[ x ] close

Florida Keys Free Press

Sunset party to help with health, housing

ISLAMORADA — “Watch a harvest moon rise over the Florida Bay while assisting Monroe County residents with affordable housing and affordable healthcare,” Dr. Stanley Zuba said of the Sept. 21 Marker 88 Sunset Celebration he’s cohosting for attorney Bernadette Restivo, who is running for Fantasy Fest queen. Zuba’s support for her campaign, in turn, benefits[…]

Upper Keys mostly avoided Irma’s destruction

KEY LARGO — The northernmost island of the Florida Keys was largely spared by Hurricane Irma’s wrath, though businesses, lodging and parks were affected in varying degrees. Some hotels and oceanfront restaurants were battered, but most businesses remained intact or bounced back quickly in the weeks following the hurricane. “We were the first key ready[…]

Returning to her cottage by the sea

CONCH KEY — Names penned on a wall are drawing Betty Spieth back to Conch Key, decades after she last walked the narrow streets of the small island. “It’s kind of something on my bucket list,” Spieth, 92, of Momence, Ill., said last week, recounting memories from a Conch Avenue cottage built in 1950. In[…]

A third of local hotel rooms remain offline

ISLAMORADA — A year after Hurricane Irma, Islamorada is getting closer to recovering from the body blow to its tourism economy. It’s not quite there yet. An estimated 455 resort rooms — more than a third of the normal complement of the 1,300 rooms in Islamorada — are still not available to receive visitors as[…]

‘No family should be treated this way’ by insurance companies

ISLAMORADA — “Basically, the entire ocean came into our house,” said Plantation Key homeowner Nancy Cooper. Caught in an insurance quagmire, the Coopers still have no idea when they might return to their East Ridge Road house, more than a year after Hurricane Irma. “Depending on where you stood, the entire first floor had between[…]

Sewer board awards 4.2 percent raises

KEY LARGO — The average gross salary for a Key Largo Wastewater Treatment District’s staffer is about $42,805 among the 26 hourly employees, according to figures released during last week’s meeting. This year’s average gross salary for its six managers is nearly double that, at $81,024. With board commissioners increasing its cost-of-living pay adjustment from[…]

REEF drops longtime executive Akins

KEY LARGO — Since the 1990 founding of the Reef Environmental Education Foundation, Lad Akins has been the citizen-science organization’s most visible executive. That 28-year relationship ended abruptly Aug. 31. “I was notified on Wednesday, August 29, that Friday would be my last day as a REEF employee,” Akins posted in a Facebook message last[…]

Anne’s Beach repair contract awarded

ISLAMORADA — Fans of a Lower Matecumbe Key oceanfront park, closed for more than a year due to Hurricane Irma damage, heard good news Sept. 6. A $1.49 million bid to make repairs at Anne’s Beach at mile marker 73.5 was approved unanimously by the Islamorada Village Council. “So we can expect to see groundbreaking[…]

Uber/Lyft driver takes the wheel after hurricane

MARATHON — Hurricane Irma brought a loss of control and heartache to residents throughout the Florida Keys, but for some it brought opportunity. Marathon’s Steven Schluter has a new career because of the storm. After losing two family cars and his house to Irma, he now has two new electric vehicles and is a driver[…]

Meads blocks 20 percent tax hike

ISLAMORADA — The Islamorada Village Council takes a trimmed property tax rate into its final budget hearing at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 12. Councilwoman Cheryl Meads blocked a proposed 3.2 millage rate favored by the other four council members at the Sept. 5 budget hearing at the Founders Park Community Center. The village tax rate[…]