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Frame The Importance of

Commercial Truck Insurance in Palatka, FL

  • Let's face it - truckers in America have always been the backbone of our great country. They still are in modern times. On any given day, thousands of trucks traverse our highways and local roads, delivering goods and products on time so that businesses and consumers have what they need to live life. And while commercial trucking can be an incredibly lucrative way to make a living and put food on the table, it can also be risky and expensive.
  • Whether you're the owner of a fleet, an independent trucker, or have a business that uses big rigs to transport goods, you need commercial trucking insurance to protect you and your client's investments, shield you from liability, and more.
  • That's where working with a reliable truck insurance agency comes into play. Unfortunately, for many commercial truck insurance providers, serving the needs of truckers is low on the proverbial totem pole. At Independence Insurance Agency, nothing could be further from the truth.

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percent The Commercial Truck

Insurance Agency in Palatka, FL You Can Trust

Much like you pride yourself on running a successful trucking business, Independence Insurance Agency prides itself on its years of experience providing truck insurance for hardworking men and women across the country. And in our experience, insurance rates for truckers are just too high - so high, in fact, that they eat away at their bottom line, making it more difficult to run a business and make a profit. Fortunately, at Independence Insurance Agency, we provide truckers the freedom they need from astronomically high insurance rates so they can stay on the road and keep driving America forward.

As one of the most trusted commercial trucking insurance agencies in the U.S., we understand the challenges that you face daily as a trucker. We also know how important it is to protect your business. That's why we go above and beyond to find you the best-priced coverage available, whether you're an operator, own a small fleet, a large fleet, or something in between.

Commercial Truck Insurance Palatka, FL

We Put Truckers First Because Others Don't

 Truck Insurance Palatka, FL

Truckers across the country choose to work with Independence Insurance Agency because we put their needs first before anything else. As experts in transportation insurance, we proudly offer a range of quality insurance products that are both practical and affordable for them. Our industry-leading carriers provide coverage that caters to the unique challenges faced by the trucking industry, ensuring that your business is protected at all times.

At our core, we are committed to finding the best possible price for your coverage without compromising the quality of service you deserve. The truth is, we understand how essential truckers are to the United States and take pride in making their insurance experience more streamlined and affordable.

One way we do so is by simplifying the insurance process. Our transportation specialists take the time to understand your specific needs and budget to tailor a comprehensive plan that works for you. You won't ever have to worry about cookie-cutter plans or uninterested agents when you work with our commercial trucking insurance agency. We take an educational approach to ensure that the entire big rig insurance process is quick, painless, and easy to understand. If there's something you don't understand, we're happy to take the time to explain. After all, the success and safety of your business are on the line.

Looking to the future, we are committed to providing innovative new products that cater to the ever-changing needs of truck drivers. As your one-stop shop for commercial trucking insurance, we are dedicated to your success, one policy at a time.

If you're a commercial trucker looking to ensure your rig, you can rest easy knowing that Independence Insurance Agency provides:

  • Affordable Trucking Insurance Plans for Any Budget
  • Exemplary Customer Service
  • Seasoned Transportation Specialists Who Customize Plans to Your Needs
  • A+ Carriers Across the Country
  • Simple, Easy Quote and Bind Process
  • Multiple Insurance Carriers Quoted to Find You the Best Rates
  • Truck Insurance for New Ventures

Call us or send us a message today to learn more about the best 18-wheeler insurance options for your trucking business.

chart The Commercial Truck

Common Types of Big Rig Truck Insurance in Palatka, FL

At Independence Insurance Agency, we offer several types of insurance coverage for local, intermediate, and long-haul trucking needs. Here are just a few categories of trucking insurance coverage that our agency offers.

As the foundation of your insurance policy, liability coverage is required by law in most states in the U.S. It provides coverage for damage or injuries caused to properties or other people if your 18-wheeler is responsible for the crash. Without liability coverage, it's almost impossible to drive a truck or run a trucking business without major legal consequences.

