Southernmost Car Club Holds Its Monthly SHOW & SHINE CAR SHOW

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The Florida Keys Southernmost Car Club (FKSCC) holds its monthly SHOW & SHINE- CAR SHOW this Sunday, November 16th, Noon to 4pm in the evening when its cool.This event is for the lovers of classic, custom, and street rod automobiles of all years and makes. Fords, Chevys, trucks, sports cars, and chrome loaded motorcycles. If it cool and on wheels it will be here.

This fun evening event  at  at our great location at the Sugarloaf Lodge, MM17, on Sugarloaf Key. Prizes, 50/50,  and cold beverages are available for purchase at the Tiki Bar. Bring the kids to enjoy these beautiful relics of the auto world. Vote for the Peoples Choice and that classic will take home a beautiful Plaque! This is a FREE event.

Club members are seeking new members for a full schedule of Club events. For more information contact Dick Moody 305- 942-1758.

November is National Home Care Month

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Home health care is highly skilled and professional health care, but it provides so much more than what patients & families normally receive from our traditional health care system. Our professional staff meet patients and their caregivers in their home. There is an intimacy and connection that rarely occurs in other settings. Home health care seeks to support someone in maintaining their independence, achieve recovery, and/or optimal functioning from sudden or chronic disease. Home health care can also provide compassionate support for someone facing a life-threatening illness. It strives to alleviate fear and suffering, in whatever forms that may be, in order to free the patient and their loved ones to do the things they want or need to do during the time they have left. And we are there to provide support and assistance to patients and their caregivers.  If you or someone you love is facing a limited life expectancy or recovering from surgery, injury or illness, ask your physician about a home health referral. We will work with your physician to develop an individualized plan of care to promote optimal functioning and well-being. Continue reading

New Education Specialist to pilot outreach program for Key West Art & Historical Society

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A young girl visit Key West’s Custom House, part of the Key West Art and Historical Society. Credit: Todd Feit

This month, Key West Art & Historical Society will welcome a new staff member to manage their educational programming and outreach for their Custom House Museum, Fort East Martello Museum and The Lighthouse & Keepers Quarters.

With a Masters degree in Museum Studies from the University of Massachusetts and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Arts from the University of Oklahoma, Kristi Robinson’s first job will be to strengthen the relationship between the Society, Monroe County schools and other local arts organizations, redefining the organization’s role as a leader in arts and history education throughout the region.  Specifically, she plans to accomplish this through educational outreach into the classrooms, leading group tours to the museums, curriculum development and special events at the Custom House Museum’s soon to be unveiled Research & Learning Center. Continue reading

Money is Available for a Top Notch Sewer System / Enough is Enough…

We are Monroe County. We are the people. Many of us have served the visitors, tourists and winter residents one way or another over the years. Without us there is nothing. We pay the taxes, we bring in the money. We are the reason the money is available for a top notch Central Sewer System. The money is not for other projects. How dare these arrogant people assume that a dozen or so should benefit and the rest of us pay the price as they break the law, break peoples spirits and destroy the environment and everything we have worked so hard for. It is time to get the people who don’t care about what we want out of here. It is time to get the people working on their own agenda out of here. Those of you who have payed attention have a good idea what is going on. Remember this when you vote. Enough is enough…………………….

Susan Marburger,

Summerland Key

Emergency Helo Fare to Miami: $66,000 or Free…

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“First I said I didn’t want to take the helo,” says Ellen Engleson, who had arrived at Lower Keys Medical Center with a broken femur, “I was concerned about the cost.”   She was right.  After being heliported to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Ellen received a bill for $ 59,000 from LifeNet, a for-profit medical emergency helicopter service.

She has since learned that the hospital in Key West could have made the choice to send her for free, in the County’s Trauma Star medical transport helicopter. Continue reading

Monthly SHOW & SHINE This Saturday October 19th

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The Florida Keys Southernmost Car Club (FKSCC) holds its monthly SHOW & SHINE- CAR SHOW this Saturday, October, 19th. Noon to 4pm in the evening when its cool. This event is for the lovers of classic, custom, and street rod automobiles of all years and makes. Fords, Chevys, trucks, sports cars, and chrome loaded motorcycles. If it cool and on wheels it will be here.

This fun evening event  at  at our great location at the Sugarloaf Lodge, MM17, on Sugarloaf Key. Prizes, 50/50 Free Ice Cream and cold beverages are available for purchase at the Tiki Bar. Bring the kids to enjoy these beautiful relics of the auto world. Vote for the Peoples Choice and that classic will take home a beautiful Plaque! This is a FREE event.

Club members are seeking new members for a full schedule of Club events. For more information contact Dick Moody 305- 942-1758.

GUEST COMMENTARY: Grinder Pump Attacks Get Personal

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In a recent posting to the BigPineKey.com “Coconut Telegraph” an anonymous writer, using a fake e-mail, initiated a personal attack against a number of the activists opposed to the extensive use of grinder pumps in the Cudjoe Regional System.  The posting was lifted from a five page diatribe that Randy Bell, the Grinder Pump salesman, wrote earlier this year and sent to the FKAA.  The posting claimed Dump the Pumps was wasting money, that Walt Drabinski, who initiated the original lawsuits and has been very vocal had no engineering degree, was incompetent and that his economic and engineering analysis were lies. The writer also initiated a really low personal attack against a select few members of Dump the Pumps.  Walt Drabinski responds as follows: Continue reading

United Way President Margie Smith Resigns To Join Family Investment Firm

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MARGIE SMITH, UNITED WAY PRESIDENT

Margie Smith, President of United Way of the Florida Keys since January 2010, will leave the agency at the end of this year to join her husband’s investment management firm in Islamorada.

Smith said she is excited about her new position but sad to leave a job that has been so much a part of her for almost five years. “As President of United Way I’ve had the unique opportunity to see a detailed picture of who we are as a county, and to interact with so many public service-minded individuals,” she said. “What we have here is special.  I’ve never felt so profoundly connected to a community as I have here in the Keys.” Continue reading

MOSQUITO CONTROL: In Response to FKMC Chairman Stephen Smith’s Editorial

The editorial by Stephen Smith, Commissioner, Chairman, Florida Keys Mosquito Control, was a fascinating read, and it was a perfect example of why we so desperately need term limits for all elected officials.   Mr. Smith, who has been a FKMC board member for 18 years missed the mark. He seems to forget that FKMCB has not only a duty to protect us from mosquitos, but it also is a steward of our tax dollars.

First, his mention of his 18 years on the Board was intended to lend gravitas to his opinion. Apparently Mr. Smith wants you to forget the corruption and the waste that plagued the Board during the first 15 years of his tenure. He would have you forget the egregious salaries and benefits collected by the Board during his tenure.  He would have you forget or ignore the criminality of certain staff members during his tenure and his full throated defense of at least one of those staff members. Continue reading

Join Reef Relief for the September 21st Shoreline Clean-up

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Past Clean-Up: Reef Relief, The Lost bus, and a group of local students teamed up and collected 600 lbs of marine debris from the mangroves off Key West

LOCAL ACTION TO CREATE GLOBAL CHANGE

Reef Relief will be celebrating International Coastal Cleanup with a community shoreline cleanup on Sunday, September 21, 2014. We invite locals and visitors interested in protecting our ocean and wildlife to this weekend event.

Meet us at the Lazy Dog kayak stand located at Hurricane Hole Marina, look for the Reef Relief sign. The event will start at 10:00 am and finish up at 1:00pm. Thanks to Lazy Dog for generously providing kayaks.

To attend or for directions contact Reef Relief at (305) 294-3100, reefrelief@gmail.com

Reef Relief is a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to improving and protecting our coral reef ecosystems. Find out more at http://reefrelief.org Continue reading

In Monroe County, Change Is A Dirty Word

Change Blvd

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[Note from the editor:  In case you missed Dr. Murray's article last week [which was inadvertently posted late last Friday - my bad] … here it is again… No one pays attention to School District affairs like Dr. Murray…]

Change is a dirty word in Monroe County.  In last week’s election, every incumbent save one was returned to office.  And the incumbent turned out was a judge in the midst of a tawdry personal scandal who still managed to appeal to nearly 4,000 voters or 23% of the electorate.  The only new face to win was in the District 1 School Board race where Bobby “King Conch” Highsmith bested outspoken reformer Stu Kessler and incipient change agent Warren Leamard in a battle for an open seat. Continue reading

Over-Development, Cronyism, and Corruption in the Middle Keys

Cities and towns love development. The more the better. More money – for rich people – more tourists, and more – low paying – jobs. That’s partly why the Marathon City Council rubberstamped a proposal to redevelop the Sombrero Country Club into what will become Florida Keys Resort.

The newly approved development may also endanger a threatened bird and the sanity of nearby residents, while calling into questions the ethics of elected government in Marathon.

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The Bird

It’s well documented that Burrowing owls have lived on the Sombrero Country Club golf course for many years. The club uses the image of the owl in its logo. Continue reading

TAKE STOCK IN CHILDREN NOW ACCEPTING SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATIONS [Deadline: Fri Sept 12th]

Monroe County Take Stock In Children Class of 2014

Monroe County Take Stock In Children Class of 2014

Take Stock in Children, a college scholarship program for high-performing, low-income students, is now accepting applications for the 2014-15 school year. Motivated students, grades 7 – 10, with the desire and potential to attend college or learn a trade should apply.

“This is an outstanding program that offers more than a college scholarship to qualified candidates. Our students are matched with a volunteer mentor while in middle and high school, attend college readiness workshops and college campus tours, and learn how to be successful in college,” explains TSIC program coordinator Chuck Licis. Continue reading

TAKE STOCK IN CHILDREN NOW ACCEPTING SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATIONS

Monroe County Take Stock In Children Class of 2014

Monroe County Take Stock In Children Class of 2014

Take Stock in Children, a college scholarship program for high-performing, low-income students, is now accepting applications for the 2014-15 school year. Motivated students, grades 7 – 10, with the desire and potential to attend college or learn a trade should apply.

“This is an outstanding program that offers more than a college scholarship to qualified candidates. Our students are matched with a volunteer mentor while in middle and high school, attend college readiness workshops and college campus tours, and learn how to be successful in college,” explains TSIC program coordinator Chuck Licis. Continue reading

GUEST EDITORIAL: Residents Should Be Told The Truth

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When I first saw the acronym S.I.T. used for mosquito control I thought that had potential. Sterilizing males and females certainly works with cats and dogs although I must say the idea of having ‘spay day’ at mosquito control was hard to fathom.

