July 2021 Legend

JULY 2021 Vol. 23 No. 269

Florida Keys Tourism

have been modified or eliminated and nearly 50 percent of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, the idea of ‘revenge travel’ is unprecedented. The level of visitor spend in the Keys is in uncharted territory and our tourism economy is in a bubble. This phenomenon is not unique to Monroe County, but it is unique to the travel and leisure sector of America’s economy. While 65 percent of all U.S. jobs lost in 2020 were travel- and tourism- related, in a matter of two weeks our island chain went from enjoying one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state to one of the highest. Fast forward one year later and the euphoria people are feeling as they plan travel to reunite with loved ones, celebrate milestones or simply just get away is something most of us have not experienced in our lifetimes. Most Americans are only traveling within the confines of the United States this summer because going

offshore or overseas continues to have requirements that are confusing, complicated or not permitted. The Florida Keys, America’s national parks and any beach destination or area offering large outdoor spaces are in high demand. Big city shopping trips are less popular and the time frame for cruising remains unclear. For Floridians and those in land-locked areas with direct flight access, the Keys offer flexibility in accommodations, wide open spaces, culinary delights, history, fishing, diving, culture and live music venues. A cross-section of Americans is making up for lost time and enjoying all the attributes the Keys offer. They are thrilled to be here and is in stark contrast to what we experienced last summer when the initial wave of visitors driving to our destination behaved nothing short of badly. The Florida Keys are hosting a myriad of visitors, from all walks of life and from all areas of the country. Continued on page 3

Stacey Mitchell Director of the Monroe County Tourist Development Council

For the past 14 months the expressions “we are living through unprecedented times” “we are navigating uncharted waters” and “we only socialize within our bubble” were recited almost daily. Now that many mask mandates

In This Issue Keys Federal Grand Opening PAGE 3 • MIM on July 29 PAGE 3 • The Tradition is Back: Parade Photos & Sponsors PAGE 6 Calendar PAGE 7 • REEF Fest PAGE 8 • Tiki Water Sports & TCB Boat Sales Ribbon Cutting PAGE 10 Pump-Out Outfitting Program PAGE 11 • Luncheon Happenings PAGE 12 • What 72 Could Mean to You PAGE 15

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Keys Federal Credit Union Grand Opening

The Key Largo Chamber of Commerce recently celebrated the grand opening of the Keys Federal Credit Union location in Tavernier. The office is located in Tavernier Town at 91200 Overseas Highway.

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Florida Keys Tourism, Continued

made in guest services. Yes, lodging rates, in high-demand areas such as the Keys, have approached record levels, but this is a result of the basic economic principle of supply versus demand. Guest services such as daily housekeeping may not be offered, reception desks may not be staffed 24 hours a day, towel shortages at the pool and other service shortfalls are symptomatic of the American meteoric economic recovery. While we are in this euphoric bubble, the visitor is willing to overlook service shortcomings. This will only last for so long. As

more destinations become available and compete for the American dollar, the competition will increase, and demand will likely stabilize. Supply and demand will be a factor and impact revenue management. Suppliers will begin to introduce value for price- paid marketing tools, acknowledging that service commensurate with price point will help close the sale. When will this happen? It’s anyone’s guess, but most likely things will slow down when schools return to in-person education in late summer. Meanwhile, the level of

visitor spending provides significant contributions to municipal and county general operating budgets, the land authority as well as the special tourist impact tax, helping to offset increases in the millage rate charged to residents. As we move towards a more predictable rhythm of a post-pandemic landscape, the economic bubble we find ourselves in will lose some of its air and the tourism business model will return to a more realistic and sustainable level.

Continued from page 1 The lack of competition from other Caribbean- inspired resort areas has created a financial boom for our lodging, attractions, and restaurants, but is stretching our workforce very thin. The big difference now is that challenges once unique to Monroe County are now being felt across the entire country, with vacation businesses not able to fill key positions. On a recent 1,000-plus mile road trip in Florida, I personally witnessed many retail outlets and restaurants that reduced their hours of operation due to lack of staff. Adjustments were

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The Tradition is Back! Thank you to everyone who made the 2021 parade and fireworks a success!

