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Residents in Florida begin today stepping back out with retail businesses and restaurants allowed to reopen in all but the state’s three largest counties. Elective surgery is allowed to begin at hospitals and some state parks are reopening. In the Putnam-Flagler-St. Johns area those parks include Faver-Dykes State Park, Haw Creek State Preserve, Palatka to Lake Butler State Trail, Palatka to St. Augustine State Trail, Dunn’s Creek State Park and Washington Oaks but only on the beach side. Not opening yet is Ravine Gardens State Park in Palatka. However, The Lake Ocklawaha (Rodman) area is opening. Putnam County Commissioner Larry Harvey, who is also executive director of Save Rodman Reservoir, says local state legislators and a resident helped convince the governor to reopen the area to fishing, boating and recreation. To keep the parks open, rules regarding social distancing must be obeyed. Face masks are recommended but not required.
The openings come as Putnam County saw 12 more cases including one death over the weekend bringing the total to 120 testing positive for coronavirus. Florida Department of Health in Putnam County says an 86-year-old Satsuma man died in a nursing facility. He had traveled and had come in contact with a confirmed case. All but one of the others contracting the virus reported no travel or contact with a confirmed case. Six women and two men from Palatka, a man and a woman from Interlachen and a woman from Crescent City tested positive in addition to the Satsuma man. In St. Johns County numbers went up three cases to 211. Flagler County went up seven cases to 140.
A 4-year-old boy drowned Saturday while swimming in Lake Ida. Putnam County Sheriff’s Office reports the family was swimming at the boat ramp near Interlachen when the accident occurred. Chief Deputy Col. Joe Wells said the boy died at Putnam Community Medical Center despite efforts by emergency crews and the hospital’s ER staff. The Major Crimes Unit is investigating the accident.
On Friday a man died after his car crashed into a church in the Palatka area. Florida Highway Patrol reports the 57-year-old Palatka man was headed east on Edgemoor Street when his white Nissan Murano crashed into Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church. The accident happened about 3:15 p.m. where Edgemoor meets a sharp curve into Lundy Road. Name of the driver was not released.
A Palm Coast mother and son already on probation are facing numerous drug charges after tips about narcotics activity at their home on Seven Wonders Trail. Trey Colboune, 16, and his mother Melissa Smith, 41, were arrested after Flagler County Sheriff’s Office detective conducted a juvenile probation check on the youth. A search warrant led to discovery of a large quantity of cannabis as well as oxycodone pills and miscellaneous drug paraphernalia. The mother admitted to trying to hide a bag containing drugs with a street value of $4,080. The son said the drugs belonged to him and he sold them, according to the Sheriff’s Office. The 16-year-old is on probation for unlawful possession of a firearm by a minor, the mother is on probation for dealing in stolen property. “This mother is not winning the ‘mother of the year award’,” said Sheriff Rick Staly, noting the youth has been arrested five times since he was 15.
The Putnam-St. Johns County Farm Bureau is among area Farm Bureaus that have contributed more than $39,000 to purchase fresh produce from farmers whose business has been hurt by coronavirus in North Florida. Today from 2-4 p.m. The Putnam-St. Johns Farm Bureau will be distributing produce to Putnam and St. Johns County residents from 2-4 p.m. at Shepherd’s Haven Food Pantry at 400 East Harris Street in Hastings. Produce will be given out on a first-come, first-serve basis.
The Class of 2020 in Flagler County will be having the graduation of a lifetime. In a deal worked out between the School District, Daytona International Speedway and NASCAR, graduating seniors from Flagler Palm Coast High and Matanzas High will be picking their diplomas at the Speedway. Each graduate will drive their car down the speedway’s stretch, cross the finish line and get their diploma. The event will be restricted to one car per graduate with the graduate’s family in that car. The ceremony will be live on video via Facebook.
This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.