$90K to 20 organizations

The homeless, the hungry and young children – those are among the top three Middle Keys populations that will benefit from the City of Marathon’s annual redistribution of tax dollars to benefit nearly two dozen non-profit groups.

Independence Cay, the only transitional housing and soup kitchen facility in the Middle Keys, received the largest award of $15,700 with KAIR, Marathon’s food pantry and needs-based assistance organization close behind with $14,200 and Grace Jones Community Center awarded $9,000.

This year, the city requested additional details from each of the 20 applicants regarding where the monies would be applied and restricted use of city grant monies for administrative costs.

Newcomers to the annual year-end process included Clean Up the Keys – a grassroots group of locals using kayaks instead of fuel-powered boats to clean area mangroves and shoreline; Marathon High School Band Boosters requesting funding to repair a host of instruments; and the Marathon Zonta Club in need of monies to support their mammogram program for uninsured and underinsured women in the Middle Keys.

Sandy Rieger told the council that because the program has seen such an increase in need since the program’s inception 10 years ago, their mission to improve the status of women and children needed support from the city.

Lyn Cox appeared before the council for the first time on behalf of the Marathon Middle and High School Band Boosters requesting assistance for a travel stipend for the concert band.

“They have more than 70 beginning band students this year, and most come without knowledge or instruments,” Cox explained to the council. “The cost to repair a tuba and a sousaphone was $800, so that pretty much exhausted our repair budget.”

Organizations committed to assisting low-income families are now facing unforeseen challenges cutting into operating budgets, too.

Habitat for Humanity of the Middle Keys’ Executive Director Christine Todd told the council that since the organization’s inception in 1991, they’ve never had to foreclose on a Habitat for Humanity family. However, the board’s now facing an unanticipated $25,000 rehabilitation in order to house another family.

“We’re asking for this money toward this $25,000 issue not originally in our budget,” Todd elaborated.

Overall requests at $184,982 from the 20 organizations totaled more than double the available monies distributed by the council.

“I only wish we had another $90,000 to give out,” said Mayor Pete Worthington.

In other business:

• The saga of the city’s entry signs continued Tuesday night as councilwoman Ginger Snead brought back the issue originally sent out to bid eight months ago.

Proposed designs presented Tuesday night included a mock structure of Sombrero Reef Light; a boat stern announcing travelers’ arrival to the “Boating Destination of the Florid Keys” as well as a mock of an antique wooden boat emblazoned “Sea You Soon.”

“Both designs are perfect for what we want,” Snead said, adding, “the ones we have you can’t see at night and are ugly.”

Considering the lapsed time, however, Vice Mayor Dick Ramsay pondered whether or not the newly proposed designs and their implementation would still be within the originally budgeted amount.

“We were, but now so much time has lapsed, I’m not sure,” City Manager Roger Hernstadt replied.

After discussion and selection of the lighthouse structure, Snead motioned to move forward with the design and implementation of yet another round of new signage at both ends of Marathon.

• The council unanimously approved the Planning Commission’s recommendation to allow Marathon Veterinary Hospital’s redevelopment of the 6,000 square foot commercial building space between Marathon Community Theatre and The Cracked Conch that formerly housed Boater’s World.

“We started our business the same year this city incorporated with one and a half doctors and three support staff,” said co-owner Dr. Doug Mader. “We now have five full time doctors with 23 support staff. Next week, we’ll celebrate out 20,000th client and have no complaints on record of noise or pollution issues in our current location on 111th Street.”

During a recent planning commission meeting, neighbors to the rear of the building expressed concern over a potential increase in noise and pollution that could potentially result from the new boarding facility, but Planning Director George Garrett assured property owners Stacy Couch and Stacy Kidwell that a concrete wall with landscaping above and beyond what’s required by the city’s code requirements and land development regulations.

2011/2012 Grant Awards

Be the Change of the Florida Keys

(Former Monroe Youth Challenge Program): $1,800

Clean Up The Keys: $800

Crane Point Museum & Nature Center: $1,790

Domestic Abuse Shelter: $4,800

ECMC: $4,400

Grace Jones Daycare Center: $9,000

Guidance/Care Center, Inc.: $2,200

Habitat for Humanity: $3,600

Heart of the Keys Recreation, Inc.

AKA Marathon Recreation Center: $5,760

Heron-Peacock Supported Living: $3,600

Independence Cay, Inc.: $15,700

KAIR: $14,200

Kreative Kids Christian Academy: $6,400

Literacy Volunteers: $2,200

Marathon Band Boosters: $1,000

Marathon Wild Bird Center: $2,700

Pigeon Key Foundation: $1,150

Rural Health Network: $5,800

Salvation Army: $1,500

Zonta Club of Marathon, Inc.: $1,600





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