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Florida Keys Free Press

Irma relief food, clothes, mattresses offered to Upper Keys

UPPER KEYS — The Star of the Sea Mission will be distributing fresh produce, twin- and full-sized mattresses and new clothing at its St. Justin the Martyr Catholic Church distribution location on Saturday, Feb. 17. Most of the clothing will be children’s, according to Tom Callahan, SOS executive director. “We already have 23 people signed[…]

District zeroes in on reservoir design

SOUTH FLORIDA — The South Florida Water Management District has determined that the fate of the Everglades and estuaries further north, in part, rests on a 240,000 acre-foot reservoir that will be 23 feet deep and cost an estimated $1.34 billion. Stormwater treatment areas, which will filter and clean Lake Okeechobee overflow before sending the water[…]

Solar co-op: Time to shine in Upper Keys

KEY LARGO — The Upper Keys Solar Co-op is seeking homeowners to join together to more affordably harness the sun’s power to provide their homes with electricity. To form a cooperative, only 30 homeowners are needed, but organizers are hopeful to attract more. Uniting as a group gives members bulk purchasing power for discounted pricing[…]

House, Senate disagree on housing funding

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida House of Representatives and Senate have taken very different approaches to Gov. Rick Scott’s 2018-19 budget proposal, specifically the sweeping of $92 million from the state’s affordable housing fund to plug other budgetary holes. That has become a tradition in the Florida Legislature, and Scott actually got some kudos for leaving the[…]

Miss Costa: Don’t fear the fin in Big Pine

BIG PINE KEY — She’s been spending the winter mostly in the Lower Keys, but by summer, she’ll most likely be back in Cape Cod like any snowbird, except she’s a 12-foot, 1,668-pound female great white shark named Miss Costa. This has been her second season visiting the Keys, according to shark research organization Ocearch.[…]

Hurricane books author to offer historical perspective

ISLAMORADA — Hurricane Irma will almost certainly go down as one of the most impactful events in Florida Keys history. Hurricane historian Jay Barnes, who has written several books on the many hurricanes that have landed in Florida and his home state of North Carolina, is visiting Islamorada on Feb. 21 to put some of[…]

Tough calls for council on homeowner petitions

ISLAMORADA — Most of last Thursday’s regular meeting of the Village Council was spent deliberating appeals by Islamorada homeowners over permitting issues regarding the number of units in one home and the expansion of another. Robert Jones and Kim Corsini appeared at the meeting to appeal a decision by the village planning staff that their[…]

Convicted Tavernier Towne rapist gets two life sentences

PLANTATION KEY — Circuit Judge Luis Garcia handed down two consecutive life sentences to 55-year-old Johnny Lee Hayes last week after a jury convicted him of savagely raping a woman he ambushed and dragged into a wooded area off of U.S. 1. The State Attorney’s Office also requested a life sentence for the aggravated assault count because[…]

Big Pine Key getting damage assessments

BIG PINE KEY —  Monroe County has begun issuing damage assessments to Big Pine Key homeowners with either substantially damaged or completely destroyed homes as many continue to struggle with short- and long-term housing and try to rebuild their lives after Hurricane Irma blasted the Lower Keys last September. Those assessments, done by county inspectors[…]

Daily fines stack up for inherited tiki hut

KEY LARGO — Although a Hammer Point mobile home was purchased for a nominal fee of $10 in 2008, the tiki hut behind it could end up costing the homeowner about $300,000. Alex Diaz, who had been accumulating county code compliance fines of $150 a day for nearly six years for a tiki hut with electricity[…]