August 30, 2023 - It’s time to plan your float for the upcoming Key West Holiday Parade on December 2nd!
Floats can be of any length but must be maneuverable and no more than 15 feet wide and 12 feet high. Each entry requires monitors. The number of entries is limited to 55.
Entry forms must be received by no later than Monday, November 21st at 4 p.m. The parade takes place on Saturday, December 2nd beginning at 7 p.m. at the corner of White Street and Truman Avenue.
Applications and details are available on the City’s web site at http://www.cityofkeywest-fl.gov under special events or you can call Maria at 305-809-3881.
MONROE COUNTY, FL – Monroe County Fire Rescue established a Peer Support and Critical Incident Stress Management Program for all local fire departments throughout the Florida Keys, the dispatch center, and during an EOC activation.
Peer support can help firefighters reduce stress and anxiety and mitigate post-traumatic stress and suicidal thoughts that first responders can sometimes experience after responding to traumatic calls or other incidents.
The program can help local first responders take better care of themselves and resume their mission to serve others after a traumatic experience.
"We are proud to work with industry leaders in strengthening our firefighters' wellness, safety, and health," said Deputy Fire Chief R.L. Colina. "Our team has worked incredibly hard to ensure we are prepared and trained to meet the needs of our first responders in the Florida Keys."
This MCFR team consists of:
KEY WEST, Fla. — Dry Tortugas National Park has closed for the safety of visitors and staff in preparation for Tropical Storm Idalia. Concession-operated ferry and sea plane services are also temporarily suspended.
Park staff completed hurricane preparations at the park today. Garden Key, Loggerhead Key and all other islands and facilities in the park are closed, including the campground, main dock and visitor courtesy slips on Garden Key.
While the park is closed, park waters remain open and vessels may seek safe harbor in the designated areas within the one nautical mile anchoring zone around Garden Key, including Bird Key Harbor. Mariners should continue to monitor the storm. There will be no visitor services available while the closure is in effect and emergency services will be extremely limited.
All closures will remain in place until the severe weather has passed and the National Park Service determines that employee and visitor facilities are safe. If the storm track changes, the park may issue a new advisory with updated status, including any lifting of closures. Please check “Alerts” on the park website for current information.
The NPS Hurricane and Severe Weather Response has updates for all National Park Service sites.
For more information about Dry Tortugas National Park, visit nps.gov/drto or follow the park on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
In advance of possible localized flooding from Tropical Storm Idalia, the City of Key West is adjusting bus service in the community on Tuesday and Wednesday August 29-30. The Lower Keys Shuttle, Workforce Express, and the Key West Rides transit service will modify its service to avoid streets that typically flood. Since the Duval Loop route mainly encompasses areas that are subject to flooding, all service will be suspended.
The modifications are as listed:
Lower Keys Shuttle Normal Hours 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Detours – (Inbound into Key West) Normal route until you reach Palm Ave. The bus will instead continue on North Roosevelt Blvd. to Truman Ave. making a right onto Simonton St., then making a left onto Caroline St. resuming the normal route.
Work Force Express – Normal Hours 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., then 3:40 pm to 8:30 pm. (Inbound into Key West) Normal route until you are northbound on Whitehead St. Instead of entering Bahama Village at Petronia Street, the bus will make a right turn on Angela Street then making a right turn onto Simonton St proceeding to Truman Ave and making a left turn to resume the normal route.
Key West Rides – Normal Hours 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Normal service; however, pick-up and drop-off stops will be adjusted to avoid flooded streets.
Duval Loop –ALL SERVICE SUSPENDED
The City of Key West is in a heightened state of monitoring as we remain under a tropical storm watch. Tropical Storm Idalia may further disrupt normal transit bus service operations. For more bus information, visit the City of Key West website at Key West Department of Transportation (KWDoT) | Key West, FL (cityofkeywest-fl.gov) or www.kwtransit.com.
Ana Zangroniz (beach cleanup volunteer), Elizabeth Strom (volunteer program manager), Charles F. Sams (Director of the National Park Service), Venessa McDonough (supervisory wildlife biologist and beach cleanup program co-lead), Morgan Wagner (biological science technician and beach cleanup program co-lead). NPS Photo.
