Palatka to receive $13,000,000 in funding from state
During a presentation to the City Commission last week, it was announced that the City of Palatka has been granted $13,000,000 in state funds from the 2023 budget by the Florida Legislature. The funds will be directed towards projects aimed at enhancing the city’s infrastructure and quality of life for its residents.
The allocated funds will be for the following projects:
- Sewer Main and Manhole Improvements: $2,500,000
The money will be used for improvements to City sewer main and manhole infrastructure. This project will ensure the efficient and reliable functioning of the city’s sewer system, contributing to a cleaner and healthier environment for residents.
- Potable Water Line Replacements: $7,000,000
The funds will potable water line replacements for the City’s aging potable water infrastructure to continue to supply clean, safe water to residents.
- Pedestrian Safety Projects on St. Johns Avenue: $2,500,000
To enhance pedestrian safety and mobility within the city, the funds will be used for improvements along St. Johns Avenue to create safer, more walkable pathways.
- Affordable Housing in Palatka: $2,000,000
Palatka will use this allocation to invest in creating more housing opportunities for its residents.
Independent auditor gives City good marks for financial management
Last week, Roderick Harvey, the managing partner with HCT Certified Public Accountants & Consultants, delivered the Comprehensive Annual Financial Audit results for the City of Palatka, covering the Fiscal Year 2021-2022, to the City Commission.
The report, which is mandated by state law, gave the City a clean financial bill of health and refelected an increase in the financial net position of the City.
“The auditor is an independent entity from the City, paid for by the City, and is statutorily required. The City of Palatka received the highest level of affirmation from the auditors.” said City Finance Director Marcia Carty, “That is significant because it represents fiscal soundness. It means that internal control exists to safeguard the resources of the City.”
She emphasized that this outcome enables the City to be well-positioned to pursue grants, loans, and bonds when necessary. Such financial stability is deemed the best possible outcome.
Carty, who assumed her role as Finance Director in May, is responsible for managing the City’s budget, which exceeds $80 million.
“This audit shows the residents of Palatka that their money is in good hands.” she continued.
City Commission recognizes lifesaving efforts
Palatka City Commission recognized the lifesaving effort of citizens and firefighters who worked together to save the life of a person experiencing a heart attack last month.
On June 6, 2023, at Aspen Dental in Palatka, dentist Dr. Brandon Cannaday and staff member Kaleigh Vaught started CPR after a patient at their office had a cardiac emergency.
The City of Palatka Fire Department’s A-shift personnel, Engineer Matthew Pope and Firefighter Joe Taylor received an emergency call just before 8 a.m. and responded to the scene.
Upon arrival, they found Cannaday and Vaught administering chest compressions to the patient, supported by an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) to assist in the resuscitation process.
As Engine 2 arrived at the scene, the Fire Department personnel immediately joined the lifesaving efforts and used the AED on the patient.
The patient’s life was saved thanks to the swift actions and teamwork of Cannaday, Vaught, Engineer Matthew Pope, and Firefighter Joe Taylor.
“As the Fire Chief, I am very proud to see our highly trained responders do their job with great success, but it is even more important to have bystanders who are trained, because the earlier the intervention the better the chances are to save a life.” said Palatka Fire Chief Chris Taylor, “ Please take the time and get certified. Early intervention matters.”
Congratulations to the 2023 City of Palatka Leadership Academy graduates
The Palatka City Commission celebrated the accomplishments of sixteen employees who successfully completed the 2nd Local Government Leadership Academy. The program was taught by Dr. Joseph Saviak, a leadership and management consultant and former professor of public administration at Flagler College in St. Augustine.
Through weekly two-hour classes, the academy participants delved into an array of topics, including leadership, human resources, budgeting, risk management, customer service, program evaluation, teamwork, and organizational culture.
Coming from City departments such as fire, police, public works, airport, planning, and community affairs, the participants learned leadership skills like research, planning, project management, budgeting, and the ability to analyze challenges and implement best-practice solutions.
Dr. Saviak expressed his gratitude to Palatka’s Mayor and City Commission for their unwavering commitment to fostering competent and efficient leaders, ensuring the delivery of top-notch services, programs, and capital projects for the city’s residents.
He applauded Palatka for being a leader among Florida cities in nurturing leadership, emphasizing that the graduates’ hard work, dedication, integrity, and commitment to professional excellence significantly benefit the community.
Saviak further praised the outstanding team of leaders, recognizing their genuine love for serving the citizens of Palatka.
The sixteen participants of the academy are 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.
Spotlight: Intern worked to make City a better place
Marshall Yelvington spent the second to last day of his summer internship with the City of Palatka, dressed in a suit and tie, making a presentation to the City of Commission about spending a $25,000 grant to buy fitness equipment for Hank Bryan Park.
