Jan 272018
 
So You're Thinking About Running

A Workshop on Winning Campaigns Saturday, February 10, 2018 “So You’re Thinking About Running” Hometown’s Winning Campaigns Workshop Dear Incumbents, Candidates, Those Considering a Run for Elected Office and Campaign Leaders, Hometown! — Key West’s and Monroe County’s voting community’s signature resource for candidate and election information is sponsoring a Workshop for those running, considering a run or interested in campaign management for elected office on Saturday, February 10, 2018. Starting at 8:30 am at the Marriott Beachside, the half-day workshop (optional lunch) offers a [continue reading…]

 January 27, 2018  Posted by at 12:47 am Issue #253, Special Events No Responses »
Jan 202018
 
Is the School Board Turning Over a New Leaf?

by Rick Boettger……. The District made a positive move last week in their legal wrangling with Kathy Reitzel in her whistle-blowing case against them.  They admitted she was a whistle-blower. To recap: Kathy was head of finances for the School District when Monique Acevedo stole over $400,000.  Kathy turned over evidence to board chairman Andy Griffith. The district used this evidence and Kathy’s extended testimony to send Monique to prison and get her husband Randy fired from his job as superintendent.

 January 20, 2018  Posted by at 12:34 am ~ Column ~, ~ Opinion ~, Issue #252, Rick Boettger 2 Responses »
Jan 202018
 
MONROE COUNTY TO HOST PUBLIC MEETING FOR HOMEOWNERS NAVIGATING REBUILDING/PERMITTING PROCESS FOR HOMES DAMAGED BY HURRICANE IRMA

BIG PINE KEY, FL – Was your home destroyed or badly damaged by Hurricane Irma and you need help navigating the rebuilding and repair process in Monroe County? Monroe County will host a public meeting to explain County processes, provide information and answer your individual questions.

 January 20, 2018  Posted by at 12:32 am Issue #252, News, Public Notice No Responses »
Jan 202018
 
Bill Hunter Announces Run for Monroe County Commissioner, District Two

Sugarloaf Key resident Bill Hunter has filed to run for Monroe County Commissioner, District Two, which runs from the Seven Mile Bridge to Boca Chica Key and includes a small portion of Marathon. “I am running for county commission to represent all of the Florida Keys from the perspective of someone who lives, works and strives to protect the character of island communities within the Lower Keys. This local perspective is vitally important as the county recovers from Hurricane Irma,” Hunter said. Hunter, a Republican, [continue reading…]

 January 20, 2018  Posted by at 12:28 am Issue #252, News 2 Responses »
Jan 202018
 
Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuge's Photography Contest, Submissions Due March 1, 2018

USFWS is seeking submissions for its annual photography contest.  This free, fun event helps showcase our incredible natural resources here in the Florida Keys. USFWS keeps photographs on display at the Refuge Visitor Center until June 30th. Visitors love them! Attached is the Photo Contest Regulations.  The deadline for submissions is March 1, 2018. This year an additional submission category has been added specific to Key deer so we have four categories–Landscape, General Nature, Key deer and Birds.

Jan 122018
 
Key West Art & Historical Society Partners with Area Museums for Expanded “Museums & Me” Children’s Program

To support area families with young children in exploring the wealth of learning opportunities provided by the island’s museums, Key West Art & Historical Society has partnered with other area museums to present an expanded new season of “Museums & Me” early childhood education sessions, led by early childhood educator Natalie Robinson. Children aged 0-6 and their parents can enjoy social interaction with music and play in a stimulating learning environment on the first and third Saturday of each month through May, with first Saturday’s held on the grounds [continue reading…]

 January 12, 2018  Posted by at 12:08 am Issue #251, Special Event No Responses »
Jan 122018
 
Florida Keys Wildlife Society Launches this Year’s Monthly Full Moon Kayak Excursions

Florida Keys Wildlife Society, the friends group to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuges, kicks off this season’s Full Moon Kayak excursions on Monday, January 29th from 4:00pm – 6:00pm, departing Big Pine Kayak Adventures on Bogey Road on Big Pine Key. The 2-hour paddle traverses through Big Pine’s National Key Deer Refuge, one of four wildlife refuges in the Florida Keys and home to the Refuges’ Visitor Center, the Key Deer Bookstore, and the endangered Key deer. “Kayaking in the refuge is [continue reading…]

 January 12, 2018  Posted by at 12:04 am Issue #251, Special Events No Responses »
Jan 052018
 
Hotel Stays Extended Through Feb. 10 for Eligible Hurricane Irma Survivors  

Over 400 Florida Keys families, who lost their homes due to Hurricane Irma, are still residing in hotels. FEMA announced this week that the deadline has been once again extended for those individuals and families who are eligible to receive Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) and who meet the criteria for the deadline extension.  Residents eligible for the TSA program may receive an extension (from the current January 7th deadline to February 10, 2018) to continue their stay in FEMA paid hotels, while they look for [continue reading…]

