The Greater Key West Chamber of Commerce honored several residents and local businesses who positively contribute to the City of Key West at their General Membership Meeting on Wednesday, December 14, 2022, at the Opal Key Resort and Marina.
The award ceremony recognizes individuals, ventures, and projects that have helped make this community what it is over the past year. Included in the award presentations, we also celebrate employees from the City of Key West.
The Chamber is pleased to recognize the following from the City of Key West:
The Business for Beauty Award is given each year for major capital projects or extensive renovations that add to the beauty and contribute to the overall attractiveness of Key West. This year we are pleased to celebrate two businesses:
The Historic Preservation Award is presented for major projects focused on the renovation and preservation of historic buildings, commercial properties, and landmarks. This award was presented to:
The Venture Award is given for a bold investment in a new business or enterprise that exemplifies the entrepreneurial spirit and adds to the Key West atmosphere. The winners were:
The Piece of the Rock award is presented to dedicated individuals who have clearly gone above and beyond the scope of their normal responsibilities to make Key West a better community through the years. Two individuals were recognized this year:
CHANGES TO CITIZENS INSURANCE COULD AFFECT THOSE WITH WIND INSURANCE IN MONROE COUNTY
On Dec. 14, the Florida Legislature passed the special session bills concerning property insurance, Hurricane Ian disaster relief, and toll discounts. Senate Bill 2A, the property insurance bill, includes several significant changes to the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corporation (Citizens). Citizens hold a majority of the wind insurance policies in Monroe County.
For Citizens policyholders, it’s important to know that Senate Bill 2A includes the following changes:
After the final legislative vote, the Speaker of the House indicated more work on insurance would be done during the regular legislative session starting in March 2023.
COUNTY'S $2.6 BILLION USACE COASTAL STORM AND SEA-LEVEL RISE INFRASTRUCTURE RESILIENCY PROJECT SIGNED INTO LAW
On Friday, President Joe Biden signed into law authorization of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) $2.6 billion coastal storm and sea-level rise infrastructure resiliency project in the Florida Keys. The project authorization has already passed through Congress and federal lawmakers; however, appropriations for the project will require separate, annual approvals by Congress.
On Friday, the County also secured a nearly $1 million initial appropriation, approved in the omnibus spending bill to fund the planning, engineering, and design of six U.S. 1 stabilization projects in the Florida Keys, the first phase of the plan. The plan includes 5,500 feet of the roadway at mile markers 79.5, 70, 70.9, 67, 37, and 34.5, identified as vulnerable to erosion and wave energy. Estimates for the completion of the construction phase of the U.S. 1 stabilization project are $16 million.
With the Board of County Commissioners' support, Chief Sustainability Officer Rhonda Haag and Legislative Affairs Director worked with USACE and local stakeholders for the past five years to put this project together, including numerous public meetings to discuss the project. Then they worked to move the project authorization and appropriation through Congressional approval.
Based on the development of a three-year USACE Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Study, the project plans for the economic, environmental, and social effects of coastal storms and sea-level rise and addresses the hardening of U.S. 1, dry floodproofing of critical infrastructure and private commercial buildings, and elevating residential residences. The study did not address the resiliency of locally-maintained roads, which Monroe County completed under a separate study.
Future appropriations will allow for the voluntary elevations of up to 4,698 vulnerable residential homes and the dry floodproofing of 1,052 commercial and 53 critical infrastructure buildings susceptible to storm surge damage throughout the Florida Keys. Dry floodproofing allows for essential services to resume more quickly after a storm surge event.
The total project, including the dry floodproofing and elevations, is estimated at $2.6 billion, to be split 65 percent federal ($1.7 billion) and 35 percent non-federal ($893 million). Non-federal funds can come from the state, county, municipalities, residents, and other non-federal entities. The County is coordinating with the Florida Dept. of Transportation for the non-federal match for the U.S. 1 stabilization phase. The County also intends to sign sub-agreements with the five municipalities to authorize and fund work performed within the cities.
"We are committed to making Monroe County as resilient as possible against the effects of future storms and sea-level rise," said Roman Gastesi, Monroe County Administrator. "This partnership with USACE allows us to tap into federal money to help offset resiliency costs to Florida Keys residents."
What's the difference between authorization and appropriation? Congress requires authorizations to be in place before final funding decisions are made. An appropriation provides the legal authority to spend or obligate U.S. Treasury funds.
New Year's Eve Safe Ride Shuttle
Let Key West Transit’s Safe Ride do the driving!
WHEN: Saturday, Dec. 31st, 5 p.m until 1:45 a.m.
FARE: $2 per trip on the local route, $4 per trip on the Lower Keys Shuttle.
PICKUP AND DROPOFF: Fausto’s on Fleming.
LAST CALL: Final shuttle departs Fausto’s at 1:45 a.m.
NOTE: There will be no bus service on New Year’s Day. Normal schedules will resume on Monday, January 2nd.