MOST BEAUTIFUL: Coastal Water Revitalization

Mayor Michelle Coldiron

BEST BUSINESS: All American Towing and Tire

Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay

MOST PATRIOTIC: Upper Keys Republican Club

BEST THEME: Florida Keys Board of Realtors

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Grand Marshal Holly Raschein and her son Drake

Thank You to Our Generous Sponsors

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Please follow/Like/Subscribe to our Social Media outlets and join us in promoting Key Largo and The Florida Keys... Let’s Stay Connected

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@keylargochamber

@keylargochamber

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July 2021 For event details visit www.keylargochamber.org/calendar.cfm

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1 Habitat for Humanity Upper Keys: HELP US BUILD IT Silent Auction July 1—31 www.Habitatupperkeys.org

For more information check out our event calendar on the Chambers website…. www.keylargochamber.org

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Legislative Update Rep. Mooney Playa Largo 12:00 PM

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REEF Ocean Explorers Summer Camp (ages 8-10 )

REEF Fish & Friends Cocktails for a Cause 6:30 PM

Movie Night Key Largo Public Library 6:00 PM

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Immerse Yourself: The Future of Artificial Reefs Presentation 7:00 PM

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31 New Year's in July at the Florida Keys Elks Lodge 7:00 PM

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Mini Lobster Season Be Safe Keep our Islands Liter Free

Mini Lobster Season Members In Motion with a twist… Networking & Movie 5:00 - 9:00 PM

Key Largo Chamber of Commerce Trustees

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Celebrate Marine Conservation at REEF Fest 2021

Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) invites divers, snorkelers, and ocean enthusiasts to celebrate the success and impact of marine conservation programs during REEF Fest on Oct. 14-17, in Key Largo. The event features ocean-themed seminars and marine conservation programming, social gatherings, diving, snorkeling, and kayaking, plus opportunities to mingle with some of the most prestigious names in diving and marine conservation. Most REEF Fest events are free, although online pre-registration is requested. Please visit www.REEF.org/REEFfest for full details and registration. Here’s an overview of what’s in store for REEF Fest 2021. Ocean-themed Seminars and Workshops REEF Fest 2021 guest speakers feature scientists, naturalists, underwater photographers, and more. This year’s

seminars include: • Conservation Stories from the Field presented by Drs. Alli Candelmo and Christy Pattengill-Semmens, REEF; and Dr. Scott Heppell, Oregon State University • The Heady Hunt for 5000 Fishes presented by Paul Humann and Ned DeLoach, REEF Co-Founders and Marine Life Authors • Wonders of the Ocean: The World Beneath presented by Dr. Richard Smith, Underwater Photographer, Author, and Marine Conservationist • Shaping the Future of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary - and How You Can Help presented by Sarah Fangman, Superintendent of Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary • The Role of Citizen Science in Monitoring and Protecting our Ocean Biodiversity presented

by Dr. Dan Greenberg, REEF Research Affiliate and Postdoctoral Researcher at Scripps Institution of Oceanography Seminars will be held Friday, Oct. 15, and Saturday, Oct. 16 at Murray Nelson Government Center in Key Largo. In addition, afternoon marine conservation programs will be offered on Thursday, Oct. 14, including a fish identification class and invasive lionfish workshop. The complete seminar schedule, talk summaries, and speaker bios can be viewed on the REEF Fest website.