Having physical damage coverage is an essential component that shouldn't be overlooked. This insurance is responsible for covering the expenses related to repairing or replacing your truck in situations such as accidents, theft, vandalism, and other damaging events. By having this coverage, you can rest assured that your business won't be affected significantly by unexpected incidents, and you can continue running your operations smoothly even in challenging times.

For trucking companies, the goods they transport are crucial to their operations. To protect these goods from damage, loss, or theft while in transit, cargo insurance is essential. This coverage provides much-needed peace of mind for both you and your clients, allowing you to reimburse clients for any losses sustained while protecting your reputation and brand identity.

Non-Trucking Liability Insurance is designed to cover property damage or bodily injury that may occur during personal time when the driver/truck is not under dispatch. This coverage can be applied with or without a trailer and is added to a commercial policy as an endorsement.

While Independence Insurance Agency has built a reputation of excellence in serving the needs of truckers, we also offer general liability. Also known as Truckers General Liability, this coverage insures for bodily injuries or property damage that happen due to business activities that are NOT the cause of operating a truck. It covers accidents that occur in parking lots, rest stops, also while loading or unloading. General liability can also cover losses related to theft and vandalism. Most brokers and shippers will require this coverage to work with you.

Bobtail insurance is a type of coverage that is comparable to non-trucking liability, which is designed to offer protection when driving a truck without a trailer attached. This is commonly referred to as "bobtailing." With bobtail insurance, the tractor is covered at all times, even when it is not attached to a trailer, regardless of whether or not the truck is under dispatch.

Trailer interchange insurance is a must-have if you're involved in a trailer interchange agreement. This essential coverage offers protection for trailers owned by other parties that you're using under a contractual agreement. It covers damages caused by collisions, fire, theft, and vandalism, providing assurance to all parties involved.

Curious whether our commercial truck insurance agency in cityname, state offers additional coverage? The following options can be bound in your insurance policy:

  • Business Interruption Insurance
  • Reefer Breakdown Insurance
  • Occupational Accident with Contract Liability Insurance
  • Rental Reimbursement Insurance
  • Underinsured or Uninsured Motorist Insurance
  • Towing Insurance
  • Electronics Insurance
  • Much More

Three plus 3 Safe Driving Tips to

Lower the Cost of Truck Insurance in Palatka, FL

Keeping your drivers safe on the road is crucial not only for their own well-being but also for the safety of other motorists and the financial stability of your business. The Department of Labor has identified the trucking industry as one of the most hazardous sectors in the U.S. In fact, trucking and logistics fleets are known for their high injury and fatality rates. By improving how safely your truckers drive, you can help reduce expenses related to claim payouts, accidents, and insurance premium hikes.

Whether you own a large fleet or you're the owner and operator of a single rig, keep these safe driving tips in mind to help lower your insurance costs.

Implement Preventative Maintenance Plans

Ensuring the safety of your drivers begins with the safety of their vehicles. Trucks and tractor-trailers that do not receive regular maintenance, such as oil and brake pad changes, are more likely to experience breakdowns while on the road. Telematics devices provide real-time insight into engine and odometer data, including fault codes.

This information enables your mechanics to create comprehensive preventative maintenance schedules based on mileage, history of previous breakdowns, days, and more. Additionally, they can receive immediate notifications for critical fault codes. By implementing routine maintenance and proactive repair schedules, you can ensure that your vehicles are in top condition, minimizing the likelihood of breakdowns, which can help reduce the cost of trucker insurance.

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 Trucking Insurance Palatka, FL

Practice Defensive Driving

This approach aims to mitigate the risk of fatal crashes and injuries by proactively identifying and responding to potentially dangerous situations and making informed decisions while driving. By adopting defensive driving techniques, drivers can reduce their likelihood of accidents, thereby minimizing the need for expensive repairs, claim payouts, and increased insurance premiums.

