This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.
The February bluegrass festival that normally brings in thousands of fans to Rodeheaver Boys Ranch in Putnam County won’t be taking place at the ranch this year. Organizers are moving the festival to Brooksville after Rodeheaver’s board voted to hold off having the festival this year due to coronavirus concerns. Organizers hope to have their fall festival at Rodeheaver’s.
It’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The nationwide celebration means federal, state and local government offices are closed as are the U.S. Postal Service, banks and schools. Celebrations have been curtailed due to coronavirus. Palatka has canceled their festivities, St. Augustine is holding virtual events and broadcasting through Flagler College.
A man arrested last week in Jacksonville for alleged making a bomb threat is now in St. Johns County jail after a five-hour standoff with law enforcement Saturday at the water treatment plant in St. Augustine. St. Augustine Police and St. Johns County Sheriff’s SWAT team were called out after a 40-foot RV motor home was driven into the plant off Riberia Street in the Lincolnville area. Joe DiMaggio, 54, of Jacksonville, surrendered in the afternoon after hours of negotiation efforts by law enforcement. DiMaggio, no relation to the Yankees’ baseball legend, also had a young man in the RV and around 4:30 that individual came out on his own. DiMaggio was pulled out of the RV. No details of the relationship between the two were released. DiMaggio is being held without bond on charges of trespassing, domestic violence, false imprisonment and resisting arrest without violence. Last week he was arrested for making a bomb threat at a Westside gas station in Jacksonville.
You just thought elections were over – municipal elections are coming up in March in Welaka for the mayor’s seat and one commission seat. Each seat has already had three candidates file their intent to run, according to Putnam County Supervisor of Elections Charles Overturf III. Incumbent Mayor Gordon Sands Jr. is seeking re=election. He faces challengers Jamie Watts and Pam Olson. Incumbent councilmember Marianne Milledge is running for re-election and has drawn challengers Janis Brown-Stallings and Tonya Young.
Wayne McClain is the new chair of the Putnam County Chamber of Commerce. The local businessman is a longtime chamber supporter and vice-president of Beck Automotive Group.
Woman’s Club of Palatka has a new president with Linda Priest taking over from Elizabeth van Rensburg. Priest will serve a two-year term. Also elected, Mindy Estep, president elect; Lucy May, first vice president; Erin Hewes, second vice president; Kay Hope, recording secretary; Joan Godwin, treasurer; Nicole Grace, corresponding secretary; and Lynne Currie, auditor.
Florida Department of Health offices throughout the state are closed today in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Coronavirus testing facilities will reopen Tuesday. Putnam County reported 129 new cases over the weekend for a total count of 5,033 since counting began in March. Flagler County reported 76 cases bringing their total to 4,710. St. Johns County reported 250 cases, brnging their total to 16,555.
New traffic patterns begin this week in the Bardin area of Putnam County at Etoniah Creek Bridge where work is beginning to refurbish the bridge. A one-lane traffic pattern is going into effect with construction scheduled to be completed in the fall. Currently there is a four-ton weight restriction on the bridge and officials say vehicle traffic will be monitored. Eventually vehicles over the allowed limit will be issued citations. Public works departments in Putnam and Clay counties are coordinating efforts to maintain Sun Garden Road so it can be used as a detour.