Follow Us On Facebook

Keys Students See the World…

Our community is doing great things with our school age students. I encourage you to take a look at this fine example…


Keys Students See the World!
Participation rate second only to New York City

We’re No. 2!

When it comes to Monroe County students’ participation in the Experiment in International Living (EIL), said Heather Beard, associate director of admissions for “The Experiment,” as the student summer travel program is known colloquially.

“We’re looking at Monroe County as a separate metropolitan region, and as such it has the second highest student participation rate after New York City,” Beard said. “That was true last year as well. Monroe has always been a top sender.”

This week, 22 district students will depart for a number of countries all over the world. They’ll be joining 481 students — 65 of them from New York City — who are traveling to 20 countries this summer.

Among them will be Kara Berces, a member of the Class of 2015. She heads Sunday to Le Mans, France, where she will attend the Centre de Formation d’Apprentis to learn more about French cooking, and hopefully give a boost to her dream of one day opening a pastry shop.

“I haven’t ever been out of the country before so of course I’m a little worried,” said Berces, who is also a Take Stock in Children scholarship/mentorship participant.

“I’m so used to Key West, where I know where everything is, and I don’t have to take the Metro anywhere. I know it’s going to be challenging, but worthwhile,” she said.

During her time in France, Berces will receive some language training in Paris before setting out for Le Mans. Once there, she’ll live with a French host family while she attends the cooking school for three weeks. Upon completion of her courses, which she expects will be conducted in French, she’ll receive a diploma during a graduation ceremony.

For Berces, who is currently an assistant baker at Croissants de France on Duval Street, this trip is the opportunity of a lifetime.

For some 80 years now, the EIL program has been sending American students to live and study all over the world, expanding their horizons, and giving them a new perspective on life in the United States.

In Monroe County, “The Experiment” has come to be closely associated with the Take Stock in Children scholarship/mentorship program, and its students make up the bulk (17) of those participating this year.

This is something that both the Take Stock administrators and EIL representatives would like to change.

“We’d love to expand the number of Monroe County students taking part, including more direct applicants who have not been nominated to the program by Take Stock,” said EIL’s Beard. “Ideally, we’d like every student to have a chance to take part.”

It’s a sentiment shared by Jeff Frost, the newest board member of the Monroe County Education Foundation.

“Up until now, we’ve been really focused on giving the Take Stock kids this opportunity,” Frost said. “However, some of the other board members are believers in giving other students the same opportunity to take part. [The foundation] was brought in to try to help make that happen. We’re planning to do a major rollout this fall to try to get more non-Take Stock kids, especially the self-paid kids.”

The average cost of a trip for county students is in the neighborhood of $6,000. Currently, the money for the Take Stock kids in EIL comes from three sources. There is a direct infusion of cash from generous donors, by way of the Monroe County Education Foundation. This money is matched by funds from EIL. Most students then need to do some sort of fundraising on their own to get to the departure airport.

Obviously, something will need to happen to help students without the Take Stock resources take advantage of the opportunity. Frost is convinced it can and should be done.

“I’m a big believer in that kind of travel,” said Frost, who served as the dean of a community college in the Kansas City area before moving to Key West last year. “I just had lunch with a student today who went to Botswana, and he’s currently in his third year of college. He said that it changed his life, and showed him that people are people, wherever you go. Several of our board members agree that there are people who have never left the Keys, and are kind of sheltered as a result. This is something we’re going to try to change.”

One such Monroe County resident is Yani Morales, who is now a sophomore at Florida State University. Through EIL she visited Argentina in 2010, and credits the trip with changing her life direction.

“I had never even been on a plane before,” said Morales, who is also a Take Stock student. “It was a whole new experience. I speak Spanish, but when I got there it took me a week to catch on to the language as they speak a completely different form of Spanish than what I had always been taught. After about a week, though, it was like I had been speaking it all my life.”

Now taking a double major in political science and criminology, Morales said her experience left a lasting impact on her. She spent time in the capital, Buenos Aires, and also learned and taught English and pinhole photography in the smaller city of Santa Fe.

“I’ve recommended it to so many people I know,” she said. “In fact, I only wish I could do it again. I’m looking to study abroad in my junior year of college, and I’ve actually been looking into becoming a group leader of the EIL program. You really dive into the culture. Once you get there, there’s no going back.”

Full article and credits: Keys Students See the World…

5th Annual Key West BrewFest

Here’s some Labor Day weekend fun in the Florida Keys.

