The Plantation Yacht Harbor Marina Boat Ramp at Founders Park will now be open on weekends. The public is welcome to use the boat ramp from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays beginning October 21.
The ramp remains open only to Islamorada fishing guides Monday through Friday.
Visitors to the park and boat ramp are advised to be cautious while driving through Founders Park as the park continues to be used as a staging/grinding area for hurricane debris and debris trucks drive through the park frequently.
Other Founders Park News:
The baseball field has been added to the Founders Park amenities that are open to the public Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Also open during the limited hours are the pool, tennis courts, basketball courts and fitness park with the pickleball court.
Everyone is invited to a Halloween Party at the Ron Levy Aquatic Center on Friday, Oct. 27, from 7 to 9 p.m. Activities include a Haunted Slip-N-Slide, Best Halloween Mask Contest, games and lots of treats. Aquatic Center fees apply. Contact the Founders Park and Recreation Department at 305-853-1685 for more information.
The Halloween event is open to the public. In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, all persons who are disabled and who need special accommodation to participate in the event because of a disability should contact the ADA Coordinator at ADA@islamorada.fl.us or 305-664-6448 at least 48 hours before a scheduled event.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service completed post-Irma Key deer index surveys in the animal’s core habitats on Big Pine and No Name keys Driving survey work following procedures used since 1968 began immediately upon the return of refuge staff from mandatory evacuation and continued for several weeks.
“These Key deer and the natural habitat they depend on are pretty resilient. First they made it through the New World screwworm infestation last year and now through the direct hit of a Category 4 hurricane. We are happy to report Key deer population numbers are well within the range we observed before Irma,” said Refuge Manager Daniel Clark.
The driving surveys provide an index to Key deer population size and serve to inform managers on population trends and overall status. Prior to Hurricane Irma, density estimates were routinely obtained using these same standardized methods. After Irma, increased numbers of surveys were conducted to ensure an accurate estimate of the population since there are an increased number of response and recovery vehicles on the roads as well as piles of debris.
The most recent estimate collected prior to Hurricane Irma determined approximately 1,100 Key deer occupied the core range on Big Pine and No Name keys. Survey estimates post-Hurricane Irma suggest 949 Key deer live in these same areas. Key deer are now in the mating season and healthy, active deer are readily seen in the core area. So far the refuge has positively confirmed 21 storm-related Key deer deaths. Since the storm, the Refuge has documented 12 deer deaths from vehicle collisions, up slightly from this time during previous years. The Refuge encourages visitors, contractors and residents to drive slowly and safely from Big Pine Key to Sugarloaf to protect Key deer and other wildlife.
more “Press Release: Key Deer Population Makes it Through Another Major Incident”
Monroe County Sheriff’s School Resource Sergeant Eric Mixon worked with Sugarloaf School Counselor Rebecca Palomino to match these LEGO sets, donated by LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Atlanta, with the children who needed them most at the school. Sugarloaf School is located in one of the most damaged parts of Monroe County and the children attending the school come from families most affected by Hurricane Irma.
Remember: The deadline to file for FEMA individual assistance is Nov. 9. This can be done online at DisasterAssistance.gov.
There also are four FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers in the Keys to help people register for individual assistance or get updates on their accounts. Two of the centers, in Marathon and Key West, have relocated. Here are the current locations.
MARATHON: 6805 Overseas Highway
ISLAMORADA: Fire Station #20, 81850 Overseas Hwy
BIG PINE KEY: Big Pine Key Community Park, 31009 Atlantis Dr.
KEY WEST: 3126 Flagler Ave
These centers offer in-person support to individuals and small businesses. Recovery specialists from FEMA, the U.S. Small Business Administration and the state of Florida are available to provide assistance with filling out applications or updating their status.
Disaster Recovery Centers all operate from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
There are also three FEMA disaster mobile teams that are canvassing neighborhoods in the Keys today.
These mobile teams carry iPads and can register survivors for FEMA assistance for the first time at their doorstep. They have limited ability to help people update their accounts. Please Note: Mobile teams will wear FEMA vests, have proper identification and never ask for money.
These locations vary each day. Today, Oct. 19, there are two teams in Key Largo and one on Stock Island. One soon will be going to Summerland Key. These teams operate from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
In the weeks immediately following Hurricane Irma, United Way of the Florida Keys has distributed over $20,000 in direct aid in the form of store gift cards and cleaning supplies and tools. The organization also disbursed $52,700 in emergency “mini-grants” to eight local, established partner nonprofits directly serving individuals and families impacted by the storm. Additionally, $45,000 was dedicated toward hotel rooms to assist residents in the Upper Keys left homeless due to Irma-related damages to their homes.
This week, UWFK will allocate another $80,000 in additional mini-grants to 16 previously vetted partner agencies, including Florida Keys Outreach Coalition, Burton Memorial Church, Southernmost Boys & Girls Clubs, KAIR, Star of the Sea Mission Outreach and many others. Further, an application for an additional $100,000 worth of funding is open to any human service nonprofit engaged in hurricane recovery and rebuilding efforts at http://www.keysunitedway.org/uwfk-mini-grants-hurricane-irma-relief. There is also a link to the application on the UWFK homepage.
more “Press Release: United Way of the Florida Keys Provides Nearly $400,000 to Support Hurricane Irma Relief”
The Southernmost Coconut Castaways, the OFFICIAL Home “Friend Club” for Howard Livingston and the Mile Marker 24 Band, is proud to announce the release of a brand-new compilation CD called “Keys Strong: Music for Hurricane Irma Relief.”
