The Voice of the Gem City

News June 1, 2022

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

Welcome to the first day of hurricane season 2022. A survey by AAA shows 25 percent of Floridans wouldn’t evacuate for a hurricane warning. Part of that’s linked to the increasing high price of gas. The average in Florida was at $4.57 for a gallon Tuesday, today some pumps in Putnam County are showing $4.75. Tens of thousands of new residents will never have faced a hurricane and newcomers are asking what they should be doing to prepare. One Floridian responded on Facebook: (1) Know where the flood zones are and (2) if you can afford it, buy a generator. If you are preparing, this is a good time since hurricane supply tax-free holidays are on through June 10. The list includes everything from animal supplies to tarps.

One day after Memorial Day and U.S. Rep. Kat Cammack was fielding requests for help from veterans on her Town Hall telephone meeting Tuesday. One man had been waiting a year for his medals from Vietnam. “I might have died before they get around to sending them,” the disabled vet told Cammack. The other was an Air Force veteran who served during the Korean Conflict who lives in Gainesville and has been told he can’t get his records because they’ve burned. In both cases the answers came from the U.S. Veterans Affairs Department housed in St. Louis, Mo., and in both cases Cammack promised help. The St. Louis office has been “just taking their sweet time” when it comes to veterans’ request, she said, noting it’s an ongoing issue her staff has been working on. As always, the town hall meeting included live questions for listeners to answer. When it came to the biggest issue they saw facing the country — inflation and the economy were the winners with 45 percent of the group saying that was what concerned them most. The issue of aliens coming in at the borders was second most concerning according to 28 percent of the listeners. Cammack noted up to 8,000 people a day are now coming in with the entries becoming unmanageable when the number reachers about 3,000. “There’s definitely a crisis to secure the border now,” she said.

The countdown is on to the end of school. Putnam County sees early release days Thursday and Friday with last day of school for teachers and students this Friday. Graduations are underway with Mellon Learning Center graduations this morning, Crescent City Jr.-Sr. High Thursday, Palatka Jr.-Sr. High Friday and Q.I. Roberts Jr.-Sr. High Saturday. In St. Johns County, Allen D. Nease High School graduation is tonight at University of North Florida and First Coast Technical College July 7. Last day of school for students in St. Johns is Thursday. Last day for teachers Friday. Flagler County has finished the school year.

An accident involving a vehicle and a bicyclist Tuesday outside of Palatka sent the 78-year-old bicyclist to a Gainesville hospital in critical condition, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. The accident happened shortly after 7 a.m. Monday when the bicyclist was headed west on the multi-use trail running parallel to State Road 100. At the Springside Shortcut Road intersection, the bicyclist failed to stop and the front of the bike struck the front of a van on the passenger side, said FHP. The van driver was a 53-year-old man. The bicyclist was not wearing helmet, FHP noted.

A 32-year-old Port Orange woman died Tuesday afternoon in a two-vehicle crash at the intersection of State Road 11 and Country Road 304, south of Bunnell in Flagler County, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. A blue sedan t-boned a Ford Excursion driven by the woman, according to the accident report. The driver’s side of the Excursion was heavily damaged and the vehicle ended up on its roof. One other person was injured, although the injuries were not life-treating, FHP reported. The four-way intersection has stop signs and is locally known as Cody’s Corner.

A change in the Putnam County school calendar listing for the Spring holidays for 2023 roused the public after a retired school teacher pointed out to the school board that the usual Good Friday Holiday notation had been changed to say only student/teacher holiday. The teacher brought the matter up at the May 24 board meeting and it grabbed the board’s and people’s attention. On Tuesday Superintendent Rick Surrency posted a message to employees, parents and community members. It read in part: “After meeting with my executive team, hearing the perspectives of constituents, consulting our legal team and considering that the holiday is recognized by the State of Florida, the Putnam County School District calendar will continue to reflect April 7, 2023 as Good Friday.”

You can’t argue with the fact that things are different in Florida. A Crescent City resident posted on Facebook Tuesday: “For anyone who’s walking kids to school this morning please be aware there is a 4 foot alligator on Grove by the Smith Thomas Court apartments.” 

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