Some of the easiest ways for you or your drivers to practice safe driving include:

  • Be Wary of Blind Spots: Operating a reefer or tractor-trailer means driving high off of the ground, which can make visibility limited, especially in blind spots. To check your blind spot, look over your shoulder and out of your windows while changing lanes.
  • Be Ready for Emergencies on the Road: It's important for drivers to be ready for unexpected situations when driving, especially during long trips. They should be equipped to handle emergencies such as poor driving conditions or big rig breakdowns.
  • Use the Three-Second Rule: Truck drivers should try to maintain a three-second gap between their vehicle and the car in front of them. This means that the truck driver should reach a certain point on the road three seconds after the car in front of them has passed that same point.
  • Always Use Right and Left Turn Indicators: It's important for drivers to always use their turn signals when changing lanes or exiting highways, even if they don't see any other cars around. This is not only required by law, but it also reduces the chances of accidents occurring on the road.
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 Commercial Liability Insurance For Truckers Palatka, FL

Find Ways to Prevent Distracted Driving

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), distracted driving is the primary reason behind truck driver accidents. Any activity that takes a driver's attention away from the road or the steering wheel is considered distracted driving. Distractions can come in various forms, such as eating while driving or gazing at a billboard outside the window. However, the most frequent form of distracted driving is the use of cellphones, specifically texting while driving.

Assuming you or your driver's rigs are equipped with dual-facing cameras, try reviewing footage of an unsafe driving incident. Coach your drivers on ways to correct their unsafe behaviors or look up ways to do so yourself if you're the one operating the big rig. The bottom line is that when your drivers aren't distracted, they drive safer. And when they drive safer, the cost of 18-wheeler insurance in cityname, state can be reduced.

phone Call Now
 Commercial Truck Insurance Quote Palatka, FL

Ensuring the safety of your drivers begins with the safety of their vehicles. Trucks and tractor-trailers that do not receive regular maintenance, such as oil and brake pad changes, are more likely to experience breakdowns while on the road. Telematics devices provide real-time insight into engine and odometer data, including fault codes.

This information enables your mechanics to create comprehensive preventative maintenance schedules based on mileage, history of previous breakdowns, days, and more. Additionally, they can receive immediate notifications for critical fault codes. By implementing routine maintenance and proactive repair schedules, you can ensure that your vehicles are in top condition, minimizing the likelihood of breakdowns, which can help reduce the cost of trucker insurance.

 Low Priced Commercial Truck Insurance Palatka, FL phone Call Now

This approach aims to mitigate the risk of fatal crashes and injuries by proactively identifying and responding to potentially dangerous situations and making informed decisions while driving. By adopting defensive driving techniques, drivers can reduce their likelihood of accidents, thereby minimizing the need for expensive repairs, claim payouts, and increased insurance premiums.

Some of the easiest ways for you or your drivers to practice safe driving include:

  • Be Wary of Blind Spots: Operating a reefer or tractor-trailer means driving high off of the ground, which can make visibility limited, especially in blind spots. To check your blind spot, look over your shoulder and out of your windows while changing lanes.
  • Be Ready for Emergencies on the Road: It's important for drivers to be ready for unexpected situations when driving, especially during long trips. They should be equipped to handle emergencies such as poor driving conditions or big rig breakdowns.
  • Use the Three-Second Rule: Truck drivers should try to maintain a three-second gap between their vehicle and the car in front of them. This means that the truck driver should reach a certain point on the road three seconds after the car in front of them has passed that same point.
  • Always Use Right and Left Turn Indicators: It's important for drivers to always use their turn signals when changing lanes or exiting highways, even if they don't see any other cars around. This is not only required by law, but it also reduces the chances of accidents occurring on the road.
Commercial Truck Insurance Palatka, FL phone Call Now

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), distracted driving is the primary reason behind truck driver accidents. Any activity that takes a driver's attention away from the road or the steering wheel is considered distracted driving. Distractions can come in various forms, such as eating while driving or gazing at a billboard outside the window. However, the most frequent form of distracted driving is the use of cellphones, specifically texting while driving.

Assuming you or your driver's rigs are equipped with dual-facing cameras, try reviewing footage of an unsafe driving incident. Coach your drivers on ways to correct their unsafe behaviors or look up ways to do so yourself if you're the one operating the big rig. The bottom line is that when your drivers aren't distracted, they drive safer. And when they drive safer, the cost of 18-wheeler insurance in cityname, state can be reduced.