With more than 35 songs about Key West, the Keys and the Keys “lifestyle” we all love, the double CD set includes songs by some of the best “Trop Rock” performers from all over the country and includes local musicians as well.
Some classic hits, some newly recorded versions of past hits and some brand spanking new songs specifically recorded for this CD, 100 percent of all proceeds will go to the United Way of the Florida Keys.
Money will be distributed to the 16 local charities listed on their website www.keysunitedway.org so the money stays here in The Keys.
more “Sales of ‘Keys Strong’ CD to Benefit Local Charities”
The Monroe County Board of County Commissioners made progress toward moving forward on the removal of marine debris from canals throughout the Keys during its monthly meeting today.
The BOCC adopted an ordinance that amends Chapter 11 – Emergency Management and Emergency Service of the Monroe County Code. The amendment provides for disaster-generated debris removal from canals in order to protect public health and safety. The ordinance is retroactive to Sept. 4, 2017.
The Federal Emergency Management Administration funds disaster land debris removal and the agency requested this ordinance to be able to fund marine debris removal from canals.
“This satisfies a request from FEMA that makes it clear the county has legal authority to go into canals and remove marine debris and vessels,” Monroe County Assistant Attorney Cynthia Hall told the commission. “The county can then delegate its authority to one of its working partners, such as DEP or FWC.”
The county is working with those partners and expects to enter into an interlocal agreement with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to set the partners’ cleanup responsibilities. DEP is expected to take the lead in canal cleanup.
more “Highlights from the Oct. 18 Monroe County BOCC Meeting”
The Disaster Recovery Center in Key West at the Key West Fire Station #2 closed Tuesday, Oct. 17 and will reopen at a new Key West location, 3126 Flagler Ave., Thursday, Oct. 19.
Disaster Recovery Centers offer in-person support to individuals and small business owners. Recovery specialists from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Small Business Administration and the state of Florida are available to provide assistance to anyone needing help completing aid applications or updating their status.
Voluntary organizations also are available at the DRC and offer a variety of services to help survivors recover.
CLOSED: Tuesday, Oct. 17, Key West Fire Station #2, 616 Simonton St.
REOPENING: Thursday, Oct. 19, at 3126 Flagler Ave. HOURS: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week until further notice.
Movie aficionados can enjoy more than 30 films from genres including narrative features, documentaries, foreign language, and LGBTQ- and Florida-focused themes during the sixth annual Key West Film Festival.
Launching the 2017 festival, set for Wednesday through Sunday, Nov. 15-19, is the acclaimed film, “The Shape of Water,” starring actress Octavia Spencer in director Guillermo del Toro’s first offering to be produced in English. The movie is a romantic “creature feature” with an amphibious being and set in Cold War–era America.
The closing film, “Last Flag Flying” by director Richard Linklater, features actors Bryan Cranston, Steve Carell and Laurence Fishburne as Vietnam veterans who journey on a road trip to bury one of the men’s sons.
Themed “Passion Meets Paradise,” the festival offers screenings and question-and-answer sessions with industry insiders and critics.
The event’s third annual Critics Focus program is to be led by Kenneth Turan, film critic for the Los Angeles Times, and Joshua Rothkopf, film editor for Time Out New York. Other critics include Eric Kohn, Alison Willmore, David Fear, Jeffrey Wells and Steve Dollar.
The annual Brett Ratner Florida Film Scholarship honors a Florida student filmmaker with a $5,000 grant.
more “Key West Film Festival to Showcase Cinema Nov. 15-19”
As the Florida Keys recover from the impacts of Hurricane Irma’s Sept. 10 passage through the island chain, professional dive operators are assessing post-Irma condition of coral reefs and shipwrecks, precious resources located in the protected waters of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
Off Key Largo, divers report that some of the favorite iconic dive and snorkel sites located 3 to 4 miles offshore remain very much intact, despite some topographic changes and a displacement of sand from deeper waters onto shallow areas of the reefs, which tidal cycles and ocean currents are expected to correct soon.
Key Largo dive operators — many of them Blue Star operators who promote marine conservation on behalf of the sanctuary — excitedly noted that the experience on some wreck dives is like seeing them for the first time, with new features exposed. During the assessment divers also collected a variety of marine debris from the reefs and mangrove trees lining canals that lead to open-water access.
“Every day more fish return, sea turtles, gentle nurse sharks and stingrays, all cruising the spur-and-groove formations that make these coral structures so recognizable,” said Jack Fishman, a dive instructor at Key Largo’s Rainbow Reef Dive Center.
Additional assessments are still ongoing throughout the Keys coordinated by NOAA’s Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
Here are some highlights.
Molasses Reef: Marked by over two dozen mooring buoys and home to schools of grunt and gray snapper, Molasses Reef is named for what is thought to be the cargo of the wrecked wooden-hulled Austrian ship Slobodna that ran aground in 1887.
more “Key Largo Reef and Wreck Diving Report”