Social Events • REEF Campus Open House:

Thursday, Oct. 14, 5-7pm. Kick off the weekend at our annual Open House! Check out the historic Headquarters building, walk the Native Plants Trail, and tour the

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Interpretive Center. Single-serve appetizers will be available to enjoy, and local craft beer and wine will be available for purchase. • REEF Fest Happy Hour Social: Friday, Oct. 15, 5-6:30pm. Mingle with friends over sandwiches, snacks, and drinks. Following the social, we will head back inside the auditorium for a keynote presentation from marine biologist Dr. Richard Smith. Celebration: Saturday, Oct. 16, 4:30- 8:30pm. Enjoy food, drinks, and a beautiful sunset over the waters of Florida Bay, plus live music and a silent auction benefiting REEF's marine conservation programs. This is a ticketed event. Tickets may be purchased when you register online for REEF Fest. • Diving, Snorkeling, and Kayaking: • ‘For the Love of the Sea’

including diving, snorkeling, and kayaking. We’ve chartered dedicated REEF Fest boats with Key Dives, Quiescence Diving Services, and Amoray Dive Center on the mornings of Friday, Oct. 15, and Saturday, Oct. 16. REEF staff and interns will provide survey materials and marine life knowledge, making it the perfect opportunity to learn more about the underwater world and citizen science. There is also a special opportunity to join Forever Young Charter Company for invasive lionfish removal dives on Friday, Oct. 15. Meanwhile, those who are interested in kayaking may join a three-hour guided kayak eco- tour with Florida Bay Outfitters to search for wading birds and nearshore marine life on a journey through mangrove forests and across tidal flats on Friday or Saturday morning. Diving,

snorkeling, and kayaking can be booked directly through the REEF Fest online registration portal. Conservation Activities On the morning of Sunday, Oct. 17, enjoy special tours of conservation programs in the Florida Keys. Learn more about our partner organizations here as you explore the many ways the Florida Keys community is working to conserve and protect the environment, both above and below the water. We hope to see you at REEF Fest this fall! If you have any questions or would like information about sponsorship opportunities for REEF Fest 2021, please contact events@ REEF.org or call (305) 852-0030.

There are plenty of ways to get on the water during REEF Fest,

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Tiki Water Sports & TCB Boat Sales Ribbon Cutting

The Key Largo Chamber celebrated Tiki Water Sports and TCB Boat Sales with a ribbon-cutting at the business' recent open house held at 94381 Overseas Highway.

How do I pay for this? The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has a

reimbursement-based grant program to help fund pump-out projects. The Clean Vessel Act (CVA) Grant Program can fund up to 75 percent of eligible project costs relating to: • Site preparation • Permitting • Equipment purchase

Monroe County Marina Pump-Out Outfitting Program (MPOOP)

www.monroecounty-fl.gov/MPOOP

• Installation • Operations • Maintenance

305-289-2500

2798 Overseas Highway Suite 420 Marathon, FL 33050

• Sewage hauling • Educational signs

The grant office accepts applications year-round, and grants are funded on a first come, first serve basis. Visit monroecounty-fl.gov/MPOOP for a link to the CVA website and application.

This program is managed by the Monroe County Marine Resources Office, whose mission is to help protect and conserve the marine environment of the Florida Keys within Monroe County in a manner consistent with the Monroe County 2030 Comprehensive Plan and to provide for the adequate and appropriate use of the Keys’ marine resources. Primary services include waterway marker maintenance, derelict vessel removal and vessel pump-out.

www.monroecounty-fl.gov/MPOOP

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County Marina Pump-Out Outfitting Program to Help Marina Owners

The Monroe County Board of County Commissioners approved the Marina Pump-Out Outfitting Program (MPOOP) at today’s regularly scheduled meeting to reduce pollutant discharges from liveaboard vessels by expanding the number and use of sewage pump-out facilities. The program can assist local marinas with navigating how to install required vessel sewage pump-out systems. County Code requires marine facilities with 10 or more slips or one or more liveaboard slips be sent an official notification that an on-site fixed pump- out system is required to be installed. Once noticing is sent to a marine facility, that facility will have 12 months to complete the installation. Once installed, the equipment must be kept operational to ensure that pump-out service is available to all customers. Regardless of size, all marinas must provide educational signage to inform boaters about the importance of pumping out and locating pump-out stations. Prior to setting deadlines, the MPOOP program is available to assist marine facilities that wish to voluntarily install the required pump-out equipment on their property before the notices are sent