Then I read that they haven’t yet figured out how to sterilize a mosquito by irradiation without killing it so they moved on to ‘messing with genetics.’

The purpose of sterilizing the Aedes aegypti mosquito is the prevention of Dengue, the mosquito driven virus that reared its ugly head after being absent in the Keys for 75 years. From 2009 to 2011 mosquito control went to war with the Aedes aegypti through door to door public outreach, increasing the number of inspectors and field employees, actively searching out breeding ground, using liquid larvicide to kill them before adulthood and educating the public about how not to breed mosquitos in their own back yard. Continue reading

Florida Keys Council of the Arts Cultural Calendar THURSDAY, AUGUST 14 thru WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 20

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Visit keysarts.com, Cultural Calendar for more listings & events throughout the Keys. All phone numbers are area code 305 unless noted otherwise.

Key West Happenings

ARTISTS EXHIBITS & RECEPTIONS

DAILY

Art Camp 2014 Exhibit, 10:30 AM

Tropic Cinema, 416 Eaton St. 295-6616. kwahs.org

Showcasing the students’ art through August 22.

 

DANCE

FRIDAYS & WEDNESDAYS

Continue reading

ZOMBIE SWIMMING POOLS…

CaptainLyndaHeadSelfieThere is a crisis in Florida right now and it has nothing to do with politics, immigration, fires or sink-holes. It’s “zombie swimming pools.”

According to an article in “Florida Today” as quoted in the “Huffington Post” Florida leads the nation in  “naked real estate” from foreclosed homes and those where the owners have ‘walked away,’ still owning the property. “Thousands upon thousands” of these properties have swimming pools and, “the sheer number of mosquitoes breeding in these pools is daunting.”

Although the article mentioned trying to combat the larvae with mosquito eating fish, which died, and pesticides, which were marginally effective, it never did mention the use of larvicides, a tool that our own mosquito control uses rather effectively. Continue reading

Hot Fun in the Summertime – Florida Keys Become Certified in Permaculture Design!

hot fun flyer PI 2014Aug 30th – September 20th (weekends only, Wednesday evenings possible)

Want to learn more about Permaculture and how you can utilize Permaculture design ethics and principles in your life and community?

Permadigm Initiative will be teaching a 72 hour Permaculture Design Course with Keys Native, Ashley Moore and invited speakers – hosted by Earth & Sea Farm on Upper Sugarloaf Key. Through hands on and classroom experiences, students will gain knowledge and skills in a broad array of subjects such as organic gardening, integrated pest management, natural building, sustainable technology, traditional ecological knowledge, mycology, bee keeping, water harvesting and conservation, design processes, social resiliency and more. This extended course is for aspiring or experienced gardeners, farmers, community organizers, land planners, builders and any active, engaged citizen seeking positive change.

Permaculture is the design and creation of ecological human habitats and food production systems based on the successful patterns exhibited in nature. It is a design method that has been applied worldwide at every level, from homesteading and agriculture to community planning and national policy. Permaculture offers tangible solutions to the many pressing ecological issues of our time, such as how to sustainably meet the basic needs of food, energy and shelter, how to revitalize our communities and restore our watersheds. Permaculture explores both land use ethics and community building movements, merging for the harmonious integration of human dwellings, energy systems, microclimates, annual and perennial plants, animals, soils, and water into stable, productive and resilient communities.

The course price is $ 599 including a PDC Certificate. We hope you will join us to learn about how Permaculture can change your life and offer hope for our future.

For more information contact Ashley Moore at Permadigm@gmail.com or (504)699-5244 or visit www.permadigm.wordpress.com

Fouling Our Nest Part II: Let Us Spray

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Workers digging trench for sewer line in front of the author’s house stand in chest-high salt water.

Workers digging trench for sewer line in front of the author’s house stand in chest-high salt water.

Anyone who has lived in the Keys for any length of time knows that the ground we live on is very porous. Made up of either coral or limestone rock, the surface of these islands resembles flat colanders, allowing everything that falls on it to eventually pass directly through the ground to the salt water below, a mere few feet.

When the contractors dug trenches for the sewers in Marathon, those cavities immediately filled with salt water that rose and fell with the tide. As a result, anything that is sprayed or poured onto the thin skin that separates us from the ocean below finds its way into that ocean.

So, for example, herbicides that anyone sprays throughout the Keys would not only kill weeds and other plants but also would eventually become part of the ecosystems in our oceans.

Who sprays in the Keys?

Continue reading

GUEST COLUMN: Grinder Pumps For Dummies – Or Why I Don’t Want To Be A Loser

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If you live in the Cudjoe Regional Wastewater System area, you need to read the “Dummies Guide To Grinder Pumps”.  If you are a “loser” as our County Commisioner has called all who are getting grinder pumps, you should read it very slowly.

DESCRIPTION OF A GRINDER PUMP

Dummy Version – The greatest invention since ice cream.  To quote our Mayor, “when you flush it goes away”, what else can you ask for?

Real Version – A system in which sewage flows from gravity into a heavy duty plastic tank.  The tank is about 180 gallons just over one day of waste for a typical family.  It has a one horsepower motor that turns grinder blades similar to a garbage disposal in your sink.  A progressive cavity pump then forces the sewage into a 1 1/4” pipe which leads to master stations or the treatment plant on Cudjoe Key. Continue reading

Fouling Our Nest Part 1: Mosquito Control and the Ecology of the Keys

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Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 3.32.57 PM I woke up this afternoon

I saw both cars were gone

I felt so low down deep inside

I threw my drink across the lawn

 – Martin Mull, Shaker Heights Blues

I read in the Keynoter that the president of the gated and very wealthy Ocean Reef Club in North Key Largo pleaded for an aerial spraying before last Friday because of an invasion of salt marsh mosquitoes.

“Most of our nearly 2,000 or so members and guests will have had their Fourth of July ruined,” Ocean Reef President Paul Astbury wrote to Mosquito Control.

Tragic.
Continue reading

Murder-for-hire Perpetrator Gets Maximum Allowable Sentence

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Pistol“I am the victim. My life has changed dramatically.”

So said an emotional Bruce Schmitt at a court session for the man who tried to have him killed.

At the session, a clearly frustrated U.S. federal judge, Jose E. Martinez, imposed the maximum allowable ten-year sentence on admitted murder-for-hire perpetrator Dennis Zecca in a sentencing hearing at the Federal Court Building in Key West on Wednesday. Zecca has been convicted of hiring someone – who turned out to be an FBI informant – to kill Schmitt, a Marathon realtor, for reasons still unknown.

Martinez wondered aloud what everyone else familiar with the case has been wondering since late 2012: why. Continue reading

Let ‘em fry!

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Money has become the grand test of virtue. By this test, [the poor] fail, and for this they are despised.

– George Orwell, Down and Out in Paris and London, 1933

Apparently it never rains in the Keys. And the hot sun doesn’t beat down mercilessly.

That must be the thinking of the local gendarmerie and town fathers in Marathon. While moving a commuter bus stop from a site in front of a local liquor store and bar might make sense, designing a new stop with no benches and no cover certainly doesn’t. But that’s what is going to happen in the Middle Keys as a result of a June 24 city council decision.

The bus stop in question serves two round-trip routes. One provides transportation to Key West while the other does the same between the Keys and Florida City. The people who use the latter are primarily service workers who travel two hours to slightly better paying low-end jobs at places such as Kmart, Winn-Dixie and Publix. Continue reading

Reef Relief Urges Keys-Wide Wastewater Reuse Plan / Adamant That Laws Be Obeyed During Planning, Permitting, and Construction

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Reef Relief continues our work of using the best available science to educate the public and policymakers to achieve conservation, protection, and restoration of coral reef ecosystems.

The most critical issue facing all of us today is water quality. We fight to combat pollution in our oceans and negative effects of climate change, but without clean water, all of our work with regard to restoration and conservation are only delaying the loss of our coral reef ecosystems.

This is why Reef Relief, along with many other local, state, federal and private entities, have worked so hard toward creating a Keys-wide sewer system. We should all be proud of the work we have accomplished in this matter. Reef Relief would like to thank everyone involved in the implementation of the Keys-wide sewer system. It is imperative that our inefficient septic tanks are no longer allowed to leach human waste into our near shore waters. We would also like to thank all homeowners for cooperating with this process, as we are well aware of the financial burden. Continue reading

LAST STAND CALLS FOR DEEP INJECTION WELL AT CUDJOE WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT

 

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Last Stand announced on Wednesday that it is strongly opposed to disposal of treated sewage into shallow wells at the as yet unfinished Cudjoe Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant.

In letters to DEP, FKAA and each Monroe County Commissioner, the Keyswide environmental group cited state regulations, insufficient treatment and danger to sealife as reasons why the plant should be required to pump its waste 2,500-3,000 feet below the surface into the Boulder Zone.

“DEP requires sewage plants that have the potential to treat one million gallons a day to use deep well disposal,” said Naja Girard, president of Last Stand, a watch-dog group which has operated in the Keys for over 25 years.  “Deep wells receive the partially treated waste water and retain it below solid barriers, while shallow wells allow the fresh water to rise to the surface and move into the nearshore waters,” she added. Continue reading

Zecca Sentenced to Ten Years in Federal Prison

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A clearly frustrated U.S. federal Judge Jose E. Martinez imposed the maximum allowable ten-year sentence on admitted murder-for-hire perpetrator Dennis Zecca in a sentencing hearing at the Federal Court Building in Key West today. Zecca has been convicted of hiring someone to kill Marathon realtor Bruce Schmitt for reasons still unknown. Martinez wondered aloud what everyone else has been wondering, why. His sentence came after an emotional 15-minute statement by Schmitt to the court.

Check out Friday’s Blue Paper for the full story about what happened inside the courtroom.

United Way Wants to ‘Stuff the Bus’ with School Supplies

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The Key Largo Chamber of Commerce collected these “Stuff the Bus” supplies.

Keys kids need school supplies like paper, pencils, notebooks and highlighters in order to succeed at their studies. But some kids can’t afford even these basic supplies. That’s why United Way of the Florida Keys and its community partners have launched “Stuff the Bus,” an effort that will hopefully produce truckloads of school supplies to be distributed to all Monroe County public schools from Key Largo to Key West.