 January 5, 2018  Posted by at 12:12 am Issue #250 No Responses »
Jan 052018
 
Detective Asks for Help Identifying Burglary Suspect

  Sheriff’s Detective Lance Hernandez is asking for the public’s help identifying a burglary suspect whose image was captured on surveillance cameras at a Key Largo business. The owner of GG Millworks on Atlantic Drive in Key Largo called the Sheriff’s Office on December 26th to report someone broke into his business. He said he came to work the morning of the 26th after a few days off. He found a number of items missing from inside. He also found a window on a work truck broken and one [continue reading…]

 January 5, 2018  Posted by at 12:11 am Issue #250, News No Responses »
Dec 292017
 
The Children of Hurricanes

by Arnaud and Naja Girard……. According to a recent report by FEMA, nearly a thousand residents impacted by Hurricane Irma are still homeless and living in hotels in the Keys at the edge of this new year. Others are staying in tents in yards or at a friend’s home. Many of them lived in trailer homes now blown away or condemned. Others were liveaboard boaters whose homes were sunk or destroyed by the storm. Their fate is uncertain. This is the inspirational story of a [continue reading…]

Dec 012017
 
Jules’ Undersea Lodge, Nation’s Only Underwater Hotel, Reopens in Key Largo

KEY LARGO, Florida Keys — Jules’ Undersea Lodge, the United States’ only submerged recreational hotel, is to reopen to overnight divers Friday, Dec. 1. The famed lodge, located at Key Largo Undersea Park, sustained no damage when Hurricane Irma struck the Florida Keys Sept. 10. At the park, however, the Category 4 storm damaged a property generator, gift shop, office and above-ground rooms, temporarily discolored its Emerald Lagoon and scattered debris from downed tree limbs and foliage. The lagoon reopened to divers and snorkelers in early November after [continue reading…]

 December 1, 2017  Posted by at 12:27 am Issue #245, Water World, What To Do No Responses »
Nov 242017
 
ETHICS VIOLATIONS / “It's all Danny's fault if we lose.”

They lost. And he was off by over $2 million plus 333 other errors. by Rick Boettger……. Commissioner Danny Kolhage’s share of the $15+ million in reporting errors made by the most recently cited four county commissioners rung up with $20,000 in fines by the Florida Commission on Ethics was “only” $2,254,648, putting him a distant third to Heather Carruthers’ $7.4 million and David Rice’s $4.5 million.  But Kolhage was easily in 1st Place in errors of form, omitting 24 addresses and 309 entries on [continue reading…]

Nov 242017
 
Davidson: "A joint meeting of the affordable/workforce housing committee and the school board should be convened immediately."

by Captain Ed Davidson……. Some elements in the Schools Administration are unenthusiastic about providing Affordable Workforce Housing directly, and are broadly unknowledgeable of the issues as well — and were starting off half-cocked with practically no awareness of the vast amount of professional-grade work the county-wide Affordable Housing Advisory Committee (on which I had served for more than a year as the School Board designee) had already accomplished. So I decided to pay them a visit Tuesday afternoon [November 14th] when housing issues were workshopped: “For the [continue reading…]

 November 24, 2017  Posted by at 12:38 am ~ Opinion ~, Editorial, Issue #244, Letter to the Editor 2 Responses »
Nov 242017
 
Today is the Last Day to Register for FEMA Assistance After Hurricane Irma in Florida  

You have until 11:59 tonight, Friday, Nov. 24 to register with FEMA if you have damage caused by Hurricane Irma—in Florida—between Sept. 4 and Oct. 18, 2017.   How to register: Online at DisasterAssistance.gov. Call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 for voice, 711 and Video Relay Service (VRS). If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability and use a TTY, call 800-462-7585. Help is available in many languages. Helpline numbers are open 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. EST, seven days a week. Information is available in ASL at: fema.gov/medialibrary/assets/videos/111546. Download [continue reading…]

 November 24, 2017  Posted by at 12:32 am Issue #244, News No Responses »
Nov 102017
 
ETHICS VIOLATIONS / Commissioner Carruthers: "Flabbergasted!"

“….a hundred thousand dollars does sound like a lot of money to a lot of people . . .” by Rick Boettger……. County Commissioner Heather Carruthers had the grossest amount of financial misreporting, at $7,427,421, and an additional 138 errors of form between 2012—2015. But before we get into the continuing grim recitation of the details of our county commissioners’ 700+ form errors plus over $15 million dollars in misreported financials, something was brought to my attention that offers a rare splash of humor.