 Truck Insurance Palatka, FL phone Call Now

check light FAQs About

Independence Insurance Agency

If you're looking for a commercial trucking insurance agency for your business, chances are you have some questions - and we've got answers. Keep reading to learn more about some of the most commonly asked questions we hear from truckers like you.

Why go with a "jack of all trades" when you can work with specialists who focus exclusively on transportation insurance? We have excellent relationships with major trucking insurance carriers and, as such, can provide the best assistance and reasonable rates.

Typically, companies will look at claims that date back three years or less.

We proudly work with more than 20 carriers to provide our clients with the most advantageous options at competitive prices, catering to the needs of owner-operators and big fleets alike.

Permit filings are typically done by insurance companies on the next business day. Federal (FMCSA) filings are completed online and updated immediately, while some states may take up to three weeks to process.

Independence Insurance Agency: Committed to the Trucking Industry

There's no question about it - you've got to protect your staff, your rig, and your trucking business with insurance. But choosing the right insurance partner isn't always easy. Thankfully, with Independence Insurance Agency by your side, you can rest easy knowing you're covered no matter where the road takes you. If you're in need of a commercial truck insurance agency in Palatka, FL that caters to truckers like you, pick up the phone and contact one of our transportation specialists today. That way, you can get back on the road with confidence tomorrow.

 Trucking Insurance Palatka, FL

Latest News in Palatka, FL

Emergency declared as Idalia barrels toward Florida

ImageBodyPutnam County leaders are asking residents to take precautions as Tropical Storm Idalia nears Florida and is expected to make landfall as a major hurricane.The Board of County Commissioners declared a state of emergency Monday afternoon, with board Chairman Terry Turner asking residents to pay attention to all storm updates.“‘Please stay informed,” he said. “Please pay attention to the (Putnam County Emergency Management employees). If they ask you to leave, leave. They won’t...

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Putnam County leaders are asking residents to take precautions as Tropical Storm Idalia nears Florida and is expected to make landfall as a major hurricane.

The Board of County Commissioners declared a state of emergency Monday afternoon, with board Chairman Terry Turner asking residents to pay attention to all storm updates.

“‘Please stay informed,” he said. “Please pay attention to the (Putnam County Emergency Management employees). If they ask you to leave, leave. They won’t be able to come and get you at the height of the storm if it gets bad around here.”

The Palatka City Commission declared a state of emergency unanimously at 6 p.m. Monday. Interim Palatka City Manager Jonathan Griffith said city officials are preparing to work at the Emergency Operations Center, 410 State Road 19, if deemed necessary by county emergency officials.

By Monday afternoon, there had been no mandatory evacuation orders, but people can find their evacuation zone by visiting eoc.putnam-fl.com.

At 11 a.m. Monday, the National Weather Service issued a tropical storm watch for Bostwick, Palatka and Crescent City.

“A tropical storm watch means tropical storm-force winds are possible somewhere within this area within the next 48 hours,” the Weather Service stated Monday.

The wind is predicted to be between 25-35 mph with gusts that could reach up to 50 mph, the Weather Service reported.

Subscribe to receive weather alerts from Putnam County at putnamalert.com.

As of 3 p.m. Monday, Clay Electric Cooperative’s outage map reported none of its 22,272 residential and business customers in Putnam County were without power. At the same time, Florida Power & Light reported one outage among its 20,729 Putnam County customers.

County Administrator Terry Suggs said officials plan to redirect county operations Tuesday toward working the Emergency Operations Center, 410 State Road 19.

Manned sandbag locations opened at 2:30 p.m. today at the following locations:

Unmanned sandbag locations include:

Welaka has a sandbag site set up at Sportsmans Harbor, 51 Sportsman Drive, according to a social media post from Mayor Jamie Watts. People must bring shovels for the sandbag stations. Manned stations will provide bags and unmanned stations will not provide sandbags.

The Palatka Fire Department station will be manned by 8 a.m. tomorrow.

"We'll have a couple staff (members) there tomorrow morning to assist the residents with that," Griffith said.

