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If you’re planning to vote early in Florida’s primary, time is running out. Today and Saturday are the last days before actual election day on Tuesday, Aug. 18. Primary voting hours Saturday in Flagler are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and locations are at the Elections Office in the government complex in Bunnell, Palm Coast Community Center and Flagler County Library in Palm Coast. In St. Johns County hours will be 9 a.m.-6 p.m. with locations at the Elections Office, the Julington Creek Annex, St. Johns Convention Center at World Golf Village, the Shoppes of St. Johns, St. Augustine Beach City Hall and the library branches in Ponte Vedra, Southeast and Hastings. In Putnam County, hours are 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. with early voting at the Elections Office at the government complex in Palatka, Interlachen Community Center and South Putnam government complex in Crescent City.
Area election officials are hoping to see voter numbers go up with some admitting disappointment in the turnout so far. In Putnam County almost 14 percent of the 49,268 eligible voters have cast ballots either by mail or in person in early voting. In Flagler County nearly 20 percent of the county’s 88, 806 eligible voters had turned out as of this morning. In St. Johns County about 16.5 percent of the county’s 200,885 eligible voters have voted. Some elections basically will be decided during the primary and never make it to the general election ballot on Nov. 3.
Rumors that St. Augustine officials were having the obelisk to the Confederate dead moved from the Plaza de la Constitucion this morning brought out protestors in the early hours. City officials are now saying no move will take place for two weeks. A contractor today is supposed to be checking out moving the 30-foot obelisk from the location where it’s stood for 140 years. Concerns have been raised over keeping the obelisk intact during the move 19 miles away to Trout Creek Fish Camp off State Road 13.
Florida Department of Health announced four new coronavirus related deaths in the area Thursday. An 82-year-old man died in Putnam County, according to officials. Death total is now at 29. In addition 11 new coronavirus cases and two transfers out of county were announced. All the new cases are community-acquired. Overall numbers total 1,559 cases. St. Johns County reported three new deaths, bringing their death total to 42. In addition, 41 new cases were reported bring the total to 3,817. Flagler County reported five new cases for a total of 1,107 since counting began.
Palatka Mayor Terrell Hill didn’t get the usual pomp and ceremony that comes with being sworn in as president of the Florida League of Mayors. Fellow commissioner Justin Campbell performed the swearing in at Palatka City Hall Thursday as part of a virtual ceremony due to coronavirus.
Coronavirus testing is available through area health departments. A free drive-thru testing will be this Sunday and next Tuesday at the Putnam County Fairgrounds. No appointment is necessary. Children can be tested with parent or guardian present and consent. You stay inside your vehicle and test results will be available within 5-10 days. Days are Sunday, Aug. 16, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Tuesday, Aug. 18, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. The free regional testing is partnered by the Florida Department of Health in Putnam County, Putnam County Emergency Management and Putnam County Fair Authority.
Area artists have been busy and you can benefit as the Palatka Art League offers handcrafted arts and crafts items for sale at the Tilghman House, 324 River St., beginning today and continuing through Sunday. Expect everything from glass bird houses to cross stitch to steampunk sculptures to paintings to jewelry, says Debra Daniels, president of the League. And don’t forget on Mondays the League continues to give out free cloth masks at the TiIlghman.
This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.