Feb 28
Put up those dukes you feral cats and raccoons

Strictly Drivel

It was kind of funny even to me to see our cartoonist Dan Schwab bring his strip by one morning like he always did in the past, and the subject be wild raccoons versus feral cats.

I guess it just goes to show that truly warped minds do really think alike, because I had already started this outrageously funny column about exactly that issue.

I was going to talk about clandestine meetings in the wilds of Big Pine between wild raccoons and feral cats and the conversations they must have since both are now targets of the trapping program.

Something like this:

Continue reading ‘Put up those dukes you feral cats and raccoons’

Feb 28
Look at efficiency for savings, too

Last week the Monroe Board of County Commissioners spent considerable time discussing the possibility of raising building permit fees here so that the general fund isn’t subsidizing the building department to the tune of more than $2 million yearly.

The goal is to make the users of the service pay for the service so that those who don’t use the service aren’t subsidizing what they don’t use.

An admirable goal.

Building fees here are already somewhat high compared to the rest of the state, at least on the upper end of the scale.

And yes, we have the toughest building codes in the state, so we need people who can review and enforce those codes effectively so we all aren’t paying for shoddy construction practices after the next minor storm.

But our question to the commission and to the staff that proposed the higher fees, is why are we only looking at raising fees to compensate for losses in the building department?

Continue reading ‘Look at efficiency for savings, too’

Feb 21
Me and my finger are on the lookout for this one

Strictly Drivel

I’m beginning to think it’s just me.

You know, they say that just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.

The other day I ran into (almost literally) a lady I don’t think I’ve ever met before, not one, but three times in the space of 30 minutes.

I had to go to the grocery store to grab a few things. I hate trips to the grocery store to start with, particularly in the afternoon, because that brings out all the clowns.

I pulled into the parking lot, and I generally don’t even look for that close space that time of day. I just head for the first open spot I can find. I don’t like cruising the parking lot looking for a parking space that will save a few steps. I’m not that old yet.

And in the afternoon, even if you do find a space closer to the door you usually put your life on the line trying to get to it without a vehicle dance that turns the rest of your hair gray.

Continue reading ‘Me and my finger are on the lookout for this one’

Feb 21
Don’t change rules at game’s end

The Monroe Board of County Commissioners Wednesday spent a great deal of time discussing how much of a problem vacant land might become in the next 20 years.

Vacant land, that is, which is privately owned in the Florida Keys.

And why would vacant land constitute a problem?

Glad you asked.

Monroe County currently has finite residential growth bounded by how long it takes to clear permanent residents from the county in the face of an onrushing major hurricane that targets the Keys.

The state says if we can’t get folks out of here in 24 hours or less, we can’t build any more homes. When the calculations for that were done last year, we found out that we had 3,550 residential building allocations left before we can no longer guarantee that everybody has a chance to get out of here before Hurricane Whatever slams into us.

Continue reading ‘Don’t change rules at game’s end’

Feb 14
History set us up for this holiday; remember it well

Strictly Drivel

It seems as though I do this every year, but gentlemen, listen closely.

Today is the last day to get your significant other something redeeming for Valentine’s Day or you will have missed it for another year.

It seems as though the holiday that we must never forget rushes up on us faster and faster every year, but really it falls on the same date year after year, we just have to find a way to remember what that date is.

I’ve never really quite figured out why Valentine’s Day is so important, and the history of the holiday is sketchy at best.

Continue reading ‘History set us up for this holiday; remember it well’

Feb 14
Census data may be off track here

Browsing through the census materials for 2010 in the local area, we are hard pressed not to cry foul for the statistics in this area.

According to the 2010 census, Big Pine Key lost nearly 800 folks in population from 2000.

That’s not a number we have a hard time believing. With the mass exoduses we experienced following the real estate market crash in 2008, no one has a hard time hanging their hat on a population loss.

The numbers we have a hard time swallowing are the ones that say we lost nearly 300 housing units in that 10-year span.

Continue reading ‘Census data may be off track here’

Feb 07
Another year behind us, and thank you for staying

Strictly Drivel

Today marks the end of our 13th year in publication with the News-Barometer. It’s been a great run thus far, and we have all of you to thank for that.

Without you, our loyal readers, there would be no reason to publish this product every week. Without you, our loyal advertisers, there would be no way to publish this product every week.

And now that unlucky 13 is behind us, we look forward to great things in year 14 and beyond.

Little did we know when we opened shop in a tiny space in Big Pine Village 13 years ago that we would still be around now. And again, we have you to thank for that.

Like so many small businesses in the Florida Keys, we started on a shoestring budget, racing the checks back to the bank every day to continue to publish.

Of course, there are times we still do that.

Continue reading ‘Another year behind us, and thank you for staying’

Feb 07
We need that satelite office here

It was just a few months ago that the Monroe Board of County Commissioners discussed the possibility of opening a satellite building office somewhere inside the Cudjoe Regional Wastewater System service area.

And now, we’re about a year away from the first hook ups being available, and we’ve made little progress toward that goal.

The commission was right when it considered the working class folks of the Cudjoe Regional. In order to apply for the necessary permits to hook up lateral lines, and in some 1,400 instances, run an electrical circuit to handle a grinder pump, most folks would have to take a day off work.

And although the building department has gotten a little better in the last year in turning around permits, it still takes an inordinately long time to get a permit out of the building office.

And many times, the applicant, which in many cases will be the property owner, will have to make multiple trips to the building office to clarify this or that, or to deliver extra paperwork.

For those who will have to go through the biological assessment process, the time could be significant.

Continue reading ‘We need that satelite office here’

Jan 31
I have returned from my time-warped journey to?

Strictly Drivel

I have just returned from a two-week whirlwind tour of the future.

If you read these pages two weeks ago, I decided to do a piece on the history of Leap Year. It didn’t take long for many folks to remind me that 2014 isn’t Leap Year.

Yep. Know that.

But my Twilight Zone tour had temporarily pushed me through a temporal vortex that crashed through the lineal space-time continuum and landed me in the first weeks of 2016. The reason I didn’t catch on right away is because things seemed to be so familiar.

The same guy was in the White House. The same folks were on the local commission. I was driving the same car, which for some reason I can’t drive 55…sorry, just a snippet of song lyrics that jumped unbidden into my brain. I was little fatter.

I lived and worked in the same place. The same folks were around me. It was still 74 degrees here and less than 47 degrees everywhere else.

So how was I to know?

Continue reading ‘I have returned from my time-warped journey to?’

Jan 31
Remember safety during construction

Whatever decision gets made on what properties in the Cudjoe Regional Wastewater System service area get converted from low-pressure grinder pump to gravity pipes does not affect the actual development of the project from a construction standpoint.

There are about 1,700 properties still remaining on the planned grinder pump portion of the Cudjoe Regional project which spans from Lower Sugarloaf Key to Big Pine Key. The Board of County Commissioners is expected to convert at least some of those to gravity pipes during a special meeting Friday in Key West.

And while all of this is going on, there are three contractors busily installing pipes of some kind, or building a new treatment, in various areas throughout the Lower Keys.

Continue reading ‘Remember safety during construction’

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