Palatka residents who need sandbags delivered because they are elderly or disabled can call the city's Public Works Department at 386-329-0107 to request a delivery, Griffith said Monday evening.

The Crescent City Commission will meet at 1 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 3 N. Summit St., to decide whether to declare a state of emergency, according to an email Monday.

County officials have been meeting with Putnam County School District officials to determine plans regarding shelters, which, if open, will be at schools throughout the county.

On Monday, Deputy County Administrator J.R. Grimes, who focuses on emergency management operations, expected shelter operations to begin Tuesday afternoon after schools dismiss for the day.

A subsequent update from the district reported schools will be closing Wednesday and Thursday. Extracurricular activities will be canceled starting Tuesday, according to a social media post from the district.

Shelters will open at 5 p.m. Tuesday at:

“The shelter at Q.I. Roberts will not be open at this time,” the district stated.

People can call the Emergency Operations Center at 386-329-1904 from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.

“We’re just going to hope for the best and prepare for the worst,” Grimes said.

Websites that can help include:

This story will be updated as the Palatka Daily News learns more.

City wants feedback on Palatka’s Main Street ambitions

Should Palatka work to preserve its historic downtown? That’s what city officials want to know.Palatka leaders are considering working with the Florida Main Street program to designate Palatka as a Main Street City, according to the city’s newsletter that was published Tuesday.Before members of the Palatka City Commission vote to take this next step, they want to hear from residents. A survey on the matter can be found at https://bit.ly/PalatkaMainStreet.“It’s a big priority for the city,” s...

Should Palatka work to preserve its historic downtown? That’s what city officials want to know.

Palatka leaders are considering working with the Florida Main Street program to designate Palatka as a Main Street City, according to the city’s newsletter that was published Tuesday.

Before members of the Palatka City Commission vote to take this next step, they want to hear from residents. A survey on the matter can be found at https://bit.ly/PalatkaMainStreet.

“It’s a big priority for the city,” said Peter Willott, the city’s public information officer.

The survey also includes a link residents can click to learn more about what becoming part of the Florida Main Street program would mean for the city.

Florida Main Street, which has existed since 1985, is part of the state’s Division of Historical Resources, according to the program’s website.

“Florida Main Street encourages economic development and is dedicated to bringing jobs, dollars and people back to Florida’s historic districts,” the site states.

Florida Main Street aims to revitalize areas, which can attract new industry and stabilize the tax base, the program states. Goals also include preserving a community’s historical resources and allowing residents to “celebrate their downtown,” according to the website.

At the end of 2022, Crescent City became a Main Street City, joining more than 40 communities statewide that share that designation.

Palatka, however, isn’t quite a stranger to Florida Main Street. Palatka Daily News records show the city became a designated Main Street City in 1989.

Charles Rudd, a former Main Street Manager in Palatka, helped the city acquire numerous designations within the program, but those designations lapsed after he left the city in 2015. Rudd is now the city manager of Crescent City, which he helped establish its Main Street designation.

“I think the Main Street program is a great approach to revitalization,” said Rudd, who believes the program is a great fit for Palatka.

The Palatka survey asks residents how much they know about the Main Street Program, how likely they are to support the city’s participation in the program and how likely they are to volunteer their time to help.

Residents can also select why – “historic downtown charm,” “potential for economic growth and development” or other reasons – Palatka would be a good candidate for the program.”

One of three open-ended questions asks, “In your opinion, what are the potential challenges or obstacles that Palatka might face in successfully joining and implementing the Main Street City Program?” The survey is anonymous.

“These questions are designed to gauge participants’ awareness, opinions, and expectations regarding Palatka’s involvement in the Main Street City Program,” the survey states. “Additionally, the open-ended question allows respondents to share their insights and concerns, providing valuable feedback for city officials and program organizers.”

Mayor Robbi Correa said the city received 195 responses as of Tuesday evening.

“The response so far has been positive,” she said.

Mailers to local businesses and homeowners are slated to go out today, and while there is not yet a closing date for the surveys, Correa said she expects the survey data to close a little bit after the mailers are sent.

