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A fourth person in Putnam County has died from coronavirus, according to the Florida Depart of Health in Putnam County. The individual as a 67-year-old Crescent City woman. Another coronavirus case was reported Thursday in Putnam, this one a 56-year-old Palatka woman. At this time, it is unknown if she traveled or had contact with a confirmed case. Total number of cases reported in Putnam County is now 136. In St. Johns County the total is 235 cases. In Flagler County the total is 172 cases.
Fireworks may look unlikely for the Fourth of July but residents in Putnam, Clay and St. Johns counties got a pyrotechnical display Thursday night courtesy of Mother Nature. A “thunderhead” cumulonimbus cloud was the cause according to News4Jax weatherman John Gaughan. As he put it lightning was “just frequent and intense.” If you missed it personally, check out Facebook, which was full of pictures of the flashing light display.
Flagler County Sheriff’s Office is warning of scams prompted by coronavirus that are targeting those needing money during the pandemic. An area woman responded to an advertisement on a neighborhood website where people buy and sell things. The ad was supposedly from a doctor and businessman named Gilbert Neil who needed someone to run errands for $500 a week. First errand: Go buy $6,000 worth of Amazon.com gift cards, reveal the card numbers and email them to the so-called doctor. She went and bought more than 50 gift cards and sent him the numbers. When a Flagler deputy called the number and identified himself, the man hung up. He then texted the woman: “I am not American”. Sheriff’s Office warns to avoid becoming a victim by never giving out personal or financial info and never agreeing to pay any sum of money using gift cards or to pay in advance for employment.
A Flagler County coach and teacher is being allowed to resign after an investigation showed he had caused injury or used excessive force when disciplining an 8-year-old special needs student. Robert Ripley was former head football coach at Matanzas High School where he was twice investigated, once for allegations he had bullied and demeaned a student athlete and for exhibiting unacceptable coaching style toward the team. He remained as dean of discipline before taking a teaching job at Wadsworth Elementary School.
St. Johns County Tax Collector Dennis Hollingsworth has reopened his main office as well as the Julington Creek and Ponte Vedra Beach branches. Masks are encouraged and available to customers upon requests. Expect to see more government offices and facilities reopening. The St. Augustine Pier reopened first of the week and today the gift shop opens again. Also opening in time for Memorial Day weekend is the Visitor Information Center downtown. The Gallimore Community Pool also reopens today from 1-4 p.m. with social distancing applying.
Remember all government offices in St. Johns, Flagler and Putnam counties will be closed Monday for Memorial Day.
After 70 straight days, staff assigned to Putnam County’s Emergency Operations Center will have several days off including Saturday, Sunday and Monday. They’ve been handling a huge volume of calls regarding coronavirus and other concerns. A message will be left on the hotline with instructions for those calling over the long weekend. The 911 line will still be immediately answered. On Tuesday call center hours change to 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Putnam County commissioners are to meet Tuesday. Expect announcements of some re-openings.
Memorial Day weekend normally brings the annual Blue Crab Festival in Palatka, but this year the festival has been moved to Labor Day Weekend because of the virus.
Public observances of Memorial Day, which honors and remembers those in the military who have died serving the United States, will be different this year. Public ceremonies aren’t planned or have been canceled. However, flags are flying on service graves in many cemeteries. In St. Augustine the Pilot Club continues its annual tradition of putting out small American flags in front of City Hall/Lightner Museum with names and information on service members who have died. The flags go up Saturday morning and help is always appreciated. They’re taken down Monday afternoon.
Last year some 43 million Americans traveled for the Memorial Day Weekend. AAA expects numbers to be greatly reduced this year because of the coronavirus. However, beaches are opening and while social distancing will apply expect to see plenty of people if you go.
Whatever you do this weekend, take the time to remember the men and women who have made the nation’s liberty possible, who have paid the ultimate sacrifice to defend the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and the American way of life. If ever there’s been a time to remember what it takes to protect and secure the liberties of we the people, it is now.
This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.