Key West

Scott Fraser / City of Key West

When it comes to sea level rise, Key West is pretty much as vulnerable as it gets. The island's average elevation is less than five feet above sea level. A tide gauge at Key West Harbor tracks the steady rise of the sea over the last century.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

  The lack of new film incentives in Florida hasn't stopped one movie production from shooting some of its scenes in the state.

"The Leisure Seeker," starring Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland, is set to shoot for several days in the keys later this month.

On Thursday, a casting call for extras drew Key Westers needed to play medical personnel, a wedding party and tourists.

There was no call for a parrot, but Mango was there anyway with her owners, Thane and Tami Gilliam.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

  Key West has a great restaurant scene — but people who live on the island know that to get true local delicacies you have to get inside someone's kitchen. Preferably someone who was born in the Keys, or a Conch in local parlance.

Someone like Martin Liz. He was born and raised on the island and he knows how to handle a conch filet.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

  When Cuban migrants cross the Florida Straits and arrive on U.S. shores in homemade vessels, it's news for a day or two. Now, for a museum in Key West, it is also history.

The Mel Fisher Maritime Museum has created a permanent exhibit featuring the Mariana. The boat came ashore on Smathers Beach in Key West in August of last year.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

  When Patty Tiffany leads tours of the Key West Cemetery for the Historic Florida Keys Foundation, there's one gravestone that gets a lot more attention than the elaborate grave sites and mausoleums at the cemetery, which dates back to the middle of the 19th century.

That would be the grave of B.P. "Pearl" Roberts. It's a simple stone with a famous inscription: "I Told You I Was Sick."

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

  Tourists lining up for photos at the Southernmost Point in Key West Wednesday morning had an unusual backdrop for their photos - a dive boat that brought six Cuban migrants to the U.S.

Archives from a webcam appear to show the boat arriving around 12:45 a.m. Wednesday. According to the Key West Police Department, the group included three men and three women.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

  Denyse Woods has published five novels that have been translated into six languages.

But she said she was still surprised — and elated — when she learned that she had won the first Florida Keys Flash Fiction contest. Especially when she read the praise for her story from contest judge Karen Russell, author of "Swamplandia."

"I had to lie down for a few minutes," Woods said. "When somebody like that writes about your work in that way ... You need to take three deep breaths and pinch yourself. A lot."

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Key West is ideal in many ways for biking — it's small, flat and warm year-round. But the island also faces challenges, with high accident rates for bicycles and pedestrians.

Chris Hamilton, the city's bicycle/pedestrian coordinator, is working to make the streets safer and encourage more people to get out of their cars and get around Key West by foot, bike or public transit. 

Key West Wildlife Center

  Least terns are having a banner breeding year in Key West.

That's good news — the seabirds are listed as threatened by the state of Florida.

But it also means more young birds are falling from the rooftops where many least terns nest.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

  A movement to make new structures in Key West's historic district more compatible with older buildings has led to the re-writing of the city's rules.

On Tuesday, the Key West City Commission will consider the new rules for the Historic Architectural Review Commission, which must approve all building in the historic district known as Old Town. HARC reviews everything from the color of paint on window shutters to the design of new buildings.

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  Attorneys for Harlem Suarez, the 24-year-old Key West man arrested last year on a charge of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, are seeking to delay his trial after the shootings at an Orlando nightclub.

  Suarez was arrested last year after federal agents said he made a recruitment video for the Islamic State. Suarez bought materials and worked with an undercover agent to make a bomb that was planned to go off on a beach or under a police car, according to the arrest affidavit.

Monroe County Public Library

  The Monroe County Public Library system has five branches that are spread across 100 miles, from Key Largo to Key West.

But the library's collection has traveled much much farther. It can go anywhere with an internet connection.

  In 2007, the library started posting images from its history collection online, on the photo-sharing site Flickr. Recently, that site surpassed 16 million views.

Carol Tedesco / Key West Art & Historical Society

  On Michael Gieda's first day at work with the Key West Art & Historical Society, he checked out one of the society's three museums, Fort East Martello.

There he found a couple of local artists working on some pieces that had been in the society's collection for almost 30 years.

  "I remember walking up to the second floor of the citadel where all these pieces were being treated and just being utterly and completely blown away by this collection of sculpture," Gieda said.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

  Six small catamarans lined up on the beach in Key West at sunrise Tuesday, heading into 17 mph winds to cross the Straits of Florida.

  It was the second edition of the Havana Challenge, where sailors from Key West ventured into the Gulf Stream to visit Cuba.

In last year's race, one boat sank, one broke apart and three others limped into the harbor. Rio O'Bryan was hoping for better luck this year.

"We sank on the way over last year, so we're trying to make it all the way this time," he said.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz was acquitted Wednesday in Key West of a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol.

Diaz was arrested last September after Key WestpPolice officers clocked him going 74 mph on his motorcycle on a road with a 30 mph speed limit.

Officers pulled over Diaz and had him perform field sobriety exercises that were captured on body and dashboard cameras. Diaz refused a breathalyzer test.

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