his is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.
BassMaster Elite Series is returning to Palatka for a national fishing tournament the first week in February. Palatka City Commission Thursday approved the tournament after getting a detailed eight-page plan for coronavirus safety precautions from the Putnam County Chamber of Commerce. Among plans, limiting spectators, wearing masks and using social distancing. City Manager Don Holmes liked the plans so much he suggested the city adopt all or part of it for use at city events.
A five-year-old and her 87-year-old great-grandmother from St. Augustine have been found following a two-state search. On Thursday evening St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office announced the two were located near Savannah and family members were headed to meet them. A Florida Missing Child Alert went out Thursday morning after a family member returning to their home around 3 a.m. found the two gone as well as the great-grandmother’s car. Family members said action was out of the normal for the woman.
Monday is Martine Luther King Jr. Day but area celebrations have been curtailed due to coronavirus concerns. Palatka has cancelled their annual parade and ceremony. St. Augustine has turned the celebration into a virtual event. Flagler College is helping host online activities. King Day is a national holiday so schools and state, local and national government offices are closed. No garbage collection scheduled Monday in Palatka although St. Augustine will pick up as usual.
Palatka City Commissioners unanimously voted Thursday to put Dr. Sharon Spells on the Palatka Housing Authority Board. She’ll replace newly-elected City Commissioner Willie Jones, who had to step off the board. John Nelson, former CEO of the Authority, was the other applicant. The Spells’ name should be familiar, her mother Annie Mae Spells was a longtime member of the PHA board and a housing complex for seniors on Crill Avenue is named in her honor.
A reckless driver on Interstate 95 South led Florida Highway Patrol and Flagler and St. Johns sheriff’s officers on a chase in two counties before his arrest Thursday. The driver, identified as Henry L. Davis, 23, reportedly narrowly missed running into a St. Johns County Sheriff’s deputy before heading into Flagler. Attempts to stop him failed until deflation devices were put out. That deflated his tires but the driver continued on for several miles before crashing. He fled but a perimeter was set up and Davis was eventually caught. He’s now in Flagler jail on a $13,000 bond including resisting arrest, fleeing law enforcement driving without a licenses and possession of a firearm by a felon. Davis recently was released from jail after being sentenced for a robbery in Palm Beach County.
Efforts by Crescent City residents to keep their police department apparently aren’t registering with Crescent City commissioners. At their meeting Thursday the commission by a 4-1 vote ordered an ordinance be drawn up replacing officers with the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office. To close the department will still require two pubic hearings and votes.
Interlachen High School is getting a new football coach – and one who’s familiar with the area. Erik Gibson, who was an assistant coach at IHS in 2018, has accepted the head coaching job. For the last two years he’s been an assistant coach at Union County High School.
One new coronavirus related death has been reported in both Flagler and Putnam counties. Florida Department of Health in Putnam County reported the death of a 75-year-old man, bringing the count since March to 87 deaths. Also reported 73 new cases with two transfers into Putnam, bringing the total to 4,758. Flagler reported one new death, putting their total at 52. In addition, 57 new cases were reported, for a total of 4,565 in Flagler. St. Johns County reported 174 cases on Thursday, which brings their total coronavirus cases to 16,073.
Outdoor activities abound this weekend. In Crescent City the Dan McNutt second annual Memorial Golf Tournament is Saturday at The Oaks Golf Club and benefits South Putnam Christian Service Center. Life Half Marathon and 5K is Saturday at Coventry Oaks Farm outside of Palatka. Proceeds benefit A Woman’s Resource Center. Bluegrass band Possum Trot will be entertaining. In St. Johns County the St. Augustine Amphitheatre reopens Friday and Saturday with JJ Grey & Mofro, a Southern Swam Rock group. On Saturday and Sunday the place to be is St. Johns County Fairgrounds in Elkton where the Gala of the Royal Horses is being presented. The internationally known show features Lipizzaners, Arabians and Andalusians. Shows are at 3 p.m., tickets can be purchased online or one hour before the gate opens.