Homestead, Fla—The Biscayne Beach Cleanup (BBC) volunteer program at Biscayne National Park has been selected as the national award recipient of the George and Helen Hartzog Innovation Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service. This is the first year that the National Park Service (NPS) has recognized a park volunteer initiative for demonstrating significant innovation or creativity while meeting the needs of the park through volunteerism.
When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down travel, BBC managers were unable to recruit volunteers from traditional sources which targeted college students visiting Biscayne during winter and spring breaks. Debris continued to pile up along park shorelines, which would inhibit sea turtle nesting efforts in the upcoming summer months. Innovative thinking led to a win/win pivot as BBC program managers shifted recruitment efforts to target the diverse local South Florida community. The response was monumental and has been identified as a volunteer recruitment model for future years.
The 2021-2022 BBC season saw 275 volunteers collect over 30,000 pounds of current/wind-driven marine debris from sea turtle nesting beaches located on remote park islands. The total amount of debris collected is more than any other season since the program's inception in 2004.
The award was presented as part of a national NPS awards ceremony held on August 23 at the Main Interior Building in Washington, DC. Accepting the award on behalf of the 275 volunteers who helped to clean park beaches during the 2021-2022 season was volunteer Ana Zangroniz. Ana has been a vital member of the park's volunteer program since 2014 and frequently leads cleanup events. Staff representing Biscayne National Park at the ceremony included Elizebeth Strom, volunteer program manager; Morgan Wagner, biological science technician and BBC program c0-lead; and Vanessa McDonough, supervisory wildlife biologist and BBC program co-lead. Wagner and McDonough manage all aspects of the program, including coordination, safety and hosting the cleanups.
"We are honored to receive this award as it serves as a reminder that volunteers are an integral part of the NPS Mission" said Biscayne National Park Superintendent Penelope DelBene. "BBC is able to connect local stewards looking to make a difference in meaningful, innovative ways with a resource concern in their own backyard."
Local partner groups and community organizations such as Miami Dade College, Florida Internationa University, ZooMiami, and Fishing Spot Conservation have each participated in a day of service with the BBC program. Financial support, including supplies and fuel, is provided by The Alliance for Florida's National Parks, The Coastal Cleanup Corporation, and the Florida National Parks Association. Visiting college students, visitors and locals are all welcome to engage in support of cleanups.
BBC schedules cleanups on weekdays from December through April and accepts prearranged groups of 4-12 individuals over the age of 16. The work is considered strenuous. Boat transportation to the cleanup site and all cleanup materials are provided. For more information or to schedule a day of service for your group for the 2023-2024 season please see volunteer.gov or email Bisc_Beach_Cleanup@nps.gov.
Presentation videos and more information about this year's George and Helen Hartzog Awards for Volunteer Excellence can be found at https://www.nps.gov/articles/000/2022-george-and-helen-hartzog-regional-awards-for-outstanding-volunteer-service.htm.
About Biscayne National Park: Within sight of downtown Miami, Biscayne National Park protects a rare combination of subtropical islands, mangrove shoreline, biodiverse coral reefs, and 10,000 years of human history. The park is ninety-five percent water and encompasses the northernmost Florida Keys. Most of the park is only accessible by boat. Home to a vast array of species, visitors to Biscayne might encounter sea turtles, dolphins, sharks, stingrays, and the West Indian manatee. To learn more please visit nps.gov/bisc. For regular updates from the park follow us on Facebook and Instagram.
ROCKLAND KEY, FL – On Thursday, Aug. 17, Monroe County Solid Waste Management staff teamed up with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office to clean up unsightly dumping in front of neighborhood homes and rights-of-way on Rockland Key.
Solid Waste staff collected 2.55 tons of debris, billed to the residents if found. The Sheriff’s Office also tagged four cars and two boats for possible abandonment and reported a code violation.
“Unfortunately, these types of action must occur when residents don’t take responsibility for the debris they produce; if not, it lands on the taxpayer’s back,” said Director of Monroe County Solid Waste Management Cheryl Sullivan. “We hope to encourage people to take pride in where they live and dispose of debris properly.”
