Florida Keys Treasures

Welcome to the Florida Keys Treasures WEB Site. You’ll find local information about tourism, fishing, diving, snorkeling, restaurants, accommodations, Keys jobs, lobsters, lighthouses, maps, vacation, fish, birds, plants and history about all the Fabulous Florida Keys including Key Largo, Tavernier, Islamorada, Layton, Key Colony Beach, Marathon, Big Pine Key and Key West.

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Pelican Cove Resort and Marina in Islamorada Re-opens

Pelican CoveMiami-based Trust Hospitality announced today the re-opening of Pelican Cove Resort and Marina following a multi-million dollar transformation. Located at Mile Marker 84 in Islamorada, Fla., the Florida Keys favorite unveiled 63 upgraded waterfront guest rooms and suites with all the modern conveniences, as well as a refined outdoor environment, including distinct meeting areas, luxurious pool, restaurant and more.

Now accepting reservations, Pelican Cove boasts a contemporary coastal design featuring light wood furnishings, crisp cotton bedding, sand-colored neutrals with pops of orange and yellow, and original artwork by local artists. The eclectic design with a bohemian flair strives to create an authentic yet casual look and feel, while the bold tropical prints embody comfort at its finest. The resort features organic, natural materials and reclaimed and repurposed items such as oil drum tables, wood clubs for swings and canvas drapes, reflecting the use of natural elements like fire and water. The spectacular Atlantic Ocean setting allows guests to enjoy simple, genuine fun while creating experiences, sharing special moments and making new memories.

Pelican Cove is invested in providing the most relaxing Florida Keys getaway imaginable. From Macrame beading classes, to sunrise oil painting, afternoon yoga and sunset paddleboarding, guests can experience a variety of spiritual programming that allows them to find themselves at peace with nature while soaking in the sun. An outdoor lounge with plush seating and flat screen TV invites guests to socialize and rest, while a dedicated outdoor fitness space provides the perfect platform for guests to break a sweat or salute the sun. The renovated pool deck is the perfect place to cool down after exercising, which includes a top-of-the-line lighting system and sun-soaked lounge chairs. Additionally, the new poolside Cabana Bar and Cafe will serve only the freshest food, accompanied by herbs grown on-site, locally grown produce and fresh juice. Guests can truly take a breath and unwind in the lush, tropically landscaped surroundings of Pelican Cove Resort and Marina.

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Heritage Days Upcoming in Key West

Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park will hold its 29th annual Civil War Heritage Days, from Feb. 6 to Feb. 8.

Civil War Days Key WestThe historic fort will be transformed into a mid-1860s war encampment, where re-enactors in period costumes depict Union and Confederate military personnel, craftsmen, musicians and civilians.

Re-creations of military maneuvers, period crafts demonstrations and living history demonstrations are part of the event.

Hours on Friday and Saturday are 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Sunday’s event hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park, at 601 Howard England Way, is open daily from 8 a.m. until sunset. For information, go to www.FloridaStateParks.org.

Some of the highlights of the event include a parade down Duval Street on Friday, beginning at 4 p.m. at Clinton Square and ending at the fort; a sea battle between land forces and blockade runners Saturday at 2:15 p.m.; and a historic Civil War church service Sunday at the fort at 9 a.m.

Daily park entrance fees apply: $2.50 a person on foot or bicycle; $4.50 for a single-occupant motorized vehicle and $7 for a vehicle carrying two people with a 50-cent charge for each additional passenger. Children ages 5 and younger are free.

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Florida Keys Community College Teaming up with Diving Museum

BY ANTHONY CAVE acave@keynoter.com

History of DivingFlorida Keys Community College is closing in on another educational partnership, this time with the Florida Keys History of Diving Museum in Islamorada.

The board of trustees considered a memorandum of understanding with the museum when it met Monday at its Middle Keys Center in Marathon. Similar to the college’s partnership sealed with Mote Marine Laboratory of Summerland Key earlier this month, the agreement calls for developing educational programs, exploring joint research proposals and collaborating on workshops.

The partnership is expected to be official next month.

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Historic Key West Fire Bell Echoes With Memories

After decades, cemetery landmark on display

Key West Fire BellFire has long been a very real and devastating threat to the wooden structures that comprise Key West’s Old Town neighborhoods. Long before battery-powered smoke detectors, interior sprinkler systems and automated 911 call centers, Key Westers had their own, early version of a fire alarm in the form of a 1,000-pound cast iron bell that hung from an elevated tower in the City Cemetery.

