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Category: Monroe County News

HEARTS HEAVY FOLLOWING COMMUNITY ICON’S PASSING

A community grieved on the morning of Sept. 6, as news spread of Mike Forster’s passing following a battle with COVID-19. On Facebook, a flood of posts brought words of sadness over the loss of someone who embodied what it meant to be an active member within the community. Many also relayed thoughts of praise and thanks for Forster, 61, who constantly paid it forward and gave back. Forster was more than a passionate public official and a restaurant owner who boasted awards for some of the best breakfasts around. He supported students and first responders. He loved his pets and enjoyed a day...

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Former state Rep. Raschein applies to fill Forster’s commission term

A community continues to grieve following the loss of Mike Forster from a weeks-long battle with COVID-19 just a week ago. His passing on the morning of Sept. 6 remains fresh and in the hearts of many, as social media posts remember his community spirit.  As the healing continues, the process begins for Gov. Ron DeSantis’ to decide who will fill Forster’s county commission seat for the remainder of the term through November 2022. While a timetable for a decision remains unknown, those interested in serving can now apply. One of the people applying for the seat, which represents Key Largo and...

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LONGTIME MONROE COUNTY JUDGE REFLECTS ON HER LEGACY

Judge Ruth Becker was elected to the Monroe County Court in 1990, then was re-elected without opposition until she retired on July 30. The Board of County commissioners saw fit to proclaim Aug. 18, 2021 Judge Ruth Becker Day. “The entire time, Her Honor was one of the best. I had nothing but the greatest of things to say about her,” said her longtime colleague, Marathon criminal defense attorney Bill Heffernan. “When I said goodbye, I’d been a lawyer for 50 years in January. I’ve been doing this for many years, in front of many judges. I can only tell you, Judge Becker was top shelf,...

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National Parks Service gives local nonprofit historic Islamorada lighthouse

Off the Islamorada shores, boats circled Alligator Reef Light Station during a Labor Day weekend, which saw pristine conditions on the water. Activity at the iconic lighthouse continues this weekend, with some 500 swimmers heading out to the 148-foot structure for the annual Swim to Alligator Light on Saturday, Sept. 11.  Event organizers Rob Dixon and Larry “Lighthouse” Herlth couldn’t be happier with the race’s return after it was canceled last year due to COVID-19. More positive developments came their way earlier in the week, however, with an email coming to Dixon’s inbox notifying him that...

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STUDENTS EXPLORE THE DEPTHS & BAY IN NEW FIU PROGRAMS

Inside Monroe County classrooms, students will take their learning beneath the depths as they explore the world’s only underwater research and education laboratory. Through data collected by Florida International University scientists, young learners will also interpret and analyze water quality data from Biscayne Bay, where excessive amounts of phosphorus and high water temperatures have led to massive fish kill. Interactive lessons and engaging activities have arrived inside Keys classrooms through FIU’s “Mission Inspire.” The Monroe County School District is the first to adopt and take part...

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COUNTY NEWS: TRAFFIC & MISSING MILE MARKERS FOCUS OF BOCC

At the Aug. 18 meeting of the Monroe County Board of Commissioners, the four board members present unanimously resolved to ask Florida’s Department of Transportation to step in and help the county with solutions for the hot mess that is the traffic situation on U.S. 1. The resolution was taken after reviewing a traffic study that was conducted in March by consulting firm AECOM. “??This is what it is, and it’s still awfully bad,” said Commissioner Craig Cates after listening to AECOM’s presentation. “Could someone explain this to me? Islamorada seems to be where a lot of problems are.” One possible...

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HELP NEEDED: KEYS HOTELS LOSE STAFF TO LABOR INVESTIGATION

By Mandy Miles and Sara Matthis A recent federal investigation and indictment of contractors who hire foreign workers and get them jobs in American hotels and restaurants has led to crippling shortages at Florida Keys hotels and restaurants that rely on these workers. A press release from the U.S. Department of Justice last week announced the federal indictment of “three men who operated labor-staffing companies in Florida with conspiracy to harbor non-resident aliens and induce them to remain in the country and with conspiracy to commit money laundering. “According to the indictment, Mykhaylo...

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Judge hands man jail time for undersized fish, spearfishing violations

A Hialeah man arrested in May for spearfishing in a restricted area and possessing an array of undersized fish will spend 60 days in jail, following a sentence handed down by Monroe County Judge Sharon Hamilton on Wednesday, Aug. 25.  Not only will Alejandro Ruiz, 47, serve jail time, but he’ll also be on probation for two years and commit 240 hours of community service. His fishing license is also suspended for two years, and he can’t be on the water for the duration of his probation. Ruiz must also take a Florida Fish & Wildlife course.  Monroe County State Attorney Office’s Jorge Jaile,...

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WE’RE THINKING OF YOU, MIKE

“We need to take care of each other.” Those were the words echoed by Mike Forster as he sat down with Harriette’s owner Carlos Hernandez and Key Lime Tree owner Violet Wahba in early April 2020 to discuss a plan to provide some 200 meals daily to Upper Keys residents from Harriette’s.  Mike Forster gets a short break during a mass feeding event at Founders Park. WEEKLY FILE PHOTO Forster was several weeks into a hot meal distribution outside his closed Mangrove Mike’s Cafe in Islamorada. A restaurant serving up arguably one of the best breakfasts quickly shifted to a kitchen that served an Upper...

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Data shows COVID case count may be plateauing

Another week brought new positive COVID-19 infections throughout Florida and the Keys. Cases statewide and in the island chain, however, appear to have plateaued. The latest report by the Florida Health Department showed 491 new cases of COVID-19 in Monroe County from Aug. 13 to Aug. 19. That’s slightly down from the week before, when the island chain had 504 new infections spanning from Aug. 6 to Aug. 12.  Statewide, 150,118 new COVID-19 cases were reported  between Aug. 13 and Aug. 19. That’s slightly down from the 151,468 reported the week before.  Monroe County’s top health officer Bob Eadie...

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