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May normally brings graduations, but this year coronavirus concerns have many coming up with new ways to celebrate. In Crescent City yard signs have been going up at seniors’ homes. Some parents in Palatka have metal signs on their cars displaying photos of their seniors. At Q.I. Roberts High students went by Wednesday for a drive-thru parade where seniors got caps and gowns for graduation. St. Johns County is still talking virtual graduations although principals are being given the option to allow in person graduations and St. Augustine High is holding theirs at their stadium with four people per family allowed to attend. Flagler County is still planning graduation at International Speedway in Daytona Beach. Seniors will drive their cars down the straightway with their families accompanying them. St. Johns River State College has rescheduled its spring commencement for July 23. Still to be determined is if graduation exercises will be in person or virtual.
Memorial Day weekend is coming up. Palatka’s Blue Crab Festival won’t be held this weekend but organizers are planning for Labor Day. Remembrance ceremonies in area counties have been canceled to the public. Beach communities are expecting to see crowds although social distancing is required in St. Johns and Flagler counties. Lifeguards will be going on summer duty beginning this weekend. In St. Augustine Galimore Community Pool will kick off their summer pool sessions this Friday from 1-4 p.m. Social distancing is expected and number of swimmers is limited. Bathroom facilities will be open but locker room showering is prohibited.
A St. Augustine woman who lists herself as an international spiritual medium is facing charges of exploiting an elderly person. St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office says Jackie Ronco, 30, spent nearly $185,000 belonging to a woman with dementia for her own uses including starting up a business, paying for her children’s day car as well as for personal expenses. Ronco had gotten the victim’s power of attorney and was a signer on the woman’s bank account. She put the victim in an assisted living facility and withdrew money leaving only about $3,000 in the victim’s account. She owes the assisted living facility $30,000 and didn’t pay the victim’s health insurance premiums. Ronco is listed as co-owner of Purple Lotus, formerly on San Marco Avenue. She reportedly faces eviction from her home. She told detectives she planned for her business, which failed, to provide money to pay the victim’s expenses.
Palm Coast Data in Flagler County is laying off 150 employees and will be moving from its current location on Commerce Boulevard in August. About 250 employees – approximately 60 percent of their current workforce – will remain in Palm Coast and the company is looking for a new, smaller building. Local officials say the changes are part of a broader restructuring by the firm’s Irish-based parent company.
Flagler County commissioners now say they’ll be building only a new Sheriff’s Operations Center on an 8.4-acre site south of Commerce Parkway. The Operations Center facility in Bunnell had to close after the building was discovered to have mold issues. The center is currently in the county courthouse. Originally commissioners planned to also put a south branch library on the 8.4 acres but there isn’t enough room for expansion of both operations. The county is in talks with First Baptist Church of Bunnell about buying property across the street from the Operations site for the library.
Coach Al Carter in Crescent City has a reputation for a positive, can-do attitude. First Coast News this week recognized that attitude and his positive impact on Crescent City High School students featuring him on their “Tell Me Something Good” segment. The coach is retiring this year.
This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.