The Community Redevelopment Agency board will meet Aug. 14 to talk about CRA finances. The Main Street Program could also be discussed at the meeting, Correa said. The agenda for the meeting has not yet been released.

Business powerhouse Danny Martinez passes away

Small ImageBodyPeople throughout Putnam County are mourning the loss of a friend and business leader, whom they said was “full of grace.”Daniel “Danny” Martinez, 95, died Thursday night at his Palatka home. He would have turned 96 on Oct. 31.Businessman Ben Bates, who has known Martinez since the 1970s, said Martinez was a dear friend and a partner in numerous investments. Bates described Martinez as a firm but kind-hearted, sharp and intelligent man. When Martinez spoke, Bates said, people...

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People throughout Putnam County are mourning the loss of a friend and business leader, whom they said was “full of grace.”

Daniel “Danny” Martinez, 95, died Thursday night at his Palatka home. He would have turned 96 on Oct. 31.

Businessman Ben Bates, who has known Martinez since the 1970s, said Martinez was a dear friend and a partner in numerous investments. Bates described Martinez as a firm but kind-hearted, sharp and intelligent man. When Martinez spoke, Bates said, people listened.

“In my mind, he has probably done more for this community than anyone I know,” Bates said. “He’s the titan among men in this community.”

Martinez was involved with numerous organizations across Putnam County, including Haven Hospice, Rodeheaver Boys Ranch and Boy Scouts of America.

Martinez grew up in Tampa, and after graduating from the University of Florida, he moved to Palatka in the 1950s with his wife, Katherine, better known as Katie.

In 1952, he joined Hudson Pulp & Paper Corp. in Palatka as a research chemical engineer. When Georgia-Pacific acquired Hudson in 1979, Martinez became the Palatka mill manager.

His job required him to move to Atlanta, where he retired in 1992 as the senior vice president of pulp and paper manufacturing, according to Chris Gent, the GP public affairs manager at the Palatka mill.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Danny Martinez, a former mill manager and Georgia-Pacific leader who made significant contributions to our Palatka mill, our company, and the community he held dear,” a statement from GP reads. “Danny’s impact was immeasurable, and his dedication and expertise were instrumental in our success. Our thoughts and condolences are with Danny’s family and friends as they navigate this difficult time. His memory will forever be cherished, and his legacy will continue to inspire us all.”

After he retired, Martinez later returned to Palatka, where he served as a tissue manufacturing consultant for Latin American companies until 2017, the Palatka Daily News reported.

Throughout his career and even afterward, Martinez kept Putnam County at the forefront of his mind. In fact, Bates said, Martinez thought about Putnam County until the very end. Bates said when he met with Martinez last week, Martinez was making plans for a meeting in January.

Bates and businessman Wayne McClain said it would be hard to find an organization in which Martinez was not involved. McClain called Martinez an unselfish, one-of-a-kind man.

“His soul was just full of generosity,” McClain said. “His soul was just full of grace.”

Martinez would tackle any vital community issue, even if it were not popular, such as the Putnam County School District’s bond referendum to build new schools, McClain said.

Voters approved the referendum in the 2022 general election. Superintendent Rick Surrency said he doesn’t believe the bond referendum would have passed without Martinez’s help.

“Danny has helped me as superintendent by constantly encouraging me to have a bold vision for our school district and community. He had so much confidence in himself that influenced me as a leader,” Surrency said. “I knew that if he could be so energetic and impactful in the community in his 90s, I should be able to follow his example.”

Martinez’s wife, Katie, died in 2021 while in the care of Haven Hospice Roberts Care Center. He often thanked Haven and their employees for how well they cared for his wife.

He set up the Katie & Danny Martinez Palliative Care Endowment at Haven Hospice and hosted fundraising events for the Haven Hospice Foundation. He served as the chairman of the Haven Hospice Foundation board.

Sharon Jones, the vice president of development for the foundation, said Martinez was a great leader and mentor who never forgot he came from Palatka. He loved the city and couldn’t understand why the rest of the world didn’t love it as much as he did, she said.

He was instrumental in establishing the Haven Hospice Foundation, Jones said, and was generous toward the endowment in honor of his wife.