Local companies can become sponsors of “Stuff the Bus” by pledging to provide a minimum amount of $ 250 worth of school supplies through a supply drive with their employees or customers, or by making a contribution of $ 250 or more, or a combination of both. Supplies can be collected until August 25th.

Continue reading

Guest Column: Cudjoe Sewer System / What Is Everyone Complaining About and How Did We Get Here?

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Why have so many groups been complaining about the Cudjoe sewer system? They insist they don’t want their concerns to slow down the project and they agree that a well designed sewer system will improve water quality in canals and near shore waters. It seems the “well designed” is what they question.  We will get to that but let’s take a moment to remember how we got here.

Back in 2008, the new county administrator looked at the county sewer fund that had been depleted by infrastructure projects like the Hickory House and the Vandenberg. He realized no state or federal funding was in sight and the county was facing a 2010 state mandate to sewer the remaining Keys. The county and FKAA started looking at ways to trim the cost of the estimated $ 200M Cudjoe project in case the county had to fund the whole thing.  A consultant created a decision tree that favored low pressure grinder pumps, and in 2009 the treatment plant capacity was “averaged down” to allow shallow disposal wells. With no money in sight, everyone waited. Continue reading

Go Native In Your Garden: Learn How With Susie Reutling at Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden

Lucy Carleton lends her support to the Botanical Garden by learning the importance of native before purchasing under the direction of Susie Reutling, Nursery Team Leader at the Native Plant Sale.
Lucy Carleton lends her support to the Botanical Garden by learning the importance of native before purchasing under the direction of Susie Reutling, Nursery Team Leader at the Native Plant Sale.

Lucy Carleton lends her support to the Botanical Garden by learning the importance of native before purchasing under the direction of Susie Reutling, Nursery Team Leader at the Native Plant Sale.

“GO NATIVE IN YOUR GARDEN” – Having problems gardening our thin, alkaline, rocky soil?  Feel guilty about wasting water on irrigation?  Are your plants attracting more pests than butterflies and birds?  Find out how to select & grow attractive and healthy native plants.  Saturday, June 21st, 1:00-3:00 pm at Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden Nature Chapel, Susie Reutling, Nursery Coordinator, Master Gardener will share her practical experience in landscaping with native plants and cultivating rare specimens. Members & students FREE; others $ 5.00.

Earlier that day, from 9-noon, the nursery at the KWTF&BG will be open for a plant sale. For more, visit www.KWBGS.org or call 305-296-1504.

Guest Column: Cudjoe Regional Wastewater System, a Solution?

For almost a year and a half, I have been arguing that the planned, pressurized wastewater system, using grinder pumps, that is proposed for the Cudjoe Regional Wastewater System (CRWS) is uneconomic, unreliable, a burden on homeowners, and a potential environmental nightmare.  Now we learn that the shallow injection well design (120’ deep well) at the treatment plant may be an environmental disaster as well and is probably illegal, if the DEP actually enforces its own regulations.  How did we get to the point; where we are willing to install a system in the fragile environment of the Florida Keys, which may be worse than the septic systems we have now?  The answer is MONEY!!   In the 2006-11 timeframe, when the County and FKAA were being forced by the State and the EPA  to move forward with a sewer system, there were no State funds, the 1% infrastructure tax was to expire in 2018, and estimates for a system serving about 9,000 homes was well over $ 200 million. Continue reading

Southernmost Car Club Holds Monthly Ice Cream Social and Car Show This Saturday, June 14th

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The Florida Keys Southernmost Car Club (FKSCC) holds its monthly ICE CREAM SOCIAL AND CAR SHOW this Saturday, June 14th. 5 to 8pm in the evening when its cool. This event is for the lovers of classic, custom, and street rod automobiles of all years and makes: Fords, Chevys, trucks, sports cars, and chrome loaded motorcycles. If it cool and on wheels it will be here.

This fun evening event is at our great location at the Sugarloaf Lodge, MM17, on Sugarloaf Key. Prizes, 50/50 Free Ice Cream and cold beverages are available for purchase at the Tiki Bar. Bring the kids to enjoy these beautiful relics of the auto world. Vote for the Peoples Choice and that classic will take home a beautiful Plaque! This is a FREE event.

Club members are seeking new members for a full schedule of Club events. For more information contact Dick Moody 942-1758.

TAKE STOCK IN CHILDREN GRADUATION CEREMONY / Award-winning columnist Eugene Robinson dazzles 37 Take Stock in Children Graduates

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Thirty-seven Monroe County high school graduates received their commemorative medallions at the Take Stock in Children (TSiC) graduation, Marathon High School this past Saturday, May 31st.

The Monroe County Education Foundation (MCEF) welcomed Eugene Robinson, columnist for The Washington Post, honored guest and commencement speaker, at the 14th annual TSiC graduation ceremony. Robinson emphasized the responsibility the grads have to their Monroe County TSiC donors and mentors, as well as to the state of Florida,” noting, Success stories like these are a credit not only to the students and their families, but to the wonderful mentors who guided them during these past few years.”  Continue reading

2014 High School Graduation Ceremonies for the Monroe County Schools

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The Monroe County School District is proud to announce the schedule for the 2014 High School Graduation Ceremonies for the Monroe County Schools and Key West Collegiate Charter School.

Key West High School

Date and Time: Friday, June 6, 2014; 8:00 pm

Location: Tommy Roberts Memorial Stadium on Kennedy Drive, Key West.

Commencement Address: Christine Dennison

Expected graduating class: 258

Key West Collegiate Academy

Date and Time: Tuesday, June 3, 2014; 5:30 pm

Location: Tennessee Williams Theater (next to Florida Keys Community College)

Commencement Address: Dr. W. Ann Reynolds

Expected graduating class: 9 Continue reading

Welber on Welber: Special Interest Trumps Climate Action

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“I’m very proud of that,” Monroe County Commissioner George Neugent said after looking through the climate assessment last week. “I’m very proud to be part of an initiation in a region that contains millions of people.”

– Neugent commenting on praise for four-county compact that produced the Southeast Regional Action Plan

Blue Paper

We want to welcome back environmentalist Michael Welber for another in-depth interview.

Welber

More like survivalist.

Blue Paper

Oh? And why is that?

Welber

You’ve probably been snoozing this month, which would actually be a good thing given the continuing inexplicable actions of some of our fine county commissioners.

Blue Paper

What is it this time? Did they buy another restaurant? Continue reading

More Open Debate On Free Roaming Cats In Refuge Areas

Free Roaming Cat

Dear John,

Here are my responses to your latest letter. I think there are several issues here we can agree on and find ways to insure that those issues are adequately addressed. I share your concern that all animals, both wild and domestic, be treated humanely. But I reiterate the need for all responsible pet owners to keep their pets, particularly cats, indoors.

John Donnelly wrote on May 24, 2014 at 6:58 am

(1) Michael, thank you for your well-thought out submission. I consider you a dedicated and respected friend. As you know, just because you make statements in your article, it does not make them true or accurate.

I believe my statements to be accurate, and supported both by my own personal experience, and reports from other responsible observers. I invite anyone with evidence to the contrary to present it. I will gladly change any statement to make it more accurate, but I believe what I have presented is supported by the facts.

(2) The government is overreaching in its cat trapping practices. Cat hunters were caught, by several individuals, placing their cages on private property, with the intent to snare family pets that lived there.

“Overreaching” is a vague and undefined term. Particularly when you haven’t spelled out what the Continue reading

Mosquito Control Needs Modern Organization

Mosquito Control is undergoing a major relocation and it has the opportunity to organize in a manner appropriate to a small, modern utility.  The Board should use common sense and good organizational practice in establishing work locations, functional relationships, and geographic identities.  It should also anticipate continuing use of technology to reduce some manual tasks.  Specifically, if Marathon, which has undergone a significant expansion of offices, is now going to be the headquarters, than all core management departments should be located there.  The new operations building on Big Coppit should be limited to housing personnel with geographical responsibility in the Lower Keys.  The idea of having the Finance Department work out of Big Coppit because a few employees don’t want to move is absurd and is contrary to good management principles.  The Big Coppit property should be sized for operations personnel only, while recognizing that future technology, such as automated mosquito density counters and drones for breeding area monitoring in mangroves is likely.  Mosquito Control should move forward with a modern, cost effective organization, rather than backwards to a bloated, inefficient utility that wastes our tax money.  Concerned citizens’ should attend the next Board meeting on May 21st at 3PM in Marathon.

The video of the April 21, “Call for Candidates’ is now available for viewing on YOU TUBE

Dear Members and Supporters of Hometown,

Whether you attended the April 21, Forum or just want to hear the candidates again, please see and hear what went on by watching the video on You Tube. If you subscribe to the Hometown KeyWest Channel, You Tube will send you an e-mail each time there is something new posted.

To view the April 21, video, please go to www.hometownkeywest.com and you will be on the Home Page. On the right side of the computer screen as you are viewing that page, you will see the icon “You Tube” just below the words “Join Hometown.” Click on that You Tube icon and you will be taken to the Hometown Key West channel on You Tube. Continue reading

GUEST COMMENTARY: Obese Children Grow To Be Obese Adults

Obese children grow to be obese adults. According to recent studies this is a serious concern.  In fact, the Florida State Surgeon General last year, launched an initiative targeting this issue.  Through the Healthiest Weight initiative, the Department of Health is partnering with community groups and other partners including early education providers to implement programs that focus on:

  • Increasing the initiation, duration and exclusivity of breastfeeding.
  • Promoting improved nutrition and physical activity in early care and education.
  • Encouraging improved nutrition in schools.
  • Increasing the physical activity for students during the school day and after school programs.
  • Increasing access to high-quality, affordable foods in communities.
  • Increasing physical activity by improving the built environment in communities.
  • Promoting health professional awareness and counseling of patient body mass index

Children who are overweight or obese at two to five years old are five times more likely to become obese adults.  Many factors contribute to childhood obesity.  To solve this problem, we must first identify it.  Lack of physical exercise, snack time all the time, etc.  The increasing popularity of fast foods is a problem.  Water consumption as a basic need rather than merely an alternative to sugar-sweetened drinks is another. Continue reading

