KEY LARGO – COVID-19 is undeniably the defining story of the year and has shaped all facets of modern life. But other events of consequence came as the insidious pandemic began to take hold in the Upper Keys, including a mosquito-borne disease, new local leaders emerging after stormy general elections and a late tropical storm.
Dengue, a mosquito-borne virus, was widespread in the Upper Keys by Harry Harris by the end of the 18-mile route, but concentrated in South Creek Village along mile marker 103 by the ocean, where “mosquito pools” were discovered were.
“To date there are 67 confirmed cases,” confirmed Alison Kerr, spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Health in Monroe County, last week.
The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District worked with the health department to treat the affected area and educate residents to take outdoor precautions, including draining stagnant water from containers.
Despite the tropical disease outbreak, opposition grew slowly as 2020 came to an end among Upper Keys residents who fear their neighborhoods will be “targeted by the mosquito control district and Oxitec company for their testing clearance by” billions “laboratories “-Bred genetically modified male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are used to combat disease-transmitting wild insects.
Leadership changes of the year included the departure of Sylvia Murphy, who decided not to run for office after 14 years as the region’s county commissioner. In their place is former Islamorada councilor Mike Forster, who moved to the Harry Harris neighborhood of Tavernier to apply for Murphy’s vacant seat.
Two new commissioners joined the Key Largo wastewater treatment district after one walked freely and one occupied the vacated seat of former chairman David Asdourian.
Local developer David Thompson was chosen by the commissioners to fill the vacancy from Asdourian, who had vacated his seat in the medium term. Instead, Commissioner Sue Heim, who ran freely, chose to fill the remaining two years instead of a full four-year term. Commissioner Kay Cullen, who was also unopposed, served a four-year term.
The newly appointed commissioners have so far remained on the fence about whether the district should help some remote residents of County Road 905 seek a derogation or exemption from the state Department of Health for failing to connect to an advanced sewage treatment system. A fine of $ 500 per day is imposed for violations, although the state has not yet set the penalty.
Discord remains on the board of the Key Largo Fire Rescue & Emergency Medical Service District. Chairman Tony Allen kept his seat after walking freely. Commissioner Kenny Edge finished 3rd after his opponent withdrew from the race before the election, while Commissioner Danny Powers was re-elected for 5th place in his second term after beating Ronald Spodnik.
Powers was at odds with Inspector Frank Conklin over ownership of the utility building adjacent to Station 24. The district’s former fire department, where Conklin served as a board member, owns the property, according to the Monroe County’s tax appraiser.
The former fire department, a nonprofit organization, did fire rescue in the area before the district was chartered and, according to Conklin, retains ownership of the adjacent building.
Powers claims the small building is rightfully owned by the district taxpayers and wants to use it to expand the capacity of Ward 24.
However, according to the district legal advisor, the district would have to offer the former department a fair market value for the utility building and property. Instead, Powers and former board member Bob Thomas tried to put political pressure on Conklin to give up the former division’s claim to the property.
Immediately after the November election, Key Largo was visited by Tropical Storm Eta, which brought gusts of winds of 60 miles per hour and toppled trees and power lines. The storm left some residents without electricity for about a day and piles of rubble in front of some houses for almost a month.
One thing that hasn’t changed in 2020 was the spread of invasive exotic species in the Keys. In 2020, members of the Key Largo Python Patrol from the Crocodile Lake Wildlife Refuge documented 28 Edmese python surveys on eddmaps.org.