Key West

Sunshine Economy
5:18 pm
Mon April 13, 2015

Flying From Key West To Cuba And Back

Air Key West owner and pilot Rob Valle stands in front of his Britten-Norman Islander. The 10-seat plane flies weekly from Key West to Havana and back on Fridays.
Credit Tom Hudson

  Rob Valle used to fly fighter jets for the U.S. Navy. Now he flies charter flights for his company Air Key West. Since late March that has included a weekly scheduled flight from Key West International Airport to Havana. He fits nine passengers, including one in the co-pilot seat next to him. They pay $525 for the round-trip flight.

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Arts
3:21 pm
Thu March 12, 2015

Key West Reclaims Its Tennessee Williams Literary Legacy

Key West's literary heritage is overwhelmingly associated with one writer: Ernest Hemingway. The Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winner's former home is a popular museum. And every summer there's a look-alike contest where white-bearded men compete to look like Papa.

But recently, the island has turned to celebrating another 20th-century writer who made Key West his home: Tennessee Williams. 

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Sports
4:21 pm
Mon March 2, 2015

Is Key West Race Week Sailing Into The Sunset?

Bella Mente, skippered by Hap Fauth, sails to an overall IRC 1 class victory at this year's Quantum Race Week in Key West.
Credit Ken Stanek / Florida Keys News Service

Since 1987, Key West has hosted the international sail racing world each January. Quantum Race Week fills thousands of hotel rooms and provides footage that is shown all over the globe.

But the regatta's future is in question with the announcement Monday from Premiere Racing, the event's owner and organizer, that it is stepping aside.

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Keys Hotels
6:56 am
Thu February 26, 2015

Keys Adding Hotel Rooms To Booming Industry

Tom Whitney is the general manager of The Marker Resort, which opened last December in the Key West Historic Seaport.
Credit Nancy Klingener / WLRN

The Florida Keys have been under a moratorium on new hotel rooms for decades. But the islands are seeing a flood of new properties open, mostly through renovations and conversions.

In all, about 1,000 new rooms are being added or coming back on line after being closed for renovation and rebuilding. The Keys have a total of 15,000 lodging units, which includes hotel rooms, RV spots and short-term vacation rentals.

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Culture
10:04 pm
Wed February 18, 2015

Diana Nyad Returns To Key West With One-Woman Stage Show

Diana Nyad became the first person to swim across the Florida Straits, from Cuba to Key West. Now she's returned to Key West for the debut of her one-woman stage show, "Onward!"
Credit Walt Michot / Miami Herald

Diana Nyad’s most famous journey, her swim across the Florida Straits, started in Havana and ended in Key West. Her newest project – a one-woman stage show – is starting out on the island. 

The distance swimmer made international headlines when she came ashore in Key West on Labor Day 2013. It was her fifth attempt at the crossing. She was 64 years old.

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Crime
4:30 pm
Mon February 9, 2015

Still Murder-Free, Key West Saw Crime Fall In 2014

The Monroe County Sheriff's Office provides local law enforcement for the Florida Keys outside of Key West.
Credit Nancy Klingener / WLRN

 While the Florida Keys may provide a fertile setting for crime fiction by the likes of Carl Hiaasen and James W. Hall, in reality the islands are getting safer, according to statistics from local law enforcement agencies.

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News
4:17 pm
Wed February 4, 2015

Key West Chooses Site For Homeless Shelter

After months of contentious debate, the Key West City Commission decided 4-3 that the city-owned property formerly used by Easter Seals should be the site of a new homeless shelter.
Credit Nancy Klingener / WLRN

After months of contentious debate and a 4-3 vote, the Key West city commission made a decision Tuesday night on a site for a new homeless shelter.

The site chosen was the same one recommended months ago by city staff. Last October, the commission deadlocked 3-3 on a decision to move there and told staff to explore opening a shelter at the city's transportation building on Palm Avenue.

