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Tag: Community News


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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n Sept. 5, Marathon’s American Legion Post 154 honored all veterans and those killed in action in a ceremony that included a rifle salute, the playing of taps by a bugler and speeches by Monroe County Mayor Michelle Coldiron, Marathon Mayor Luis Gonzalez, veteran John Dick, veteran Jonathan Crane, Veteran Affairs director and veteran Cathy Crane, retired Army Colonel Abe Conn and a prayer led by Chaplain J.R. Jones. Attendees listened while holding American flags and gazing at a table that was set for a meal for 13. The place settings symbolized the service members recently killed in action...

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They’re the first ones on the scene of an accident on U.S. 1. They’re the first ones to arrive when things go wrong.  On water and land, the Florida Keys’ first responders are at the top of their game when called upon to assist members of the public in a time of need.  The job of a first responder can bring long hours and periods in the intense heat. They deal with people who are stressed or at their worst moment. A first responder’s job also carries the unknown over what kind of call will come in and when.  This Saturday, Sept. 11, marks the 20th anniversary of the terrorist...

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The newest face at Baptist Health Medical Group in Marathon is Dr. Karisa Falden, a family medicine practitioner. This is her first job, post-residency.  “I love being outside,” said Falden of her move to the Florida Keys, adding that it’s a huge change from Chicago where she spent the last eight years. The Florida native — she graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and did her undergraduate studies at Florida International University — said the novelty of a northern winter wore off by year two.  Why family medicine? “I love … everything,” Falden said. “I had an interest...

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U.S. flags across the country were lowered to half-staff beginning on Thursday, Aug. 26, following the attacks in Kabul, Afghanistan that left 13 U.S. service members dead, around 80 Afghan civilians deceased and many more injured.  In the Keys, veteran and Key Largo resident Brian Mundey stopped by the Upper Keys VFW Post 10211 to lower the flag not long after reports came in on the attacks. Mundey, who’s a trustee at the VFW post, served three combat tours as an Army Airborne Ranger. He served in Afghanistan in 2005 and Iraq from 2006 to 2007.  Mundey said a flood of thoughts and emotions...

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“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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His son was just four days old in 2002, when then-Major Abe Conn boarded a military plane and landed half a world away in Afghanistan, his home for the next year. “At the end of my first deployment, I’d lived in Kabul longer than I’d lived in the Florida Keys,” he said. “We had just moved here when I got deployed after 9/11. “We were one of the first units in Kabul. It was just us and Special Forces guys,” he said. “In fact, I hoisted the American flag on Sept. 11, 2002 at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. “When I landed in Afghanistan, the wind was blowing 40 mph,” he said. “I awoke the first morning...

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Covid Aftermath: Key West Airport Delays & Complaints Due to Labor Shortages

The skies have been less friendly than usual for air travelers nationwide and at Key West International Airport, where COVID-related staffing shortages have caused significant delays in recent months. Monroe County commissioners and Key West city commissioners have been hearing complaints from travelers about fully loaded planes sitting on the tarmac and an overcrowded departure lounge. County Commissioner David Rice asked the county’s airports director Richard Strickland for an update and explanation. At the July 21 county commission meeting, Strickland acknowledged the issues and explained...

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Why We Were There in the Words of Locals Who Served

By Mandy Miles, Jim McCarthy and Sara Matthis They were there. On the ground. In Afghanistan. The veterans and active duty service members interviewed below saw what was happening in real life, in real time, a half a world away. They knew what was going wrong — and what was going well. But folks in Washington rarely asked them.  They befriended many Afghans. They buried best friends. They woke many mornings covered in three inches of dust, dirt and sand. They heard the horrors of prior Taliban rule and fought to resist its return. For 20 years, American military personnel — and other foreign...

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The Upper Keys League of Women Voters (UKLWV) announces the 2021 Constitution Day Contest for middle and high school students from Marathon north to the county line, including public, private, charter and home schooled students. The theme is how the constitution affects their daily life. In past years, the UKLWV sponsored an essay contest for Constitution Day. This year, UKLWV is giving the students an opportunity to be creative in more ways. There are two sets of prizes and two categories to choose from. For a written entry, you may submit an essay, story or poem. For a visual entry, you may...

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