Mayor Teri Johnston represented Key West at the 90th annual United States Conference of Mayors from June 3rd to the 6th. The mayor joined 1,400 mayors from around the country to tackle common challenges such as housing, equity, mental health, economic growth, gun violence, climate change, women’s rights and LGBTQ issues.
Mayor Johnston was honored to participate on two panels during the conference to share her experience in Key West with other mayors.
“This is one of those unique, refreshing conferences where there is no political divide, just mayors rolling up their sleeves to share ideas for solutions to common community problems.”
Key West High School Baseball Team Commended
Mayor Teri Johnston and the City Commission commended the Key West High School Baseball Team for their outstanding season.
The 2022 baseball program for Key West High School won the 4A District 16 Championship on May 5th, 2022. The Conchs baseball program earned their #1 seed in the regional playoffs by commanding a spectacular 23 and 7 record for the season.
“The baseball team and coaches have shown,” reads the commendation, “that through tenacity and perseverance, the spirit of ‘Conch Ball’ remains intact.
“Coach Ralph Henriquez and son Ralph Henriquez Jr. continue to add to the legacy of performance,” it continues, “Coach Henriquez collected over 350 wins in his Key West High coaching career.”
The team thanked the commission and the Key West community for their support.
Key West High School Lady Conchs Softball Team Commended
Mayor Teri Johnston and the City Commission commended the Key West Lady Conchs Girls Softball Team for their outstanding season.
The team won the regional championship on May 20th and became the first ever Key West High School softball team to advance to the State Championship Series.
Coach Jason Garcia, Assistant Coach Erik Snow, and the team accepted the commendation.
“They say it takes a village to raise a kid,” said Coach Garcia, “Well, it takes a community to have a quality softball team. I said here last year that we’d go to the state championships, and we look forward to doing it again next year.”
City Attorney Shawn Smith, whose daughter is on the team, reiterated Coach Garcia’s statement. He noted that this same group of young women has appeared annually in front of the commission, earning kudos for their softball accomplishments as they grew from the eight and under league to where they are today.
The commendation also recognized the team’s leadership. “Coach Jason Garcia, assistant coach Erik Snow and pitching coach Jewls Castillo continue to do an outstanding job with the development of contenders and athletes,” reads the commendation.
The Key West City Commission has declared June 19th as Juneteenth Independence Day.
In 1865, nearly nine decades after our nation’s founding and more than two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, enslaved Americans in Galveston, Texas, finally received a proclamation declaring that they were free from bondage.
“On June 19th, 1866, Black Americans came to commemorate Juneteenth with celebrations across the country, building new lives and a new tradition that we honor today,” reads the proclamation.
Last year, President Joe Biden signed into law the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act creating a federal holiday.
Utility Board member Mona C. Clark accepted the proclamation.
“Juneteenth has been celebrated year after year after year,” she said. “Fortunately, this year it’s being celebrated as a national holiday. We’re very grateful.”
In recognition of the holiday, City offices will be closed on Monday, June 20th.
The Gardens Hotel owner Kate Miano presented the Key West Police Mounted Unit with a check for over $6,000 -- funds raised in the May Derby Day fundraiser at the hotel.
Miano has hosted this annual fundraiser since 2017. Each year she has generously donated to the Mounted Unit after hosting the event that coincides with the Kentucky Derby.
The Mounted Unit is one of the most popular units of the Key West Police Department. These equestrian officers provide a daily presence that is particularly beneficial downtown and with crowds.
City Manager Patti McLauchlin, during Tuesday’s City Commission meeting, brought back an important honor by naming Jacek Witczak the Employee of the Quarter.
Witczak came to work with the City in 2007 in public works. He was quickly promoted to the Facilities Maintenance Team, where he continues to keep the air conditioners running.
“Everyone who works for the City knows Jacek as the rock star,” said McLauchlin. She noted that he works many extra hours and performs many jobs above and beyond his job description. When the City needed lifeguards, he got certified.
“You’ve done a great job,” she told him. “Thank you for your outstanding dedication, service and commitment to the City of Key West. We appreciate all that you do.”
The Monroe County Board of County Commissioners and Monroe County Fire Rescue Chief Steve Hudson recognized Sheriff Rick Ramsay for his partnership over the past few years in helping to keep the community safe. In addition to Trauma Star, Hudson thanked him for allowing Monroe County Fire Rescue to share space at the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Substation on Cudjoe Key before the new building was operational.
“His hospitality allowed us to serve Lower Keys residents with emergency services without missing a beat,” said Hudson. “We appreciate having a great partnership with him and all of his MCSO staff. Our collaboration helps keep the community safe and provides the quickest available services to our community members in an emergency.”
The Florida Keys Council of the Arts is seeking Monroe County artists of all genres (visual, music, dance, literary, etc.) and Arts Organizations to apply for two grant opportunities. The deadline for Artist in Schools and Special Project grants is June 30 at 5pm. Applications are accepted online, and can be found at www.keysarts.com under the grants tab.
