This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.
Within the next two weeks you won’t be allowed to smoke in any public park in St. Augustine and that includes the Galimore public pool area. City commissioners Monday on a second reading approved the bill that says smoking or vaping will be illegal within the boundaries of any park owned by the city. Disobey and you face a civil infraction with a penalty of no more than $100 per violation. Suppose they’ll count butts to decide number of infractions?
Businesses and residents along St. Johns Avenue in Palatka found themselves without phone or internet service Monday after a trunk line was cut apparently during ongoing work on the major roadway. It’s the second time Comcast service has been disrupted in the last week. Service was restored by 5:30 p.m.
Flagler Beach City Commission will hold an emergency meeting Wednesday at 9 a.m. to discuss the loss of beach around the town’s pier. Over the last couple of weeks the beach around the base of the pier and at least another block has washed away. That means water is up to the rocks and concerns about the pier stability and that of the Hungry Pelican restaurant have been raised. No extraordinary weather events are the cause, according to consultants. They point to the moon’s closeness to Earth which coincided with a full moon on July 13. The combination made for stronger-than-normal tides that took the sand. In place of the normal sloping beach are drop-offs of six feet or more.
Teachers, support staff and principals are gearing up for Wednesday when students return in Putnam, Flagler and St. Johns counties from an abbreviated summer vacation. Districts throughout the state are still hiring with teacher shortages a problem everywhere. Part of that, say officials, is due to Covid and a number of teachers retiring. Districts also are seeking bus drivers and other support personnel. St. Johns is still about about 40 teacher positions short and administrators and district office personnel are expected to be filling in in classrooms. That will be the case in Putnam and Flagler as well although they have a larger percentage of positions filled. It’s also not an unusual situation as the school year usually starts off with not all positions filled. What is unusual is that districts throughout the state are facing the problem and thus vying for teacher candidates.
St. Johns has an additional problem — their new high school, Beachside High School, won’t open until Aug. 15. That’s due to shortages of material supplies and manpower, according to a district memo. Critical site work still needs to be done and the gymnasium and auditorium aren’t ready. Beachside is located within Beachwalk, yet another new community in St. Johns. It’s nowhere near the beach but on County Road 210 east of Interstate 95. It does have an artificial beach as part of a man-made 14-acre lagoon. The school mascot is a Barracuda and school colors are blue, lime green and gray. New portables are going up at some other schools and not all those are ready, according to the district.
State Sen. Travis Hutson will be in Palatka today at the 6 p.m. meeting of the Putnam County Republican Club at the Viking Center on the campus of St. Johns River State College. It will be the first time for him to visit with local Republicans since redistricting shifted representation. You don’t have to be a registered Republican to attend but they do ask you to go to Facebook or their website to let them know if you’re coming.