5th Annual BrewFest in the Keys

5th Annual BrewFest in the Keys

5th Annual Key West BrewFest

Key West BrewFest
August 28th – September 1st, 2014

Because the last 4  BrewFest’s have been so much fun and such a success, we’re doing it again! Join us, in Key West over Labor Day weekend, August 28th – September 1st 2014. The Southernmost Hotel Collection has teamed up with the Key West Sunrise Rotary of the Conch Republic to host Key West BrewFest.  All proceeds to benefit the Rotary Club and their charitable efforts.  Events from beer dinners, beer brunches, happy hour parties, pool parties, late-night parties, seminars and the Signature Tasting Festival Event are some of the great activities we have on tap for you! And, try tasting over 150 beers in one weekend!

Tickets on sale now!


Credit and Direct Link >> HERE

Coast Guard: Free tours of new cutter

Coast Guard: Free tours of new cutter

Residents and tourists who want to get a peak of the newest cutter to be stationed in Key West can do so today and next week as the Coast Guard is opening the doors of the 154-foot Raymond Evans while it’s docked at Mallory Square.

The Coast Guard will offer free tours from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today and on Monday of its newest Sentinel class Fast Response Cutter. the Raymond Evans — named after the late Coast Guard Cmdr. Raymond J. Evans — is the fourth FRC to arrive in the Southernmost City.

“The tours arranged at Mallory Square will provide the public an opportunity to come aboard and view one of our service’s newest cutters,” said Coast Guard Sector Key West Deputy Cmdr. John Reed. “For the same reason we’re so excited about these new cutters, the American public (young and not-as-young) can also take pride in knowing that their tax dollars are being put to good use in the development of state-of-the-art systems used in service to our nation. These Fast Response Cutters are already being put to good use, conducting maritime safety and security missions that safeguard our American public.”

The Raymond Evans is scheduled to be commissioned Sept. 6 at Sector Key West. Coast Guard Sector Key West will eventually be home to six, possibly more, such FRCs, which are replacing the older 110-foot cutters that are being phased out of service.

In Key West, that included the Pea Island (now decommissioned), Kodiak Island (now in service in North Carolina), Knight Island and Key Biscayne. The latter two remain in service in Key West for the time being.

It was decided to replace them after a failed retrofit in 2004 that was plagued with structural problems.

The 270-foot Thetis and the Mohawk will remain based in Key West, as will the 87-foot Sawfish, but the 110-footers will eventually be decommissioned or sent to another port.

All the new FRCs are named after noted Coast Guard crew members who served heroically. Key West is already home to the Charles David Jr., the Charles Sexton and the Kathleen Moore, all of which arrived this year.

Raymond J. Evans is a legend in the Coast Guard. The branch awards a medal annually to an outstanding coxswain in honor of Evans’ service.

Evans and a friend, Medal of Honor recipient Douglas Munro, enlisted in 1939, the same year Britain and France went to war against Germany.

Munro and Evans gained acclaim for leading a rescue of a Marine unit that was trapped behind enemy lines in the battle for Guadalcanal. Munro died and Evans was awarded the Navy Cross. He would go on to retire as a commander in 1962.

He died on May 30, 2013.

JD POWER accolades for Century21 Real Estate Agents

As an agent with Century21, I was so excited to read this news yesterday. I personally have always strived to find exactly the right property for my clients and since joining Century21; I know that I made the best choice in parntering with a reputable company that provides us as agents many great resources for helping you in the absolute best way possible.

We received this communication yesterday and as you know Century21 is a countrywide leader in real estate transactions. Needless to say, these accolades speak for themselves and what we can do for you.



MADISON, N.J. (August 6, 2014) – CENTURY 21 Real Estate, the iconic brand with the world’s largest real estate franchise sales organization, announced that it has been ranked highest in overall customer satisfaction by the J.D. Power 2014 Home Buyer/Seller Satisfaction StudySM, released today. Specifically, CENTURY 21® Real Estate swept the awards by receiving the highest ranking among national real estate companies across all four customer satisfaction segments in the study, including: First-Time Home-Buyer Satisfaction, Repeat Home-Buyer Satisfaction, First-Time Home-Seller Satisfaction and Repeat Home-Seller Satisfaction.

“CENTURY 21 sales professionals understand that real estate is about developing relationships and building trust with their customers. Customer satisfaction is at the core of everything that they do each and every day,” said Rick Davidson, president and chief executive officer, Century 21 Real Estate LLC. “Our brand reputation is earned and measured with every customer interaction, and these J.D. Power results showcase the quality of our franchise broker network and their affiliated sales professionals.”

