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Despite concerns by election officials, voters turned out for Tuesday’s Presidential Preference Primary although early voting and voting by mail helped up turnout percentages. In Putnam County voter turnout was 21.76 percent. In Flagler County 33.44 percent and in St. Johns County 24.63 percent. Area counties followed the state trend as well choosing Joe Biden over Bernie Sanders. Republicans in all three counties heavily favored President Donald Trump. St Johns cast 94.9 percent for Trump, Flagler 95.6 percent and in Putnam 97.6 percent voted for Trump.
In Flagler County elections saw changes on both the Bunnell and Flagler Beach commissions. Ken Bryan and Deborah Phillips won seats in Flagler Beach. Bryan is a former St. Johns County commissioner who moved to Flagler and became active in a fight against a planned large development. On a historic note he became the first black resident to win election to the commission. Phillips is a retired banker and shop owner. In Bunnell John Rogers was re-elected and will begin his fourth city commission term. Rogers, who owns John’s Towing, had to leave early on for a job after a million dollar boat went off a trailer. First-time candidate Tonya Gordon won; she works at Elbert Tucker’s Bunnell insurance agency. Tucker is a former commissioner.
St. Johns River Water Management District Tuesday closed its doors to the public citing concerns for health and safety. Only employees will be able to enter any of the District’s locations. Business can be conducted by phone or email, says the government entity.
A reminder Palatka City Hall is curtailing hours they’re open to the public. Monday through Friday the offices on North Second Street will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
An executive order by Gov. Ron DeSantis will bring some major changes to people’s habits. All bars and nightclubs in Florida are to be closed for the next 30 days. It went into effect Tuesday evening. People were already joking about a return to the speakeasies of the Prohibition Era. Others were speculating a lot more people will be hosting parties at homes. Restaurants took the biggest hit with the governor requiring those establishments cut entry by 50 percent. Concerns over the economic impact were immediate particularly for workers in the food industry although food suppliers may also feel the hit. Take-out is allowed. In addition dining groups are to have six feet separation. Beaches are still open but the governor says groups should be limited to no more than 10 people.
Schools, meanwhile, are scrambling to meet new requirements by the state. In what was termed a “state of uncertainty” officials now are grappling with a declaration from Gov. DeSantis stretching school closures to April 15. In Putnam County administrators are meeting today to look at how to provide an instructional plan for students that would take effect March 30. This could include online and other learning materials. Flagler County school superintendent Jim Tager noted the changes will mean even more disruptions for seniors. Throughout the state there’s talk of cancelling proms and other end-of-year events. The state has now cancelled all standardized tests for the 2019-2020- school year and cancelled school grades as well. Board members in Putnam including Bud McInnis and Jane Crawford made it clear that doesn’t mean student grades would be cancelled. The state says students will be allowed to repeat their current year if they wish.
Flagler County has announced plans that will allow students in need to receive breakfast and lunch while schools are out. Pick-ups of prepared foods will be from schools and at certain locales. St. Johns and Putnam counties had already announced similar plans.
If your water seems to have a different taste in St. Augustine, officials say it’s part of a water treatment process to maintain disinfection of the water. Chlorine and ammonia levels are being adjusted. The process began March 9 and will go on for three weeks.
In Mulberry it’s the Great TPC. That’s Toilet Paper Caper. A former Palatkan reports their neighbors across the street are selling their home and they’ve already moved. Back In Mulberry to do some packing the wife knocked on the former Palatkan’s door. She didn’t want to borrow sugar but toilet paper. Seems they’d left 24 rolls in the house but apparently during open houses to show the property someone made off with the now highly valued commodity.
This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.