Key West

Politics
12:40 pm
Tue September 30, 2014

Congressional Candidates Trade Jabs In Key West

U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, left, traded sharp words with his Republican challenger Carlos Curbelo, right, at Monday's debate in Key West.
Credit Nancy Klingener / WLRN

The contest for Florida’s 26th congressional district is close, and the race is getting national attention. But when Democratic incumbent Congressman Joe Garcia debated Republican challenger Carlos Curbelo Monday, it was a small town affair. 

U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia and Miami-Dade County School Board member Carlos Curbelo disagree on a lot of issues. And they fundamentally disagree on whether the public should invest in government – or cut it back. But their sharpest words at Monday’s debate were over character.

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Keys Blog
12:45 am
Wed September 24, 2014

For Whom The Air Cools: Ernest Hemingway's Key West Home To Get AC

Soon-to-be-cool cat: The Ernest Hemingway Home in Key West has been approved for air conditioning, 163 years after it was built. The museum's famous cats still have to live outside.
Credit Monroe County Tourist Development Council

The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum is already hugely popular with visitors -- but soon they'll be able to stroll through the writer's Key West home in more comfort, especially during the sweltering subtropical summer.

The house, built in 1851, is now set to have air conditioning installed for the first time. At the moment, stand-up fans offer the only relief.

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Arts
3:22 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

Exhibit Celebrates Key West Hand Print Fabrics

Suzie dePoo's colorful fabrics for Key West Hand Print caught the eye of Lilly Pulitzer, whose resort wear was popular with socialites.
Credit Key West Art & Historical Society

In 1961, two New Yorkers who had worked in the theater moved to Key West and opened a screenprint fabric shop.

In short order they met two women who assured their success. One was Lilly Pulitzer, the Palm Beach socialite who had started selling brightly colored garments a few years before. The other was a Key West resident named Agnez Zuzek dePoo, better known as Suzie.

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Privacy
3:35 pm
Tue September 9, 2014

Key West Official Worried About Camera Drones During Fantasy Fest

Using unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, to capture images could soon be regulated in Key West.
Credit Vivid Aerial Media

While the FAA wrestles with regulating the use of camera-equipped drones, Key West City Commissioner Jimmy Weekley says the Southernmost City has a special reason to act fast: Fantasy Fest.

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Swimming
6:51 pm
Thu August 28, 2014

Diana Nyad Celebrates Historic Swim One Year Later

Diana Nyad says she was in a physical, mental and emotional daze as she stepped ashore in Key West, one year ago on Labor Day.
Credit Andy Newman / Florida Keys News Bureau

    

One year after her historic swim from Cuba to Key West, Diana Nyad is returning to both islands to celebrate.

When Nyad reached the beach in Key West last year, she says she was in a physical, mental and emotional daze. She didn't even have a chance to thank her team.

"I was just whisked off," Nyad said. "This is my chance, Monday in that very place, to say [thank you] to them directly, and cry with them."

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Keys Election Results
9:27 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

Cates Wins Fourth Term As Key West Mayor

Key West Mayor Craig Cates is congratulated Tuesday night after he won re-election for a fourth term.
Credit Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Key West Mayor Craig Cates won a fourth and final term as mayor of the southernmost city Tuesday, defeating Margaret Romero for a third time and taking 53 percent of the votes in the three-person race. Romero won 44 percent while perennial candidate Sloan Bashinsky took just over 2 percent.

"I'm just a happy camper right now," Cates said. "Everybody that came out and supported me, four elections in a row -- it's an overwhelming feeling."

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News
6:02 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

Same-Sex Couples Still Will Not Marry In The Keys

Plaintiffs Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones.
Credit Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Wedding bells are not ringing yet for same-sex couples in Monroe County.

Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones had hoped to apply for a marriage license on Tuesday after last week Monroe Circuit Judge Luis Garcia ruled in their favor seeking the right to marry. But State Attorney General Pam Bondi immediately appealed Garcia’s decision, automatically putting the process on hold.

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Marriage Equality
12:51 am
Fri July 18, 2014

Despite Key West's Gay-Friendly History, Gay Marriage Took This Long

John Huntsman, left, William Lee Jones, center, celebrate at a party in Key West. Doug Mayberry, right, was one of the organizers.
Credit Credit Nancy Klingener / WLRN

  It only took a few hours for the state Attorney General’s office to appeal Thursday’s Monroe County ruling declaring Florida’s ban on same sex marriage unconstitutional. The appeal means any marriage licenses for gay couples are put on hold.

