the last samurais, No Name Key

There is a positive life, hard to find, but  not impossible, sez Key West’s jaguar woman after she done went down to Panama to hang out post at goodmorningkeywst.com today.

Meanwhile, back to where the men are men and the key deer are afraid …

samurai

Before lying down for a nap yesterday afternoon, I said to the angels that maybe I would drive down to Key West later to see Sylvester Stylone’s “Bullet in the Head,” since a bullet in the head was what I felt some people I was dealing with needed to stop their habitual left-brain thinking and get them to start living.

During the nap, I heard “Bullet in the heart.” Then, I heard I needed to drive to “31? and “blue hole”.

When I finally awoke, I thought, hmmm, blue hole sounds like The Blue Hole on Big Pine Key. Mile Marker 31 is on Big Pine Key. So, I was not through writing about No Name Key, unless I wanted to put a bullet in my heart.

No Name Key bridgebridge from Big Pine Key over Bogie Channel to No Name Key

I finally dragged myself out of the sack and saw a message on my cell phone. It was from a member of Last Stand, whom I know pretty well, who had read yesterday’s No Name Key spelling bee post, in which I threw up my hands because I didn’t know what else to do about the island but ask God to intervene. The Last Stand member begged me not to give up on No Name Key, to keep plugging away.

I then opened my laptop and saw an email about yesterday’s post from a fellow who wrote like he lived on No Name Key and wanted the island on the grid. I called the Last Stand member back and explained all of what you just read above, and said it didn’t appear I was tossing in the towel just yet, but I hoped God was going to wade into it. We talked about some of the issues, and I invited her to write down her thoughts and send them to me to publish as a Last Stand member who did not live on No Name Key, which she does not. She said she would do that. Here’s what she later sent to me.

Hey Sloan, Hopefully you have reconsidered “throwing in the towel” on the NNK battle! A couple of things that I want to make clear. When Alicia Putney leaves town for family issues or vacation( Canada for two months or less) she is constantly working on the NNK issues by phone or on the computer. Myself and other Last Stand board member are in frequent contact with her whether she is here or away. This fight is NOT over. Stay with us !!

After talking with her on the phone, I started working on a reply to the email from the fellow who had come across sounding like a No Name Key pro-gridder. About an hour later, I decided I’d better go up to Big Pine Key, as per the dream.

I went to Coco’s Kitchen, to have a piece of the best key lime pie in the Universe, which I told Rose Dell, co-owner with her mom, Coco, was saying something, because I was raised eating Manny and Isa’s key lime pie, which was to die for. Rose said she did not know of Manny and Isa. A woman sitting at the counter with her back to me said she had heard of Manny and Isa, and she turned to face me, and it was Alicia Putney, leader of La Resistance on No Name Key.

Alicia Putney

Shazam!!!

We talked some, and then Alicia left Coco’s to drive back to her home, and I left and drove back down to Little Torture Key, to get back to work on my reply to the fellow who sounded like he lived on No Name Key, but Alicia had told me she did not think so. His name is Howard Thurston, and here is what he wrote to me:

To keysmyhome@hotmail.com

In regards to your post today, a few comments:

1) As to your comments about the Newtons of No Name Key, how about adding to your post that you could not find any record of a sale of their No Name home. Had you or your source done that no such record would be found as they continue to own their home there. Like many No Name residents they’ve simply bought a second home. Just like your friend Ms. Putney supposedly owns. Sadly, as so often is the case with the small handful of folks that follow Ms. Putney, one side, the side that appears to make their point is shared publicly rather than the truth. What a lousy way to live one’s life, always hiding behind lies.

So, for the record, they bought a second home and moved a few of their items from this one here to that one. In fact, you ran into him when they were back in town for a spell on No Name, at the home they built with their own hands and continue to own.

2) Ms. Murphy’s ‘logic’ has always been flawed. She is very dear friends with Ms. Putney has is her right and as was again illustrated when she sat next to her friend for nearly 8 hours during a Planning Commission meeting related to the same family, the Newton’s, electrical permit. Not she’s entitled to her view but one would think (silly me) that as a public servant of the people (not just one person) that she would be open to helping a community majority wanting to protect the place. That’s never been her agenda. Nope, her’s is to carry forward her own singular thinking and her close friend’s desires, the hell with following the rules (the County did not when it tried to steal the No Namer’s right to power) or hearing what a majority have to say or think or want or need.

In Key Largo, where she’s from, I would guess that people buy and sell homes for many different reasons but most of those reasons are not evil. I am sure there are some No Namer’s that would love to end this lifelong, or nearly so, power discussion and get off that island forever given how painful the debate has long been and how it’s fractured what was a special place before Ms. Putney arrived and started telling everyone there how to live and portraying to the County that she spoke for everyone else (she does not). An equal or greater number of residents likely want to be left alone and stay on No Name forever so Murphy’s comment, like so much else she has to say, is a myth.

