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Polls are open in Putnam, St. Johns and Flagler counties today as early voting gets underway in Florida. Numbers from mail-ins are already high, and elections supervisors are expecting to be busy. Supervisor Vicky Oakes in St. Johns was asking people to be patient for the first few days because of expected high turnout and coronavirus precautions. There, 30,000 plus people have mailed in ballots, about a seventh of the 210,394 on the voter rolls. In Putnam County, mail-ins are at 10.42 percent with just over 5,200 of the eligible 50, 693 casting ballots. Supervisor Charles Overturf III reminds people early voting continues through Oct. 31, but only at certain designated polling locations.
In Flagler County elections supervisor Kaiti Lenhart is hoping county commissioners will weigh in during today’s meeting and suspend construction in the parking lot of the Flagler County government complex. She’s upset county administrator Jerry Cameron started work on the parking lot at the worst possible time for voters trying to get in to cast ballots early. In an e-mail to commissioners Saturday she told them she was “outraged” at the construction, saying Cameron in August agreed the work would not interfere with voting. In Flagler more than 16,500 ballots have come in. That’s more than a sixth of the just over 92,000 registered voters in Flagler.
Two coronavirus-related deaths are reported in Putnam County. One, a 75-year-old man, was reported by the Florida Department of Health Friday, the second death, a 79-year-old Putnam woman, was reported Saturday. That brings the death total since March to 48. On Saturday eight new cases and one transfer were reported into Putnam and on Sunday 16 new cases and one transfer out were reported. Total number of cases is 2,269.
Florida Department of Health in St. Johns County reported 122 new cases between Friday and Sunday. Total coronavirus cases are 5,979. In Flagler County 48 cases were reported between Friday and Sunday. Total is now 1,956.
Dr. Erika Hamer is new chairman of the St. Johns Count Chamber of Commerce, according to Chamber President and CEO Isabelle Renault. Hamer’s owner of Ponte Vedra Wellness Center in Ponte Vedra Beach and Nocatee. Newly elected to three year terms on the board: Melissa Morin, Melissa Rowe, Stephen Hudson and Chris Pokrivnak.
Unusually high surf and tides over the weekend are expected to continue through early this week. In St. Augustine city officials advised people to avoid driving through standing water and let the city know of any problems. St. Johns County warned some coastal flooding was expected and on-beach driving might be curtailed in certain areas.
Although lots of Halloween activities are on hold, the St. Johns County Parks and Recreation Department is hosting an event Halloween Eve. A special outdoor viewing of the movie Hocus Pocus! is set for Oct. 31 at 7 p.m. at Palencia Park. The event is free but you need to register. It should be a perfect night – there’s a blue moon scheduled.
This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.