The Voice of the Gem City

News March 16, 2022

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

Cancellation of the long-standing football game between Palatka High-St. Augustine High isn’t going down well. Palatka Junior-Senior High Coach Patrick Turner announced the end of the annual game, saying it was by mutual consent. Not so, say St. Augustine High Athletic Director Quinterrance Cooper and football coach Brian Braddock. Feelings are running so high in St. Johns that the officials went on Twitter Tuesday to say they didn’t initiate the cancellation but were told by Palatka at the end of the annual game in 2021 that Palatka “wished to no longer play in the regular season.” For the past eight years St. Augustine has won the annual match considered to be at least the second oldest rivalry in the state. The two schools are supposed to compete in the preseason Kickoff Classic for the next two years, although that takes place at the front of the season and is only a partial game. In 1922 the two schools met on the playing field for the first time with Palatka having less than 10 weeks to ready for their first high school football foray. 

A slight risk of thunderstorms coming through the tri-county area throughout today, according to the National Weather Service. Plenty of rain last night with 2.25 inches at the WPLK/WIYD studios in Palatka and 2 inches in East Palatka.

Florida Highway Patrol says a driving is facing a DUI manslaughter charge after a crash Tuesday night that killed a Palatka man. The accident happened at 7 p.m. in Alachua County on County Road 232 just east of the Interstate 75 overpass. A 44-year-old Newberry man driving a pickup  reportedly struck the 27-year-old man from Palatka, who died at the scene. FHP says the driver also faces a charge of felony DUI, third conviction in 10 years.

St. Johns County Commissioners are sending their proposed one-cent sales tax increase to the voters in November. Infrastructure needs were cited by commissioners. Commissioner Paul Waldron was the only one of the five commissioners at Tuesday’s meeting to vote against the proposal that wold see the tax on each dollar go from 6.5 to 7.5 cents for the next 10 years. The tax increase, expected to raise $500 million, may not sit well with voters since much of the need is due to growth. Almost half of the money — $243 million — would go for roads, bridges and transportation infrastructure. Another $120 million would be for public safety enhancements including about $60 million for a new Sheriff’s Office command center. About $88 million would be spent for five new parks and $49 million for public libraries. While the county has an impact fee, developers have fought to keep it lower than some proposed and that means the county is having to find other funding sources. One of the realities of growth tied solely to house is that it does not pay for the burden placed on government services and infrastructure.

New Palm Coast Mayor David Alfin is getting his first push back from the public after a proposal to more than quadruple salaries paid to the city council and the mayor. He made the proposal, which wasn’t on the agenda, at a recent night meeting. Tuesday morning the public had their say, much of it critical. Currently council members make $9,600 plus stipends for communications and transportation expenses. Proposed salary would be $44,670. Alfin, who now makes $11,400, is proposing his salary go to $46,470. The new salaries will be in an ordinance to be voted on by the commission.

Ronald Burckhard has filed to run for the Putnam Board of County Commission District 4 seat, according to Supervisor of Elections Charles Overturf III. Burckhard, who lives in Florahome, is running for the seat currently held by Larry Harvey.

A St. Patrick’s Day Bike Parade is scheduled for Thursday in Palatka. Participants will decorate bikes and helmets on the patio of Azalea City Brewery before heading out at 5:30 p.m. east on Oak Street to the riverfront park.

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