The fire bell tower was at the corner of Olivia and Grinnell Street from about 1910 until it was phased out in the 1950s and replaced by more technologically advanced warning systems. “It was straight down the street from the fire station at Simonton and Angela,” said retired Key West firefighter historian Alex Vega, who is also the founder of the Historic Firehouse Museum at 1026 Grinnell St., where the fire bell now resides.

The bell’s unmistakable reverberation could be heard everywhere on the island, and its sound stopped residents in their tracks as they listened for the number of “gongs” to determine the approximate location of the fire. Vega explained that turn-of-the-century technological advances in the early part of the 1900s allowed Key West to install more than 50 numbered “fire boxes” in neighborhoods all over town.

Each resident knew the number of the boxes closest to their home, and each had a card next to their telephones that listed the box numbers and their associated locations. If residents lived near the No. 23 fire box, they would listen for two, then three tolls of the bell.

Regardless of the location, a fire in Key West would always draw a huge contingent of onlookers as firefighters fought to save the surrounding wooden buildings. With or without the threat of a fire, the bell always had the power to send local teens scurrying home, as it doubled as the city’ curfew bell for decades. “Anyone younger than 15 had to be home by 9 p.m. when the bell rang each night,” Vega recalled.

The bell remains one of the most popular exhibits at the Key West Firehouse Museum, as it sits stoic and silent in the backyard of the museum. “We’ll tap it lightly when kids come through the museum,” Vega said. “And we ring it for real every year during our commemoration of 9/11.”

The firehouse that now houses the museum was built in 1907 and is one of the oldest fire stations in the country. Vega spent nearly two decades working to make the museum a reality, and is currently working on a new exhibit that will explore the history of the Key West Police Department. The museum is always in need of members, donations and volunteers. The museum is open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is $10 with discounts for locals and firefighters. Kids under 12 are admitted free.

To learn about the museum do to keywestfirehousemuseum.com or call 305-849-0678.

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Local Brothers Plead Guilty to Illegal Lobster Harvesting

By Adam Linhardt Citizen Staff alinhardt@keysnews.com

Three Lower Keys brothers accused of harvesting lobster from illegal artificial habitats known as casitas will likely serve six months in federal prison, and lose their crawfish licenses for life, after all three pleaded guilty in court Monday. Charles, Ryan and Tyson Veach each pleaded guilty to violating the Lacey Act, which makes it a federal offense to import, export, transport, sell or purchase in interstate commerce any wildlife protected at the state level.

They pleaded guilty as part of a plea agreement with the government that calls for them to serve six months in prison followed by one year of supervised release, as well as each pay a fine of $25,000. They also must forfeit a 2008 32-foot Invincible center console boat named the Super Grouper, including all fishing gear, engines and tackle.

Charles and Ryan Veach agreed to surrender their commercial lobster and dive endorsement licenses, and Tyson Veach must give up his commercial lobster endorsement, according to the plea agreement. Those revocations are for life. They will be able to keep other finfish permits “not involved in criminal conduct,” records state.

The agreement also calls for the men to remove the casitas they dove on for lobster by the time of their sentencing, at their expense and under the supervision of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary officials. They were also ordered to turn over all their GPS units, charts or any other navigational tools that show or map where the illegal casitas were located, records state.

Senior Judge James Lawrence King will sentence each man on May 5. On Monday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Lurana S. Snow accepted their pleas and the agreement, but King can still change or revoke the agreement upon sentencing. Such a move has been historically rare in previous casita-related cases.

The maximum penalties are up to one year in prison and fines up to $100,000 sans the plea agreement. One curious absence in court proceedings Monday was any discussion of Dennis Dallmeyer’s disappearance.  Dallmeyer, a commercial fish dealer also snared in the Veach case, went missing on Jan. 6 after being reported overdue at Murray Marine while on a short fishing trip. His boat was later found off Elliott Key. Dallmeyer pleaded guilty in December, also as part of a plea agreement that called for him to testify in the Veach case should it go to trial.

Coast Guard search-and-rescue crews suspended their search for Dallmeyer, but the case remains open with the Coast Guard Investigative Service. Dallmeyer had been scheduled to be sentenced today before King. On Jan. 9, the judge issued an order delaying Dallmeyer’s sentencing to May 5. The prosecutor in the case, Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Watts-Fitzgerald, declined to comment on the search for Dallmeyer.

Watts-Fitzgerald has prosecuted every casita case in the Keys since the government began cracking down on their use, led by undercover federal wildlife law enforcement officers. The Veach brothers are the latest defendants in a string of cases filed in the last six years by the U.S. Attorney’s Office against Florida Keys commercial and charter fishermen.


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