But Key Westers have been celebrating the decision anyway, calling it a milestone for the island city.

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News
1:22 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Attorney General Files Notice Of Appeal In Monroe County Gay Marriage Approval

Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones at home with their dogs Riddick and Kira.
Credit Kenne Tucker / Facebook

Monroe Circuit Judge Luis Garcia declared Florida's ban on gay marriage unconstitutional Thursday afternoon. He ruled in favor of Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones, a same-sex couple seeking to marry -- but they will only be allowed to do so after Tuesday, July 22.

Later on Thursday afternoon, the office of Attorney General Pam Bondi filed a notice of appeal against Judge Garcia's decision.

The judge compared the gay-marriage ban to earlier laws that prevented women from voting, banned interracial marriages and imprisoned Japanese Americans during World War II.

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Southernmost Housing
5:32 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Some Homes May Be Too Old For Key West's Old Town

This home at 904 Emma St. is owned by the Key West Housing Authority.
Credit Nancy Klingener / WLRN

You can’t just tear down a house in Key West’s Historic District. Even if it’s in pretty bad shape. That’s why people were so surprised when the city -- which normally enforces the preservation rules -- came up with a list of five houses in Old Town that could be torn down.

One of those houses “looks like it’s sitting on limestone piers which are not anchored on anything , so the building’s sitting here unsecured,” says Ron Wampler, the city’s chief building official.

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LGBT Rights
5:31 pm
Mon July 7, 2014

Monroe County Court Hears Arguments In Gay Marriage Case

William Jones, left, and Aaron Huntsman, right, are plaintiffs in the lawsuit and are seeking to marry in Florida. They are both bartenders in Key West and have been together for 11 years.
Credit Nancy Klingener / WLRN

In 2008, Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment that defined marriage as being between one man and one woman. In recent months, gay couples wishing to marry have challenged that provision in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.

Today on Plantation Key, a Monroe Circuit judge heard arguments in a case brought by two Key West men. Aaron Huntsman and William Jones have been together for 11 years and had a commitment ceremony 10 years ago. But Huntsman said they want to make it official.

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Books
9:46 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

David Kaufelt, Founder Of Key West Literary Seminar, Dies At 74

(Note: Mark Hedden's wife is on the board of the Key West Literary Seminar.)

David Kaufelt died Saturday at home in Key West.

He and his wife Lynn arrived from New York four decades ago. David was a writer and wanted to be surrounded by more writers. Several others already made the island their home, but Kaufelt had an idea to make Key West into a true literary destination, not just for people interested in the legacies of Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams, but for living, breathing writers too. 

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Arts
6:38 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

Key West Reconnects With Its Cuban Roots Via Art Exchange

Credit Christine Armario / AP

Sandra Ramos has never wanted to emigrate from Cuba, but in her more than four decades on the island, she has seen many people leave.

Their absence resonates throughout her work. The image of her as a 10-year-old is plastered behind a wall of palm trees, trapped on the island. In another piece, her school girl's body lies across a gaping space in the middle of a bridge, trying to connect two separate lands.

"It's a perspective on immigration from those who stay," Ramos said.

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If I Were Mayor
3:23 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

Key West Mayor Craig Cates Responds To Your Ideas

Credit Courtesy of Craig Cates

Our final If I Were Mayor interview was with Key West Mayor Craig Cates.

Mayor Cates is a 4th generation Key West resident and has been the mayor of Key West since 2009. Though he got his second term with 70 percent of the vote, in 2013 he garnered only 54 percent, a difference he attributes to his approval of a controversial dredging study and his support for a 24/7 homeless shelter

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And Crime Writers Weigh In
1:00 pm
Mon February 17, 2014

In Key West, Graveyard Thief Flouts Police, Becomes Celebrity

An image capture from security footage of the Key West Graveyard Thief.
Credit John Martini

Over the last year, the small, two-house compound in Old Town Key West where John Martini lives has been robbed at least four times.

“We've kind of lost count, as a matter of fact,” he said. “The first time or two, maybe he hit us and we didn't even know ... because he only stole cash, and he stole it out of our wallets and put our wallets back in the same place.”

Once Martini realized they were being robbed, he installed locks on his doors, something he hadn't done since he moved in in 1978. When the compound was robbed again, they installed a security-camera system.

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