Dearth Day: How Even Environmentalists Are Accepting The Inevitable

Dearth Day: How even environmentalists are accepting the inevitable  When sorrow draws near, The gardens of the soul will lie desolate, Wilting; joy and song will die. Dark is life, dark is death.  Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth) -- Gustav Mahler  It was Earth Day this week.   Companies peddling environmentally sound products flooded in-boxes with promos for Earth Day sales. And environmental organizations did the same, extending eager hands for donations.   I don’t think the activists who launched Earth Day, fresh off vigorous demonstrations against the Viet Nam war, would be too enamored of the event’s activities in the Keys. There was a native plant day in the Upper Keys. A 5K run/walk in Key West a couple of weeks ago marked the event. And so did a fair at Bahia Honda, also two weeks ago.  What there wouldn’t have been is a massive demonstration to demand reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent right now. Today.   A history of buzzwords  Back when Earth Day began the watchword was ecology.   As awareness about global warming became more widespread, sloganeering used the word green instead of ecology. Even Marathon had a Green Team. But, as most things go, corporate America co-opted “green” and applied that label to just about everything that wasn’t blatantly poisonous.   Seeing that, the emphasis shifted from green to sustainability. Recognizing the change, Key West appointed a sustainability coordinator. Monroe County has done the same with its sustainability program manager. Trouble is, in an area that imports just about everything – food, power, gasoline, and water – it’s nigh on impossible to be sustainable. And even when there is an opportunity to dial up sustainability by returning yard waste materials to the earth via mulching and composting, the county tilts toward shipping it out.   But don’t fear. We have a new buzz word: adaptation.   Now that the country, the state, the cities, and the county have done virtually nothing to head off climate change and the subsequent sea level rise and now that scientists and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have determined that a 2 centigrade rise in global temperatures is a given, the state and the county say we must think about adapting to a new reality.   That means sea level rise. According to this map [EMBED LINK] http://ssrf.climatecentral.org/#location=FL_State_12&state=Florida&level=5&category=Population&geo=County&pt=p&target=&p=S&stLoc=FL_State_12&folder=Population 100 percent of the populace of the Keys will be vulnerable to a 5-foot surge or sea level rise.   For Monroe County and all other coastal regions, adaptation means planning now for the damage that sea level rise will cause in low lying areas. What will adaptation mean here in the Florida Keys? Raising the highways, hardening utilities, building dikes and levees, improving waste water systems and even changing our minds about letting all those people with what were formerly known as illegal downstairs enclosures keep their properties intact. The Keys will have to build up.   Where is the money going to come from for all this? The county can’t even extract money from the state to build a sewer system that was mandated nearly 40 years ago. Newer sewer systems, if the Keys are going to adapt, will need to be constructed to ensure they won’t be damaged by encroaching sea water.   In other words, adaptation means nothing. Nothing at all. The current Climate Change Advisory Committee will be reviewing a document put out by the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) that is full of words such as “optional” and “may” and even “holistic planning,” whatever that is. The plan is to study the threat of sea level rise and develop best practices and conduct pilot studies. The first pilot will be in Ft. Lauderdale, a community rewarded by the state for taking some action on the consequences of climate change right now.   In the words of the Adaptation Action Areas plan that DEO issued,   “The City of Ft. Lauderdale, in cooperation with Broward County, will serve as a pilot to test the adaptation options. The results of this process will be compiled into a guidance document to assist Florida communities that choose to address Adaptation Action Areas in their local comprehensive plan.”  And,   “The main difference between the supplemental project and the DEO’s 5-year initiative is that the pilots under the 5-year strategy will represent an average community in Florida and will take a holistic approach to adaptation planning. The pilot under this application will be an advanced community on the forefront of adaptation planning in the state, ready to take on highly targeted tasks related to how adaptation action areas will be addressed in the local comprehensive plan.”  That average community is not Monroe County even though the Keys are the most threatened area in all of Florida. The county’s inaction results in Broward being chosen. The options that the state develops will be tested through a pilot project that will ultimately result in a proposed amendment to the local comprehensive plan that addresses sea level rise adaptation. Given how long it takes to change the county’s comprehensive plan, with committees meeting and public input provided and more committees meeting with more public announcements and forums before actually delivering anything to the Board of County Commissioners, it would seem wise to start looking at property in Tennessee now.   Too little, too late  How long? According to the Citizen in Tuesday’s paper,   “Since 2009, the county has been working with the private planning firm Keith and Schnars to update and rewrite its comprehensive land-use plan. County officials expect to complete the process by the end of the year.  The comp plan establishes the overarching policies for development in the county. It takes into account climate change and sea-level rise, the total carrying capacity of the Keys, protection of endangered species, and safe evacuation of the Keys prior to a hurricane.”  So it has taken 5 years to complete changes in the current comp plan. Given that DEO will conduct its pilot for five years and then provide Monroe with what has been learned it appears, it could be ten years before the county undertakes any meaningful work toward this new buzzword, adaptation.   Maybe the Keys should wait for the next environmental fad: climate refugees.    This also means that people can now forget reducing their greenhouse gas impact. Not many bothered anyway. Get out your kayak and tie it to your house. Build a dock on your currently dry lot. Think about pontoons and a propeller for your car. Start building a dike around your house.   Better yet, move. Like to the mountains of Tennessee.

The 6-foot surge from Hurricane Wilma under the author’s house in 2005

When sorrow draws near,

The gardens of the soul will lie desolate,

Wilting; joy and song will die.

Dark is life, dark is death.

 

Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth)

– Gustav Mahler

It was Earth Day this week.

Companies peddling environmentally sound products flooded in-boxes with promos for Earth Day sales. And environmental organizations did the same, extending eager hands for donations.

I don’t think the activists who launched Earth Day, fresh off vigorous demonstrations against the Viet Nam war, would be too enamored of the event’s activities in the Keys. There was a native plant day in the Upper Keys. A 5K run/walk in Key West a couple of weeks ago marked the event. And so did a fair at Bahia Honda, also two weeks ago. Continue reading

The Dumbshine State

Solar panels being installed on house in Marathon

A rally last week in Tallahassee was staged to encourage solar energy development in Florida. Fortunately it became political because otherwise the mainstream media might not have covered it. Organizers used the event to accuse Gov. Rick Scott of blocking solar energy initiatives in the state at the behest of the big power companies.

Because Scott’s election-year rival, former Gov. Charlie Crist, attended the rally, the media paid some attention.

What should have made bigger news is how the state has placed its legislative thumb firmly on the development of renewable power. Florida has the third-largest potential for rooftop solar generation in the nation but ranks 18th in solar installations.

KEYS, which delivers power west of the Seven Mile Bridge, illustrates what is typical for the rest of the state. Look at information provided by KEYS spokesperson Lynne Tejeda about the sources of the utilities power. Continue reading

What Part of “No” Does Crane Point Not Get?

No zipline

Last week’s announcement that the Crane Point Nature Center would back away from a $ 727,000 federal grant via the city of Marathon and also give up a height variance allowing towers higher than what Marathon normally allows had opponents of the proposed zip-line attraction cheering.

Lost in the celebration, however, was Crane Point board member Norval Smith’s announcement that the board would pursue building a zip line on their own. The initial more limited plan includes eight towers, three zip lines and sky walks. It’s difficult to fathom the depth of the organization’s obtuseness and inability to look reality in the face. Continue reading

Open letter to the County Commissioners

Dear Commissioners,

Thank you very much for your service to the residents of Monroe County.  We have been full-time residents for over 30 years, and have enjoyed it.  In all those years, we never had a complaint.

There is, however, an issue that we feel should be addressed.  It affects us, and it affects many other constituents.  In brief, we have a small mobile home that we put on the market. Upon receipt of an offer to buy it, it was discovered that there was an open permit from back in 1988.  That is 26 years ago, well before we purchased that property in 2001!   We had no idea there was an issue until we’re close to closing our sale.   When our realtor called the Building Department to investigate, they changed it to “expired” the permit.

There is also a possibility that a clerical error was made.  We own Unit #3 in Venture Out, on Cudjoe Key. Our property records show a permit that is linked to a different unit.  The permit # 04100197 is for unit #501. The permit that is apparently linked to our unit, Unit #3 is #881000344.

The burden of closing or re-opening those old permits is being put on the current owners.  We are only a couple of weeks from our closing date, and this very unpleasant surprise causes us undue grief.  If something was not done correctly 26 years ago, the problem should have been uncovered well before now, and the burden should either be put on the owners at that time, or grandfathered.

We urge you to take action on behalf of all the homeowners of Monroe County.  We respectfully request that permits older than a certain time (10 years?) be closed and forgiven when the original permittee is no longer the property owner.

Best regards,

Dr. and Mrs. William M. Smith

Crane Point Points Fingers

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When the Department of Economic Opportunity, source of a $ 727,000 Community Development Block Grant to Marathon for the construction of a zip-line course at the Crane Point Nature Center, asked for justification for Crane Point’s delinquency in submitting two required and very late documents, board chair Jeff Smith wrote, “The delays are attributed to third party appellant actions regarding the Administrative Height Variance issued by the City’s Planning Director.”

Not exactly.

What Smith neglects to say is that the tardy environmental assessment was due to DEO in March 2013, and the wage decision request in June 2013. The appeal of the decision by Planning Director George Garrett to allow 46.25-foot high towers – nearly ten feet higher than Marathon allows – began in July 2013, well after Crane Point’s deadlines.

But the problems didn’t begin in 2013 or even 2014. Continue reading

SAVE THE DATE! Keys Water Quality: The Buck Stops Here

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Everyone acknowledges that the interaction between water quality and coral reefs, seagrasses, and marine creatures in the Florida Keys is a complicated issue. Climate-change, land-based sources of pollution, habitat loss and destruction, and overfishing all contribute to the health of local waters.

Recognizing the importance of water quality, Last Stand and Everglades Law Center are scheduling free forums in April, bringing together a panel of water quality, hydrology, and coral reef experts to examine the science behind what is occurring and what is being planned to improve water quality in the Keys.

The Upper Keys forum, on Wednesday, April 16 in Key Largo, features the director of South Florida Natural Resources Center for Everglades National Park, Bob Johnson, and the director of science and policy for the Everglades Foundation, Tom Van Lent, Ph.D.

Also on the program are Andrew Baker, Ph.D., associate professor at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science at the University of Miami, Jerry Lorenz, director of research for Audubon Florida, and Billy Causey, Ph.D., Southeast Regional Director for NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.

“We know how critically important water quality is to the Keys,” said Last Stand president Naja Girard. “That’s why we’re having two sessions. The people we’ve invited to speak are all renowned experts on the issue of Everglades’ water flow and near- and off-shore water quality.”

