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Tracy Upchurch is the new mayor of St. Augustine following a meeting this morning of the St. Augustine City Commission. Upchurch becomes mayor effective immediately. Last Thursday Mayor Nancy Shaver announced she was resigning after suffering a stroke earlier in the week. That came on the heels of her announcement that she had a reoccurrence of cancer. Upchurch is a former mayor and commissioner who also served in the state House of Representatives. An attorney, he is on the faculty of Flagler College.
Azalea Festival and Azalea Days over the weekend drew in thousands of visitors although rains and a tornado warning Saturday afternoon sent people scurrying. On Sunday the crowds were back. Now that azaleas have had their due, blue crabs are in the news as a new committee restarts the longtime popular festival. Date is May 24. The committee has come up with a new promotion featuring a crab named Shelldon. They’ll be taking pictures of the crab in five different locations each week and posting them. If you go have your picture taken at each of the places, you can be eligible to win a t-shirt. First spot chosen was the riverfront. Zoey Aviles and Molly, Bryn and Seth Miles claimed first honors for pictures taken. You can find out more on Facebook.
If you’re in Flagler County tonight, the Florida Department of Transportation will be closing Old Dixie Highway and County Road 325 on U.S. 1 from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. The closure allows the contractor to make improvements to the crossover at the temporary intersection. U.S. 1 remains open in both directions.
SAFE, the animal rescue group in Putnam and St. Johns counties, is among those taking in animals from a puppy mill/hoarding situation. It made for a busy weekend for volunteer groomers and handlers who cleaned up 29 matted and neglected dogs who are now up for adoption. While some are spoken for, you can see them all at SAFE’s Treasure Beach location at 6101 A1A South.
Putnam County Sheriff’s Office had a busy time Thursday and Friday making drug arrests in Interlachen and Palatka. An anonymous tip led undercover detectives to an arrest involving three people at an Interlachen boat ramp on Thursday. In Palatka four arrests Friday came after deputies searched a house they said was well known for drug sales. A warrant at a house at 206 W. Palmetto Street led to the discovery of MDMA as well as crack and powder cocaine.
Catholic officials in St. Augustine are working to get people to support a planned amphitheater and parking garage on the grounds of the Mission Nombre de Dios on San Marco Avenue. They’ve gotten a pushback from residents and others concerned not only about traffic and disruption but changing the landscape at the “sacred acre”. The Diocese of St. Augustine is going before the city’s Planning and Zoning Board Tuesday to present the plan. The Mission is where Pedro Menendez landed when he founded St. Augustine and it’s where the 208- foot cross that dominates the city is located.
Don’t forget city elections are scheduled in several towns in Putnam and Flagler counties Tuesday. Welaka will be electing a mayor and two commissioners. Beverly Beach is electing three commissioners as is Bunnell. Flagler Beach will vote on two commissioners.
Flagler County kicks off Flagler Reads Together today. The month-long event will mean people are reading The Eagle Has Landed by Jeffrey Smith. It looks at 50 years ago and the U.S. landing of the spacecraft Apollo 11 on the moon.
This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.