Information on where to legally take yard debris, old cars, boats, motors, or construction material can be found at www.monroecounty-fl.gov/solidwaste. For large household items, like couches, mattresses, refrigerators, and dressers, most can be picked up for free by contacting your local waste hauler. If you see illegal dumping IN PROGRESS, call 9-1-1. If you see an illegal dumping site that someone left behind, call your local Sheriff’s office substation so they can investigate.
“We want to help keep our community and neighborhoods safe and clean,” she said.
The front porch of the Hellings Curry Museum, lovingly named "Eleanor" (home of the Key West Woman's Club) is being made safe and restored. To make a donation to assist in the preservation of this beautiful historic structure located in the heart of old town Key West please mail a check to the Key West Woman's Club, 319 Duval Street, Key West, FL 33040 and reference "saving Eleanor through Diane Eliopoulos”
The home constructed in 1892 by Captain Martin L. Hellings, is one of only a few historic houses in Key West not built of wood. Hellings was a native of Pennsylvania and a Civil War Union soldier. In 1881, Hellings married Eleanor Curry, daughter of William Curry a prominent Key West merchant and Florida's first millionaire. In 1888, Hellings became cable manager of the International Ocean Telegraph Company in Key West, an important position at the time. Before and during the Spanish American War, Hellings operated an intelligence service for the U.S. Government and provided the White House War Room with the latest news from Cuba.
The Key West Woman’s Club, purchased the building in 1940 for the purpose of promoting literacy and providing other charitable community services. The Woman’s Club founded and maintained Key West's first public library in this building. The KWWC continues its mission of volunteer service and financial support to local non-profits while preserving this beautiful historic brick mansion for future generations.
Extraordinary artists, colorful creators, sashayers, strollers, and rollers – it’s time to fill out and submit your 2023 Bud Light Fantasy Fest Parade entry forms and prepare to put your genius on display in this year’s “Uniforms and Unicorns – 200 years of Sailing into Fantasy” themed parade down Duval Street, set to take place Saturday, October 28, in Key West, Florida.
The world-famous parade is open to entries large and small, from fabulous floats, wild walking groups, bicycle brigades, and even human-powered kinetic machines. Cash prizes totaling $20,000 will be awarded in categories including “Best Interpretation of Theme,” “Best in Entertainment,” “Best in Costume,” “Best Overall,” “Best Walking Group,” “Best Bike,” “Green Parrot Best Live Music Award,” and “Directors Choice.” Some just-for-locals love means that entry fees are completely waived for Monroe County residents who submit their parade applications by September 8, and discounted 50% for those who apply no later than September 15. Non-Monroe County residents who register no later than September 15 get a 25% discount. Final deadline to apply is October 14.
Fantasy Fest 2023 is presented in part by the Monroe County Tourist Development Council and We’ve Got the Keys. For complete information and to fill out a Parade application form, visit www.FantasyFest.com/Parade.
The South Florida Cultural Consortium is a regional initiative in support of the arts governed by an Interlocal Agreement among the counties of Broward, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe and Palm Beach. The Consortium’s members are the local arts agencies of these five counties, including the Broward County Cultural Division, the Arts Council of Martin County, the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Keys Council of the Arts, and the Cultural Council for Palm Beach County. It is one of the most successful regional arts alliances in the nation, demonstrating that by sharing resources and best practices, the arts can thrive across a burgeoning five-county area.
How can artists apply? The deadline for applications to the 2023 - 2024 SFCC Program for Visual and Media Artists is Monday, October 2, 2023 11:59 PM. Artists interested in applying should visit http://www.miamidadepublicart.org/#fellowship
Free Online Application Workshops will be held to guide artists, dates are August 28, September 9, and September 14. View dates and register at http://www.miamidadepublicart.org/#fellowship
More information is available on the Arts Council website, Under the grants tab, at www.keysarts.com
The South Florida Cultural Consortium is funded with support from The National Endowment of the Arts, The Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Arts Council, the Boards of County Commissioners of Broward, Miami-Dade, Martin and Monroe Counties, and the Cultural Council for Palm Beach County.
The Florida Keys Council of the Arts advances the creative development and promotion of the arts in our cultural community by providing excellence in leadership, advocacy, education and financial support for artists, cultural organizations, and citizens of Monroe County.