The Artists in Schools Grant program invites teaching artists in the performing, visual, literary or historical arts into the classroom. Teachers and teaching artists are encouraged to collaborate on creative projects together to enhance the existing curriculum or to teach a new topic integrating the arts. All Monroe County public and private schools, as well as other organizations that serve children ages 5-18, are eligible to be partners for the teaching artist. This application is for the Fall 2022 semester. Artists in Schools grants are up to $2,000 per request.
Special Project Grants are intended for arts organizations or individual artists in Monroe County. The grant is to provide short-term support to vital, creative projects that do not fit into the other grant categories. Special Project funding is limited to once in three years, up to $2,000 per request.
Please call the Florida Keys Council of the Arts for suggestions and assistance at 305-295-4369 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Florida Keys Council of the Arts is the leading arts and cultural organization in the Florida Keys. As the non-profit local arts agency in Monroe County, it connects audiences from around the world to galleries, theaters, museums, festivals, dance, music and more from Key Largo to Key West. The Council makes grants, supports Art in Public Places, and promotes the destination for its rich and diverse history in art and culture. The Arts Council provides services to visual and performing artists, arts organizations, students and the public, striving to instill a passion for and participation in the arts.
Dr. Corey Malcolm Succeeds Tom Hambright as County's Lead Historian; Will Head Florida Keys History Center
When long-time Monroe County Historian Tom Hambright retired earlier this year, the community wondered what would be next for the library’s Florida History Department. Monroe County welcomes veteran Florida Keys historian Dr. Corey Malcom of Key West as Lead Historian in the Florida Keys History Center (FKHC). He will continue the tradition of stewardship, knowledge, and understanding of the historical, cultural, and ecological diversity of the Florida Keys. The FKHC debuts later this summer with refreshed walls and furniture. He will join archivist Breana Sowers in the department.
“Dr. Malcom is a world-class historian,” said Hambright. “His work with Spanish wrecks and slave ships is phenomenal. I look forward to his successful tenure at the Florida Keys History Center.”
Malcom specialized in researching the maritime past of the Florida Keys and the Bahamas. For many years, he served as Mel Fisher Maritime Museum’s Director of Archaeology, where he participated in shipwreck research projects, including the 1622 galleon Nuestra Señora de Atocha, the 1700 English slaver Henrietta Marie, and the 1827 pirate-slaver Guerrero. He was also instrumental in bringing the Key West African Cemetery on Higgs Beach and its story to light.
“We welcome Dr. Malcom to the team,” said Director of Libraries Kimberly Matthews. “With his prestigious background, passion for our community, and exciting ideas for the future of the FKHC, the sky is the limit for what can be accomplished.”
Malcom graduated from Indiana and Nova Southeastern universities and earned a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Huddersfield for his historical and archaeological study of the wrecked 1564 galleon Santa Clara. Malcom is president of the Key West Maritime Historical Society and a Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary’s Advisory Council member.
Visit https://keyslibraries.org/fkhc/ for upcoming FKHC events and announcements.
“Thanks for the memories!”
That’s the sentiment, and the thematic, of the 2022 Royal Campaign of Fantasy Fest, which will be the last to benefit A.H. of Monroe County (AH).
The AH Board made the decision Friday, May 27th to return the Campaign to the Tourism Development Association (TDA), who will choose a new direction for the King & Queen Campaign in 2023.
“The event itself is not concluding after this year,” stated Scott Pridgen, AH Executive Director/CEO, “and we also want to ensure no one misinterprets this as a conclusion to Fantasy Fest. That’s why we chose ‘Thanks For The Memories’. Our gratitude stretches across decades of Royal fundraising. This only alters who benefits from the Royal Campaign.”
“What an amazing partnership we have shared…and a legacy for the A.H. of Monroe County organization…and all who have run and been crowned Fantasy Fest Royalty!” TDA Board director Diane Schmidt remarked.
“We’re quite proud that the Agency has become more self-sustaining. It’s only fair that, next year and going forward, another worthy organization reaps the many rewards of this over-the-top fundraiser,” offered AH Board of Directors President Rebecca Balcer.
Since 1989, the Royal Campaign fundraiser (more commonly known as the King and Queen Campaign) also promoted awareness for those infected with, or affected by, HIV/AIDS, as well as the Agency’s programs like housing and emergency services.
Why now the change? It’s been suggested in the last couple years, but pandemic event closures placed any resolution on-hold. But even those years offered hints of how it could evolve, including the involvement of other local nonprofits in the ‘Community Wins!’ pivot staged in 2020.
“Our Board felt the honorable exit strategy was to announce our intention before Candidate Informational Sessions and not after The Royal Coronation,” Pridgen explained. “Everyone loves a TV series finale. This way, our rockstar Candidates and everyone who came before can go out in style.”
Christopher Elwell, Board member and himself King of Fantasy Fest 2010, also adds that “the legacy continues. Our Royal Family, which we call ROQK (‘Royal Order of Queens and Kings’) will continue to promote local philanthropy in their visibility.”
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