City Commissioner Clayton Lopez speaks at the ground-breaking for the new Frederick Douglass Community Center in Bahama Village. LARRY BLACKBURN/Keys Weekly

It’s been a long time coming, but Bahama VIllage residents are optimistic that the new Frederick Douglass Community Center will be worth the wait.

The longtime gym and after-school tutoring center will become Frederick Douglass Community Center, also housing classrooms, music rooms and other community resources.

And the folks building the new center — the locally owned Keystar Construction — are some of the same kids who played basketball on its wooden floors since they were 8 years old.

Mandy Miles drops stuff, breaks things and falls down more than any adult should. An award-winning writer, reporter and columnist, she's been stringing words together in Key West since 1998. "Local news is crucial," she says. "It informs and connects a community. It prompts conversation. It gets people involved, holds people accountable. The Keys Weekly takes its responsibility seriously. Our owners are raising families in Key West & Marathon. Our writers live in the communities we cover - Key West, Marathon & the Upper Keys. We respect our readers. We question our leaders. We believe in the Florida Keys community. And we like to have a good time." Mandy's married to a saintly — and handy — fishing captain, and can't imagine living anywhere else.