Key West

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Key West Police: Don't Share This Ride

Dec 31, 2014
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.

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.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Gay couples who want to marry in Florida were delighted with Friday's ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court. The court left a federal judge's ruling in place, declaring the state's gay marriage ban unconstitutional. While couples hope they can tie the knot early in the new year, the legal situation remains unclear.

Copyright by Judy Blume and used only with her written permission. Not to be further reproduced or distributed except with her permission.

When I was in elementary school, I wrote an "autobiography" called "I Want to Be Like Judy." It had a pink construction paper cover and came in second in the school library contest. I never imagined that  30-something years later, Judy would say to me, "Let's take a selfie!" (See our virtual tour - link below.) I loved all her books, but "Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself" was one of my very favorites. I read it over and over. Ten times? Fifteen?  

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