The Latest News from The City of Palatka
July 3, 2023
Have a Happy and Safe 4th of July!
IN THIS ISSUE: Lucky Dog Shadow, Employee Spotlight – Joseph Silver, City of Palatka Leadership Academy, Palatka PAL’s Camp Higher Group receives $10,500 from Clay Electric Foundation, Main Street USA, July 4th Fireworks and Closings, City Job Openings
Lucky Dog – Meet ‘Shadow,’ the newest member of the team
PALATKA, Fla. - The newest member of The City of Palatka Platt Drew Wastewater Treatment Plant's staff doesn't knock on the office building's door when she wants to come inside to cool down in the air conditioning. She scratches but she also wants to come inside to check on her babies… all twelve of them, plus the rabbit.
Shadow, a mixed-breed dog, showed up outside of the treatment plant, off Brown's Landing Road, in the city a few weeks ago scared, hungry and with her hair falling out.
"We started seeing her weeks ago outside of our fence. Somebody apparently dumped her off on the road near our facility," said Brian McCann, the plant's superintendent, "We started to put food out for her, but she was very skittish."
But over time, McCann and his staff gained her trust.
"I think we're the grateful ones that she trusted us to take care of her. She came to us because she was hurting. She didn't look good. She was in bad shape. She was scared to death of everybody and anything. Day by day, she trusted us a little bit more and more. Finally, we could touch her for the first time and pet her, which was a big joy for all of us." said plant administrative assistant Michelle Casto, "Eventually, she came out of the woods. She finally made it here to the plant because she was outside the gate to begin with. She's very loyal and I think we're the lucky ones, really. To meet such a dog like she is. She loves so much. She loves all of us. We're very grateful to have her."
"She started to follow us around. That is why we call her 'Shadow,' said McCann. "Little by little, she kind of took over and became really relaxed. Her hair started growing back. She started fattening up. She's just a blessing to have."
The team at the plant decided to share the expense for her food and care. When they took her to the veterinarian to get her shots, chip and spaded is when they were told she was pregnant.
Twelve puppies were welcomed into the water treatment plant family a few weeks later.
Shadow and her puppies picked a good place to call home.
"She had twelve puppies, and that is a lot," McCann continued, "but we like challenges and we have found homes for all but three of her babies."
Shadow continues to surprise the plant's staff. Last week she brought home two more members to join the water treatment plant’s family.
"Yesterday, she brought us a bunny. We didn't realize she had brought a bunny into the building and put it with her puppies until we heard something screaming. We thought it was a rat, so we ran back there, and it was a little bunny. We named it Hops, but apparently, Hops may have been injured and passed away last night." said Casto last Thursday.
"Several hours later, after Hops was brought up here, Mama Dog brought up another. She walked all the way from the other end of the plant all the way up to our road, laid the second bunny at my feet, and looked at us like, 'Hey, y'all got to take care of this Bunny.' So that's what we did."
The second bunny is called Barley.
"Barley eats really good. He hops around, although we think it's a girl. She just she's doing really good. I got a lot of high hopes for her that she will make it. She'll go home with Matt, one of our co-workers. Hops was going to be mine, but that's okay; God has his way. Circle of life. That's how it happens and I understand that even though it's hard, but now we have Barley to look after." said Casto.
"I think it's great that all of the staff here have the compassion to take care of these animals that other people don't want. I've been an animal lover myself since I was a little kid, so it makes me feel good to know that my co-workers here are of the same cloth," said McCann. "We're open 365, seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Somebody's always here. Holidays included. It doesn't matter what; we have somebody here all the time. So, it's a good place for us to have a dog that needs attention. We all love her."
If you want to adopt one of Shadow's three unclaimed puppies, please call the wastewater treatment plant at (386) 329-0146.
Employee Spotlight – Joseph Silver
Joseph Silver was scared to death when he joined the Public Works department of The City of Palatka.
