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News Notes - Florida and the South

Keys Web site offers hurricane information

The official visitor Web site of the Florida Keys tourism council, , has enhanced information sections designed to protect the health and welfare of travelers to the Keys.

The Visitor Safety section provides phone numbers and links to law enforcement, medical facilities and an exclusive toll-free multilingual visitor assistance line sponsored by the council.

A special Hurricane Info. component provides details on how the Keys tourism industry interfaces with local emergency management officials in the event a tropical cyclone threatens the island chain.

“We believe our Web site should be a source of information to assist if something unexpected happens,” said Harold Wheeler, director of the tourism council.

The hurricane section provides a primer on tropical cyclones and details the steps emergency management officials take to protect lives and property.

Links from the site take Web users to other information resources such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Hurricane Center.

Much of the information on the Keys site will also be of good use for people headed to coastal areas of the United States and islands in the Atlantic and Caribbean.

The official Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1 and ends Nov. 30.


New boating-oriented resort takes shape

The three miles-plus of water frontage at new Florida coastal community Little Harbor, in Ruskin, Fla., is tailor-made for boating enthusiasts — with a deep-water marina enabling direct access to the open waters of Tampa Bay and travel to the Gulf of Mexico without having to go under bridges or through locks.

“We had boaters and outdoors enthusiasts in mind when we planned this coastal community and resort,” says Brett Raskin, director of marketing. “It offers a rare combination of beach, bay, river, and harbor-front amenities, along with a mix of resort and residential homes.”

The former Bahia Marina is being renovated and will serve as a linchpin of the harborfront and world-class resort, Raskin says.

Little Harbor will offer a yacht club, beach club and river club. The Yacht Club will offer boaters a gathering place after a day on the water. The Beach Club will feature a restaurant offering both poolside and indoor dining, beach access, a resort-style pool overlooking the beach, and views of the Tampa and St. Petersburg skylines. The River Club will house kayaks and canoes for backwater exploring and fishing for water and outdoor enthusiasts.

More than 1,000 Little Harbor homes will be available in a variety of sizes and styles for homebuyers at any stage of life. Prices will range from about $350,000 to more than $2 million.

Little Harbor, situated in the South Shore area of Tampa Bay, is a 30-minute drive to three major business and entertainment centers: Sarasota, St. Petersburg and Tampa.

For information, call (888) 645-9010 or visit .


Coast Guard Auxiliary earns national award

The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary has been selected to receive the National Water Safety Congress’ National Award for its role in promoting boating and water safety.

Only one such award is presented annually to an individual, organization, firm or agency that has “made a significant contribution to water safety issues/programs on a national scale.” This is the highest award given by the National Water Safety Congress.

“It’s quite an accomplishment for the Auxiliary to receive this prestigious recognition, and I’m glad to see it happen,” says Jeffrey Hoedt, Chief, Office of Boating Safety for the Coast Guard. “Without a doubt, the Auxiliary does incredible work in making America’s boating public safer.”

The award will be presented during the International Boating and Water Safety Summit awards banquet, May 3, at the Westin Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, Fla.


Marina owners push for bill’s passage

A Florida trade group representing more than 800 marina owners and related businesses is urging its members to push for approval of a bill aimed at protecting them during hurricanes.

The bill would allow marina owners to secure boats belonging to others on their property once a hurricane watch is posted. Marina owners are currently forbidden to do this, even though damage to docks and pilings from unsecured boats has been a problem, David Ray, executive director of the Marine Industries Association of Florida, told the Miami Herald.

The bill would allow marina owners to charge “reasonable fees” for securing boats once a hurricane watch has been posted, and prevents them from being held liable for any damage to boats by a hurricane.

The proposal also would give more money to cities and counties to remove derelict vessels.

The state House of Representatives passed the measure 115-1 last week. It now heads to the state Senate.

Florida’s 2006 regular legislative session ends Friday.


C.G. Foundation raised one million dollars

The Coast Guard Foundation, through its special Disaster Relief Fund, raised and contributed more than 1 million dollars. The funds were given to help the more than 2,200 men and women of the Coast Guard who live and work in the areas affected by Katrina and Rita rebuild their lives after those hurricanes struck Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi in August and September 2005.

Like the thousands of people they rescued, Coast Guard service members suffered the loss of homes and possessions.

To date more than 260 grants, processed through Coast Guard Mutual Assistance, have been issued to Gulf Coast service members who sustained the most damage to their homes and vehicles. Grants to enlisted personnel range from $240 to $10,900, depending on each person’s financial need and/or damage sustained, regardless of rank.

“When Hurricane Katrina struck, the men and women of the Coast Guard responded to the call for help without hesitation and with total disregard as to what happened to their own homes,” says James C. Link, president of the Coast Guard Foundation. “Through this fund, thousands of donors have opened their hearts in order to help service members rebuild their lives. For that, we are all grateful.”

To contribute to the Disaster Relief Fund, donors can make checks payable to The Coast Guard Foundation, 394 Taugwonk Road, Stonington, CT, 06378-1807 or log on to the Foundation’s Web site at .