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

Key West built a firehouse in 1908. A few years later, someone planted a mamey tree in the yard alongside it. Now that tree is now getting some special attention.

Alex Vega spent three years early in his career at Key West Firehouse No. 3, the site of that tree. He says the big mamey tree in the yard sometimes produced 30 of the football-shaped fruit and sometimes 300. But it was always shared around.

"Every watch got a bagful — two for you, one for your mother. They would give them out to their family and stuff," he said.

Hurricane Irma was at Category 4 strength when it crossed the Florida Keys in September of 2017. And the Keys are still in the rebuilding process, even as a new hurricane season starts.

As Key West's housing market caters more and more to the second home set, there's a new effort to preserve some of the island's multicultural history.

The Cuban ambassador to the United States is visiting Key West and he's doing a lot of the things that tourists do: lunch at a waterfront seafood restaurant, a trolley ride, waiting in line to have his photo taken at the Southernmost Point.

But José Ramón Cabañas is also scheduled to meet with city commissioners at several events on the island.

"There's a large Cuban-American population in Key West. We know we have many friends. And that we will have the opportunity to meet local officials, business people and our Cuban community here," Cabañas said Tuesday afternoon.

Rainy season in South Florida means it's also mosquito season. And now there's a new weapon being added to the arsenal against the insects in the Florida Keys.

A $7.9 million project to upgrade a county park on Stock Island was a couple weeks out from completion when Hurricane Irma tore across the Lower Keys in September 2017.

The damage caused by the hurricane extended that work for almost a year, but the project was completed and Monroe County held a ribbon-cutting last August.

Now the Monroe County clerk has issued an audit report on the project. Among the conclusions:

On the Overseas Highway in the Keys, there's only one drawbridge left. And its end may be nearing.

The Key West city charter says voters have to approve any deal for the city to buy real estate. And Key West voters have a decision to make.

The area to the west of Key West is one of the country's oldest national wildlife refuges. And now all of its islands are under federal protection.

Ballast Key was developer David Wolkowsky's special retreat, a privately owned island 8 miles west of Key West.

It was the only private land within the boundaries of the Key West National Wildlife Refuge. Teddy Roosevelt created that refuge in 1908.

Five years ago, a new coral disease was found right off downtown Miami. It has now spread through the Florida reef tract, from Martin County down past Key West. In response, scientists are taking unprecedented measures to make sure some coral survives, at least in captivity.

Anyone who has ever driven to or from Key West has crossed the Cow Key Bridge. It's the only road on or off of the island.

Now the state says the bridge's decks and beams need to be replaced on the two spans (one outgoing, one incoming) that connect Key West with the rest of the world.

On Christmas Day, 1921, a mob including members of the KKK killed a Key West man. His gravesite was neglected for nearly a century.

After 97 years, Key West held a memorial service on Saturday for Manuel Cabeza.

Members of his family, including his 99-year-old niece, attended the service, along with a Key West Police honor guard, the Monroe County sheriff and four members of the Key West City Commission.

Manuel Cabeza was a Key Wester who served as a private in World War I.

State wildlife investigators announced Tuesday that they've wrapped up a two-year investigation targeting what they say is a criminal conspiracy in the spiny lobster fishing industry.

Lobster is Florida's most valuable commercial fishery, with landings usually worth more than $40 million a year.

Investigators went undercover and conducted surveillance in what they called "Operation Thimblerig." Thimblerig is another term for shell game.

Three people face felony charges including racketeering, fraud and identity theft.

Four Keys cities and Monroe County have sent FEMA bills for more than $91 million from Hurricane Irma. A year and a half after the storm, they have received less than 12 percent of the money.

It's been almost a year and a half since Hurricane Irma. And people who qualify still have a couple weeks to register for help from a program that will help pay for repairs.

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