This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.
Expect some drama at Thursday’s Crescent City Commission meeting. The town has put its six-member police department on paid leave after questions regarding training records and certifications were raised. On Thursday the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office will make a presentation regarding a potential contract some see as basically having the sheriff’s department take over handling law enforcement in the South Putnam town. A district commander would serve as police chief. A similar proposal in the past met with opposition from many. The Sheriff’s Office is currently providing law enforcement protection while the certification question is investigated by Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
As coronavirus continues, school districts are struggling with how to keep students on track. St. Johns County School District is adjusting how it handles multiple learning formats with Superintendent Tim Forson Monday noting it is “increasingly apparent that students are best served in the school building with a face-to-face situation.” Changes are being made in the district, he said, including requiring students to commit for the spring semester to either attending a brick-and-mortar school or going for distance learning. In addition teachers will no longer be required to teach in-person classes and virtual classes at the same time. For struggling students, the district will be providing “intensive instructional support” programs. Also changing, Wednesday dismissals are going back to just one hour early rather than two.
Putnam County School District will be adding distance learning classrooms to all Putnam County middle schools thanks to a federal USDA Distance Learning grant, say district school officials. The cutting edge technology enables schools to offer STEM classes, Dual Enrollment AP and Cambridge AICE courses, It also means students can collaborate across the district. This is the second Distance Learning grant the district has received. The first funded distance learning classrooms in all the county’s high schools.
Flagler County commissioners have given the go-ahead to a $21 million, 51,000 square-foot operations center for the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office. At Monday’s meeting commissioners heard a presentation regarding the structure. How they’ll finance the center is still being reviewed although a proposed 15-year bond issue is being discussed. Need for the building came about after officials determined the then-Operations Center was a “sick” building. That was almost two-and-a-half years ago and plans have gone through several changes and locations. The new center will be going on land south of the Government Services Complex.
Florida Departments of Health in Putnam, Flagler and St. Johns counties each reported a coronavirus-related death in Monday’s reports. In Putnam, the death of a 62-year-old man brought total number of deaths since counting began in March to 61. Also reported were 10 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total in Putnam to 2,950. Flagler County reported one new coronavirus-related death, bringing the total to 45. Twelve new cases were reported, bringing the overall count in Flagler to 2,901. St. Johns County reported one death bringing total number of deaths to 101. Eighty-two new cases were reported bringing the total to 9,620.
St. Augustine City Commission saw a partial changing of the guard Monday night as commissioners were sworn in. Being sworn in again was Commissioner Roxanne Horvath and Mayor Tracy Upchurch. Barbara Blonder, who teaches at Flagler College, took her first oath of office. In November she defeated incumbent Leanna Freeman, who had served three terms.
Looking for a way to make a difference for someone’s Christmas? Lakewood Nursing Center in Crescent City is seeking gift items for their residents, who have been confined because of coronavirus. You can find out more about what’s needed by calling the center at 386-698-2222.