With our Neighbor of the Week highlight on pause over the last few months due to individual spotlights like October’s Be Like Mike feature, Keys Weekly figured we’d kick things back off with not one, but four incredible individuals who live in the Middle Keys. It’s no exaggeration to say that one of the three rescued and rehabilitated manatees detailed on page 12 of this paper may very well have met a different fate if not for the quick action, accurate reporting and generosity of the Weston family: Todd Weston and Josie Norgren and their daughters, Rockie and Zeiss. Stranded in the grass flats off Marathon’s 63rd Street Ocean in late April with a fractured skull from a propeller strike, the injured sea cow was properly reported to FWC by the family, who then volunteered their time and the use of their boat to monitor the animal’s condition and transport official crew members out to the flats to assist in the rescue.
How did you come to the Keys? We wanted a winter job that was warm. We build log homes in the summer in Minnesota with our company called Lakes Country Log Homes and started a charter company down here called Gettin’ Tight Charters. Our plan is to be here for six months from November to June, then head back to Minnesota for the summers.
What is your family’s favorite show to watch together? Fishing YouTube videos by Aaron Young, Kelly Young, Nick Stanczyk and “Life by the Bow.”
What’s your funniest family vacation story? Going to a remote island last Easter and getting stranded right after Todd proposed to Josie. The girls thought that was a hoot! The tide went out and we were stuck from about 4:30 to 11:30 p.m.
What’s one thing you never want to live without? Family & pets.
What’s one thing that’s always on a menu, but you will never try? Fish. We catch our own!
What is your favorite Keys meal? Josie and Todd love mahi tacos, and Rockie and Zeiss like grilled mahi with Old Bay seasoning.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received or given? Don’t eat yellow snow.
What’s one thing most people don’t know about you? Josie is scared to swim in the deep ocean, Todd and Rockie are very artistic and Zeiss is a great singer.
What was your favorite part of helping with the manatee rescue? Zeiss liked to pet it, Rockie liked that she gets to be in a newspaper, and Todd and Josie loved giving back and helping nature and local manatee rescuers while giving the animal a second chance at life. (Editor’s note: Zeiss was permitted by official release crews to say goodbye to the manatee before his release. Touching wild manatees is prohibited by law in all other circumstances.)
We heard you suggested a name of Northern Beauty for the manatee. Where did the suggestion come from? We wanted to name the manatee after our boat, the Northern Beauty. The boat helped us and the crew rescue him. And of course, we are from way up north in Minnesota and our two girls are beauties.