"I was terrified of heights, and I knew I had to trim trees," said Silver, "I could barely work a weed wacker and they wanted me to go 40 or 50 feet up in a bucket truck and trim palm trees. I thought to myself, 'What was I thinking taking this job."
Two years later, he doesn't think twice about it.
"You have to learn to adapt. That is what I did. The staff here is great, they don't make you do anything you don't feel comfortable doing, but they encourage you. They give you the opportunity to grow." he said." Two years ago, I would never have imagined spending my mornings up in the air, trimming trees along the Riverfront."
Having been born and raised in Palatka, and attending Hillcrest Academy, Joseph is grateful for his position. "I love it here. It is a good career choice. You can work with your hands and be outside, which is great for me," he continued, "I work with some really great people and feel that I really have a lot of opportunity to grow in this job."
Public Works Director Del McMillen agrees.
"Joseph has grown so much in the time that he has been here," said McMillen, "He is a great member of our staff."
Please visit www.Palatka-fl.gov for a list of career opportunities with the City.
City of Palatka Leadership Academy
Last week, sixteen of The City of Palatka employees completed the City’s 2nd Local Government Leadership Academy taught by Dr. Joseph Saviak, a leadership and management consultant and former professor of public administration at Flagler College in St. Augustine.
The academy spanned four months and consisted of weekly two-hour classes covering various topics such as leadership, human resources, budgeting, risk management, customer service, program evaluation, teamwork, and organizational culture.
The academy participants included employees from different departments, including fire, police, public works, airport, planning, and community affairs.
Throughout the course, the students honed essential leadership skills such as research, planning, project management, budgeting, program evaluation, and the ability to analyze challenges and select the best practice solutions.
Dr. Saviak thanked Palatka’s Mayor and City Commission for their commitment to ensuring that the citizens of The City receive the best services, programs, and capital projects from competent and efficient leaders.
“The City of Palatka is a leader among cities in Florida in growing leaders, and we are especially proud of these graduates. Their hard work, dedication, integrity, and a strong commitment to professional excellence are very much appreciated, and residents are the real beneficiaries of this program.” said Saviak, “This is an outstanding team of leaders. They love serving citizens.”
The sixteen participants who took part in the academy were Jesse Seuis, Shawn Bruneau, Amanda Turbeville, Del McMillen, Joe Verechio, Daniel Nicholson, Jackie Pollack, Chad Branford, Kenneth Sugden, Phillip Smith, Kenny Reid, Marcia Ganoe, Brad Forsythe, Ashton Cassidy, Erin Hewes, and Yul McNair.
Palatka PAL’s Camp Higher receives $10,500 from Clay Electric Foundation
Last Friday, a large group of 80 or so children attending the Palatka Police Athletic League’s Camp Higher Ground gathered together to pose for a photograph, holding a large check written out for a giant number, $10,500.
The check, a donation from the Clay Electric Cooperative Foundation’s Operation Round-up, is to support the camp held at the Calvary Life Center in Palatka this summer.
The PAL’s Camp Higher Ground was started 23 years ago by a group of Palatka Police Officers, including Jason Shaw, who is now Palatka Chief of Police.
“ We saw a need to find something for the children of the community to do for the summer, and the program just took off,” said Chief Shaw. “It was a team effort.”
Members of the Police department were involved in starting the camp more than two decades ago included then Police Commander Reno Fells, who now works for the City’s Recreation Department, and Officer Mike Meredith, who now works for Clay Electric and presented the check on Friday.
“The Police Athletic League is the number one community crime prevention organization in the country,” said Chief Shaw, “ The way you prevent crime is to get to citizens early and build relationships between cops and the community. ‘This program builds relationships.”
Chief Shaw says he now has the children of his campers coming to Camp Higher Ground.
“You can ride through the community as a police officer and see people that have known you since they were a child coming to this camp. That is how you build trust.”
Read next week’s newsletter for more information on Camp Higher Ground.