“He was a quick wit and appreciated quick-witted people around him, and we’ll all miss him,” Jones said.

Martinez was a philanthropist who looked out for everyone regardless of their social class or job title, the Rev. Karl Flagg said.

He said Martinez was one of the most significant community leaders to come through Putnam County. Community leaders nicknamed Martinez “The Godfather” because he listened methodically, was a purpose-driven leader and included everyone in his decisions, Flagg said.

“To me, he was the professor of community-servant leaders,” Flagg said.

Martinez didn’t want fanfare for helping people, Flagg said. The late businessman and philanthropist simply wanted to honor others, Flagg said.

Martinez was a mentor who invested in other leaders and belonged in every boardroom or meeting because he brought ideas to the tables that no one else did, Flagg added.

Members of the community Martinez loved can pay their respects at his memorial service, which will be at 11 a.m. Oct. 13 at the Florida School of the Arts Auditorium at St. Johns River State College, 5001 St Johns Ave. in Palatka.

“His footprints will be forever etched in the sands of time in Putnam County,” he said.

Editor Brandon Oliver contributed to this story.

Groups pool resources to assist military veterans

BodyLocal and regional organizations met Tuesday with the desire to help veterans in need of essential service.Officials from the United Way of St. Johns County, which covers Putnam and St. Johns counties; Mission United, which oversees nine counties; The Ride Solution; American Legion Bert Hodge Post 45; and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3349 gathered to share information on how to best help veterans. Organization leaders wondered Tuesday if residents would want to gather together again in the hopes of reaching more veterans....

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Local and regional organizations met Tuesday with the desire to help veterans in need of essential service.

Officials from the United Way of St. Johns County, which covers Putnam and St. Johns counties; Mission United, which oversees nine counties; The Ride Solution; American Legion Bert Hodge Post 45; and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3349 gathered to share information on how to best help veterans. Organization leaders wondered Tuesday if residents would want to gather together again in the hopes of reaching more veterans.

Joe Snowberger, Mission United’s director for United Way of Northeast Florida, talked to the group gathered at the Bert Hodge Post, 316 Osceola St. in Palatka, about the need for veteran resources in Putnam County. Mission United is a statewide program dedicated to helping Florida veterans, according to its website.

“The most reluctant person in the world to raise their hand and ask for help is a veteran because they were trained to be resilient, fight to the end, carry through the mission and now their mission is taking care of their family,” Snowberger said. “I take that back. There’s one person more reluctant than a military veteran to raise their hand for help, and that’s a woman veteran. We see it time after time.”

The reason for Tuesday’s meeting, Snowberger said, was because the VFW called United Way asking them to help two veterans in Pomona Park. The couple couldn’t work anymore, both of them are using oxygen tanks and their income is down, Snowberger said.

He said he responded to the VFW and people have helped get the veteran couple back on their feet.

Those two are not the only veterans in Putnam County who need assistance. Snowberger was told there were four people living alongside a county road who needed help. He named another veteran couple who had been living in a mobile home community, but their trailer had deteriorated to an unlivable condition.

That couple received help from a local church for their home, Snowberger said, but the landlord decided to sell the property. The couple couldn’t afford rent in that area, but United Way has since found an affordable apartment for them.

“The whole point of why we’re here and one of the major points is to convene and connect this network of people so that we can collaborate on behalf of our veterans and their families in Putnam County,” Snowberger said.

The United Way of Northeast Florida offers a helpline for veterans, which can be reached by dialing 211, to learn about resources available to them. The helpline operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

People can also visit unitedwaynefl.org/get-help or text “hello” to 211904 to receive help.

United Way can connect people with a veteran care coordinator who helps those in need find food, shelter, mental health care, medical services, financial coaching, services for people with disabilities and more, according to the organization.

Some Putnam County resources include The Ride Solution, which offers bus rides from Palatka to Jacksonville and Gainesville. A full schedule can be downloaded at https://theridesolution.org/schedule.