The April 16 forum will be held at the Key Largo Public Library, 101485 Overseas Hwy. in Key Largo, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The informational session is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

A second session takes place in Key West on Tuesday, April 22, also from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at the Eco-Discovery Center. 

For more information, contact Julie Dick at 312-399-4057.

sonsored by

SOME BURNING QUESTIONS ABOUT OFFSHORE ISLANDS

Sore throats, red eyes, Old Town storeowners worried about the smell of smoke on their garments, sailboats evacuated… One way or another a lot of people were affected last week by the fire raging on Wisteria Island.  The Key West Fire Department had given up the fight on Monday and the fire continued on, burning through trees for six days.  In the end the flames were extinguished only after a group of volunteers took the matter into their own hands last Saturday.

“We traded buckets all day, from the beach all the way into the center of the forest,” says Jeff Sundwall one of the volunteers.  We had teenage kids, young mothers, boaters, people from Key West came with their boats. We worked from morning to sunset.”

By then, the team of about 8 people, organized by local activist Mike Mongo, covered in soot and exhausted, equipped only with buckets and 500 feet of garden hose connected to a small 12-volt pump, had managed to extinguish the flames down to the last cluster of burning trees. Continue reading

Tourists: We Want Their Dollars Without Providing Services

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Anyone who has ever lived in the northern part of the country knows how alluring the blue skies and sandy beaches of the Keys can be during the winter, especially a winter as brutal as the one that the Midwest and Northeast have just experienced. Visitors come here primarily for the warmth and not for seafood festivals or dolphin attractions.

One thing that surprises visitors who doze in a cold bed dreaming of floating on an inflatable raft on aquamarine water is how few public beaches there are in the Keys. Ironically, as dreary as Marathon can be, the city does have one of the nicer beaches in the island chain. Sombrero Beach, located right in the middle of town, has a long stretch of sand, relatively new covered pavilions, a children’s park, a pretty cement walkway, and very badly maintained bathrooms.

It’s a mystery why city government, which takes many opportunities to attract visitor dollars, can be so neglectful of one of the area’s primary attractions: Marathon’s sandy beach. Recently Marathon’s council voted to sink $ 5.43 million dollars or $ 180,000 a year over thirty years into repairing a decrepit bridge that people perceive as a big tourist attraction. And a loud and extended complaint rose from local throats when the TDC District Advisory Council (DAC III) initially voted to divert a big chunk of money from the Marathon Seafood Festival. That event pours thousands of dollars into the chamber of commerce’s coffers and DAC III voted to give TDC cash toward promoting Fantasy Fest. The latter doesn’t need the TDC money either. Both are well established events. Continue reading

Mano a Mano: Yard Waste Redux

welber interviews welber

In the following interview, Blue Paper columnist Michael Welber interviews former environmental activist Michael Welber. This Welber launched the city of Marathon Green Team in 2007, was a member of what was then called Monroe County’s Green Initiative Task Force, and has written extensively about environmental issues. He wrote recently (http://thebluepaper.com/article/debate-about-yard-waste-incineration-flares-up/) about the county’s plans to burn yard waste instead of shipping it to Broward or composting it here.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Blue Paper

We’re delighted to have you with us today, Mr. Welber, so we can keep up with the yard waste issue. You certainly have what they call environmental bona fides.

Welber

Damn right I do.

Blue Paper

So, Mr. Welber, do you think pigs will fly in Monroe County?

Welber

Wha?? Continue reading

Marathon Diary: Sliding into Chaos

Front loader at Sombrero

Exhibit A: Democracy takes a back seat in the Middle Keys

The Marathon City Council, after some promises about making careful considerations, wasted no time in appointing former councilman John Bartus to the seat recently and abruptly vacated by Ginger Snead. Snead, to the shock of many, had suddenly resigned citing “rumors.” It’s never been clear what that meant.

While Bartus had served on the council and even been mayor, his last run at office didn’t work out so well. He came in fourth, trailing Mike Cinque, Rich Keating, and Don Vasil in 2009. In other words, the council appointed someone who the voters had soundly rejected in an actual election. Bartus had been president of the Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce and was nominated to the council and promoted by Councilman Chris Bull, also closely connected with the chamber. The rest of the council went along rather meekly.

In another setback for democracy in the Middle Keys, the committee assigned the task of reviewing Marathon’s charter has recommended that elections be scheduled for March instead of November. The voters had approved by a 58 percent margin moving the elections to November from March but now the charter review committee recommends the city revert to its original schedule. Continue reading

Supertankers For Humanity Announces Its First Florida Keys Project

Issue 54 Exxon II for web

NEWS RELEASE

SUPERTANKERS INTERNATIONAL CORPORATION

dba Supertankers For Humanity

**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE**

MEDIA CONTACT: Ahmad Jaber, 143-26-54-78-85-62 A.Jaber@supertankersinternational.com

ABU DHABI, MARCH 21, 2014 – Rather than facing the costs of decommissioning large commercial vessels, we here at Supertankers International Corp have become sensitive to the pleas for affordable housing coming from the large homeless population in the Florida Keys.  This type of partnership directly benefiting the disadvantaged, normally only available in the third world, will be an asset to the Keys.  We are in the process of re-routing to Key West a 441-foot supertanker that had been scheduled for a scrapyard in India.

For more information contact: Al Belhoul at A.Belhoul@supertankersforhumanity.com

###

Intuitive Arts Fair on Big Pine Key / THIS WEEKEND!

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The Intuitive Arts Co-op of the Lower Keys presents an Intuitive Arts and Psychic Fair on Saturday, March 15th from 10-5 and Sunday, March 16th form 11-5 at Good Food Conspiracy Health Food Store at mile marker 30.2 Oceanside on Big Pine Key.

The Co-op is a local group of intuitive readers, body therapists, artists and vendors.  The fair features intuitive insights and workshops offered by experienced practitioners and vendors. Tarot, life path readings, channeling, numerology, shamanic healing, jewelry, metaphysical gifts, crystals, and more will be available. You can participate in a drumming workshop, learn about dowsing rods and the art of healing.  Listen to the harp music while enjoying delicious homemade soups, sandwiches and healthy smoothies in the tropical backyard garden. Bring a friend and enjoy a day filled with insights and delights.

165864_477058428974816_1612031082_aThe Intuitive Arts Fair celebrates the Spring Equinox “We are welcoming Spring with the 4th Annual Intuitive Arts Fair to replenish body, mind and spirit.  We hope everyone will come out and step into Spring with new insights, inspirations and intentions.” said Rev. Marney Brown, one of the fair’s organizers and owner of Good Food Conspiracy.

Admission is free. For more information call Debra Kupchok at 305- 872-4750.

Congressman Garcia’s Statement On Senate Passage of the Homeowner’s Flood Insurance Affordability Act

press release garcia

Last night, the Senate passed the House version of the flood bill, the Homeowner’s Flood Insurance Affordability Act, by an overwhelming majority in a 72-22 vote.

“I commend my colleagues in the Senate for stepping up in the name of struggling, middle-class homeowners. The Homeowner’s Flood Insurance Affordability Act represents the first meaningful step forward in National Flood Insurance Program reform. Although I believe that further reform and stronger protections are needed, today we have reason to celebrate.”

Southernmost Car Club Monthly Show & Shine, This Sunday

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The Florida Keys Southernmost Car Club (FKSCC) holds its monthly SHOW & SHINE this Sunday, March 16th.  This event is for the lovers of classic, custom, and street rod automobiles of all years and makes. Fords, Chevys, trucks, sports cars, and chrome loaded motorcycles. If it cool and on wheels it will be here.

This fun afternoon event is our annual picnic, starts at Noon till 4pm at our great location at the Sugarloaf Lodge, MM17, on Sugarloaf Key. Prizes, 50/50 good food and cold beverages are available at the Tiki Bar. Bring the kids to enjoy these beautiful relics of the auto world.Vote for the Peoples Choice and that classic will take home a beautiful Plaque! This is a FREE event.

Club members are seeking new members for a full schedule shows events. For more information contact Dick Moody 942-1758.

Intuitive Arts Fair on Big Pine Key / March 15th and 16th

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The Intuitive Arts Co-op of the Lower Keys presents an Intuitive Arts and Psychic Fair on Saturday, March 15th from 10-5 and Sunday, March 16th form 11-5 at Good Food Conspiracy Health Food Store at mile marker 30.2 Oceanside on Big Pine Key.

The Co-op is a local group of intuitive readers, body therapists, artists and vendors.  The fair features intuitive insights and workshops offered by experienced practitioners and vendors. Tarot, life path readings, channeling, numerology, shamanic healing, jewelry, metaphysical gifts, crystals, and more will be available. You can participate in a drumming workshop, learn about dowsing rods and the art of healing.  Listen to the harp music while enjoying delicious homemade soups, sandwiches and healthy smoothies in the tropical backyard garden. Bring a friend and enjoy a day filled with insights and delights.

165864_477058428974816_1612031082_aThe Intuitive Arts Fair celebrates the Spring Equinox “We are welcoming Spring with the 4th Annual Intuitive Arts Fair to replenish body, mind and spirit.  We hope everyone will come out and step into Spring with new insights, inspirations and intentions.” said Rev. Marney Brown, one of the fair’s organizers and owner of Good Food Conspiracy.

Admission is free. For more information call Debra Kupchok at 305- 872-4750.

Burning Yard Waste In the Keys Is A Real Mistake

The burning of yard waste in the Keys is a real mistake – I would rather continue to pay the higher cost to at least have the waste burned to generate power than to simply produce ash and air pollution.

In our community in IL we collected kitchen waste (no meat or animal products) and composed it.  There are only 360 homes in the community but the compost was free to property owners or it would go to the organic farmer nearby.

Rus Van Derveer

Key West

Intuitive Arts Fair on Big Pine Key / March 15th and 16th

224861_477611168919542_1197070843_n

The Co-op is a local group of intuitive readers, body therapists, artists and vendors.  The fair features intuitive insights and workshops offered by experienced practitioners and vendors. Tarot, life path readings, channeling, numerology, shamanic healing, jewelry, metaphysical gifts, crystals, and more will be available. You can participate in a drumming workshop, learn about dowsing rods and the art of healing.  Listen to the harp music while enjoying delicious homemade soups, sandwiches and healthy smoothies in the tropical backyard garden. Bring a friend and enjoy a day filled with insights and delights.