Nov 032017
 
ETHICS VIOLATIONS: A Closer Look at Commissioner David Rice's Financial Reporting...

by Rick Boettger……. The big picture last week was that, of the four Monroe County Commissioners who got $20,000 in fines for 16 ethics charges, David Rice made $4,561,558 in self-admitted financial errors, and by my count 228 errors of form on his four Form 6’s from 2012–2015.  The biggest chunk of that was under-reporting the value of his real estate and his brokerage accounts by around $850k each, and his car and boat to the tune of over $400k (around $100k each year for [continue reading…]

Nov 032017
 
Don’t Miss Out on Important Disaster Recovery Assistance Deadlines

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is reaching out to remind you of important dates and deadlines as you proceed with your recovery from Hurricane Irma. Do not miss out on assistance that may be available to you because of a missed deadline. Some deadlines may be extended, but do not wait. The following information is current as of Nov. 2.   Request for Public Assistance (RPA): Sunday, Nov. 5

 November 3, 2017  Posted by at 1:44 am Issue #241, News No Responses »
Oct 272017
 
County Commissioners' Ethical Problems Get Worse

Taxpayers to Pay Up to $50k to Help Them Fill Out Simple Form by Rick Boettger……. News break—I just received a copy of Mark Herron’s contract from an attorney in County Attorney Bob Schillinger’s office.  Herron will get $300/hour plus expenses to vet not only the Commissioners’ but their “employees,” whoever that includes, but “. . .do not exceed $49,999.99.”  They say this is authorized by Section 2-58(b)(3) of the county code.  I, and if necessary my Harvard lawyer, will take a close look at [continue reading…]

Sep 202017
 
Community Assistance Opportunity to Help Florida Keys Wildlife

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) completed surveys of areas known to provide fresh water to wildlife in the National Key Deer Refuge (No Name and Big Pine Keys west to Sugarloaf Key) following Hurricane Irma.  Due to the storm surge from Hurricane Irma, salinity levels in fresh water wetlands are on average higher than acceptable levels for most wildlife species, including the endangered Key deer, resident and migratory birds, rabbits, butterflies, and other species. There are areas on Cudjoe Key that have fresher [continue reading…]

 September 20, 2017  Posted by at 4:36 pm News No Responses »
Aug 252017
 
Monroe County's TDC and 11 Other Florida TDC's Accused of Deliberately "Hiding From Transparency"

***BREAKING NEWS*** Tallahassee, FL—Today, Speaker Richard Corcoran sent letters to 12 local tourism development councils who have severed ties with Visit Florida. Corcoran accuses the TDC’s of doing so, “under the false presumption that such an action would shield them from legislative oversight.” Upon sending the letter Speaker Corcoran said, “Let me be painstakingly clear, if you spend one dime of taxpayer money you will do it in a transparent and accountable way. These TDCs are sadly mistaken if they think Florida’s families don’t deserve to [continue reading…]

 August 25, 2017  Posted by at 12:46 am Issue #233, News 1 Response »
Aug 112017
 
Largest Turnout in Monroe History for the "Big Latch On"

~~~ The Florida Department of Health in Monroe County’s WIC program, in partnership with Florida Keys Healthy Start Coalition and volunteers – Jessica Laino and Kimmie Matlock, participated in the Big Latch On, a synchronized breastfeeding event.  The events took place on August 4 in Marathon and August 5 in Key West and Key Largo.  Twenty eight babies successfully latched on at the same time along with 17,790 other babies around the world, breaking the worldwide breastfeeding record.  Last year there were nine latched on babies [continue reading…]

 August 11, 2017  Posted by at 12:29 am Issue #231, Special Events No Responses »
Jul 212017
 
Vessel Turn-In Pilot Program Deadline Approaches

Monroe County’s Marine Resources Office, in coordination with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, will accept applications July 26 through Aug. 18 for its new Vessel Turn-in Program (VTIP). The federally funded pilot program is for vessel owners who cannot afford to properly dispose of end-of-life boats that are anchored in Florida Keys waters. A VTIP Disposal Event is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 4, at the Key Haven Boat Ramp Facility, mile marker 5 on U.S. 1. The VTIP pilot program provides an opportunity for vessel [continue reading…]

 July 21, 2017  Posted by at 12:04 am Issue #228, Water World 1 Response »
Jul 102017
 
Stolen Car Pulled From Water - Rockland Key

A car, stolen from Stock Island overnight, was pulled from the water near the intersection of Riviera and Puerta Drives on Rockland Key. Sheriff’s dispatchers received a call at 5:30 a.m. from a resident of that area who said he saw two or three young men estimated to be in their 20s run away from the scene after the vehicle went into the water. When deputies arrived, they ascertained there was no one in the car, then called for a tow truck to remove it from the [continue reading…]

 July 10, 2017  Posted by at 1:50 pm News 1 Response »