“I was nervous. I practiced many, many times, but as soon as I stepped up there, I kind of made myself not present in front of the Commission but present in my own head where the flow of ideas was taking place.” he said, “I tried to relax and tell them what a good thing for the City of Palatka the equipment is going to be.”
Marshall, a resident of the Switzerland community in St. Johns County and a 2023 graduate of Bartram Trail High School, was one of eight interns working for the City this summer. He will attend Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach this fall in their engineering program.
Marshall said one of the highlights of his time with the City was getting to know the people of Palatka.
“I have been coming here since I was seven with my parents,” he said. “We would go to Angel’s Diner or walk around the Blue Crab Festival, but this summer has let me get to really know the people here.”
“People are a lot nicer in Palatka. There is a more cohesive sense of community here as opposed to St. John’s County.” he continued.
Marshall hopes that his work with City project manager Marcia Ganoe on the fitness equipment for Hank Bryan Park will help continue that sense of community by supporting the community stay healthy.
“There are plenty of people in Palatka with time constraints, or they can’t afford childcare, they can’t afford to go to the gym. This equipment will be free and open to everyone.” Marshall said, “All the equipment has a good view of the playground, so single parents can just look at their children while playing on the playground. We made sure of that.”
Marshall had a significant role in deciding the placement of the equipment and should be installed in six months.
“He was really responsible and worked independently,” said Ganoe, “We treated him like an employee and he did a great job.”
“Marshall showed a lot of initiative and promise. He was a wonderful addition to the department this summer and a shining example of why this internship program is so meaningful,” said City grants administrator Mandi Tucker who also worked with him on the project.
Marshall also worked with City Clerk Sunni Krantz on a project to catalog and protect historic City documents. Working with Krantz, Marshall searched through the archives at City Hall and organized the relocation of hundreds of documents and records from prior to 1925 to a climate-controlled storage facility.
“He was a great help. It would have been hard for us to complete this project this summer without him,” said Krantz.
“I’m very glad I took this internship. It definitely opened my eyes to some careers in local government. I learned that cities are important.” said Marshall, “I hope I played a small part in helping Palatka be a better place.”
Palatka City Commission says ‘Thank you’ to summer interns
During thier last meeting, the Palatka City Commission expressed its appreciation and recognition to a group of remarkable summer interns for their diligent efforts. The interns, Reagan Blackmer, Riley Blackmer, Chloe Dasher, Julia Miles, Kyun Session, Daunte Wilkerson, Trenton Williams, and Marshall Yelvington, were commended for their exceptional work throughout their internships.
Interns were assigned to various departments, including Public Works, Community Affairs, Planning, General Services, and the Police Department. Their commitment and contributions have been invaluable in assisting the City’s operations and projects during their eight-week paid internships.
The internship program, designed for high school and college students in the area, aims to provide real-life experience working for local government.
Students wanting to participate in the program next year should visit www.Palatka-fl.gov in the spring for further information and application details.
Help us shine the Gem City!
The City of Palatka is dedicated to maintaining a clean and beautiful community, and we want to remind all residents of the convenient curbside collection services provided by our Sanitation Department. In addition to our regular twice-weekly garbage collection service, we offer two essential services that contribute to a cleaner environment:
Lawn Waste Collection:
We understand the importance of keeping your yard tidy and well-maintained. Our Sanitation Department offers curbside collection of lawn clippings, leaves, branches, and other yard trimmings. To participate, simply bundle or bag your lawn waste and place it by the curb on your designated collection day. Limbs should be no longer than 4 feet and 4 inches in diameter. If your pile exceeds 1 cubic yard (3’x3’x3’), please schedule a pickup by calling Public Works at (386) 329-0107. Please note that all clippings, limbs, and tree debris generated from contracted work must be hauled off by the contractor.
Bulk Items Collection:
Got large or bulky items to dispose of? No worries! The City’s Sanitation Department is here to help. Whether you’re moving, renovating, decluttering, or replacing furniture, we’ll pick up your bulk items from the curbside. Please note that tires and construction debris cannot be collected for disposal.
To schedule a pickup for bulk items, please call the Public Works Department at (386) 329-0107. A collection charge will apply. Additionally, residents can dispose of large items, including tires, for free at the Putnam County Landfill.
To ensure a smooth collection process, kindly follow these guidelines:
For lawn waste, bundle branches and trimmings into manageable lengths and bag loose leaves or grass clippings. The pile should not exceed 1 cubic yard.
Place your lawn waste and bulk items neatly by the curb, keeping them away from fire hydrants and utility poles.
Avoid placing hazardous materials, electronics, or construction debris in these collections.
We encourage all residents to take full advantage of these additional services to contribute to the cleanliness and sustainability of the City of Palatka.
For information on collection days and more details about our waste management services, please visit our website at Palatka-fl.gov or contact the Palatka Sanitation Department at (386) 329-0107.
Together, let’s make Palatka an even more beautiful and environmentally-friendly place to call home!