The study, now in its seventh year, measures customer satisfaction among first-time and repeat home buyers and sellers with the nation’s largest real estate companies. Overall satisfaction is measured across four factors of the home-buying experience: agent/salesperson; real estate office; closing process; and variety of additional services. For satisfaction in the home-selling experience, the same four factors are evaluated plus a fifth factor, marketing.

“The feedback from thousands of home buyers and sellers in this study shows that the dedication and commitment of the C21® System to caring about the consumer, delivering excellent service and establishing trust as a differentiator in the market,” said Bev Thorne, chief marketing officer, Century 21 Real Estate LLC. “This study comes at the culmination of three years of hard work and dedication to a strategic roadmap that our brokers have embraced since 2011. By focusing on the quality of their affiliated sales professionals, they have raised the bar for customer service.”

The 2014 Home Buyer/Seller Satisfaction Study includes 5,810 evaluations from 4,868 customers who bought and/or sold a home between March 2013 and April 2014. The study was fielded between March 2014 and May 2014.

Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power is a global marketing information services company providing performance improvement, social media and customer satisfaction insights and solutions. The company’s quality and satisfaction measurements are based on responses from millions of consumers annually. For more information, visit J.D. Power is a business unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

J.D. Power, the leader in customer satisfaction insights and solutions, released the 2014 Home Buyer/Seller Satisfaction Study today. CENTURY 21® was ranked highest across the four segments in this study: first-time home buyer, repeat home buyer, first-time home seller and repeat home seller. This announcement marks the first time in the history of the J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Study that a real estate company has ranked highest in all four segments. What an amazing achievement!

View the full press release that was issued here:

Vets joined by Teens to transplant Coral in the Keys

BIG PINE KEY, FLA. — A dozen wounded veterans submerged in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary to help transplant corals on a special section of the reef set aside as a remembrance area for fallen American service personnel.

The vets were joined Monday by teens from two organizations to sow staghorn corals on a section of a patch reef permitted to Mote Marine Laboratory.

Four of the eight youth divers were members of Gold Star Teen Adventures, an organization providing adventure camps for survivors of military personnel who died in the line of duty. The rest belong to SCUBAnauts International, a program that involves youngsters in the marine sciences.

Mote has been involved in growing and transplanting threatened staghorn corals in the sanctuary for about eight years.

The group’s project ends Tuesday.

Vets and Teens Transplant Coral in the Keys

Vets and Teens Transplant Coral in the Keys

Retired Army Sgt. 1st Class Billy Costello, center, who lost his right leg while stationed in Afghanistan, helps transplant coral Monday in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary off Big Pine Key, Fla. Costello is one of a dozen wounded veterans in the Keys helping transplant corals on a special section of the reef, permitted to Mote Marine Laboratory, and set aside as a remembrance area for fallen American service personnel. (AP via Joe Berg/Florida Keys News Bureau)


Full Article and Credits here>>

Statewide exhibit focusing on 500 years of Florida lands in Key West


Article Credit

July 23, 2014


A new traveling exhibit consisting of 11 hanging panels designed to tell our history, heritage and the significance of Florida is now on display in the terminal at Key West International Airport.

The exhibit runs through Oct. 11 and is a partnership with Historic Markers Inc., a group founded by Key Wester Bruce Neff to bring attention to Key West’s history;  the Museum of Florida History; the Florida Department of State; and Viva Florida.

The exhibit, which follows a three-month stay in Marianna (near Tallahassee), is for visitors to share “Florida’s rich and diverse 12,000 years of history,” the Department of State says in a prepared statement.

“Viva Florida: Florida Before Statehood” begins with a look back at Florida’s first people and the tribes that were recorded here at the time of European contact. Tracing history through the first colonizing attempts in the United States made by French and Spanish settlers, the exhibition also draws attention to the exchanges and interactions between Native Americans and Europeans.

Viva Florida marks the 500th anniversary of explorer Juan Ponce de Leon’s landing in Florida, likely in St. Augustine. The exhibit is available for any school, library or museum to bring to their regular programming for 2015. For information about the exhibit, visit


Full article and credit available here.

Lead and Lead Testing…

Article and Credits: Being in the Know: Lead and Lead Testing 

This article gives you some insight on lead and leading testing that can save you and your family a great deal of trouble and heartache.

If a home was built before 1978, old lead paint on your walls, doors, windows and sills may be dangerous. Federal and state regulatory standards have helped to minimize or eliminate the amount of lead in air, drinking water, soil, consumer products, food, and occupational settings. However, older homes should be thoroughly inspected by a licensed professional for lead within the structure.