out. No date has been set for when official noticing will begin. “There are nearly 500 marine facilities in Monroe County with about 500- 1,000 liveaboard vessels at these locations,” said Celia Hitchins of Monroe County’s Marine Resources Office. “Less than a third of these facilities have the required on-site vessel sewage pump-out equipment.” When noticing is sent, existing facilities without the required systems will have a 12-month implementation period, but there is up to 75 percent funding assistance available from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Clean Vessel Act (CVA)

grant program to come into compliance. The CVA program can cover costs associated with the purchase, installation, operation, and maintenance of pump-out equipment, as well as other miscellaneous costs like signage. “Designing and installing pump-out systems can be a daunting infrastructure project, especially for small mom-and-pop marinas since it can take significant time and resources to implement,” said Monroe County Mayor Michelle Coldiron. “I am pleased that there is substantial grant money available to offset the cost and that our Monroe County Marine Resources office is here to assist the marinas in

navigating the funding process to help them come into compliance.” Additional information, an educational video, step- by-step permitting guidance, contact information, and sample projects and costs can be found at www. monroecounty-fl.gov/ mpoop or by calling 305- 289-2500. “The program supports protects Monroe County’s fragile natural resources,” said Hitchins. “By assisting our local facilities, marina owners and operators can move forward in a proactive the Florida Keys No Discharge Zone that

way to help protect and enhance our nearshore water quality.”

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Chamber Luncheons are Back! The Key Largo Chamber first member's luncheon since the pandemic was held at the beautiful Baker's Cay.

Upper Keys Marine Construction's Kim Rock and Jill Kuehnert of Lucky Fish Scuba.

Marianne Finizio of Community Health South Florida and Commissioner Mike Forster.

Chairman Dennis Caltagirone and David Hartman of Fantastic Endeavors Inc.

From left, Chamber Director Don Fanelli welcomes newmembers Diana and Micheal Stapleford of Keystalk 96.9, 102.5 FM Party, 105.7 FMMagnum Broadcasting Inc.

New Member Henry Quintana and Beverly Newman.

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Largo Smiles Dental Center Contact: Jenifer Santos Address: 103071 Overseas Hwy Website: www.keylargosmiles.com Upper Keys Republican Club Contact: Donna Stark Website: www.facebook.com/UpperKeysGOP Welcome New Members! Mangrove Mike’s Cafe Contact: Mike Forster Website: www.mangrovemikes.com First Horizon Bank Contact: Edgar Moscoso Address: 91980 Overseas Hwy Website: www.firsthorizon.com Coastal Waters Revitalization Inc Contact: Nick MacShane Website: www.coastalwatersrevitalization.com Coastal Angler Magazine-Florida Keys Region Contact: Bruce Wiggins Website: www.coastalanglermag.com/florida-keys

From left, Monroe County PIO Kristen Livingood, MCSO Spencer Bryan, Chairman-Elect Roberto Alonso, and Board Directors Captain Don Fanelli and Ruth Schrader-Grace.

Key Largo Chocolates & Ice Cream New Owners Rich and Bronna Peterson with Bob and Kristie Thomas.

Lori Bailey of First State Bank, Maria Jones of Florida Keys Electric Co-op, and Mayor Michelle Coldiron.

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Dennis Caltagirone (2020 – 2022) Chairman Art By Lee 2020 Board of Directors

Roberto Alonso (2020 - 2022) Chairman Elect Borland & Associates Mark Charles (2020 - 2022) Immediate Past Chairman Bungalows Key Largo

Enrique“Henry”Menendez (2020 - 2022) HNO Productions Inc.