Property values up and down the coast, in our County and most others, went down at the height of the recession and have since started to rise. In some cases rather nicely. Never have I heard that people wanted power, or that having it even, would greatly increase the value of their homes. Increase the convenience, yes. Cut down on the generators and batteries and all of that, for sure. Why might the oldest residents on island want power after seeking it in some cases for 40 years? I mean you are an educated guy, right? Do the math. That’s 20 years before Ms. Putney showed up and started throwing her considerable weight around. They wanted it for the same reasons you do my friend, because it’s simple, generally, cost effective and reliable and saves them the diesel fuel bill and fumes and noise and batteries and god (and angels) knows what else.

The modern use of solar power is net solar metering. It’s the rage the world over. No one near a copper line talks batteries, what a waste that approach is and remains. These folks adapted (in some cases using golf cart batteries) given their love of the nature and lack of density, not because they fell in love with solar, per se. I will wager than most of those homes will connect their solar systems and in time net solar to the power grid. I sure hope that that is the case.

3) While I am at it, how about the ‘you knew what you were getting into’ non-sense. The oldest residents there have many letters and communications with/from City Electric and KEYS asking for power. The answers initially were that the community needed a few more homes before it could be installed and in the years that followed, before Ms. Putney, the communication became about money, large amounts of money ranging from $ 80,000 to $ 200,000 or so. 40. 30. 20+ years ago. And all the while, their deeds say nothing about their not being allowed utilities. No more so than would yours but they simply did not have the money to get what they requested all that time ago. SO those folks adapted but kept searching for a way to be treated fairly, just, I would guess, like you would.

At any rate, thank you for your kind consideration.

Howard

======================

I replied:

Hi, Howard – Thanks for writing, will publish yours tomorrow, and any further back and forth between us.

I called around, and the people I called said they had not heard of you having a home on NNK. So I suppose your interest in NNK is somewhat like mine, from a distance, but not entirely.

If you have kept up with my writings about NNK over the years, you know my tie to that key and its neighbor Big Pine Key began on NNK Bridge in January 1995, after I was sent by angels to Big Pine Key from Boulder, Colorado, where I then lived. I had no idea why I was sent there, but on the 7th day of that trip, on that bridge, facing the Atlantic ocean, I was overwhelmed by something colossal, my heart nearly jumped out of my chest, I burst into wracking sobs and hung onto the bridge railing for dear life, and I heard, “Because you love this place so much, you will be used to protect it.”

I had loved the Keys since I was 14, which was 1956. But that mostly was around Islamorada. However, in 1966, just a few hundred yards from NNK Bridge into Bogie Channel, toward the Gulf/backcountry, I had caught a large tarpon during spring break of my first year in law school. The first and last tarpon I would catch – too much hard work to suit me. I knew no one living in the Lower Keys then, nor in 1995.

People down here tend to forget why I am tied to No Name Key, even people who don’t want the island on the grid. The tie predates my knowing anyone living on NNK. It is a covenant between God and me, and I do not break covenants between God and me.

As for Jim Newton, I gave him full opportunity to explain himself to my readers, and he told me to take a hike. If, as reported, three trucks came to Jim’s NNK home to haul stuff away, he moved more than a little bit of stuff to his new home up in Edgewater, Florida. I bet that home has public power, public water and public sewage.

I know Sylvia Murphy Sylvia Murphy pretty well. Her position on NNK is pure Sylvia. You would know that, if you knew Sylvia.

There is no way, Alicia Putney, all by her lonesome, or with her husband Mick when he was alive, could had persuaded the County Commission to make No Name Key off limits to public power, water and sewage. That kind of power is wielded in the Keys by the Federal Government, Tallahassee and people who pay money behind closed doors to public officials.

I do not doubt that people living on NNK from back when were told by developers, Realtors, Keys Energy Services and Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority that eventually power and water would be run out there, and perhaps even sewer. However, Howard, none of those prophets spoke for Monroe County, and none of those prophets had sway over Monroe County’s Comprehensive Plan, which, like it or not, the County Commission legally has to honor, or legally change it to suit its changing tastes.

Of course, this is The Asteroid Belt which lives by laws of its own, many of which are not written down and routinely trump laws which are written down. A law I live by, which is not written down, is we are responsible for our own actions. I told Keys Energy Services Board of Directors at a NNK meeting maybe a year ago, perhaps you were there, that the reason I bought a home on Little Torch Key, instead of on NNK, was because I didn’t want to live off the grid at that time. In the next breath, I said I knew the people living on NNK wanted to live off the grid because they bought homes on NNK knowing it was off the grid. Res ipsa loquitur, the thing speaks for itself.