165864_477058428974816_1612031082_aThe Intuitive Arts Fair celebrates the Spring Equinox “We are welcoming Spring with the 4th Annual Intuitive Arts Fair to replenish body, mind and spirit.  We hope everyone will come out and step into Spring with new insights, inspirations and intentions.” said Rev. Marney Brown, one of the fair’s organizers and owner of Good Food Conspiracy.

Admission is free. For more information call Debra Kupchok at 305- 872-4750.

Island Grass Music Fest to Benefit Habitat For Humanity Sunday Feb. 23

habitat for humanity

RAMROD KEY, Florida Keys — Contemporary and traditional offerings and original tunes by Florida Keys performing songwriters are to highlight the musical menu during the 15th Annual Island Grass Music Fest, set for 1-6 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 23, on Ramrod Key.

The musical afternoon benefits Habitat for Humanity of Key West and the Lower Florida Keys. The event is to take place at Boondocks Grille & Draft House, mile marker 27.5 on U.S. Highway 1.

The entertainment lineup features a host of the seasoned performers whose talents enrich the Florida Keys music scene — among them Howard Livingston, the Doerfel Family, Bill Blue & the Nervous Guys, Pat McCune, the Piper Road Spring Band and a trio composed of Gary Hempsey, Ron Baumann and event producer Terry Cassidy.

Festival attendees also can purchase food and beverages to enjoy with the music and bid on items at a silent auction to benefit Habitat for Humanity. Vendor booths and raffles are to round out the afternoon’s attractions.

Proceeds support Habitat’s mission vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live.

Monroe County Education Foundation Board Names Steve Pribramsky New President / John Padget Elevated to President Emeritus

L-R (Steve Pribramsky, John Padget)

L-R (Steve Pribramsky, John Padget)

 

The Monroe Country Education Foundation (MCEF) Board of Directors unanimously elected Steve Pribramsky as its new president, effective immediately.  

Long-standing president, John Padget, will serve as President Emeritus, an honor which ensures his continued counsel.

Take Stock in Children is the flagship program of the MCEF which also sponsors enrichment programs for all Monroe County students, including the Experiment in International Living (EIL) and the leadership program called LEAP (Leadership, Excellence, Accelerating Potential).

Steve Pribramsky is the owner of Pribramsky & Company, CPA’s, with offices in Islamorada and Key West.  He is the father of six children, former elected member of the Monroe County School Board, and president of the Key West Montessori Charter School.   Over the past several years, Steve has served as fund-raising chair, treasurer, and vice-president of the MCEF.   Steve holds degrees from Marquette and Stetson Universities. Continue reading

Group Raises Another Obstacle to Zip Line

Issue 50 ziplineMarathon and the Florida Keys Land and Sea Trust, the operator of Crane Point Nature Center are being taken to court over the issue of the height of some of the hulking towers that would be part of the zip-line course at the site.

The dispute centers around a height variance granted by Marathon planning director George Garrett. The current height limit in Marathon is 37 feet; three or four towers (the final number is not clear) are designed to be 46.25 feet. A group of four activists appealed the height variance to the planning commission, which upheld Garrett’s decision on a 4-1 vote in July 2013. Continue reading

Congressman Joe Garcia Hosts Tele-Town Hall to Discuss Flood Insurance Crisis

press release garciaWASHINGTON, DC — Last Tuesday, Congressman Joe Garcia hosted a Tele Town Hall to discuss national flood insurance reform. The hour long live event attracted over 3,900 callers from Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties concerned about their rising insurance rates and desperate for relief.

“Why doesn’t anyone care about what is happening to us?” asked one caller as she desperately questioned her steep and unsustainable rate increases.

“I care. I care deeply and I’m very concerned”, Congressman Garcia responded. “That is why I called tonight’s Tele Town Hall. We are facing a crisis here in South Florida, and across the country, and it is well beyond time we found a fix”.

Last month, Congressman Garcia introduced the HOME ACT of 2014 – bipartisan legislation aimed at addressing the harmful effects of Biggert-Waters by delaying skyrocketing flood insurance rates, demanding FEMA conduct an affordability study, and creating a long-term solution by emphasizing the importance of mitigation. Continue reading

Solo Visual Arts Exhibition by Mixed-Media Visual Artist Alice Pedroletti

very well then

pigeon fee title

Opening: Sunday, January 26, 12:00 PM- 4:00 PM

The exhibits featuring photography and mixed-media by Italian visual artist Alice Pedroletti, are part of her research and archival project in which she explores the history of Henry Flagler and the Florida East Coast Railway’s Key West Extension. On Pigeon Key the installation will be photography site specific for the Section Gang Quarter. At The Custom House Museum in Key West the show will be about archives and photography, creating an exchange between the two places and a dialogue in the Keys territory.

Very well then, go ahead / Alice Pedroletti

Very well then, go ahead began in December of 2012 when Pedroletti was an artist in residency at The Studios of Key West. Focusing on the local environment and its ties to history and humanity, Pedroletti gravitated towards the Over-Sea Railway and its evolution from railway to highway and its impact on the local community and environment. Drawing from a wealth of resources ranging from photographs to video to postcards the exhibition is a contemporary artist’s take on what was deemed the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World.’ Continue reading

County Plans To Burn Yard Waste In Lower Keys

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The Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development entitled “Our Common Future” stated that humanity has the ability to make development sustainable by meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The exploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation of technological development, and institutional change should be made consistent with future as well as present needs.

In an effort to save the county money, the County Commission and its sustainability program manager Rhonda Haag have developed a plan to burn yard waste in the Lower Keys. Currently yard waste is trucked up to Broward County to be burned along with the rest of the trash from the Keys in Waste Management’s waste to energy plant. Continue reading

MARATHON COUNCIL EXCLUDES PUBLIC / Last minute agenda item requires prayer

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People who didn’t attend the November 26, 2013 Marathon city council meeting or watch it on television or over the Internet might not know that their representatives voted to adopt a resolution requiring prayers before future meetings.

The item had been put on the agenda at the meeting itself by city councilor Ginger Snead. After a brief comment by each of the five council members, the group voted 4-1 to have a non-denominational prayer before future sessions. Newly elected member Mark Senmartin was the only one voting against as he felt that a moment of silence would be more appropriate.

The vote represents two problems. First, because the item was not on the agenda, no one from the public could comment because no one knew it was coming. Second, prayer before governmental meetings could violate the first amendment of the United States Constitution. Continue reading

Rowell’s Marina Purchase: A Brilliant Move

To the Editor:

The Monroe County Commission’s decision to purchase Rowell’s Marina is a brilliant move that will benefit and reward its citizens in perpetuity.

Our county commission, county manager and local residents worked long and hard for many years to secure this procurement. It was well researched and investigated. What a novel idea, government working in concert with the governed to obtain an objective that will add to the quality of everyone’s life.

Businesses, residents and tourists will thrive at this prime location. Revenue will flow into our coiffeurs, as taxpayers experience the relief that this purchase will provide to them.

It’s unfortunate that Commissioner Danny Kohlage was blinded by the obtuse and myopic vision of an exquisite acquisition that all will benefit from. The negativity of those unable to see the value of this jewel, stems from them wanting to get a hand out to pay for their sewer connections. Unfortunately, that issue is water under the bridge, as that ship has left. The time to address the government’s unfunded sewer mandate occurred many years ago. It appears that they were sold out by previous elected officials who were unable to protect and serve them.

Except for Commissioner Kohlage, this has not been the case with our county commissioners. Every step of the way, along with the county manager, they gave leadership, guidance and counsel as they navigated a course to our goal. Fail-safe methods were incorporated in this process to insure that there will not be any buyer’s remorse.

It’s an extraordinary purchase for the people of Monroe County.  The courage, tenacity and wisdom of those county commissioners who voted in favor of this procurement are applauded. Thank you for your intelligent and trusted leadership.

Sincerely,

Jessie Davis

Key Largo

WINN-DIXIE TO HOLD JOB FAIR IN BIG PINE KEY; MORE THAN 50 POSITIONS AVAILABLE

WHAT:          

Winn-Dixie is holding a job fair to accept applications and conduct interviews for various positions at the Big Pine Key Winn-Dixie store.

WHEN:        

Thursday, Nov. 21, and Friday, Nov. 22, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

WHERE:       

Winn-Dixie Store #358

251 Key Deer Blvd.

Big Pine Key, Florida 33043

WHO:           

-   Job seekers

-   Winn-Dixie representatives

WHY:       

Winn-Dixie is recruiting for various in-store positions including cashiers, baggers, deli, bakery, grocery, dairy, meat and seafood departments. With competitive salaries and great benefits, the grocer hopes to fill various openings at the Big Pine Key store. It is recommended candidates apply online prior to the job fair. To view open positions and/or to apply online, visit www.winn-dixie.com/au/Careers.

 

Crane Point, Marathon Keeps The Shades Drawn

On October 19 of this year an advertisement appeared in the Florida Keys Keynoter titled “Notice for Early Public Review of a Proposal to Support Activity in the 100-year Floodplain and Wetland.” While ads of this sort generally garner little attention, it did catch the eyes of those concerned about the installation of a zip-line attraction in the Crane Point Nature Center.

The notice sought input on the proposed construction and gave as a contact Marathon Community Services Coordinator Debrah London, listing her email address and phone number. The notice also gave contact information for Loretta Geotis from Crane Point and Calvin Knowles, the consultant from Meridian/GSG, the company that Marathon hired to manage the grant application process.

When a representative of Keep Crane Point Natural, an ad hoc group that opposes the plan, called Ms. London for more details, she was unable to explain what the comments were supposed to address. She referred the caller to Kevin Sullivan in Marathon’s planning department. His comment was that he “was not privy to the ad.” Nor did he respond with any further information. Continue reading

The Fat Lady Sang Today!

November 20, 2013

I am sitting here with a glass of scotch and about to go to Square Grouper for dinner to celebrate the final approval of the InterLocal Agreement to reduce 1,152 grinder pumps from the system.  It took a great effort from a lot of people in all areas of the Lower Keys, but we prevailed.  I know there are still residents who think they are still being treated unfairly, but this was still a big win, and not just for us.  I think we were able to prevail against the proverbial “City Hall”, despite warnings that we were wasting our time.