“Lead is particularly dangerous to children because their growing bodies absorb more lead than adults do and their brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead. Babies and young children can also be more highly exposed to lead because they often put their hands and other objects that can have lead from dust or soil on them into their mouths. Children may also be exposed to lead by eating and drinking food or water containing lead or from dishes or glasses that contain lead, inhaling lead dust from lead-based paint or lead-contaminated soil or from playing with toys with lead paint. Adults may also breath lead dust by spending time in areas where lead-based paint is deteriorating, and during renovation or repair work that disturbs painted surfaces in older homes and buildings. A pregnant woman’s exposure to lead from these sources is of particular concern because it can result in exposure to her developing baby.” (

“Federal law requires that before being obligated under a contract to buy housing built prior to 1978, buyers must receive the following from the homeseller:
An EPA-approved information pamphlet on identifying and controlling lead-based paint hazards titled Protect Your Family From Lead In Your Home (PDF).
Any known information concerning the presence of lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards in the home or building.

For multi-unit buildings, this requirement includes records and reports concerning common areas and other units when such information was obtained as a result of a building-wide evaluation.

An attachment to the contract, or language inserted in the contract, that includes a “Lead Warning Statement” and confirms that the seller has complied with all notification requirements.

A 10-day period to conduct a paint inspection or risk assessment for lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards. Parties may mutually agree, in writing, to lengthen or shorten the time period for inspection. Homebuyers may waive this inspection opportunity. If you have a concern about possible lead-based paint, then get a lead inspection from a certified inspector before buying.” (

Real Estate Agents and Home Sellers
“As real estate agents and home sellers, you play an important role in protecting the health of families purchasing and moving into your home. Buildings built before 1978 are much more likely to have lead-based paint. Federal law requires you to provide certain important information about lead paint before a prospective buyer is obligated under a contract to purchase your home.

Real estate agents must:
Inform the seller of his or her obligations under the Real Estate Notification and Disclosure Rule. In addition, the agent is responsible if the seller or lessor fails to comply; unless the failure involves specific lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazard information that the seller or lessor did not disclose to the agent. Read the regulations that includes these requirements.

Provide, as part of the contract process, an EPA-approved information pamphlet on identifying and controlling lead-based paint hazards titled Protect Your Family From Lead In Your Home (PDF). Attach to contract, or insert language in the contract, a “Lead Warning Statement” and confirmation that you have complied with all notification requirements.

Provide a 10-day period to conduct a paint inspection or risk assessment for lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards. Parties may mutually agree, in writing, to lengthen or shorten the time period for inspection. Homebuyers may waive this inspection opportunity.” (
The links we have provided are brought to you by the EPA. We suggest that you check out this site to learn more about lead hazards. Testing for lead should be performed by a licensed and properly equipped professional. In the event you do have lead, it is important that a professional extract samples carefully to submit for testing. Again, disrupting lead and making the element airbourne will be very dangerous. Your licenesed inspector will be able to submit your samples with proper handling and will be able to tell you if you do have lead. Your inspector will be able tell you which affected areas of your home need repair. Just like your inspection, if you need repairs related to lead you need to make sure that a professional company handles this hazardous material removal.

Your Professional Marathon, Florida Real Estate Agent

For Buyers

With it’s turquoise waters and amazing sunsets, the Florida Keys are a beautiful and unique place to live in the United States. I will help you navigate your way through the protective restrictions that are now in place to save our most valuable resources.

When you are ready to buy your piece of paradise, contact me. I will give you the advantage of my knowledge and expertise as a real estate professional to help your dreams of island living come true.

For investors and consumers looking for vacation properties, I am aware that you have a plan in place before even contacting me. Tell us what you want and I will work hard to get you the best deal. I will search the entire Florida Keys market with a range in styles, price and location to assure you are armed with the best options.

I hope to build a strong business relationship with you.

For Sellers

When you decide to sell your island home it is very important to choose a company that can provide the exposure it takes to attract qualified buyers. Sellers represent the core of my business and my focus is to assist them with getting the best price for their property in the least amount of time.

Contact me today for a free analysis of your property’s market value. I look forward to exceeding your expectations!

For More Marathon, Florida Information
Contact Kate Mudge Today at (305) 433-1943

Resources and Tools

  • Mortgage Calculator and Affordability Calculator
  • Elementary and High School Local Information
  • Walk Score of Surrounding Areas and Find Local Businesses In The Area
  • Home Valuation Graphs and Local Graphs for Real Estate Conditions
  • Read more information