People who attended the meeting Tuesday represented organizations like Heart of Putnam Food Pantry, 521 S. 13th St. in Palatka, which is open from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Board members and leaders from Bread of Life, 320 N. 5th St. in Palatka, said volunteers hand out hot meals from 12:30 -1:30 p.m. every Friday.

Putnam County also has a Veterans Services Department, 2509 Crill Ave., Suite 800, in Palatka, which takes people by appointment from 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

People can visit the department without an appointment from 9–11 a.m. and 1–4 p.m. on Fridays. The department can help veterans file disability claims, assist veterans’ family members and more.

For more information and other veteran resources, visit main.putnam-fl.com.

Jenny Harvey, the United Way of St. Johns County’s director of community impact, said she would like people to reach out to her to give her feedback if they are interested in having another meeting in Putnam County to discuss and gather resources for veterans. Contact Harvey at jenny.harvey@unitedway-sjc.org or 904-829-9721.

Putnam County Commissioner Leota Wilkinson, who is also the Bread of Life president, said there is a disconnect between the community and available resources. She said she feels there is an “information gap” left unfilled.

“Certainly having a meeting and sharing resources is the biggest thing,” she said. “If we don’t know about the resources, how are we supposed to tell the (veterans) that are (living) on the street about the resources?”

Palatka teen struck by lightning dies; community comes together to grieve

16-year-old Baylee Holbrook passed away Thursday morning at 9:32 a.m., a family friend tells First Coast News. She was struck by lightning Tuesday while hunting.PALATKA, Fla. — The Putnam County Community is mourning the death of a Palatka High School student who was struck by lightning Tuesday.Just hours after receiving the news of her death Thursday, hundreds gathered wearing Baylee's favorite colors and patterns: green and camoufl...

16-year-old Baylee Holbrook passed away Thursday morning at 9:32 a.m., a family friend tells First Coast News. She was struck by lightning Tuesday while hunting.

PALATKA, Fla. — The Putnam County Community is mourning the death of a Palatka High School student who was struck by lightning Tuesday.

Just hours after receiving the news of her death Thursday, hundreds gathered wearing Baylee's favorite colors and patterns: green and camouflage. The Putnam County School District opened the C.L. Overturf Jr. District Center to give people a safe space to grieve together.

"She always had a big smile on her face, always laughing, always making jokes," friend Kaitlyn Sanders said.

Friends and teammates of 16-year-old Baylee Holbrook describe her as a ray of sunshine, a leader, and someone who cared for others.

"Baylee was very kind, loving, fun person and she uplifted everyone and pushed everyone together no matter what," friend Paisley Meredith said.

Holbrook passed away Thursday morning at 9:32am, a family friend tells First Coast News. Some called it a feeling of 'disbelief' after hearing the news.

"I was waiting for someone to tell me that it wasn't true," Bralyn Anderson said.

Holbrook was hunting with her dad near Millican Road when both were struck by lightning and knocked unconscious. Her father came to and found Baylee not breathing. He performed CPR until first responders could arrive. Baylee was transported to UF Shands in Gainesville but did not survive her injuries.

Baylee was a student at Palatka Jr-Sr High School and a member of the cheerleading team. Family friend Willie McKinnon says she loved photography and hunting. He wants Baylee to be remembered for her strong faith.

"She stood for Jesus no matter what. No matter who was watching, no matter who was around, every opportunity she had to talk about Jesus that's what she talked about," family friend Willie McKinnon said.

While many grieve Baylee's death, her friends say her nickname Bill, will live on and they have plenty of memories together to hold onto.

"I knew Bill wouldn't want us to be around just pouting and crying, she would want us to do what we're doing now, laughing together," friend Micheria Sumpter said

McKinnon says Baylee will be an organ donor and asks the community to keep the Holbrook Family in their thoughts.

"They are really holding onto their faith right now and surprisingly considering the circumstance are standing pretty strong," McKinnon said.

Putnam County School District will have mental health and guidance counselors on school campuses for students to talk to if needed.

The football game between Palatka and Tocoi Creek High Schools will be played as planned Friday night. McKinnon says Baylee's family has asked it to go on and for the cheer team and Baylee's teammates to cheer louder than they have ever before in her honor.

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