Tomorrow, I will be filing papers with the Court to drop the injunction law suit and to drop out of the bond validation hearings. My son gets married in Key West next week and I look forward to spending time with my family.  However, I will not be bored for long.  I am in the process of writing a comprehensive, interactive book on energy supply in the US.  I have been doing research for over a year and expect it will take about six to eight months to complete.

Also, Sir Isaac Newton is not resting just yet.  We will be pushing our State Senator, Dwight Bullard to join Holly Raschein, our State Representative to pass a bill making the FKAA BOD elected.  We will need to present logical, but forceful arguments to both the legislature and the governor to make this happen.  It will soon be time for thinking strategy and tactics.

Finally, I think there are two spots on the FKAA BOD that are open this January.  We need to push the Governor to select independent, well qualified candidates.

Thanks for everything.

Walt Drabinski

Sir Isaac Newton Coalition

The Greenwashing of ‘America Recycles’

Garbage Truck

kessler

Today is America Recycles Day. Brought to you by Pepsico, Nestle Water, Johnson & Johnson, Glad plastic bags, Rubbermaid, and Waste Management.

Do you see a pattern? These are the same corporations that contribute to the problem of the large volume of trash that Americans generate every day. The ones that want to head off bottle bills and restrictions on packaging. They are all against mandatory recycling and against banning certain materials from disposal.

In the flyer that announces all the happy events associated with America Recycles Day the sponsors point to Barbara Bush Elementary School in Texas that celebrated America Recycles Day “by promoting plastic bag recycling through ‘It’s a Bag’s Life’ program – which educates individuals on the importance of plastic bag and film recycling. They worked in conjunction with their local Kroger grocery store to educate their community and hosted a collection event during the week of America Recycles Day. A total of 5,000 pounds of plastic bags were recycled!”

You’ll notice that there’s no mention of reusable bags. Or of reusing plastic bags after an initial use. The State of Florida has mandated that local communities cannot ban or tax plastic bags.

So is recycling actually worth it? Continue reading

Next Steps on Climate Change: Infrastructure Adaptation

Monroe County Commissioners will soon make some bell weather decisions that signal their approach to climate change. The County has joined compacts, attended conferences, hired sustainability coordinators, established committees, and developed plans which embark on the “process.” Eventually, the process moves from planning to action.

Action includes mitigation (reducing the causes of climate change) and adaptation (preparation for the effects). Mitigation efforts began years ago by obtaining grants to purchase hybrid cars, replace light bulbs, retrofit old buildings and replace air conditioning systems. These popular projects reduce ongoing expense and use “other people’s money,” for funding. The county will soon decide if it wants to further reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by ending the practice of burning Monroe County’s yard waste. This may cost a couple of bucks thus not be as popular. However, if atmospheric carbon dioxide is accelerating global warming, then our low elevation county will soon have the opportunity to end a major portion of its contribution.

Unlike mitigation which often yields immediate pay back, adaptation can be expensive and has a longer return on investment. The next step for adaptation in the Keys is openly discussing the possible effects of sea level rise. We don’t know when it will happen or exactly how much we will see, but we can determine where it will first occur. Initially an annoyance to those who realize the damage salt water does to vehicles; deeper puddles will begin to alter travel plans. Not convinced sea level will rise? Then think about adaptation as preparation for hurricane storm surge.

As the umbrella governing entity, Monroe County will soon decide if they want to take the next “adaptation step” by providing a forum for all municipalities and business leaders to identify the parts of their infrastructure that should be evaluated for exposure to sea level rise and the long term cost of doing nothing verses the expense of adaptation.

Will you please take a look at this month’s high tides, think about how you feel about climate change and let county commissioners know how you would like them to proceed? Thanks!

Bill Hunter

Sugarloaf Key

One Answer To “Where do Tourists ‘Go’?”

One answer to “Where do Tourists ‘Go’?” [Issue # 31, Article by Michael Welber]:

During a recent stay in California I found (to my relief at the time) that the city of Santa Cruz has come up with a simple solution to providing public bathroom facilities in its lovely downtown business district.  It has contracted with three strategically located local businesses — a coffee shop, a bookstore and a pizzeria — to make their bathrooms available to the general public and not just to paying customers.  The businesses post a “Public Restrooms” sign out front and are indicated on the maps available to city visitors.  In return, the city pays the businesses a monthly stipend to cover maintenance costs.

This might prove beneficial for businesses like many of those in Key West which are close to Duval St. but slightly off the beaten track on one of the less-visited side streets.

Frank Kabela

Key West

Saving Our Reefs

Coral Reef southeast Florida showing diseased Sea Fan

Coral Reef southeast Florida showing diseased Sea Fan

AN IMMEDIATE THREAT TO OUR REEFS THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH CRUISE SHIPS OR DREDGING…

Years ago Dr. Brian LaPointe was the primary scientist instrumental in forcing our Federal and State governments to admit that land based pollutants affect marine ecosystems and can kill corals… it’s a no brainer but it took years for our local and national governments to admit this and to stop flooding Florida Bay with dirty water…

As a result of this flooding, we saw a proliferation of coral diseases (Black-band, Red-band, Dark Spots, White-band, White Plague, White Pox, Yellow Blotch — just to name a few) that devastated corals on reefs throughout the Keys … Since the flow was reduced, our corals have recovered somewhat. The ugly point about the articles linked below is that there is a huge push to have the dirty water that has polluted and decimated Indian River Lagoon re-released into, you guessed it, Florida Bay. The sad fact is, the resultant flows, if they are allowed, will make any damage that would have been done by widening our shipping channel and resultant harm by increased shipping and larger cruise ships seem like child’s play in comparison.

Continue reading

Where Do Tourists “Go?”

Public Restroom Paris

Public Restroom Paris

Let’s say you’re visiting Key West and are window shopping on upper Duval and suddenly nature calls. Where are you going to be able to use a bathroom without ordering a sandwich at a local restaurant?

The Keys claim to be a tourist destination but neither the county nor the cities provide some of the services that tourists – and local residents – may need.

So what do people do? It’s not at all uncommon to see someone urinating in the mangroves on the side of the Overseas Highway. At the bus stop in Marathon, where the buses for Florida City and for Key West depart, some of the riders do the same in the shrubbery or on the side of the building behind the stop.

Publix supermarkets have bathrooms for their customers as do CVS and Walgreens. Before the visitor center was opened in Florida City many travelers slipped into the bathroom at McDonald’s without buying anything.

However, there doesn’t seem to be any push by either the county or the cities to provide these necessities in the Keys. While Marathon, for example, does have bathrooms at its parks, it has been slow to do the same at what is referred to as Sunset Park near the Old Seven Mile Bridge. Key West has bathrooms on Mallory Square but nowhere else in Old Town.

Public toilet_1And yet some tourist destinations do provide appropriate facilities. Continue reading

Congressman Garcia Stands with South Floridians Affected by the Government Shutdown

da995dce312b11e3b64022000a1fb8ee_6

Photo: Congressman Garcia Webstagram

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Joe Garcia showed his support for the over 600 commercial operators, recreational users, and park employees who attended a passive demonstration today [October 9, 2013] against the closure of the Everglades National Park and the waters of Florida Bay.

In a statement released to attendees Garcia said, “To everyone gathered in peaceful protest against the closing of Everglades National Park today, I stand with you. As you make your plight – and those of your families, communities and local economies – understood in Washington and across the country, know that I support your efforts and will be your advocate in Washington.”

“Like you, I will spread the messages of those affected by the shutdown, and fight for its resolution, until these needless and dangerous games, being played with the livelihoods of the American people, have been put to a stop. It is time to end this shutdown and get the entire government back to work.”

Fishing in Everglades National Park is one of the backbones of the South Florida and Florida Keys economy – accounting for almost a billion dollars annually and supporting thousands of jobs.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Here is the email message that was sent out by the National Park Service:

Continue reading

Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden Joins Smithsonian Magazine’s Ninth Annual Museum Day Live!

Free Admission for All Participants Presenting a ‘Museum Day Live!’ Ticket on September 28, 2013

Date coincides with Birdfest 2013 special events.

Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden will open its gates free of charge on Saturday September 28, 2013, as part of Smithsonian magazine’s ninth annual Museum Day Live! A nationwide event, Museum Day Live! offers free admission to visitors presenting a Museum Day Live! ticket at a participating museum or cultural institution. Continue reading

Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden Joins Smithsonian Magazine’s Ninth Annual Museum Day Live!

Free Admission for All Participants Presenting a ‘Museum Day Live!’ Ticket on September 28, 2013

Date coincides with Birdfest 2013 special events.

Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden will open its gates free of charge on Saturday September 28, 2013, as part of Smithsonian magazine’s ninth annual Museum Day Live! A nationwide event, Museum Day Live! offers free admission to visitors presenting a Museum Day Live! ticket at a participating museum or cultural institution. Continue reading

Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden Joins Smithsonian Magazine’s Ninth Annual Museum Day Live!

Free Admission for All Participants Presenting a ‘Museum Day Live!’ Ticket on September 28, 2013

Date coincides with Birdfest 2013 special events.

Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden will open its gates free of charge on Saturday September 28, 2013, as part of Smithsonian magazine’s ninth annual Museum Day Live! A nationwide event, Museum Day Live! offers free admission to visitors presenting a Museum Day Live! ticket at a participating museum or cultural institution. Continue reading

To DEP: Don’t Sell Our Conservation Lands

An Open Letter To DEP Staff Members,

The blood, sweat, tears and lives of many Florida Keys’ residents have gone into protecting tracts of land that are critical to the preservation of all life in Monroe County.

Any reasonable individual can understand, safeguarding our habitat and fragile aquatic ecosystem is an uphill battle when facing off greedy developers and corrupted politicians.

There is always some builder friendly nuances being proposed by those who are uninterested in preserving the quality of life of our citizens.

We cannot continue to allow our environments to be torn apart for the sake of profit. The delicate balance that must be maintained so our string of tiny islands can remain viable will be put in jeopardy, if you remove these life sustaining parcels from the protected list.

The Florida Keys are an “Area of Critical” concern. Please demonstrate that you are willing to perform the duties, as implied by the nature of your position, that you have sworn to uphold.

Please stand firm in your resistance to any and all weakening of the laws, policies and ordinances that will place are land at risk.

I earnestly request that you do not place any conservation properties on the proposed surplus lands list in Monroe County.

I ask that you consider this communiqué when making your decision and that you also make it a part of the record. Thank you.

