Nancy Klingener

Nancy Klingener covers the Florida Keys for WLRN. Since moving to South Florida in 1989, she has worked for the Miami HeraldSolares Hill newspaper and the Monroe County Public Library.

She is a Spring 2014 graduate of the Transom Story Workshop. She is on the board of the Key West Literary Seminar and reviews books for the Miami Herald

A U.S. Navy jet crashed on approach to the Naval Air Station Key West airfield at Boca Chica Key Wednesday afternoon, killing both aviators.

The F/A-18F Super Hornet was on final approach to the runway at the airfield. The crew, based at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia, was in Key West on a training mission.

Rescue crews found the pilot and weapons system officer in the water about a mile east of the runway and took them to Lower Keys Medical Center. They were both declared dead, according to a statement from the Navy.

Key West voters Tuesday approved raising the height limit from 25 to 40 feet of habitable space on a 2.62-acre parcel of city-owned property.

The goal is to provide 104 units of affordable workforce housing.

The land is on Stock Island, the island just east of Key West, but is within the incorporated city limits. The land was formerly used by an Easter Seals therapy center and includes the Lower Keys offices of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, which is moving out.

When Hurricane Irma crossed the Florida Keys six months ago, the Upper Keys village of Islamorada was 50 miles from the eye, which held the storm's strongest winds.

Billy Ryan visits Roy's Trailer Park on Florida's Stock Island every two months. It's part of his regular rounds as an inspector for the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District.

"Hey, I'm just checking on the yards for the mosquito control," he tells one resident, Marie Baptiste, as he heads into her yard. "OK?" No problem, she tells him.

  A federal appeals court has ruled in favor of a tattoo parlor owner and against the city of Key West's attempt to block a new tattoo business from opening in the city's historic district.

The U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that tattoos and tattooing are artistic expression, protected under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Key West's lighthouse was decommissioned back in 1969. But it recently got a thorough restoration, from the railings around the top to the paint on the sides.

  Officials from the lighthouse's current stewards, the Key West Art & Historical Society, weren't sure what to expect when they hired a restoration firm that specializes in old lighthouses. They thought maybe the firm would set up a giant scaffold around the 86-foot tower.

  It's been 80 years since you could travel the Florida Keys by rail. But Monroe County wants to look into bringing it back, as a monorail or light rail system.

The Monroe County Commission Tuesday approved a resolution asking the state Department of Transportation to to conduct a feasibility study on the project.

Florida Keys Community College, the only post-secondary education institution based in the island chain, is adding two new associate's degree programs, in Hospitality and Ecotourism Management and in Culinary Management.

The goal is to prepare students to work in the area's dominant industry: tourism — and take advantage of that industry for internships and expertise.  

Getting to a trauma center quickly can be critical, and in the Florida Keys, there are no trauma centers.

That leaves you the option of being airlifted out.   And that can cost you nothing -- or tens of thousands of dollars. 

But Monroe County is trying to make sure patients have the chance to choose that first financial option. 

  Eighty years ago, hurricanes weren't given human names. So the storm that devastated the Upper Keys in 1935 is known simply by the day it swept across Islamorada: the Labor Day Hurricane.

Islamorada in 1935 was a small village of a few hundred people, scraping through the Depression growing Key limes and pineapples. The village was also the site of a camp for hundreds more: relief workers building a highway. Most of those workers were World War I veterans.

  The Florida Keys has a national reputation for being laid back and carefree — margaritaville.

But Monroe County, which encompasses the island chain, has the state's highest suicide rate.

Two Miami men pleaded no contest Wednesday in Monroe County Circuit Court to a third-degree felony charge in a case of sea turtle mutilation.

David Hernandez-Sordo, 49, and Pedro Suarez, 60, were sentenced to 18 months' probation, said Assistant Monroe State Attorney Anna Hubicki, who prosecuted the case. They also pled no contest to a second-degree misdemeanor charge.

The city of Key West is joining the ranks of South Florida municipalities where possession of small amounts of marijuana is treated as a civil code violation, not a criminal act.

On Tuesday, the city commission unanimously approved an ordinance that would allow police officers discretion to cite people with less than 20 grams of marijuana, rather than charge them with a misdemeanor. The citation would carry a $100 fine.

The financial news service Bloomberg created a list of the 50 wealthiest small towns in America and only one is in Florida: Key West.

People who fish and dive love it when the winds are light and the seas are calm.

Coral reefs, not so much.

That's because calm seas means sunlight can penetrate better and heat up the water. When sea temperatures pass a 30.4 degrees Celsius average for a month — that's 86.72 degrees Fahrenheit — corals start to bleach.

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