Help us preserve Islamorada
Getting to know GREGORY ORAVEC
Greg Oravec has an audacious plan. Recognizing a village manager’s to-do list has to come from the council, Oravec said his main goal is to help Islamorada be the best community it can be and he hopes that serving as our community manager will last for the next 20 years.
Coming to us from Port St. Lucie where he will be sorely missed as mayor and past city manager, through a resignation letter Oravec anticipates he will request his last day as mayor to be June 30 (with about a year left on his term) so he can be Islamorada’s new manager July 1. The rest of 2021 in Islamorada will serve as a “listening tour. He plans to be active in the community doing walks, clean-ups and appearing at breakfasts to further enhance his interaction with residents. In fact, he is aware that the community of Venetian Shores has a community clean-up scheduled and he plans to participate. “I want to meet with everyone who wants to meet with me,” he said.
Oravec is in town (June 8) actively house-seeking. He may rent for the near term, as his entire family will not join him full-time until summer of next year. He is in the situation of having a high school senior who recently starred as “Paulette” in the musical “Legally Blonde” at the Lincoln Park Academy. Kaitlyn, 17 (“going on 25”), “was amazing,” he said. His youngest child wants to finish her high school years at that same school. Born in Stuart, Fla., just over the border from Port St. Lucie, Kaitlyn also acted in “Fools,” a comic fable by Neil Simon.
Wife Tonia is a bookkeeper for the St Lucie County School District at a local middle school right down the street from the family’s house in PSL. She’ll remain there with Kaitlin for the school year.
Oravec said Kaitlyn’s musical talent did not come from him. He said, while his dad plays the bass, he personally has no music talent, quoting “Know thyself.” Oravec was born in New Port Richey in Pasco County and grew up in Tampa. His parents divorced while he was in middle school. His mom worked three jobs; his father worked in cabinetry and millwork and also was a musician. Greg said he was a serious kid and trustworthy, and he recalled his parents sent him on a Greyhound Bus to Key West to stay with his father and his band during a gig at Durty Harry’s.
Along with Kaitlyn are three sons. Oravec has a stepson Aric, 26, who’s an anesthesiologist technician in Tampa; Alex, 20, who is studying criminology at University of South Florida (USF) in Tampa in anticipation of a law enforcement career; and Christian, 19, who is at USF studying business. Aric is applying at Keys hospitals in the hopes of joining his stepfather and Alex in the Florida Keys as soon as possible.
The entire Oravec family loves the Keys and enjoyed month-long summer vacations here for years, usually renting the same home on Pelican Road at MM 90.5 on Plantation Key.
The Oravecs also have two dogs. Alex's dog is Lenny (left) a mixed-breed SPCA rescue dog, who weighs 55 pounds, and Greg’s dog is Duncan Doodle, the Pound Poodle. (Bet you can’t say that without smiling).
Oravec has mentioned several times he is straightforward. Born Dec. 4, Sagittarians are known for that. Sags rarely sugarcoat things; they just get to the point. Thus, negotiating his employment contract with the equally straightforward David Webb, councilman, whom Oravec called “highly intelligent,” Oravec was pleased that contract negotiations were accomplished in two days, with some subsequent contract wordsmithing occurring with village staff over the following days. Oravec did not want to spill the beans regarding the contract terms, believing no good comes from the public learning things before the council itself knows them. “Treat people the way you want to be treated,” he said.
Oravec said since being asked to serve as Islamorada’s manager, his phone has rang more than ever… even more than in 2014 when he was first elected as Port St. Lucie's mayor. He said many Port St. Lucie residents were watching the June 2 Islamorada broadcast of the manager selection process when Oravec "killed it" in his speech to council as to why he should be chosen: his qualifications and the vision for the village. The council vote was unanimous. He promised to “work hard, smart and together.” Oravec said he was grateful he was chosen.
In Port St. Lucie, Oravec hosted “coffee with the mayor” chats, aimed to keep PSL “safe, clean and green” with community clean-ups and participated in Adopt-a-Street, with his family in charge of the street they lived on. He said garbage “grabbers and gloves” stay in his vehicle, ready for use at any given time. Opportunities for community interaction such as Alzheimers or breast cancer awareness walks also saw him walking the walk, and talkin’ the talk! He’ll participate in similar activities here.
In Islamorada, our manager-to-be recognizes there are many intelligent, passionate and committed residents in the village who want to make a positive difference in the community. He suspects he’ll enjoy a “honeymoon period” and hopes that same phase can continue by his ability to “lower the temperature in the room,” where there is less animosity and more working together. His plan is for Islamorada to create a vision and a plan for a better tomorrow.
Knowing us as we (residents) know us, how’s Greg going to keep his sanity in this community?! He works out, thankfully. Although he began working out faithfully as a freshman or sophomore in college, during Covid, when the gyms closed, he found he wasn’t eating well and wasn’t happy about that. So, he committed on a particular day to weigh himself and begin a particular journey… “to go as hard as he could” and be in the best shape he could be in as a 46-year-old. He lost 80 pounds! He started counting calories and accountability was his mantra. To maintain his 32-inch waist, he has joined Froggie’s Gym in Tavernier.
Meanwhile, the avid surfer who hasn’t surfed in a while heard rumor that local Keys surfers may know when there is a “reef break” for surfing. Let Oravec know about that special time, please!
Locals also may be able to find him at Island Community Church on Sundays, mentioning Rev. Tony Hammond as inspiration.
As is evident, Oravec already knows our community well. He is going to be huge asset, and if all goes well, and we, villagers, do not run him off before he enables our community to achieve great things and be the best community we can be – to quote him – he may fulfill his goal of serving us for the next two decades. Let’s make that happen.