July 14 – Roving reporter
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Putnam County commissioners will be listening to the public today during a hearing on the future of the Confederate memorial and all the oak trees at the Putnam County Courthouse in downtown Palatka. The virtual meeting on Zoom begins at 2 p.m. A group is pushing for removal of the memorial and trees including the 170-year-old Maltby Oak. Although the tree was never used for hangings, the group has said it is basically a symbol of white oppression. Petitions are showing more than three to one in favor of retaining the trees and the memorial.
In St. Johns County commissioners met this morning to extend the local state of emergency due to coronavirus. Also on their agenda a plan for CARES Act funding appropriation. CARES is the federal act to help local governments pay for coronavirus related responses.
Flagler County commissioners agreed Monday to sell the Sheriff’s Operations Center in Bunnell at a loss of $423,000. The count paid $1.23 million for the building in 2013 and within the last couple of years found itself facing problems regarding mold. The operations center was pulled from the building and the county has been shopping the building. Only one person bid, GPR1 LLC. That’s owned by Pamela and Gary Roberts of Flagler Beach. Roberts is a builder. The county still has about a $5 million debt acquired in rebuilding and remodeling the facility that was formerly a hospital.
A proposed mediation agreement between Flagler County and Captain’s BBQ was rejected by the commission Monday. The proposal included extending low rents for 20 years to the restaurant located at Bing’s Landing park in Flagler County. The restaurant would have had usage of a pavilion in the park on six holidays and the county would have been responsible for a number of repairs to begin with as well as having to pay for all repairs and maintenance through 2041. An impasse was declared and legal actions can now begin again in an issue that’s gone on for some two years.
Flagler County commissioners are strongly encouraging people to wear masks in the face of coronavirus but they aren’t mandating it. Officials say it’s almost impossible to enforce such restrictions.
Numbers of coronavirus cases in Putnam, Flagler and St. Johns counties continue to grow. Florida Department of Health in Putnam reported 37 cases during Monday’s report. That brings the total since the count began to 775. In Flagler County 16 cases were reported, bringing total number to 509. In St. Johns County, 53 cases were reported Monday. Total there is 1,905.
Putnam County School Board meets at 6 p.m. tonight. While plans call for the meeting to be open to the public, social distancing is required and live presentations will be available on line. According to School Superintendent Rick Surrency, about 60 percent of parents and guardians who have responded favor returning students to classroom settings. Other methods including online courses with teachers will be available. “We’re in some new territory here,” Surrency said in discussing the plans. Parents in Putnam have until Thursday to make a decision on which option to choose. If they don’t reply, students automatically are enrolled in brick-and-mortar schools.
Late this afternoon a drive-by thank you for longtime Putnam County doctor Iftikhar Ahmad is taking place. Ahmad who has served the people of the area more than 50 years is going with his wife to California to be with family. An avid photographer, he’s been a vital part of the community including being the man behind Rotary Club’s annual Health Fair. A cavalcade is meeting at 5:30 p.m. in the parking lot of E.H. Miller School on Horseman’s Club Road and then driving to the Ahmads’ home at 114 East Camelot Drive at 6 p.m. The drive-by is open to the public.
This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.
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