This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.
The future of the Confederate memorial in Putnam County will headline a workshop Tuesday at 2 p.m. at the Putnam government complex on Crill Avenue. Commissioners will hold their regular meeting earlier in the day, clearing the afternoon for the workshop that will allow citizens to give their view on where or if to move the statue now on the courthouse lawn. A citizens committee has offered three possible locations including leaving it where it is. Other suggested sites: Melrose Heritage Park in Melrose and Veterans Park on the East Palatka side of Memorial Bridge.
Putnam County school officials again took part in a national round table on the importance of teacher retention and how to make it happen. On Friday Superintendent Rick Surrency, Human Resources director Tonya Whitehurst and Human Resources administrator Kristin Carroll were on Zoom with school officials around the country. Putnam’s mentoring program that pairs new teachers with experienced teachers is credited with helping bring up new teacher retention rates. In three year they’ve seen retentions go from 65 percent to 93 percent.
Two veteran Flagler County school administrators have new jobs. Cara Cronk, the county’s 2018 assistant principal of the year, has been named principal at Buddy Taylor Middle School, where for the past two years she was assistant principal. Principal Bobby Bossardet last month to executive director of leadership at the district office. Jessica DeFord, who has been acting principal at Belle Terre Elementary School, has been named principal by Superintendent Cathy Mittelstadt.
Florida Department of Health in Putnam County reported three coronavirus-related deaths Sunday, including an 82-year-old woman, an 84-year-old man and a 64-year-old man. That brings death total since March to 54 for Putnam. Total number of new cases reported between Friday and Sunday is 28, bringing total number of cases reported to 2,485. St. Johns County also saw three new deaths bringing their total to 85 over the weekend. They reported 139 new cases between Friday and Sunday, bringing their total to 7,047 coronavirus cases. Flagler County had 37 new coronavirus cases, bringing their total to 2,286.
Veterans Day this Wednesday isn’t being celebrated with parades due to coronavirus. However, the national holiday will see schools, banks, government offices, postal service and many businesses closing for the day. It’s been 101 years since Veterans Day, then known as Armistice Day, began. That’s when people gathered to celebrate the first anniversary of World War I, the conflict that had been called “the war to end all wars.”
St. Augustine will be seeing some changes. The Rev. Ron Rawls, who has become an increasingly vocal presence in protests surrounding Confederate memorials and racism, is no longer at St. Paul A.M.E. Church in St. Augustine. He’s now at Greater Bethel A.M.E. Church in Gainesville, his home. His wife is an Alachua County court judge. Also coming a change in city government as St. Augustine Police Chief Barry Fox steps down in April of next year. He won’t be leaving city work, however, since he will become manager of Codes Enforcement. That’s an increasingly complicated post as short-term rentals grow as does the hospitality industry. Assistant Chief Anthony Cuthbert will run day-to-day operation for police until another chief is appointed.
Keep Putnam Beautiful continues their Downtown Spruce Up on St. Johns Avenue. This Saturday volunteers were helping pick up and clean up along Palatka’s main drag. Kudos to Brett Dennis who not only cleaned up Memorial Bridge along with other members of the Morning Maniacs walking group, but then headed to the Spruce Up.