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Palatka’s Blue Crab Festival won’t be happening this year. The popular event is always Memorial Day weekend but coronavirus forced organizers to move it to Labor Day weekend. On Monday Palatka Young Professionals, which now runs the festival, announced they were “not able to obtain official papers from organizations” so they could meet CDC guidelines and local regulations and were canceling it until next year. At a special meeting of the Palatka City Commission last week to make masks mandatory the Blue Crab issue came up with David Parsons from PYP asking for direction from the commission. They were unable to say if permits would be approved citing coronavirus concerns.
A Hasting woman has won a $2 million top prize from a Florida Lottery scratch-off game. Debra Tice claimed her prize from the 100X Scratch-Off game using a secured drop box at Lottery headquarters in Tallahassee. She chose to take her winnings as a one-time, lump sum payment of $1,605,000. Her $10 ticket was purchased at Circle K at 4205 U.S. 1 South in St. Augustine.
Students will be returning to in-person classes in August following a decision from the Florida Department of Education Monday. Commissioner Richard Corcoran said “… extended school closures can impede the education success of students, impact families’ wellbeing and limit many parents and guardians from returning to work.” Districts are being told to follow the advice of health officials and executive orders from the governor. The decision to reopen schools at least five days per week means districts that were looking at offering several options changing directions.
Coronavirus case numbers in Putnam, Flagler and St. Johns counties showed a reduction Monday. In Putnam County 12 cases were reported by the Florida Department of Health in Putnam County. That brings total to 550 cases. In Flagler nine cases were reported bringing the number to 392. In St. Johns the total number of cases is at 1,382 with 57 reported Monday.
Mask use to fight spread of coronavirus remains a controversial issue. A state legislator from Lake County has filed a lawsuit against Jacksonville over their recently implemented mask mandate. Anthony Sabitini filed on behalf of a small business owner saying Mayor Lenny Curry “unlawfully” mandated the requirement that masks must be worn in public. He’s filed similar lawsuits in three other counties including St. Johns. In Flagler County this week, the issue of mandating masks is scheduled to come up at three city meetings – Palm Coast today and Bunnell and Flagler Beach Thursday. Sheriff Rick Staly has cited issues of constitutionality and enforcement but has proposed a compromise that would avid the constitutionality issue by using trespassing and code enforcement laws.
The driver of a tractor was killed in a crash Monday with a milk truck on Race Track Road, according to the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office. The accident around 12:15 p.m. was at Bishop Estates Road in front of Fruit Cove Middle School. Both the tractor and milk ruck were westbound when the milk truck struck the tractor from behind, according to reports. The tractor tipped over and the driver was killed. The milk truck went over the center median into oncoming traffic, striking a tree which fell and crushed the cab’s engine. The driver was not seriously injured. The wreck is under investigation.
St. James United Methodist Church on Reid Street in Palatka was broken into Saturday or early Sunday. Thieves broke in through a window and vandalized offices and the library. A computer was stolen as well as a locked safe. No money in the safe, say church officials, but the record of membership dating back to the 1850s was inside. Church members are hoping to get back the membership list.
A K-9 known as Holmes and his Flagler County deputy partner have been named K-9 trailing team of the year for the state, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Sgt. Fred Gimbel and Holmes will receive the award at the state Capitol from Gov. Ron DeSantis in September. Holmes, named after the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, is the first bloodhound Flagler County has had in years. He joined the agency in April 2018. So far this year the K-9 team have been instrumental in tracking down missing juveniles in two incidents.
This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.