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Florida Highway Patrol is investigating a crash on U.S. 17 South in Putnam County this morning that left one person dead. The accident happened at 7:12 a.m. at U.S. 17 and Buffalo Bluff Road in Satsuma.
A fifth person has died in Putnam County in a case linked to coronavirus, according to the Florida Department of Health. In addition five more coronavirus related cases were announced Thursday including a 26-year-old Pomona Park man, a 54-year-old Palatka woman and three people from Florahome including a 52-year-old man, a 33-year-old man and a 53-year-old woman. Only the Pomona Park individual was known to have been exposed to a confirmed case. In Flagler County the case count is at 179 up by one and in St. Johns County the count is at 247, up two.
St. Johns County School District is sending out surveys to parents and guardians seeking feedback about reopening in August. District Superintendent Tim Forson says it’s the first of multiple surveys with this one due back next Wednesday. Among questions are whether students should return to traditional school, go to 100 percent on-line instruction or try a combination of both. Parents also are being asked issues to do with extracurricular activities, before-and-after school care and computers and hotspots. A survey sent out to district teachers recently had 30 percent saying they were uncomfortable with in-person teaching come August.
Palatka won’t be holding fireworks for the Fourth of July. Commissioners Thursday during an online meeting made it official in time to give notice to their fireworks provider. Labor Day is being discussed as an alternative.
Palatka is going after a couple of grants totaling $1.3 million to renovate City Hall and to provide parking and renovations at the Union Train Depot at 11th and Reid streets. The items were stuck on the consent agenda after the original agenda was sent out. Commissioner Rufus Borum asked they be pulled for discussion at Thursday’s meeting. That’s when the public learned the city will try for the grants including a City Hall upgrade for $500,000. The city must put up $125,000, but it’s not unusual for cities to be allowed to put up buildings as their match. New City Manager Don Holmes said it was good deal “regardless of the future of the building.” Mayor Terrell Hill has pushed to sell the building or repurpose it and move city facilities to the edge of Palatka next to Francis, five miles away. He’s met opposition.
St. Augustine will be reopening City Hall on Monday, going back to regular business hours. On-street and off-street parking rules will be enforced Monday through Saturday. Beginning Monday parking enforcement and fees will be back in place. City meetings will continue to be conducted online.
Florida Department of Law Enforcement has closed a 10-day investigation into Flagler County Commissioner Joe Mullins and his interaction with an escort service. FDLE said it found nothing to warrant a criminal investigation into what they called unverified information in news stories written by the Daytona Beach News-Journal. Mullins told fellow commissioners at a meeting earlier this month it was an effort to smear him and tied it to family court issues in an ongoing case in Georgia, where he is from.
A St. Johns County woman has been arrested on allegations she stole more than $50,000 from an elderly man. The man told authorities Melissa Edwards wrote checks to herself from his account while he was ill. The victim had moved to Tallahassee and Edwards and her husband, a local attorney, reportedly traveled to Tallahassee, put together a will leaving the victim’s estate to Edwards and used the power of attorney to complete the process, according to officials. The victim told detectives he hadn’t known Edwards was writing checks until he was able to check his bank statements.
Last year was the 75th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy, France, and thousands turned out for the celebrations including some of the servicemen who stormed the beaches and parachuted onto the countryside during the major push against the Nazi invaders. This year celebrations won’t happen as planned because of coronavirus. However in Palatka you’ll be able to see a World War II plane and some of the re-enactors as they commemorate the invasion June 5th and 6th. Skydive Palatka is hosting the warplane Tico Belle and the Round Canopy Parachuting Team that continues to commemorate the World War II heroes. Skydive Palatka owner Art Shaffer last year was at Normandy jumping in tandem with Tom Rice, who first made the jump in 1944 as a Screaming Eagle.
This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.