The Voice of the Gem City

News May 23, 2022

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

School year 2021-22 is winding down. This Thursday is the last day of school for students in Flagler County with teachers out after Friday. June 2 is the last day for St. Johns County students with June 3 the last day for teachers. In Putnam County June 3 is the last day of school. End of school also means graduation ceremonies are starting up. On Tuesday Pedro Menendez High School kicks off with graduation ceremonies at St. Augustine Amphitheatre at 7 p.m. Last week Pedro seniors were at Otis Mason Elementary School in their graduation regalia for the traditional hallway walk and high fives with current students, part of the Once A Manatee, Always A Manatee tradition. Those seniors were once wide-eyed fifth graders at Mason.

A 77-year-old Flagler County woman died Saturday night after crashing into a pond at Grand Reserve Golf Club. According to the Bunnell Police Department, Officer Alex Kilpatrick was dispatched to Grand Reserve Drive after Flagler County Sheriff’s Office dispatch received a call about reckless driving. When he reached the scene, he saw a vehicle submerged in a pond with taillights visible near the surface. Kilpatrick dove in and used a punch device to break a rear window but was unable to reach the driver, Linda Schoenholz, a resident of the subdivision since 2020. When Sheriff’s deputies and Flagler Fire-Rescue paramedics they were able to get the woman out and take her to AdventHealth Palm Coast where she was pronounced dead. Kilpatrick went to the hospital to have his hands treated for multiple cuts received while pulling out shards of glass from the window of the 2021 Honda. Florida Highway Patrol is investigating the crash.

Good news for Ponte Vedra Beach. Mickler’s Landing Beachfront Park is open once again. That’s one of the few spots where the public can access the beach in the northeast St. Johns County area. Most of the parking lot has been closed for months in order to provide space for equipment being used to repair dune damage from Hurricanes Matthew and Irma. The FEMA project has added sand between Mickler’s Landing and Guana River State Park. Meanwhile, South Ponte Vedra Park is closed today through Wednesday as sand replacement operations get underway for the South Ponte Vedra Dune Restoration Project. The pavilion and beach access from the parking lot won’t be available although full access returns Thursday. A portion of the parking lot will be closed  until late July as contractors use it as a construction staging area.

A 68-year-old Palatka motorcyclist the Florida Highway Patrol. The man was southbound on 17 near the intersection with State Road 19 in Palatka when for an unknown reason he lost control, went off the roadway and struck the curb of the center median. The motorcycle overturned, ejecting the driver who was taken to Orange Park Medical Center with critical injuries, according to FHP.

With Memorial Day weekend nearing, expect to see downtown Palatka get busy as participants in the annual Blue Crab Festival begin arriving. Ride set ups are expected to begin today along the riverfront. City of Palatka, along with area sponsors, are paying for the festival which opens Friday afternoon and runs through Saturday and Sunday. A Memorial Day parade and ceremony put on by the VFW and American Legion are scheduled for Monday, May 30.

If you visit any cemeteries in Putnam County, you’ll see new American flags on graves of individuals who served in the U.S. military. It’s an annual happening sponsored by Johnson-Overturf Funeral Home and involving volunteers from around the area including the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office and Palatka Police.

St. Augustine will see hundreds of flags going up in front of the Lightner Museum and City Hall Saturday as the Pilot Club of St. Augustine begins putting up flags honoring veterans who have died. The remembrance is always appreciated by visitors and volunteers annually show up to help Pilots put out the flags, a symbol of respect for those who have served. This year more than 200 flags with names and service information will be added.

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