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Tag: Key West News

Rain and winds from Tropical Storm Fred approach Keys this weekend

Expect heavy rains and some possible tropical storm-force winds in the Keys this weekend.  Tropical Storm Fred approached the Dominican Republic on Wednesday morning, as Keys officials gathered for a storm call via Zoom. Fred is expected to weaken to a tropical depression later today as the core passes through Hispaniola, said Jon Rizzo, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service out of Key West. There’s uncertainty, however, over the storm’s organization after it emerges to the northwest of Haiti.  Rizzo expressed confidence that the storm will likely approach Florida...

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OFFICIALS STRIKE TENTATIVE DEAL TO SAVE KEY WEST’S SENIOR HOUSING FACILITY

Key West’s financially strapped assisted-living facility, Poinciana Gardens, got a reprieve last week, when officials from three government agencies agreed to a cost-sharing arrangement. The arrangement must still be approved by the Monroe County commission, the Key West city commission and the Key West Housing Authority board before becoming official.  But Key West city manager Patti McLauchlin said she was very pleased with the discussion and decision. She met last week with County Administrator Roman Gastesi and housing authority director Randy Sterling.  “We all agreed the county...

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KWHS STADIUM CONDEMNED: CONCH FOOTBALL HAS NEW HOME FOR HOME GAMES

For the first time in recent memory, Key West High School Conchs will play their home football games someplace other than Tommy Roberts Memorial Stadium. The stadium on Kennedy Drive is slated for a complete $15 million upgrade in the next two years. In the meantime, the fields at Tommy Roberts remain open and will be used for baseball and other activities, but the bleachers have long needed significant improvements or replacement and cannot be used for spectators. The football bleachers at Tommy Roberts Memorial Stadium, home of the Key West High School Conchs, cannot be used this season....

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NEW CRUISE SHIP LIMITS NEED OUTSIDE LEGAL COUNSEL

Nearly all city commissioners on July 12 emphasized their willingness to ban the majority of cruise ships from Key West by turning the three voter-approved cruise ship referendums into city ordinances. But those ordinances must be defensible in court against the anticipated lawsuit from the owners of Pier B cruise ship dock, who are expected to sue the city for turning away most of their customers.  “We’ve got to do this right and that takes a lot of patience,” Commissioner Jimmy Weekley said, referring to the Safer Cleaner Ships Committee’s call for action and criticism of the delay in...

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TENANT PROTECTION = LANDLORD FRUSTRATION

On, off, on again. That’s how the federal moratorium on evictions related to COVID-19 is rolling. On July 31, the moratorium ended. Just three days earlier, the Supreme Court published a decision that indicated Congress would have to pass legislation to extend it, which it did not. But that didn’t stop the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from issuing an order on Aug. 3 that put the moratorium back in place due to concerns about increasing case counts. “Evictions of tenants for failure to make rent or housing payments could be detrimental to public health control measures to slow the...

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CRUISE SHIP OPPONENT SAYS COSTLY LAWSUIT IS ‘EXTREMELY UNLIKELY’

The committee that spearheaded Key West’s cruise ship reductions is downplaying the potential costs of a lawsuit city officials expect from the owners of Pier B if forced to turn away their cruise ship clients.  City attorney Shawn Smith has repeatedly warned the city commissioners to expect a lawsuit from Pier B involving breach-of-contract and interstate commerce claims.  A cruise ship docks, pre-COVID, at the privately owned Pier B located behind Opal Key Resort & Marina in Key West. DAVID MARKS/Pixabay But Arlo Haskell, treasurer and cofounder of the Key West Committee for Safer Cleaner...

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KEY WEST HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: NEW HOME FOR THE HOME TEAM

For the first time in recent memory, the Key West High School Conchs will play their home football games someplace other than Tommy Roberts Memorial Stadium. The stadium on Kennedy Drive is slated for a complete $15 million upgrade in the next two years. In the meantime, the fields at Tommy Roberts remain open and will be used for baseball and other activities, but the bleachers have long needed significant improvements or replacement and cannot be used for spectators. One source with close ties to the high school told the Keys Weekly “the bleachers are condemned. That’s why graduation was held...

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TAXES ON THE RISE? KEY WEST OFFICIALS CONSIDER 8% INCREASE

First, the bad news: Key West taxpayers could face an 8% tax hike for the coming budget year.  The good news? That’s a worst-case scenario.  City commissioners approved the tentative tax increase at their initial budget meetings last week, but can — and often do — adjust the tax rate downward between now and the final budget hearing in September. “By law, we can lower the proposed tax rate that we approved for advertising purposes, but we can’t increase it,” said Commissioner Sam Kaufman, who voted against the 8% spike, even if it is tentative. Commissioner Billy Wardlow also dissented....

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300 TONS OF COCAINE, THE ARREST OF EL CHAPO, AND HUMAN TRAFFICKING – ALL IN A DAYS WORK AT JIATF SOUTH

The arrest of drug kingpin El Chapo. The interdiction of 300 metric tons of cocaine. Monitoring human smuggling and shipments of bulk cash and weapons. And plans for a quarter-billion-dollar facility. These are not the usual topics of discussion for a Monroe County Board of Commissioners meeting. But they are all in a typical day’s work for Coast Guard Rear Admiral Doug Fears, the director of Joint Interagency Task Force South in Key West.  Fears came to the July 2021 BOCC session to announce plans for JIATF South’s headquarter’s renovation, raise awareness about its mission, and reveal...

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Keys officials, business owners dealing with rising COVID cases

Increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases in the Keys have some stores and municipalities bringing back mask requirements. Some are issuing messages strongly encouraging their use, while others continue to operate normally since a local mask mandate was lifted in Monroe County.  Masks must be worn by staff and visitors frequenting city of Key West facilities. The decision was announced on Monday morning in an abundance of caution over the current COVID-19 surge in Florida and the Keys.  “We want to be sure that our staff and our citizens stay healthy,” City Manager Patti McLauchlin said in a statement....

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