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Jacksonville –based Baptist Medical Center is seeking to build a hospital at the intersection of Interstate 95 and State Road 207 in the location currently occupied by the large-scale Marketplace flea market. The hospital, which would include an emergency room, would be part of a medical and commercial complex, according to plans submitted to the county in February. Developers are seeking to rezone what is now a mixed-use designation to a Planned Unit Development. Both in-surgery and out-surgery facilities are proposed for the hospital. Retail businesses are planned on other sections of the 35-acre site.
Florida Department of Health reports Wednesday coronavirus figures for Putnam, Flagler and St. Johns counties stayed steady. Putnam cases currently total 127St. Johns remained steady at 223 cases and Flagler was at 147 cases.
Palatka City Commission once again meets via the Internet and Zoom at 6 p.m. tonight. On the agenda will be the contract for the new city manager Don Holmes, who has been the city attorney. His salary will be $120,000. Also up for consideration a contract for the interim city attorney Valeria Thomas. From the Miami area, she retired to Putnam County. Her contract calls for $4,000 a month. Also expected an update from the city on budgets for the city’s historic districts. Some concerns over whether brick streets will be kept has been raised after the city began tearing up Hotel Street and rumors floated the city was putting asphalt back down instead of the bricks. The city apparently will keep the brick although district residents responding online at the meeting of the Community Redevelopment Agency Wednesday said they wanted more information on the overall plan.
A traffic stop on Memorial Bridge in Palatka Tuesday has brought lots of questions. The stop was made at 4:30 p.m. by the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office drug and vice unit along with the street crimes unit and drew lots of stares and online photos. All the Sheriff’s Office is saying is the arrest was part of an ongoing investigation and additional details aren’t being released at this time.
Two people have been arrested following an apparent road rage incident in Flagler County Tuesday on Interstate 95 north. Flagler Sheriff’s dispatchers received a call from a driver on the roadway saying a man in a blue Hyundai Accent was pointing a gun at him. The car then sped up, weaving in and out of traffic. Deputies stopped it at Exit 289 in Palm Coast and ended up arresting driver Kelvisha Renara Johnson, 26, and Ruvon Anthony Washington, 24. Washington was found to be handling an Ak17 type rifled in “a careless or threatening manner”. A probable cause search of the vehicle led to discovery of the rifle, a couple of handguns and what Sheriff Rick Staly described as “a trafficking amount of drugs”. Washington is being held on a variety of charges with no bail. Johnson was charged with possession of cocaine and of marijuana and carrying a concealed weapon. Her bond was $3,500.
St. Augustine High School seniors got a reminder they’re special Wednesday after volunteers organized a moment to remember with a drive thru parade around the bus loop. Each graduating senior was given a bag of goodies including cookies, coupons from local businesses and some school necessities including pens and note pads. Teachers, parents and friends cheered them around.
Small businesses in St. Johns County may be eligible for emergency assistance grants. The county Wednesday began taking applications for grants for up to $5,000. Among requirements the businesses must have been operating at least a year, be registered with the Florida Division of Corporations, own or lease commercial space within the county, have 5 to 20 employees including part time and 1099 employees, not have received funds from other federal/state disaster loan/grant funding and be in good legal standing. Call 904-209-6050 for more or go to the county government website.
A golf tournament to benefit Rodeheaver Boys Ranch will be May 23 at the Palatka Municipal Golf Course. It’s sponsored by the St. Johns River Christian Golf Fellowship. You can find out more by calling Ray Grubbs at 386-538-0293 or Jeff King at 386-546-2648.
Governments are looking to the future and Fourth of July fireworks. Coronavirus has most cities taking a wait-and-see attitude but Jacksonville says its going forward while Jacksonville Beach hasn’t made a decision. St. Augustine first said it wasn’t going to have fireworks but City Manager John Regan now says a decision will be made at the end of May. Fireworks over the Matanzas normally draws thousands downtown. Palatka is still waiting to make a decision on whether to have fireworks at the riverfront and other city governments in Putnam are talking about what to do. Flagler Beach has canceled plans for fireworks.
Electronic meetings for now are the norm for governments. Putnam County commissioners and Welaka Town Council both used communication technology to hold their meetings Tuesday. Crescent City will be doing the same when they meet later this week.
In St. Augustine the city commission went back to 5 p.m. meetings this week so more of the public could participate. After one meeting three commissioners – Vice Mayor Leanna Freeman and commissioners Roxanne Horvath and Nancy Sikes-Kline voted to go back to the 10 a.m. time. Mayor Tracy Upchurch had called for returning to 5 p.m. saying it was what the public knew and expected.
Putnam County Tax Collector Linda Myers will be seeking a third term. She made the announcement Tuesday.
Flagler Beach commissioners are looking at purchasing a $571,000 fire truck. Nearly five years ago the proposal to buy a $568,000 combination ladder and pumper truck found strong opposition and took some 18 months. Some 650 people signed a petition in opposition although a 4-1 vote eventually led to the purchase. Some people are already rallying to fight the new expenditure.
State parks continue reopening with Ravine Gardens State Park in Palatka the latest. Only about 20 percent of the park is open while crews work on large portions of the roadway around the ravines that were damaged by hurricanes over the last couple of years.
Abnormally dry conditions continue throughout most of St. Johns River Water Management District. That’s despite above-average rainfall, says the district. April rainfall averaged 4 inches districtwide, 1.4 inches above the long-term average. However in Putnam, Flagler and St. Johns counties each has a 12- month deficit greater than 10 inches.
Not showing any shortage – the annual invasion of love bugs. Drivers are facing tens of thousands as the bugs begin their monthlong mating season. Good news, it only goes on for four weeks in May and again in September, according to the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Worst hours 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and they love the weather when its 84 degrees or higher. The unwanted visitors first showed up in the U.S. in the 1920s, making their way from Central America. They didn’t find Florida until the 1940s.
This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter