This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.
Putnam County manager Terry Suggs will be staying in Putnam County. One of three finalists for the job of Daytona Beach city manager, he withdrew his name from consideration Friday. Putnam commissioners earlier in the day cancelled a special meeting where they were expected to offer him incentives to stay. Suggs, former Palatka city manager, said he wanted to see Putnam continue the momentum that he has been helping build.
A Palm Sunday tradition returned to St. Augustine Sunday with the annual Blessing of the Fleet along the bayfront. It was Bishop of the St. Augustine Diocese Felipe Estevez’s 10t th time to lead the procession and probably his last since he will retire this summer. Area Knights of Columbus and the St. Augustine Royal Family took part in the walk from the Cathedral Basilica to the Municipal Marina. Last year the Blessing was canceled as coronavirus began shutting down events nationwide. Originally the Blessing included dozens of shrimp trawlers; that industry has gradually faded but a few were on hand for the ceremony. Dozens of pleasure boats and boaters took part as well as Sheriff Rob Hardwick and the St. Johns Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit.
A shooting Friday morning in Crescent City continues under investigation by the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies were called out Friday afternoon to a shooting on Bay Street that left a 24-year-old woman with a gunshot wound to the leg. She was taken to an area hospital and has since posted on Facebook that she was released. Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Allison Waters-Merritt said today the investigation is continuing and several witnesses were at the scene. Detectives said they don’t believe this is connected to any other shootings.
Flagler County Sheriff’s Office continues seeking the shooter that left a woman in critical condition at Palm Coast’s Microtel on Kingswood Drive Friday morning. Sheriff Rick Staly on Friday evening said he was “confident the community does not need to be alarmed.”
For booklovers in Flagler County, Tuesday will be a special day as the Flagler Beach Library reopens its doors to the public. The library on Seventh Street has offered pick-up service for getting books but the reopening means patrons can once again enjoy in-person browsing and computer use from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. A number of safety measures will be in effect for the partial reopening.
Over the weekend the Florida Department of Health reported two coronavirus-related deaths in Putnam County as well as one each in Flagler and St. Johns counties. Putnam reported the deaths of a 62-year-old and a 63-year-old man, bringing the death total since counting began March a year ago to 135. In addition, 23 new coronavirus cases were reported between Thursday and Saturday in Putnam, bringing the total to 6,016 cases. Flagler County reported one new death bringing the death total to 96. In addition, 87 new coronavirus cases were reported in Flagler for a total of 6,618. St. Johns County reported one new death bringing their total to 202. In addition, 145 new cases were reported for a total of 21,062 in St. Johns.
A reminder – today Florida enlarges those eligible for a coronavirus vaccine by dropping the age to 40 and up. Health departments are reminding people to social distance wear masks in public settings and wash hands frequently.
Area governments continue to mull event reopenings. On Saturday the Dreams Come True Charity Bass Tournament Hosted by Extreme Outdoors took place on the St. Johns River in Palatka. That led to some on Facebook commenting at least fishing tournaments are being allowed in the city although other events haven’t gotten the nod from the City of Palatka authorities. Someone suggested maybe the way to have events approved is to be sure a fish-oriented game at each. Suggestions (tongue in cheek) included Go Fish, Fish in a Bowl and, instead of kissing booths, fishing booths. Meanwhile in Flagler Beach commissioners decided last week not to hold a Fourth of July celebration or the traditional fireworks over the beach that draws thousands. The next big public event likely to take place there may not happen until the annual Christmas parade and fireworks.
Restaurant and bar owners in the area may be eligible for part of a new $28.6 billion federal grant program. The federal Restaurant Revitalization Fund is part of the American Rescue Plan and is aimed at helping businesses including restaurants, bars, food trucks and brewpubs hit by coronavirus. Grants are based on lost gross revenue between 2019 and 2020. Dana Jones, president of the Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, says the Small Business Administration will administer and disperse the grants, but the program doesn’t yet have a launch date. Information is available online.