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Palatka is looking for another city manager after commissioners by a 3-2 vote Thursday night fired Bill Shanahan, who was hired almost five months ago. It was an unusual meeting in several ways not least because the commission was teleconferencing with only Shanahan, Commissioner Tammie McCaskill and Mayor Terrell Hill at City Hall. Other commissioners and staff were connected from homes or offices. Commissioner Rufus Borum made the motion “to terminate the services of the city manager effective immediately”. McCaskill seconded his motion but at that point commissioners realized they’d lost connection with Commissioner Mary Lawson Brown. After the connection was re-established, Shanahan was out by a 3-2 vote. Borum didn’t give a reason for his motion only saying that Shanahan “was not good for our city.” Lawson Brown did say she was “unhappy” over how the termination of longtime City Clerk Betsy Driggers had been handled. City Attorney Don Holmes was appointed acting city manager, a post he’s filled before as has Driggers.
During limited discussion by commissioners it came out that Driggers still is employed by the city because of long-accrued vacation time. She also is being retained as a consultant. Driggers resigned recently in part because of a push by the city manager for alleged remarks about the commission. Shanahan released information to a local newspaper on the discussion, information that reportedly was supposed to stay private. Shanahan was fired before his six month probation period ran out so the city will not have to pay him an additional six month salary and benefits package. He was supposed to clear out his desk and office last night and lose access to city buildings and computers.
Putnam County has another person testing positive for coronavirus. The 25th case is a 35-year-old Palatka woman. In Flagler County 41 people have tested positive. In St. Johns County the number is up to 163.
Putnam County Sheriff’s Office has had an inmate test positive for coronavirus. The man was released on bond Wednesday after being tested for the virus Tuesday. He’s been ordered to self-quarantine. Deputies were enforcing a stay-home order Tuesday for a coronavirus patient when they learned another man at the house was wanted on a felony warrant. He was taken into custody. Sheriff Gator DeLoach said deputies were wearing protective gear during the arrest, corrections officers were alerted about potential issues and the man was placed in isolation at the jail. His name has not been released.
Palatka Mayor Terrell Hill says some people aren’t following social distancing guidelines. Police have been called to several blocks in the city where mostly young people have gathered. Hill Thursday urged people to follow the social distancing guidelines and reminded them large gatherings aren’t allowed even this Easter weekend.
A Nocatee woman faces charges of child abuse after she allegedly physically abused one of her children. Denise Silvaslian, 39, was arrested after a woman witnessed the incident, called 9-1-1 and recorded audio of the incident. Deputies saw several bruises on the girl when they arrived and she told them she was thrown onto the balcony for not doing her homework fast enough. The girl and her brother were removed from the home by Department of Children and Families. In January deputies responded to the apartment on a suspicion of child abuse but no arrest was made.
St. Augustine City Commission holds a special emergency meeting Monday at 11 a.m. Physical attendance will be limited in order to meet public health requirements. Discussion and action regarding items related to the coronavirus crisis are on the agenda. Options for public comment include email, telephone and online viewing through the city website and Comcast Channel 3.
It’s Easter weekend. Don’t forget most government offices in Putnam, Flagler and St. Johns counties are closed or will close early today for Good Friday. While the coronavirus will mean most churches aren’t open for Easter services, many are offering services online. WPLK and WIYD will be broadcasting live an Easter service from Grace Fellowship Church this Sunday at 10:30 a.m.
This is Marcia Lane your roving reporter wishing you a Happy Easter.