For more details, go to www.cityofkeywest-fl.gov
Christmas Tree Disposal
The City of Key West wants to remind residents of the best way to dispose of your Christmas tree. Please do not put real trees in plastic trash bags. Instead, put them out beside you trash bin on collection day. Please don’t throw them in the right-of-way.
In addition, please be sure to remove all decorations and tinsel. This way, Waste Management can process the trees like yard waste and send them to a mulch and compost center.
An Evening With Priscilla Presley
Join us for an extraordinary in-person appearance & intimate evening with the legendary Priscilla Presley. Key West Gallery has announced an exclusive two-part event Experience to take place Friday, January 6th, 2023, in Key West Florida, with a live appearance and Q & A with Ms. Presley at the Helmerich Theater at the Studios of Key West from 4 pm – 6 pm, followed by a glamorous reception at famed Key West Gallery. Key West Gallery. “Key West Gallery Presents Priscilla Presley” is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet the steward of the Elvis Presley legacy and learn more about her life with Elvis , her career, and her extraordinary future projects. The actress, author, producer, and philanthropist will share personal stories about her life, meet and greet guests and co-host the reception with artistic luminary Adam Rote. Theater presentation from 4-6 pm followed by an in-gallery cocktail reception & Art Experience from 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm with Priscilla and renowned Celebrity Artist Adam Rote, whose works of Celebrity Icons are globally renowned.
Tickets can be purchased directly at Key West Studios Box Office Link General and Preferred Seating.
Priscilla is the former wife of Elvis Presley, as well as co-founder and former chairwoman of Elvis Presley Enterprises, the company that turned Graceland into one of the top tourist attractions in the USA. She has starred in many classic film and TV Series including ‘The Naked Gun’ and ‘Dallas’.
In an intimate conversation with guests and Celebrity Artist Adam Rote, whose Iconic artworks of Ms. Presley and other A List Celebrities are dually signed by both Celebrity & Artist, Priscilla will share personal stories from her illustrious career, life and marriage to the King of Rock n Roll. Audiences will be treated to never-before-seen footage of Priscilla and Elvis Presley.
VIP Packages are available for the opportunity to meet Priscilla and enjoy the best seats in the house. Please call the gallery or go online to
This is a presentation by the prestigious Art Space Key West Gallery on Key West’s famed Duval Street by Principal & Gallerist Ms. Kellie Alpert.
The events take place at The Key West Studios located at 533 Eaton Street and at Key West Gallery @ 601 Duval Street in Key West. For more information & to inquire about the VIP Experience Package: Contact email@example.com via email / live chat or 305.923.1696. For more information, visit https://keywestgallery.com/pages/presleyvip.
The Key West Harry S. Truman Foundation and The Society of Presidential Descendants to present February’s “Presidential Families Weekend and Forum” in Key West, Florida
The Key West Harry S. Truman Foundation, in partnership with The Society of Presidential Descendants, is pleased to announce a series of special events to be held in celebration of Presidents’ Day Weekend, Friday, February 17, through Monday, February 20, 2023, on the elegant tropical grounds of the Harry S. Truman Little White House in Key West, Florida, where 33rd U.S. President Truman spent 11 working vacations from 1945-53.
Centerpiece of the multi-day event is a Saturday, February 18, forum discussion on the topic of "Working Across the Aisle: American Bipartisanship” to be held among a gathering of distinguished presidential descendants before a live audience.
Moderated by Dr. Kurt Graham, director of Independence, Missouri’s federally operated Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum, this year’s scheduled forum participants are: Susan Ford Bales, daughter of Gerald Ford, 38th President of the United States; Clifton Truman Daniel, grandson of Harry S. Truman, the 33rd U.S. President; Mary Jean Eisenhower, granddaughter of 34th U.S. President General Dwight D. Eisenhower; Massee McKinley, great-great grandson of 22nd and 24th U.S. President Grover Cleveland, and great-great nephew of 25th U.S. President William McKinley; and Patricia Taft, great-granddaughter of William Howard Taft, the 27th U.S. President.
Back by popular demand for the 2023 Presidential Families Weekend are two live performances of “Give ‘Em Hell, Harry!”, the long running and highly acclaimed stage production written by Samuel Gallu that spotlights the life and presidency of Harry S. Truman. Presidential descendant Clifton Truman Daniel, an actor, author, and humanitarian, has starred in the role of President Truman since 2017, and is the first direct descendant to portray a presidential ancestor in a stage production of this kind. “Give ‘Em Hell, Harry!”, a fast paced, faithful to history, and often humorous one-man-show, is set for Sunday evening, February 19, and Monday evening, February 20, outdoors on the grounds of the Harry S. Truman Little White House. Last year’s scheduled performance, as well as an added encore performance, quickly sold out.
