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A Peace in the Streets march Thursday afternoon in Palatka was peaceful as a mixed and mostly young crowd turned out on at the Putnam County Courthouse. Law enforcement estimated between 300 and 350 were on hand for the event that called for removal of the statue to those who fought for the Confederacy during the Çivil War and for the removal of all oak trees on the courthouse lawn. The two organizers, who are 18 and 20, say both are seen as symbols of oppression by African-Americans. Among the trees is the Maltby Oak, estimated to be about 175 years old. No historical evidence has been found that it was ever used for hanging despite the recent spread of the myth. On-and-off rain dampened but didn’t deter the selfie-taking crowd. Putnam County Sheriff’s Office and Palatka Police Department were on hand but the attitude was relaxed. Concrete barriers were in place on St. Johns Avenue in front of the courthouse and side streets were barricaded also.
The majority of parents in St. Johns County want to see children return to traditional school when classes resume this fall. Results of a survey sent out by the school district show 69 percent of the 16,000 parents who took the survey favored students returning to school buildings and campuses.
Flagler Beach goes back to the pier today as it reopens to the public for the first time in 73 days. The coronavirus closed it and restrictions because of coronavirus will mean only 50 people at a time are allowed social distancing will be required. Picnic tables also are open and fishing from the pier will be allowed. Fishing on the beach and walking of pets is still only permitted north of 10th Street North and south of 10th Street South. The pier will be open every day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Longtime St. Augustine Beach City Manager Max Royle is under attack from the vice mayor who says he hasn’t demonstrated “the needed leadership or communications skills necessary to effectively serve as city manager.” Vice Mayor Maggie Kostka sought to have Royle resign immediately at Monday’s meeting. The commission put off any action until July saying they want city attorneys to review the conditions of Royle’s employment. Royle, who normally allows commissioners to have the spotlight, has worked for the city since 1989.
Coronavirus numbers saw an uptick when the Florida Department of Health released figures for Thursday. In Putnam County the number of cases went up by 11 putting the total at 165. The new cases included a 77-year-old woman in Hollister and a 25-year-old woman in Florahome. The nine other cases were all in Palatka and included seven women ranging in age from 16 to 60 and two men, one 48 and one 54. All but one of the 11 cases had contact with a confirmed case. St. Johns County went up by two cases to 267. Flagler County went up two cases to 193.
Four people were arrested after a raid by the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team Thursday as a warrant was served at a Palm Cost residence at 11 Raemoor Drive. Drugs were found at the house including fentanyl, methamphetamine, marijuana and prescription drugs but no prescriptions. In the last two years the Sheriff’s Office has had 69 calls for service including disturbances, overdoses, drug dealing, warrant arrests and a prior drug search warrant about a year ago. Arrested were Margaret Lynn Tillman, Samantha Marie Tillman, Glenn James Moratto and Christopher Ryan Avellar. More charges are pending.
Summer activities are returning although with a twist. Normally St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum holds a summer camp on the property but this year they’re offering a virtual summer camp. Campers get a Sea in a Satchel backpack filled with education materials and activities that correspond to the programs each week. Focus is on the role people have played in the region’s greatest asset, the ocean. Go online to staugustinelighhouse.org or call 904-829-0745 for more.
Saturday is the anniversary of D-Day in 1944. The invasion at Normandy was the beginning of the end for Nazi Germany as Allied forces under Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower began the push across Europe. Many of this year’s commemorations have been canceled due to coronavirus.
This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.