The Voice of the Gem City

News July 11, 2022

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

Students may be out of school for summer, but school boards are still at work. 

Flagler County School District has approved some rezoning and a shift of sixth graders from elementary to middle schools when students return in August. That’s bringing changes to schools including the need for seven portables at Buddy Taylor Middle School. Cost to lease them is $105,000. Some 14 years ago portables went off the campus when the district built a cafeteria and classroom building that was shared by the middle school and Matanzas High School. The district says growth, redistricting and grade shifts are increasing the need for more facilities. An expansion at Matanzas is in the works and more space is needed at middle schools, according to the school district. Not everyone agrees. On Friday elected officials from the district as well as Flagler County commissioners and elected representatives from municipalities met jointly to talk about enrollment, new schools and developer fees.

Putnam County school district officials will be talking with the Crescent City Commission Thursday about their plans for area schools. The school board is pushing for what the district calls “right sizing” and that has already led to closing some schools and joining junior and senior high school population. They’re also seeking a massive bond issue to pay for new schools. That is expected to include a new high school and a new elementary school in the south Putnam town. The future of Miller Middle School, which was closed when the junior and senior highs consolidated this year, will be up for discussion. Also being considered is tearing down the historic Miller School. The building is being used by several groups including a sub-station for the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office and as the archives and museum for the Fruitland Peninsula Historical Society. 

City of Palatka is set to open bids Tuesday for the sale of the Palatka Southside Historic District community center — Hammock Hall. Three lots on Kirby Street are up for sale. On one of those lots is Hammock Hall, which has been a former laundromat and convenience store before being repurposed with grant money into a community center. Now the city plans to sell it. Controversy hangs around the sale. When their decision was announced a property sign went up indicating it would be a multi-unit development. City officials said they didn’t know anything about that and took the signs down. Among concerns the prime location is surrounded by historic homes dating to the lately 1800s and is supposed to be single-family residential. Some of the priciest houses in the city are located in the district.

Putnam County Sheriff’s Office continues their summer camps sponsored by the Police Athletic League. Crescent City’s camp opened today and runs through this Friday. Interlachen’s camp takes place July 18-22. Both are being held at the high schools in each city. Registration is $15 and includes breakfast and lunch. Sign-ups are for children 7-14 and each camp is limited to 75 participants. Call 386-329-1231.

In St. Augustine flags are at half-staff today and Tuesday to honor two former city commissioners who recently died. Errol Jones served on the commission from 2002 to 2012, including serving as vice mayor from f2008-2010. Raymond Connor was a commission from 1998 to 2002. He was vice mayor from 2001 to 2002. Flags have been at half-staff around the country July 8-10 on an order Pres. Joe Biden. The move was out of respect Shinzo Abe, the former Japanese prime minister who was assassinated Friday.

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