This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.
Tornado and severe weather warnings were up this morning in Putnam, St. Johns and Flagler counties as well as other portions of northeast Florida. Damaging wind gusts, hail and heavy downpours are expected during isolated severe thunderstorms this afternoon. A small craft advisory offshore continues through tonight.
Residents booed, but the Palm Coast City Council members voted 4-1 in favor of a 365 percent raise for themselves. Only Councilman Eddie Branquinho Tuesday voted against the move that will up salaries for commissioners from $9,600 to $44,670 and for the mayor from $11,400 to $46,470. Recently elected Mayor David Alfin, who didn’t campaign on the issue, proposed the raise on March 1. He says it will lead to more qualified candidates. A second and final vote is still needed and would go into effect after the next election.
Only one proposal to run this year’s Palatka Blue Crab Festival has been received and Palatka City Commission will vote on the issue at a special meeting at 4:45 p.m today in the county commission chambers on Crill Avenue. RQ Music LLC out of St Augustine put in a $160,000 bid in response to the city’s RFP advertised March 31. Deadline was April 5. The handwritten breakdown shows: $80,000 for three-day show production including talent, stage and sound; $25,000 for marketing; $15,000 for alcohol purchase; $20,000 for event rentals including Portapotties, tents, chairs, event midway and VIP; and $5,000 for miscellaneous including security, paid volunteers and additional signage. Promoter fee is $15,000.
At 5 p.m. today the Palatka City Commission and the Putnam County Commission hold a joint meeting at the county complex to discuss issues of mutual concern. Among those issues animal control, Better Place Plan, noise ordinance, creation of an urban service boundary, an update on the Putnam County Business Park, septic to sewer program, simulated gaming, status of joint projects and St. Johns Avenue. Also on the agenda is the Blue Crab Festival. The city is pulling $75,000 out of general fund reserves and another $25,000 is coming from the Putnam Chamber of Commerce’s TDC fund for advertising. Time is allowed for the public to speak before the issues are discussed by officials.
In St. Johns County, the head girls’ lacrosse team coach and an assistant coach at Ponte Vedra High School have resigned. Apparently it’s tied to cake eating. The team reportedly ate cake after a game and the two coaches gave them a hard time in what one parent described as “food shaming.” That led to the two adults being suspended for one game. Now the coaches have resigned. The team had a 10-5 record as of Wednesday as the season nears an end. Playoffs start next week with Ponte Vedra set to host the district tournament.
Celebrate Trails Florahome is this Friday and Saturday. It starts Friday with a Palatka Trail Town Reception at Azalea City Brewing Co. in Palatka and includes a one-hour cycling tour of historic Palatka’s downtown murals and ends with live music at the brewery. The cycling event begins Saturday at 9 a.m. at the Florahome Trailhead and offers five trail rides along the Palatka-to-Lake Butler State Trail and two gravel rides through Etoniah and Belmore State Forests. Cost is $30 and includes a barbecue lunch and music by Sweet William.