MONROE COUNTY, FL – Have you ever considered what it would be like NOT to have any local representation on our judiciary or through our locally elected state attorney and public defender offices? In addition to our locally elected judicial officials, the courthouse staff and essential courtroom services could be severely affected if the Supreme Court and Florida Legislature approve the consolidation of some judicial circuits, including Monroe County’s circuit into Miami-Dade’s circuit.
There has been discussion at the state level to consolidate Monroe County’s 16th Judicial Circuit with Miami-Dade’s 11th Judicial Circuit, which would affect the composition of Monroe County’s local legal system, and the State is looking for public opinion on the potential consolidation. Monroe County’s law enforcement and judicial stakeholders are against this consolidation as it will affect all Monroe County residents.
Monroe County encompasses Florida’s smallest circuit, and Miami-Dade is Florida’s largest. Monroe County Mayor Craig Cates raised his concerns in a letter to the Speaker of the House.
“A look at the voter registration numbers dispels any argument that Monroe County voters will have a meaningful voice in electing local representation should the two circuits be consolidated,” said Cates. “Monroe County’s 50,762 registered voters comprise only 3.3% of a combined electorate of 1,532,614 for a consolidated Judicial Circuit due to Miami-Dade’s 1,481,852 registered voters.”
Increasingly important would be local issues important to Monroe County residents, like resource violations, which may take a backburner to more extensive criminal-related court proceedings on the mainland. Monroe County Assistant County Attorney Christine Limbert is a part of the local working group closely following the topic.
“I fear that matters important to locals, like over-the-limit lobster violations that affect our environmentally sensitive ecosystem and our local commercial fishermen, won’t get the same attention in Miami-Dade given their larger caseload,” said Limbert. “The relationships between our local law enforcement and state attorney and public defenders office would be a very different process if based in Miami.”
16th Judicial Court State Attorney Dennis Ward, who prosecutes many resource violations in the Florida Keys, said, “The Florida Keys are unquestionably one of the most unique and environmentally diverse areas in Florida, the United States, and on earth. To preserve this pristine ecosystem for our grandchildren, the character of the Keys, and our residents’ access to justice, the Keys should not be merged with any other circuit.”
To make it as easy as possible for Florida Keys residents located from Ocean Reef to Key West, Monroe County has three courthouses located in Key West, Marathon, and Plantation Key. Driving, it is 165 miles from Jackson Square in Key West to Miami-Dade’s courthouse.
“The consolidation could lead to severe logistical challenges for all stakeholders involved in the judicial process,” said Robert Lockwood, Public Defender, 16th Judicial Court. “Residents of the Florida Keys would face significant hardships having to travel long distances to attend court hearings or access essential legal services in Miami-Dade. This could result in delays, increased costs, and potentially a lack of representation for some individuals (especially the indigent), further exacerbating disparities in access to justice.”
To voice your opinion on the consolidation, take the survey at https://www.flcourts.gov/Administration-Funding/Court-Councils-Commissions-and-Committees/Judicial-Circuit-Assessment-Committee/JCAC-Surveys. The survey could take about 10-20 minutes to fill out depending on how detailed someone would want to be in the responses., and has some technical questions on it, but it will be well worth having a voice on this important issue. Survey responses are due by 5 p.m. on Sept. 1. The committee is also meeting on Aug. 25 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the public can register for the virtual meeting at https://www.flcourts.gov/Administration-Funding/Court-Councils-Commissions-and-Committees/Judicial-Circuit-Assessment-Committee.
In addition to resource violations, the Judicial Circuit courts oversee cases involving money disputes; serious crimes (felonies); divorces, juvenile delinquency and dependency matters, and other family law matters; and probate (estate) matters, as well as cases involving landlord-tenant disputes and less serious criminal matters (misdemeanors), and traffic offenses.
The timeline includes the Florida Supreme Court collecting data and public input and then using the criteria of effectiveness, efficiency, access to courts, professionalism, public trust and confidence, and additional criteria. The Supreme Court must give the Legislature its recommendation by Dec. 1, 2023. The Legislature will then decide and determine the next steps during its 2024 session.
The Monroe County Board of County Commissioners will also vote on a resolution at its September meeting opposing the consolidation.
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