. It comes after the U.S. Corps fo Engineers warned unless that can start work on the project at Flagler Beach, the earmarked $17 million will go elsewhere. When the money might come available again isn’t clear. Originally 113 easements were needed and all but three have been secured.

Coming up this Saturday is the second annual Putnam Conty Genealogy and History Expo at the Bronson-Mulholland House at 100 Madison St. in Palatka. More than 20 exhibitors including historical societies, genealogy groups and organizations including the DAR will be on hand as well as several local authors.  The expo runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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