Best General Contractor went to CBT Construction, Best Local Celebrity was Reef the fox, and Best Tourist Attraction was awarded to Islamorada’s Theater of the Sea. Pictured from left are Joe Babino, of CBT Construction; Nicole Navarro, Pawsitive Beginnings Inc. founder; and Lindsay Babino, of Theater of the Sea.

What’s better than one Best of Upper Keys plaque hanging on the wall? Well, two. Thirty-five finalists in this year’s Best of Upper Keys successfully defended their crown after coming away winners in their respective categories in last year’s inaugural event. Prized plaques were up for grabs in the food and drink, business and community divisions. Winners can be found here.

Photos by DOUG FINGER/Keys Weekly

Jim McCarthy is one of the many Western New Yorkers who escaped the snow and frigid temperatures for warm living by the water. A former crime & court reporter and city editor for two Western New York newspapers, Jim has been honing his craft since he graduated from St. Bonaventure University in 2014. In his 4-plus years in the Keys, Jim has enjoyed connecting with the community. “One of my college professors would always preach to be curious,” he said. “Behind every person is a story that’s unique to them, and one worth telling. As writers, we are the ones who paint the pictures in the readers minds of the emotions, the struggles and the triumphs.” Jim is past president of the Key Largo Sunset Rotary Club, which is composed of energetic members who serve the community’s youth and older populations. Jim is a sports fanatic who loves to watch football, hockey, mixed martial arts and golf. He also enjoys time with family and his new baby boy, Lucas, who arrived Oct. 4, 2022.