Wil Peña (2020 – 2022) Financial Planning Consultant

Stephanie A. Russo (2021 - 2023) Russo Law Office & Sealutions Mediation Company Ruth Schrader-Grace (2020 - 2022) Treasurer Keys Core Fitness

Ilja Chapman (2021 - 2023) Voyage Blue Travel

Kristine Cox (2021 - 2023) Playa Largo Resort & Spa

Spencer Slate (2020 - 2022) Captain Slate’s Scuba Adventures

Don Fanelli (2020 - 2022) Monroe County Sheriff’s Office

Blaine Vernicek (2021 - 2023) The Structure Group

Melissa Fernandez (2021 - 2023) J.A. LaRocco Enterprise Inc & All Keys Concrete, LLC

We are stronger together!

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What 72 Could Mean to Your

Contributed by Florida Keys Electric Cooperative

WHEN PREPARING FOR HURRICANE SEASON, there are two important windows of time to consider —The 72 hours before impact and the 72 immediately after. Before a Storm In recorded history, only four Category 5 Storms have ever hit the United States (the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, Hurricane Camille, Hurricane Andrew, and Hurricane Michael), and in all of those cases, each was only a tropical storm 72 hours before impact. This historic data teaches us that you could go to bed with a tropical storm swirling in the Atlantic or Gulf and wake up to find out that in less than 72 hours a Cat. 5 Hurricane would hit your area. That is far less time than the five to seven days people typically plan for, making preparing for a hurricane now critical. After a Storm In the event of a major storm, there is always the potential for wide-spread outages or significant disruption to power from the mainland. In the event of such an outage, FKEC is prepared to operate our headquarters in “stand-alone” mode for at least 72 hours. We have adequate generation, fuel, water, food, and food preparation facilities to allow us to work for three days without outside assistance. When making your post-storm plan, prepare to be self-sufficient for a minimum of 72 hours also. Make sure you have enough food and water to last you, your family, and your pets for three days. If you plan to operate a generator, make sure you have an adequate supply of fuel. Remember, generators can fail, so be sure to have food on hand that does not require electricity to cook.

IS PROUD TO JOIN THE KEY LARGO CHAMBER OF COMMERCE! Founded in 1988, Golden Sands is a national general contractor serving 36 states. We are proud to serve the commercial general contracting needs of the nation’s largest financial institutions, commercial office buildings, corporate interiors, national retailers, one of the Southeast’s primary sports venues, and a steadily growing list of prestigious clients, including Fortune 500 companies, leading U.S. nuclear power utilities and the U.S. Navy. We look forward to continuing to serve the Florida Keys!

Follow Us #BuildingTogether www.goldensandsgc.com

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What You Should Know Before the Power Goes Out

Make sure FKEC has your current phone numbers. When you call FKEC the phone system automatically matches your phone number to your electrical equipment. For faster restoration, make sure the number(s) you are most likely to call from to report an outage are registered to your account. Update at www.fkec.com/access-your-account/ or call 305-852-2431 Make sure FKEC can access your meter equipment. To make repairs FKEC must have 24 hour access to your meter. If your power goes out, check your breakers first. Approximately 33% of all power outages are caused by breaker issues, which are the responsibility of the member to resolve. Report the outage by calling or texting. Call 305-852-2431 or Text “outage” to 45183 to report your outage. Note, your mobile number must be pre-registered with FKEC to report via text. www.fkec.com/outage-center/report-power-outages/ Safety first! Stay clear of all downed power lines or electrical equipment. Call 911 to report a downed power line if you feel the situation presents a clear and imminent danger. Then report the wire down to FKEC by calling (305) 852-2431.

Meter Based Surge Protection: Meter Based Surge Protection is provided through a device installed at your meter which offers a level of defense for your entire homes electric system.

305.852.2431 • www.FKEC.com

Key Largo Chamber of Commerce 106000 Overseas Highway

Key Largo, FL 33037 www.Keylargo.org

Mission Statement of the Key Largo Chamber of Commerce Creating a vibrant business and community environment

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