Main Street USA: Your opinion matters
Please take a few minutes to let us know what you think of Palatka becoming a Main Street Community.
With Palatka’s ongoing goal of revitalizing the City’s downtown corridor, City Hall and the City Commission are exploring the City’s participation in the Florida Main Street program. Downtown areas once associated with vibrant commerce and bustling activity, now often evoke images of abandoned and decaying buildings. However, thanks to initiatives like Florida Main Street, communities such as DeLand, St. Petersburg, and Ocala have witnessed a resurgence in their downtown areas.
The Florida Main Street Program played a role in revitalizing these historic districts, fostering economic development, and revitalizing the local economy by attracting jobs, generating revenue, and bringing people back to the heart of these cities.
Established in 1985, Florida Main Street provides valuable technical assistance to various Main Street programs across the state. It operates as part of a larger network comprising more than 40 nationally recognized programs throughout the United States.
The Main Street Approach works best in communities that already have valuable resources, such as historic buildings and local independent businesses. Palatka certainly meets those criteria, and we possess residents that have strong social and civic connections along with a genuine desire to make positive changes. By implementing a mix of long-term and short-term actions, the Main Street Approach helps bring about lasting transformations in these communities.
The Florida Main Street program requires a city the size of Palatka to hire a full-time Executive Director for the program, and a board of directors of community members to oversee the project. These requirements need to be considered as the City enters into the budgeting sessions for the next fiscal year and we value your input.
Please visit the Florida Department of State’s Main Street website at https://dos.myflorida.
and then let us know if you think this program is right for Palatka by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Palatka’s Annual 4th of July Fireworks
Thursday, June 29, 2023 - The City of Palatka’s annual 4th of July Independence Day party will be held in Riverfront Park on July 4, starting at 4 p.m. and concluding at approximately 9 p.m. with fireworks over the river.
The free party will feature food trucks, activities for children and music by the band ‘Soulful Roots’ from Gainesville.
City of Palatka 4th of July Schedule.
On Tuesday, July 4th, Palatka City Hall, the Police Department lobby, Public Works, Gas Authority, and other administrative offices of the City of Palatka will be closed in observance of Independence Day. These offices and departments will reopen on Wednesday, July 5, during regular business hours. For utility payments, online payments can be made at www.palatkagasauthority.com or by phone at 1-866-869-5955 (pay ID # required). Customers can contact 386-329-0107 for water or public works emergencies and 386-328-1591 for gas emergencies.
Household Collection: Residential customers with Tuesday and Friday pickups will have their garbage collected on Wednesday and Friday. Monday and Thursday pickups will remain unchanged.
Yard Trash Collection: There will be no yard trash pickup during this week.
Commercial Dumpsters: The collection schedule for commercial dumpsters will remain the same.
July 4 - City offices closed in observance of Independence Day
July 6 - City of Palatka Historic Preservation Board Meeting 4 p.m. - City Commission Chambers
July 11 - Planning Board Workshop 4 p.m - City Commission Chambers
CANCELLED July 13 - Palatka City Commission Meeting
July 20 - 1st Budget Workshop Community Redevelopment Agency CRA 2:30 p.m. - City Commission Chambers
July 20 - Commission 1st Budget Workshop All funds 3:30 p.m. - City Commission Chambers
July 21- Commission 2nd Budget Workshop All funds 3:30 p.m - City Commission Chambers
July 27 - Palatka City Commission Meeting 6 p.m. - City Commission Chambers
Please visit https://www.palatka-fl.gov/ for more information.
Career Opportunities with the City
The City of Palatka is currently taking applications for the following positions,
- Police Officer
- Equipment Operator (Driver)
- Sanitation Equipment Operator (Driver)
- Refuse Collector
- Wastewater Treatment Plant - Operator Trainee
- Utility Maintenance Worker-Trainee
- Water Plant Mechanic
For more information or to apply, please visit https://www.palatka-fl.gov/Jobs.aspx
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