What I never hear from anyone living on NNK, who wants it on the grid, is they were promised by Monroe County that the island some day would be on the grid. What I also never hear from anyone living on NNK, who wants it on the grid, is they, alone, are the reason they bought or built a home out there. Nobody held a gun to their heads, so to speak, except themselves, or perhaps their spouses. That is Sylvia Murphy’s view, also. Maybe you should blame me, instead of Alicia, for swaying Sylvia. Or, maybe you should give Sylvia credit for being able to think for herself.

It is true, as you say, that batteries are not the cat’s meow, to toss in my metaphor. It also is true that tying into a grid powered by a coal-fired and/or nuclear power plant is not the cat’s meow either.

John Hammerstrom, whom I have seen is a straight shooter, built a state of the art solar home in Tavernier, which generates solar electricity using solar arrays. He told me that electricity he does not use in his home, he sells back to the electric company up there. He told me the most money he was paid back by that electric company in any one year was around $100. Sounded to me like John generated about half of his electricity, for day use, and bought the other half, for night use, from that coal and/or nuke powered electric company.

Looks to me that another way the NNK homeowners could go about it is to build a community solar array and all homeowners hook up to it and trade electricity back and forth. Homeowners who don’t live there full time, including Alicia when she goes away for a couple of months in the summer, give all of their solar generated and stored electricity to the homeowners living on the island at that time. Right, that will not eliminate batteries, but I bet it will eliminate generators, and it will avoid subsidizing a Key West electric company, which uses coal and/or nuclear produced electricity to send down to the Lower Keys.

Alicia and other NNK pro-gridders use cistern water for drinking and washing and so forth. Everyone on NNK could do that. All the NNK homes were built for that, and the Department of Health approved it. Despite what looked to me like mad dog frothing prevaricating pressure from Beth Ramsay-Vickrey and other NNK pro-grid people, the Department of Health has not agreed with them that cistern water is not safe to drink. In the old days, before the aqueduct, cistern water was all people in the Keys had to drink. Everyone living on NNK knew there was no public water out there when they bought a home out there.

I have been told by Alicia and other people living on NNK, that there are people living out there who generate enough electricity without generators to run AC even in the hottest months. When I visited in Alica and Mick’s home in 2006, which was when I met them both for the first time, they took me down to the first level of their home and showed me the year marks on a beam of when they had used their generator. The marks had stopped several years before. They had a large bank of batteries. They said they gave their used batteries to a place which recycled batteries. I have heard from several NNK people that some NNK families, who complain about not being able to run AC, are using golf cart batteries, instead of the kind batteries solar homes need to store electricity.

Earlier today I received a email which might be of interest, given the claims the pro-grid NNK community make of having the anti-gridders outnumbered 2-1. I am unable to copy and paste the attachment [from Lynne Tejeda, Keys Energy Services CEO] into this email, but what’s in the attachment backs up the note. I put the note into italics, to differentiate it from the rest of my reply to you:

Here is the list of 22 households who paid for the line extension to NNK. There are a total of 43 completed homes on NNK and one in progress, so essentially half of the homeowners paid for commercial power, not the 70% they have claimed all along. KEYS was paid $650,000 for the line extension. $650,000 divided by the 22 houses that paid equals $29,545.45 each. A couple who recently purchased on No Name Key just installed a 5 KW solar system. They will be able to have central air conditioning from their solar-produced electricity, without the use of a generator. The components they purchased were all top-of-the-line. The total cost to them, including the incentives that are available now, was approximately $21,000.00. They will not have a monthly bill from KEYS.

There is another colossal elephant lurking in this living room, which doesn’t get much mention. No one involved in the NNK fracas can look in a mirror and honestly say putting No Name Key on the grid will not lead to more development out there. Of course it will lead to more development out there.

Instead of becoming just another Keys community, NNK could become a model green community for people all over the globe to study and copy. For that to happen, even the anti-gridders out there need to go more green than they already are, including converting their toilets and septic tanks to compost toilets. I prefer the electric variety, which burns poop to sterile ash, which can be spread on a garden. I spoke with a solar home designer in Marathon, who said he had that kind of compost toilet in his home, and Monroe County had approved it.

If I ever have the money to do it, I will build a home where I live now, which is totally off the grid. I have a ROGO letter from Monroe County saying, with proper permitting and inspections, this trailer can be torn down and a home built here.

I did not turn on the AC once last year, to see if I could do without it. I did without it.

Sloan

growing greener every day

Keys Energy Services hype – the only thing I see growing greener about Keys Energy Services is its bank account.

I cannot imagine how anyone who reads this post today cannot see the hand of God at work in yesterday’s events which became this post. However, I can imagine lots of people who read this post pretending they don’t see it. I’m pretty sure twenty families of them live on No Name Key.

Sloan Bashinsky

keysmyhome@hotmail.com

About Sloan

That's what this website is about, also goodmorningkeywest.com and goodmorningbirmingham.com. If you can't get a publisher to take on your wacky musing, you do it yourself.
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