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News
3:36 pm
Wed February 4, 2015

Keys Animal Shelter Looks To Go High And Dry

Tammy Fox, director of the Florida Keys SPCA, visits one of the dogs in one of the shelter's 11 play yards.
Credit Nancy Klingener / WLRN

The animal shelter run by the Florida Keys SPCA provides outdoor play areas for the dogs and cats in its care, runs spay-neuter clinics and generally tries to keep up with current approaches in humane treatment of animals. But it's a matter of making do in old quarters.

There are play yards so the dogs spend at least four hours a day outside. The cats have colonies with access to covered areas outside. But none of that is much help when the Keys get heavy rain, a common occurrence during subtropical summers.

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Park fees
10:20 am
Tue January 20, 2015

Key West Aims to Make Commercial Users Pay for Parks

Many couples choose the scenic location of Key West's Smathers Beach for their weddings. The venue is free, but that may change soon.

For now, if you want to get married on Key West’s Smathers Beach - a two-mile stretch along the Atlantic - all you have to do is show up.

Soon that may change. The city government is working on new guidelines that will require a license and proof of insurance for those who conduct business on the city’s beaches and in its parks.

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Books
3:39 pm
Mon January 12, 2015

Key West's Literary Community Mourns Robert Stone

Robert Stone
Credit Phyllis Rose

Key West’s literary community was already gathered over the weekend for the annual Literary Seminar when they learned they had lost one of their own. Novelist Robert Stone died Saturday in Key West. He was 77.

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History
7:09 am
Wed January 7, 2015

When Key West Was Cuban

Key West Cigars box label
DeWolfe and Wood Collection Monroe County Public Library

 In the '60s, '70s and '80s, waves of Cuban immigrants crossed the Florida Straits, seeking political freedom and economic opportunity. Soon they were starting their own businesses and winning political office, infusing Cuban culture into the DNA of a South Florida city.

The city was Key West. And this was the 1860s, '70s and '80s.

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News
8:36 am
Tue January 6, 2015

Florida Keys' First Gay Marriage Becomes Public Celebration

Aaron Hunstman and William Lee Jones were the first gay couple to receive a marriage license and wed in Key West.
Credit Carol Tedesco / Florida Keys News Service

At 12:18 a.m. Tuesday, the two men who won the first ruling overturning Florida's ban on gay marriage became the first gay couple to get married in Monroe County.

Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones exchanged vows in front of 500 people — including close friends, attorneys, total strangers, TV crews and a few tourists.

The Rev. Steve Torrance, a chaplain with the Key West Police Department and minister with the Metropolitan Community Church declared them legally married, and the couple was greeted with cheers, applause and the sound of a conch shell.

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Gay Marriage
10:29 pm
Thu January 1, 2015

Key Westers Celebrate Gay Marriage Clarification

Aaron Huntsman and William Jones, plaintiffs in a case challenging Florida's ban on gay marriage, rode a giant wedding cake down Duval Street as grand marshals of the 2014 Fantasy Fest parade. Next week, they plan to get married for real.
Credit Andy Newman / Florida Keys News Service

William Jones was about to head to work at the 801 Bourbon Bar on New Year's Day in Key West when he heard the news: A federal judge had clarified his order, clearing the way for Florida to start issuing marriage licenses to to gay couples.

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Uber
5:20 pm
Wed December 31, 2014

Key West Police: Don't Share This Ride

The ride-sharing service Uber has recently expanded into Florida. Key West police targeted Uber drivers in an undercover operation.
Credit Graphic by Uber. Color darkened by WLRN for clarity.

Key West police detectives recently conducted an undercover sting operation they called "Operation Safe Hire" targeting Uber drivers. Two drivers were cited with violating city ordinances that require drivers of vehicle for hire to have a permit from the city and for the vehicles themselves to have a special license.

The maximum penalty for each violation is a fine of up to $500 and up to 60 days in jail.

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Dachshund Walk
4:57 pm
Wed December 31, 2014

Little Dogs Make Big Splash In Annual Key West New Year's Parade

Chip the chihuahua declares his right to be at the event.
Credit Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Key Westers and their canine companions, more specifically ones of the short-legged variety, took to the streets Wednesday for the island's 10th annual Dachshund Walk. This year an estimated 175 dachshunds took part, along with 75 dogs of other breeds, including a chihuahua flash mob.

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