The Voice of the Gem City

News July 8, 2022

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

Florida Department of Education released school and district grades for the 2021-22 school year on Thursday. St. Johns County apparently remains the top district in the state of Florida, based on the annual state tests. St. Johns overall was rated an A district, Flagler County kept their B rating and Putnam County continued at a C. Each school is given a grade as well with Q.I. Roberts Jr.-Sr. High and Children’s Reading Center both ranking A in Putnam. In Flagler County, Old Kings Elementary, Belle Terre Elementary and Indian Trails Middle schools earned A’s. In St. Johns County 29 of the schools earned an A.  This is the first year since 2019 that full grade data was released. Covid and related disruption to in-school classes meant a lack of assessments for the 2019-20 academic year and an opt-in only for 2020-21. Only a handful of districts participated in the opt-in grading. Schools statewide this year exceeded expectations; some were concerned Covid would have a more long-term negative effect on students.

Putnam County Animal Control seriously needs some folks to step up and help by adopting, donating or volunteering. Reportedly they are beyond full with cats and dogs. You can give them a call at 386-329-0396 during the work week or go by the facility at 174 County Landfill Rd., off U.S. 17 north of Palatka. They do close for lunch.

Rains and storms are expected over the weekend as people cope with high temperatures and rain patterns. Florahome in Putnam County Thursday reported a storm that left trees down in the area. Lightning has been an issue over the tri-county area during storms. On July 1 a lighting strike at the Ponte Vedra Beach Branch library closed the facility and county workers have been doing emergency repairs to the roof and electrical system. The library is expected to reopen the week of the 17th. Good news is no late fees will be charged on overdue books.

Looking for a nice spot in Palatka’s Southside Historic District? The city of Palatka is selling the area’s community center — Hammock Hall. Bid opening is Tuesday. The sale includes three lots on Kirby Street, one of which holds the center which was a former laundromat and convenience store before being repurposed with grant money.  Once the city decided to sell the property a professional looking sign went up: Community progress as promised multi-unit development. U.S. Housing Act/The Integral Group. Everyone denied knowledge and responsibility and the sign came down. The area is zoned single-family residential. Opening of the sealed bids is being awaited with great anticipation.

This weekend will be quieter than last when Americans were celebrating Fourth of July weekend. However, there’s plenty to do.

If you’re in St. Augustine Saturday morning it’s the Bridge of Lions 5K 2022 beginning at 7:30 a.m. Route goes by the Castillo de San Marcos, over the Bridge of Lions and through Davis Shores on Anastasia Island. Best advice: Don’t try to go in the area for a couple of hours as traffic is invariable tied up. Also in St. Augustine Limelight Theatre offers Dial M For Murder tonight and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at the group’s theater on Old Mission Avenue St. Augustine Community School of Performing Arts presents their annual Dining Starts of St. Johns County Saturday at 7 p.m. at Lewis Auditorium. The competition is similar to the TV show Dancing With The Stars. 

In Palatka tonight you can mix and mingle at a wine tasting fundraiser to help out the Lee Conlee House, the local domestic abuse shelter and program. It’s at Coventry Oaks Farm  at 104 Springside Cutoff Road, Palatka, from 6 to 8. p.m.. Wine, hor’doeurves, music, drawing and silent auction are part of the event to raise funds for survivors. On Saturday enjoy a couple of events that are kid friendly. St. James United Methodist Church holds a petting zoo from 9-11 a.m. at the church property off 400 Reid Street in Palatka. Chickens, goats and horses will be there, and you can bring your domestic pet for a blessing of the animals. Parents can take the opportunity to pre-register their children for a free Vacation Bible School July 15-17. Or call 904-806-1426.  A Foam Party is part of Beck’s Fun Day at the newly created MoRe Yard, 2000 Reid St. in Palatka from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. Snow cones, bounce house, and special guests Spiderman and Wonder Woman will be part of the free fun. First 100 kids will receive a free Beck Beach Towel. 

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