This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.
Expect rainy weather to continue today and apparently through the week in the Putnam, Flagler and St. Johns counties area, according to the National Weather Service. Eighty percent chance of rain today and 70 percent chance Wednesday. Sixty percent chance Thursday and Friday. Monday night brought three-quarters-of-an inch of rain in the Palatka area, according to the weather gauge at WPLK/WIYD.
Putnam County Commission holds its regular meeting today and a special called workshop on Wednesday. The workshop includes a budget review and discussion on Multiple Service Benefit Units for fire protection. Among items the commission is looking at today — a $250,000 grant from the COPS Hiring Program. Sheriff Gator DeLoach says the dollars are intended to partially fund hiring two additional deputies over three years in each of the two service districts. A minimum 25 percent local match is required for the grant and that would come from the county budget. The plan comes as big cities see a loss of officers. DeLoach has said deputy recruitment isn’t a problem although pay for a beginning deputy with no experience is just over $35,000. St. Johns County Sheriff Rob Hardwick likewise says finding deputies isn’t a problem in St. Johns where a new deputy with no experience is making $43,000. Recruitment is more difficult at police department levels where chiefs find themselves with a higher turnover rate as officers gain experience and move on.
Flagler County has a new interim county manager after Flagler County commissioners Monday agreed on Heidi Petito, who for many years has been facilities director for the county. In January she also became co-chief of staff with Jorge Salinas who was brought in as co-chief of staff with many expecting him to take over as manager. He has now said he’s not interested in the job. Current manager Jerry Cameron, who has served as interim manager for two-and-a-half years, recently announced his final day will be July 3. When he took the job, he said he didn’t want to be county manager except on an interim basis and kept his home in St. Johns County.
In federal court in Jacksonville today a judge is hearing arguments regarding the St. Johns County Commission not considering a countywide Gay Pride proclamation. Sara Bloomberg, founder of a group that reportedly provides resources for LGBTQAI youth, contacted Commissioner Henry Dean in March about a Gay Pride proclamation. Chair Jeremiah Blocker apparently decided not to put the proclamation up for consideration and Bloomberg filed the suit saying freedom of speech and equal protection under the law had been violated by rejection of the proclamation.
St. Augustine Beaches’ Music & Art by the Sea continues this Wednesday with The Committee performing at the St. Johns County Pier of A1A. The group offers pop and dance music from 7 to 9 p.m. in a concert that’s free to the public. Beginning at 4 p.m. $10 and under dinners are available from food trucks or bring your own. The Art Studio will feature a local artist at their venue next to the Pier from 3-7 p.m.
Don’t forget 14th Street crossing St. Johns Avenue in Palatka is closed as contractors put in replacement water lines. Traffic is being diverted onto 13th and 15th streets through this week.
An Interlachen woman reported missing Monday has been found safe. The 70-year-old woman went missing after her husband was taken to the hospital earlier in the day and she was left at their home. She had last been seen walking in the Lake Estates area. Putnam County Sheriff’s Office says she was found and made it safely to the hospital with her husband.
East Flagler Mosquito Control District plans to expand. The three-member elected board voted Monday for a plan that would expand the district to all of Flagler County. The expansion is expected to take place over the next five years and in three phases. The mosquito control district has taxing authority and the expansion would be funded through taxes on all property owners.
Don’t forget with the rainy weather water collects in containers and provides perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. It’s a good time to dump old flower pots, containers and tires to help cut down on the potential mosquito problem.