Commissioners Welcome Raschein, Recognize Staff Milestones, New Firefighters, and Breast Cancer Awareness Month

MONROE COUNTY, FL – The Monroe County Board of County Commissioners recognized three staff members for their years of service, pinned six new Monroe County Fire Rescue firefighters, and proclaimed October as Monroe County Breast Cancer Awareness Month to increase awareness and encourage preventative screenings.

In addition, Monroe County welcomes Commissioner Holly Merrill Raschein of Tavernier to the dais to represent Monroe County and District 5. She was officially sworn-in in late September and ceremoniously sworn in at today’s meeting. The seat was held by Commissioner Mike Forster, who passed away in September. Raschein served eight years in the Florida House of Representatives before being termed out.

Raschein will serve until a special election is held in 2022 as part of the regular election cycle next year (August primary, November general). The special election winner will serve the remaining two years of Commissioner Forster’s term until November 2024.

Board of County Commissioners

Senior Coordinator of Records Alison Williams, 10 Years of Service, Monroe County Building Department

Monroe County Land Authority Executive Director Christine Hurley honored Williams by saying she is a steadfast dedicated County employee. She is part of the internal team that documents and retains records. Also noteworthy, during Hurricane Irma, she managed the County’s damage assessments and linked inspections with a database to assist property owners with insurance claims, among other things.

Monroe County Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign to increase breast cancer awareness and educate women about early breast cancer detection, diagnosis, and treatment. The American Cancer Society advises women to get an annual mammogram screening once they reach the age of 40. Breast cancer survivor Charlotte Quinn and Shayne Messina of Marathon’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer accepted the proclamation. Making Strides are national and local walks and events throughout October.

“Monroe County continues its commitment to supporting prevention, detection, and treatment of breast cancer,” said Monroe County Mayor Michelle Coldiron. “We remember those who have battled breast cancer and stand with those who remember their loved ones.”

Monroe County Fire Rescue

Battalion Chief Ryan Johnson, 20 Years of Service, Monroe County Fire Rescue

Johnson is by his wife Cara during the ceremony. Johnson began his career as a Stock Island Volunteer Firefighter in 1996. By 1999, he was certified as a firefighter from the Florida State Fire College and began working for NAS Key West. With a strong desire to return to his roots and serve the community where his father was born and raised, Johnson joined Monroe County Fire Rescue in 2001. Johnson said he is proud to serve our remarkable island community and be a part of the growth with Monroe County Fire Rescue.

“Chief Johnson possesses the strong attributes and work ethic it takes to be a successful leader for our community and fire department,” said Fire Chief Steve Hudson. “I am proud of Chief Johnson’s professional and educational accomplishments. He is a rock star for MCFR.”

Captain Andrea Thompson, 20 Years of Service, Monroe County Fire Rescue

Thompson is pinned by her husband Mark and joined by her two children, Wyatt and Layla, and her father, Steve Secrist. Thompson began volunteering with Layton Volunteer Fire Department, attended the Joe London Training Academy, and was hired by Monroe County Fire Rescue in 2001. She served as a Trauma Star flight medic since the inception of the Trauma Star program in 2001 and was heavily involved with the success and growth of the Trauma Star Program and of the Monroe County Fire Rescue EMS Training program. Currently, Thompson is assigned to Station 8, servicing the Stock Island area. She is the president of the Local 3909 International Association of Firefighters and the Monroe County Firefighter’s Benevolent Association and founded the Florida Keys Drowning Prevention Task Force, a local nonprofit that provides survival swim lessons free of charge to hundreds of local children. She also provided CPR training throughout the community with the “Heroes Among Us” Bystander CPR Program and implemented the “Stop the Bleed” boxes throughout the Florida Keys.

“Monroe County Fire Rescue is very proud of Captain Thompson for her dedicated service to the residents and visitors of the Florida Keys,” said Fire Chief Steve Hudson. “Congratulations on your 20 years of loyal service to our community.”

Six New Firefighter/EMTs Pinned

Monroe County Fire Rescue swore in six new firefighter/EMT members: Angel Chang-del Cueto, Erik Eriksen, Rion Hunter, Stephanie Muina, Mia Ruiz, and Robert Zlockie. They each had family or friends do the honor of the pinning at the Board of County Commissioners meeting. All six are Monroe County Fire Rescue’s Hot Shot Program graduates, which provides free firefighting and first responder training for qualified Monroe County residents.

  • Angel Chang del Cueto attended Southwest Miami High School and moved to Marathon with his mother and stepfather. He holds the achievement as an All-American Wrestler and the Florida Wrestling State Champion and studied Criminal Justice at Southeastern University in Lakeland.
  • Erik Eriksen graduated from Coral Shores and was a part of Islamorada’s Fire Explorers in high school. Erik is now working on his Associate in Science degree in Emergency Medical Services at the College of the Florida Keys. He is an avid outdoorsman who enjoys diving and fishing.
  • Rion Hunter is a lifelong Key Largo resident and Coral Shores graduate. He holds a Bachelor’s in Communications from Florida Gulf Coast University and enjoys Cross Fit challenges in the Upper Keys.
  • Stephanie Muina has a bachelor’s degree in Education from Florida Atlantic University and will start her Paramedic certification in January. Stephanie is a resident of Layton and enjoys hunting, fishing, and traveling as much as possible.
  • Mia Ruiz is from Islamorada and graduated from Coral Shores. She is currently working on an associate degree in Emergency Medical Services and anticipates starting the Paramedic certification this coming year. She is an avid fisherman and enjoys all outdoor sports.
  • Bobby Zlockie was Hot Shot Class 20-01 leader and graduated from Coral Shores High School. He has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Flagler College and owns an insurance agency in the Upper Keys.
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