The Voice of the Gem City

News May 20, 2022

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

Putnam County and area officials rededicated Country Road 216 this morning after work was completed on the stretch of land better known as the Mill Road since it runs in front of Georgia-Pacific’s plant. Officially it’s known as the John W. Campbell Memorial Parkway, named for a former Palatka mayor. State Rep. Bobby Payne (R-Palatka) was on hand among other officials today. Back in the day, it was State Sen. B.C. Pearce who was at that first ceremony. Putnam County Commissioner Larry Harvey, also at the event, noted in 1945 then-Hudson Pulp and Paper agreed to come to Palatka and open the mill only after the Putnam Chamber of Commerce and what was known as the Committee of 100 came up with $36,000 and bought 16 acres which they gave to the company for the mill. “Talk about being a shovel ready project,” Harvey said. The mill revitalized Palatka and through the years has brought thousands of jobs and millions of dollars to the area.

The 17-year-old gay student suspended for leading a walkout of 500 students at Flagler Palm Coast High School in March and distributing rainbow flags says he isn’t being allowed to run for senior class president. Jack Petocz says it’s because of disciplinary infractions. District officials aren’t committing, saying they are not allowed to discuss student disciplinary records. Petocz was told not to distribute the 300 flags but did so anyway. He’s being honored next week in New York with an award at the 2022 PEN American Literary Gala for organizing the students and fighting book bans. PEN is a non-profit that advocates for free speech. Petocz’s actions came during the mis-named Don’t Say Gay legislation in Florida that bans classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade.

West Putnam is the place to be this weekend. Saturday at 7:30 a.m. people will be gathering at Jenkins Park in Interlachen to take part in the West Putnam County Clean-Up. It’s part of the Keep Putnam Beautiful program and volunteers are needed. If you take part, you’ll be back in time for the Historical Society of Interlachen’s annual Ice Cream Social at the park from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. They’re celebrating 1881 when the train first came to the town between the lakes. Free ice cream and music plus displays and tours. The Glorious Victorians from St. Augustine will be there in fancy dress and people are urged to dress as their favorite 1881 Florida character. In Melrose on Saturday at 3 p.m. the Putnam County Library System will be re-dedicating the library there after a renovation effort of more than $200,000. 

Palatka’s riverfront is full of boat trailers and trucks as bass anglers are on the St. Johns River taking part in the annual Wolfson Children’s Hospital Bass Tournaments. The VIP and Friends Tournament is today and the 33rd annual Wolfson’s is Saturday. Winner of Thursday’s Lads and Lassies tournament was a father-and-daughter team — Steve and Kirsten Bishop who won with a five-fish total of 24.84 pounds. Weigh-ins will be held each afternoon. Since the first tournament in 1989, more than $6 million has been raised for the hospital in Jacksonville.

In Palatka Saturday Stephen Chandler and Sleek offer an evening of jazz and more at the Larimer Arts Center, 216 Reid St. The Arts Council of Greater Palatka is sponsoring the performance from 7-9 p.m. Tickets are $10.

Kids will love the second annual Touch-a-Truck event in Palm Coast Saturday along Park Street in Central Park from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Palm Coast Public Works Department is hosting the event that features more than 75 vehicles from multiple agencies.

In St. Augustine Saturday it’s the As If! The 90s Fest at Francis Field. The second annual festival includes headliners Montell Jordan and Eve 6. Limelight Theatre present Little Women, a play based on Louisa May Alcott’s American classic. K9s United 9k for K9s is Saturday at World Golf Village. St Augustine Ballet presents Peter and the Wolf and the Don Quixote Suite at Lewis Auditorium on Saturday with performances at 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.

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