During the daytime on Monday, February 20, the Little White House grounds will provide the setting for a family-friendly Presidents’ Day cookout, with hamburgers, veggie burgers, and hotdogs available for purchase. A cash bar will also be available, and attendees are welcome to bring a picnic blanket for the lunchtime event.
Other Presidential Weekend offerings are to include guided tours of the Historic Little White House, self-guided botanical lawn tours, and for Foundation members, ancillary cocktail parties with presidential descendants.
The annual “Presidential Families Weekend and Forum” held at the Harry S. Truman Little White House in Key West is the largest Presidents Day Weekend gathering of presidential descendants in the country. Traditionally hosted by The Key West Harry S. Truman Foundation, in 2022 the Foundation partnered for the first time with the recently founded Society of Presidential Descendants, a membership organization for individuals with direct lineage to one or more of the forty-six United States Presidents.
This year, as a component of the Presidential Families Weekend events, and in the spirit of fostering youth political awareness and participation, the partnership announced a student essay contest for Monroe County High School Students. Announced in November, interested students have until January 15 to submit their compositions. In addition to cash prizes, First, Second and Third place winners will receive tickets to attend the Saturday, February 18 forum, where attending presidential descendants will introduce the winning students to the audience following the discussion.
The “Presidential Families Weekend and Forum” is presented with the support of the Monroe County Tourist Development Council. For tickets, information, and student essay guidelines and submission information visit www.trumanlittlewhitehouse.org/foundation/events/. For questions, contact Foundation executive director Rachel Katzenberger at Rachel.Katzenberger@kwtrumanfoundation.org
Poets and Writers Invited to Participate in Tennessee Williams Poetry and Short Story Contests
As the Tennessee Williams Birthday Celebration nears, Key West Art & Historical Society invites poets and writers to submit original works for its 2023 Poetry and Short Story writing contests – components of the annual celebration held each March in honor of the Pulitzer Prize-winning literary icon that moved to Key West in 1949 and remained a resident for 34 years.
While there is no specific theme for the 2023 writing competitions, submissions must in some way reference Tennessee Williams. Authors may choose to write a story referencing Williams, his family, one of his characters, or one of the actors/actresses who played a role in his plays or films. Cost is $10 per submission and is limited to one poem and/or one short story per person. The first-place winner in each contest will be awarded $200 while the second-place winner will receive $100. Submissions will be accepted through March 11, 2023. For full contest information, guidelines, and a submission link visit www.kwahs.org/upcoming-events
The Tennessee Williams Museum on 513 Truman Avenue is open Thursdays to Sundays for self-guided tours 10:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. For more information, contact Key West Art & Historical Society at 305-295-6616 or visit www.kwahs.org.
Your Museums. Your Community. It takes an Island.
Monroe County Fire Rescue graduated its fifth “Hot Shots” class on Friday, Dec. 16, 2022. Class 22-01 includes 27 qualified men and women on their way to become career or volunteer firefighters. The graduates successfully completed 456 hours of intensive classroom and rigorous practical training over the past 3.5 months.
Twenty-two of the students are residents of Monroe County. The Monroe County Board of County Commissioners continues to support the program that waives the $2,200 tuition fee for qualified Monroe County residents in exchange for a commitment to volunteer or work as a career firefighter anywhere in the Florida Keys for three years.
“We are excited to see these students graduate from our Monroe County Fire Academy Hot Shots Program and look forward to them serving in the Florida Keys community in the future,” said Interim Fire Chief RL Colina.
The graduates completed the 17 performance objectives of the firefighter program and are prepared to take the State of Florida Firefighter II examination. To be hired at Monroe County Fire Rescue, a candidate must also complete EMT training.
Graduates include Samantha Blyer, Jamie Boan, Adrian Castro, Roberto Costa, Jordan Duran, Alberto Figueroa, Ariel Gonzalez, David Gonzalez, Samuel Gonzalez (Class Leader), Victor Hernandez, Stephen Jones, David Linville, Alejandro Lopez, Amanda Marcotte, Cole McDaniel, Aaron Moore, Logan Pellicier, Melissa Ramirez, Kaitlyn Ritter, Leylah Rodriguez, Harold Roman, Christian Ruiz, Justin Stankiewicz, Sierra Temple, Mason Thompson, Steven Torna, and Camren Watson.
There are no new classes scheduled at this time at the training academy. More information about the “Hot Shots” program can be found at www.monroecounty-fl.gov/hotshots or email Johnson-Cara@monroecounty-fl.gov.
City Recognized as Bike Friendly
As a result of constant striving to make city streets safer for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists, The City of Key West has reached an important milestone.
The League of American Bicyclists has awarded the City the Bronze status as a Bicycle Friendly Community.
The League scores a community based upon what they call the 5Es: engineering, education, encouragement, evaluation and planning, and equity and accessibility.
You can read the entire assessment on the City’s website: https://cityofkeywest-fl.gov/804/Car-Free-Key-West
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