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Putnam County’s 2020 principal of the year has been named principal of the year for the state of Florida. Sarajean McDaniel, who has worked for the Putnam school district since 1996, was principal at Moseley Elementary School for three years until last week when she was promoted to a new administrative post as Leadership Development Coach. McDaniel brought Moseley’s school grade up from F to C after the state took over control and the first principal didn’t bring up the score. Superintendent Rick Surrency said McDaniel “exemplifies a can-do spirit and servant leadership for our district.” Before being moved to Moseley McDaniel was principal at James a. Long Elementary School for eight years.
An alarm going off in an ankle monitor sent a Putnam County Sheriff’s deputy to an Interlachen residence and an armed confrontation with two men Friday afternoon. Detective Jacob Higginbotham went to the residence at 135 Dove St. seeking a man wearing the court-ordered monitor that was showing a critical battery alarm. The man with the monitor refused to come out but two other men, David Schultz, 31, of Interlachen, and Joel Lynch, 29, of Hawthorne, did emerge with Schultz holding a handgun. According to the Sheriff’s Office Higginbotham repeatedly identified himself as a law enforcement officer but the men continually yelled racial slurs and threats to kill the detective. Higginbotham aimed at Schultz as the two men kept coming. Schultz finally dropped the gun as other deputies arrived at the scene. Inside the house narcotics and firearms were in plain sight and a search warrant led to the discovery of a large quantity of narcotics including cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana. Four firearms, a large quantity of ammunition, drug paraphernalia and more than $4,000 in cash were found. Both men face a variety of charges. Sheriff’s Office says it’s the ninth time in 12 months they’ve been called to the house including once for an apparent drug-related shooting.
Putnam County has four new cases of coronavirus bringing the total to 131. On Friday a 28–year-old Melrose woman was reported. By Sunday three more cases including two Palatka men, one 57 and one 51, and a Palatka woman, 37, had been added to the list. In Flagler County the count as of Sunday evening was 156. In St. Johns County, the count is at 231 cases.
Churches in Florida began reopening doors Sunday. Catholic churches in the Archdiocese of St. Augustine got the go-ahead last week and many were holding services although with social distancing. In order to accommodate more people, some churches including St. Monica’s in Palatka held services in their fellowship halls. Some Protestant churches as well were open again with social distancing.
This week will see the continuing and expanding reopening of businesses with restaurants, gyms and libraries allowed to go up to 50 percent capacity. Still closed are bars and theaters. In St. Augustine, Epic Theatres on State Road 207 was planning outdoor movies using the side of their building to show some blockbusters from the past. Attendance may be lighter than usual after the company apparently cut down live oaks in the lot in order to make viewing easier. That riled some potential moviegoers.
A two-acre fire off State Road 16 in St. Augustine brought out the Florida Forest Service aided by St. Johns County Fire Rescue. The brush fire was between Florida Highway Patrol station on SR 16 and St. Johns River State College campus off Kenton Morrison Road. Two Forest Service tractors were in use. No one was injured. Structures weren’t evacuated but were being protected.
Nocatee in St. Johns County tentatively plans to reopen its waterpark and pools on Wednesday. That will be at 25 percent capacity with no guests allowed. Their Crosswater Pool is expected to open when state permits are received, around May 29.
People continue to find ways to celebrate despite coronavirus restrictions. A Friday Funday Parade offered residents at Crestwood Nursing Home a chance to see family and friends thanks to a drive-thru parade. Rotary Club of Palatka honored one of its own over the weekend treating Don Jones to a drive-thru parade. The occasion — the 100th birthday of the longtime and popular member.
This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.