Respectfully,

John Donnelly

Key Largo, Florida

LOW PRESSURE SEWERS AND THEIR HDPE PIPE – AN ENVIRONMENTAL NIGHTMARE?

The Low Pressure section of the Cudjoe Regional Wastewater System (CRWS) will have over 100 miles of High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) Pipe, ranging in size from 2” to 8” that will be buried 2’ to 4’ under the surface. It will be under pressures of 15psi to 60psi. The Low Pressure System is asserted to be a low cost, reliable, wastewater collection system that will save money on initial sewer system installation. But what are its long term costs? Could it be an environmental disaster in the future due to pipe failures? Or perhaps a financial disaster if the piping needs replacement in a few years?

The Florida Keys are a series of coral (limestone) islands. In most areas of the lower Keys, there is salt water flowing only a few feet below the surface. Limestone, with a high water table, is naturally unstable. Sink holes, dips, settling of buildings and shifting roadbeds occur over time. Idiots dig and drill without checking. Each home with a grinder pump (projected to be 2,800) will pump into a series of headers and ultimately into an 8” plastic line that runs over 20 miles from Big Pine to Lower Sugarloaf. In addition, 275 lift stations that consist of large concrete tanks with up to 5 grinder pumps will take the gravity feeds and pump them into the same lines.

The problem, in general, is that HDPE pipe has a tendency to become brittle and crack over time. It is inevitable that failures will occur at some time in the future. Our specific problem is that when cracks occur and effluent leaks, it is very likely that it will go right into our porous limestone aquifer. Eventually the effluent will reach our pristine waters, but this could be some distance away. Complicating things is that there is no way to monitor for leaks in a pressure system. With gravity, when there is a leak, salt water will leak into the pipe and be detected at the waste treatment plant and looked for in the manholes it flows through. A vacuum system line failure is noticed immediately and can be found through simple diagnostic troubleshooting. A leak in a pressurized sewer system might go undetected for months or longer. We may discover that the incremental improvement in sewage treatment we seek is lost through a collection system that is ill designed for our environment.

There is an excellent web site at http://hdpefailures.com/ that provides numerous examples of failures and should have been read by our County Engineer before this system was signed approved. For other ways the LPS/grinder system costs more, go to www.newtoncoalition.com or contact us at info@newtoncoalition.com.

Walt Drabinski

Sir Isaac Newton Coalition

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See also Rebuttal by Camille George Rubeiz, the Director of Engineering (M&I) for the Plastics Pipe Institute.

The Ow in the Meow

catwithbirdfull

“My cat got a bird!”

That’s what Amanda Margraves at the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center in Tavernier hears over and over again. Margraves, who is the hospital manager and wildlife rehabilitator at the site, estimates that 50 percent of the injured baby birds they take in arrive as a result of cat attacks.

What’s most disturbing is that many of the birds are eaten or injured by domestic cats that are allowed to roam freely. Feral cats also eat young birds as well as other animals that may include endangered species.

The story is an old and vexing one but became relevant again recently because of the well-publicized financial problems encountered by Marathon-based Forgotten Felines. The group found itself in serious difficulty and had to suspend its efforts. However, they staged a pledge event this summer and raised enough, including a match from Turtle Hospital founder Richie Moretti, to revive a suspended trap/neuter/release program and will be able to continue to provide stray and abandoned felines with food and veterinary care.

It may surprise some to discover that the organization feeds more than 500 stray and abandoned cats every day.

While many would applaud Forgotten Felines’ efforts to protect cats, others have serious concerns Continue reading

The Trash Blog Comes To Key West: The Outdated Topography of Margaritaville

southernmost-point

At a whopping 18 feet above sea level, Solares Hill is said to be the highest point on Key West. In general, 18 feet is the highest point attributed to any of the Florida Keys, and the little known Windley Key is said to be the 18 feet that is highest. In an article about the Keys on Wikipedia it says “No area of the Keys is more than 20 feet above sea level.”

There’s a humorous review of the Mariott Beachside Hotel in Key West, where someone who was staying in the Presidential Suite discusses the tainted view: apparently they stepped out onto their balcony to cast their gaze across the aquamarine Gulf waters only to spy the squat, looming hill that is the Stock Island Landfill. Continue reading

Channel Dredging: It’s Not Just A Study

dredging vesselOn Wednesday, I listened to Jennifer Hulse, spokesperson for the KW Chamber of Commerce PAC on  Bill Becker’s morning show and would like to challenge her on a couple of points.

1. Hulse states, “the modern ships” — the type we want”, all have advanced wastewater treatment.

I would like to point out that the Carnival Magic which has only been in service for two years, is over 1,000 feet long and carries over 4,000 passengers and has no advanced wastewater treatment.

There is nothing in the agreement that states if we dredge the channel, we will stop getting the type that we don’t want. The cruise lines will continue to run the ships that are servicing the Caribbean Market until they decide that they no longer wish to. It has virtually nothing to do with whether our port expands to facilitate the largest ships. For the Carnival Magic, that is likely to be for at least another 15 to 20 years. What we will get is everything that we currently get PLUS the biggest ships that are now or soon coming on the market.

2. Hulse states that “Modern Ships don’t carry more passengers…”

Than what? Continue reading

Marathon Burns With Ecotourism Fever

A New Aquarium Going Up In Marathon

Marathon is aglow. A new aquarium is under construction in town and the chamber, members of the city council, and the media have declared this Middle Keys city to be an ecotourism destination par excellence.

They cite the Dolphin Research Center on Grassy Key, the Turtle Hospital, Crane Point Nature Center, Pigeon Key and an as yet undeveloped Boot Key as evidence that tourists looking for places that care about their ecology will land smack dab in Marathon.

There’s just one problem. None of these qualify as ecotourism. Continue reading

Burning Questions Remain For Big Pine Key Refuge

canstockphoto4097221On the morning of September 15, 2011, a short time after 10:00 a.m., a crew from the National Key Deer Refuge lit a fire a mile north of Blue Hole on Big Pine Key. The intended burn was 21 acres in size, despite the fact that it included a two and a half acre hammock containing rare Liguus tree snails.

By 11:00 a.m., the fire was already out of control, jumping the fire lines, and rushing south at a high rate of speed toward the Pine Heights subdivision of 43 homes. A forestry official from the Florida Dept. of Forestry was being transported to the hospital for heat exhaustion and the local fire departments were being contacted. Continue reading

Big Sugar Greenwashes Everglades Deal and Continues Dumping Harmful Nutrients

Florida Sugar Farmers mailer0001 Ad Bluster – Using targeted advertising and public relations campaigns to exaggerate an environmental achievement in order to divert attention away from environmental problems …

http://www.stopgreenwash.org/ (Greenpeace greenwashing website)

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A couple of weeks ago a mailer arrived in my mailbox. It ballyhooed the recent deal made among sugar farmers, the state of Florida, and several environmental groups and promoted what some refer to as Big Sugar. The deal provided substantial funding for Everglades restoration but also gave sugar farmers 30-year leases on their farms.

“Florida sugar farmers. Part of the solution,” it read. But what was this mailer? Who sent it out? And why? There is no group in the state listed as Florida Sugar Farmers as indicated in the return address. Nor did the mailer ask for any action on the part of the recipient the way political junk mail does.

And then about a week later a smaller version of the same direct mail piece arrived with essentially the same message. I asked around. Has anyone else received this? Since most people toss their junk mail, people I spoke to didn’t remember. But Mark Songer, former president of Last Stand, did get it and reacted with the same puzzlement.

“I was curious about those myself when they landed here,” Songer commented. “Obviously they were going to try to capitalize on the cooperation that the sugar growers had with the environmentalists in getting this compromise bill through in this legislative session. It was funny timing and I didn’t see the point of what they were sending around other than to make it look like they were not as bad a guys as everyone makes them out to be.”

Continue reading

Why The Waste Water Fiasco Affects Everyone

Here is the scorecard so far. Cudjoe, Summerland, and Upper Sugarloaf gets about 600 grinder pumps, and Big Pine, Ramrod, Big and Little Torch Keys as well as lower Sugarloaf Key get almost 2,200 more. What do the rest of the FKAA sewer customers get – a million dollars a year in extra operating costs for at least forty years?

To date I have focused on Cudjoe Gardens problems, but the problem is even greater elsewhere.  Every densely populated subdivision on Big Pine, Ramrod, Big and Little Torch Keys as well as lower Sugarloaf Key will be affected and you don’t know it yet.

When we learned about the proposed mix of low pressure grinder pumps and gravity systems in January we were stunned.  Over the next five months, I did extensive research, analysis and modeling.  All of it showed that that the planned system made no sense; it was uneconomic in both the short and long term.  I finally estimated that it will cost all of the ratepayers in the FKAA system about $ 1 million per year in additional sewer fees.

The County claims they cannot not tell the FKAA what to do.  They are helpless.  They also said there were no funds available.  However,  the recently passed Infrastructure Sales Tax extension is slated to collect almost $ 200 million and its actual wording states ” … the proceeds used for the following projects: wastewater facilities and, only if those wastewater projects are completed or fully funded, recreation, etc….” .

Grinder pumps should be a last resort for moving sewage to a central facility.  Nationally there are about 100 million homes and about ½% use grinder pumps.  Many coastal communities will not even consider them because they do not do well in salt air or major storms.  FKAA proposes that 30% of the CRWS use grinder pumps.

While the residents of Cudjoe Key, have a problem with 300 grinders, the rest of you have an even bigger problem,

By Walter P. Drabinski
Sir Isaac Newton Coalition

“We believe in gravity because it is always there for us.”

Commentary: The Climate and Personal Responsibility

Issue 18 photo weather floodingYou don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

– Bob Dylan

It has gone largely unreported that the Middle Keys have been inundated by an extraordinary amount of rain this year. Early June was marked by downpours of biblical proportions and the month’s very unofficial total was more than triple the average amount. July has begun in the same way and Marathon has again – already — amassed more than the monthly average amount.

Even more surprising – and again very unofficially – the city’s total rainfall for 2013 has exceeded the average for an entire year. And the year is only half over.

So what, you say. OK, it’s raining. It’s just weather. It’s the rainy season in the Keys.

Nope. This is more than just weather. Scientists have long been predicting that while the earth heats up as a result of global warming the atmosphere holds more moisture. What’s of concern is that their predictions have become reality much more quickly than even they thought. Continue reading