Key West

City of Key West

For years tourists have flocked to take photos at Key West's Southernmost Point Marker.

That came to a halt when the concrete buoy was damaged during Hurricane Irma. But the buoy is photo-ready again.

The Florida Keys News Bureau reports that the City of Key West hired Danny Acosta, the original artist, and artist Henry DelValle to repaint the graphics on the Florida Key's most photographed tourism icon.

The colorful marker represents the southernmost point of land in the continental United States.

Darrick Akey

After Hurricane Irma, the iconic "Welcome to Key West" sign that greets drivers who reach the Southernmost city via US 1 mysteriously disappeared.

It was reportedly spotted on the ground right after the storm — but then was gone.

Thursday morning, a couple showed up at the Key West Express ferry docks in Fort Myers, wanting to ship cargo to the island, according to a post on the ferry's Facebook page.

The ferry company agreed to take it back home where it arrived on Thursday, greeted by Key West police officers.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

In some parts of the Keys, people are still salvaging what they can of their belongings, or figuring out where they will live.

In Key West, local and state leaders gathered Wednesday to send one message: they are open for business.

"Restaurants are open. Hotels are open. Every tourist in the country, in the world, needs to come back to Key West and the Florida Keys," said Gov. Rick Scott.

He spoke at an oceanfront hotel flanked by Key West officials and tourism promoters who were carrying conch shells and waving Conch Republic flags.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

The cafeteria at Horace O'Bryant School in Key West was once again a cacophony of voices  Wednesday as students at the elementary and middle school returned to their classrooms for the first time since Hurricane Irma.

Out front, Principal Christina McPherson was greeting students and the parents dropping them off.

"We're welcoming back 1,100 students into the building, and we're anxious to start the day and get everybody back to a new normal," McPherson said.

She said the full student body was returning — along with a few additions.

Hurricane Irma forced hundreds of thousands of Floridians from their homes, including residents at military bases. Key West and Jacksonville saw some of the worst effects of the storm, and are also home to major military installations. But now the bases are returning to normal.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Key West has seen a lot of hurricanes over the years — but the island itself hasn't had a direct hit since 1919 (though there were a couple of near misses, with Hurricane Georges moving across the Lower Keys in 1998 and Wilma swamping the island from the west in 2005).

Some islanders attribute that string to the supernatural - the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto.

Dedicated in 1922 by the Catholic community in the Keys to honor Sister Louis Gabriel, the grotto is located next to what is now the Basilica of St. Mary Star of the Sea. 

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Monroe County announced this week plans to reconfigure a dog park in Key West believed to be above the graves of Africans who were rescued from the slave trade in 1860.

The dog playground is across the street from an area already recognized as a burial yard.

While slavery was still legal in the U.S. in 1860, importing them was outlawed in 1807.

“But people kept doing it, especially Americans,” said Corey Malcom, director of archaeology for the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in Key West.

You may have heard of feral cats, but have you heard of feral chickens? Feral chickens are now the subject of evolutionary research. And the ones in Tampa's Ybor City and Key West are perfect fodder to study. 


Mark Hedden

Key West's Navy presence is more in the air than on the sea. But the Navy still has a pier on the island's waterfront and Navy ships sometimes pull in there.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

About 20 people gathered on the steps of Key West City Hall Thursday afternoon to protest President Donald Trump's declaration that transgender people would no longer be allowed to serve in the military.

Mark Ebenhoch organized the protest. He spent 23 years in the Marines and he said local elected officials should take a public stand.

"You need to speak out and say, 'It's wrong.' Whether or not you voted for Trump makes no difference," Ebenhoch said. "It is wrong, period, and you need to say so. Because silence basically is condonement."

FWC

A Texas woman was arrested in Key West Friday, after an officer from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission found her with three plastic containers holding 40 queen conch.

The mollusk — the symbol of the Florida Keys — is protected and cannot be taken from the water in Florida.

Most of the animals were still alive and were returned to the water.

When President Donald Trump came to Little Havana to announce revisions to the United States policy toward Cuba travel, he never mentioned Key West by name. But the Southernmost City was in the speech.

Monroe County Sheriff's Office

Two body camera videos from the same Monroe County sheriff's sergeant recently garnered national attention. In the Keys, they have ignited a conversation about how undocumented immigrants may face differing approaches to enforcement on the same island.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Commissioners in Miami-Dade County and the city of Key West have voted to endorse  the Paris Climate Accord, despite President Donald Trump withdrawing the U.S. from the international agreement to cut carbon emissions earlier this month.

Rob O'Neal / Florida Keys News Bureau

Updated June 26: 

At its June 20 meeting, the Key West City Commission voted 5-2 to approve an agreement with Phil Peterson's Key West Poker Run that provides for the city to close off part of Duval Street and the organization to pay for police and fire services during the event.

Every year, an estimated 10,000 motorcycles rumble down the Overseas Highway from Miami to Key West during the third weekend of September in the annual Phil Peterson's Poker Run.

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