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Hickey lauded by FASD as Board Member of the Year

By Staff | Jun 30, 2010

Mary Hickey, administrator for the Sanibel Fire & Rescue District, poses with her Board Member of the Year plaque awarded to her by the Florida Association of Special Districts.

Everybody at the Sanibel Fire & Rescue District admires and respects longtime administrator Mary Hickey, who has spent the past three decades dedicated to keeping everything behind-the-scenes at Fire Station #1 running smoothly.

But recently, a group of her peers took time to honor Hickey as the Florida Association of Special Districts’ (FASD) Board Member of the Year.

"I was completely surprised by the award," said Hickey, who began her service on Sanibel in 1987. "We were at the banquet on the last day of classes (at the FASD annual convention) and all of a sudden I heard my name."

The mission of the Florida Association of Special Districts is to unify and strengthen special purpose government through education, the exchange of ideas and active involvement in the legislative process.

"This means so much because it comes from my peers at the Association," she added.

There are currently more than 1,500 Independent and Dependent Special Districts in the state, governed by more than 30 statutes, involving over 500 local governments, collecting billions of dollars in revenues.

Special Districts provide limited purpose government on a local level. Fire control, library, port and inlet, mosquito, water control, community development, roads, hospital and other districts — all providing unique services, but all with the same need to be accountable and accessible to the citizens they serve.

The Sanibel Fire & Rescue District, at Hickey’s request, joined the FASD in 2000.

"It was very important that we join because (the FASD) has lobbyists working on their behalf," she said. "They put in requests for things like programs and equipment. They’re fighting for our funding."

Hickey is also responsible for the district’s participation in the Certified District Manager (CDM) program, created in 2004 through the FASD and in conjunction with the Department of Community Affairs. The CDM was founded to recognize the professional and educational accomplishments of special district members.

According to Hickey, the program ensures that district managers comply with Florida statutes governing special districts and provides educational components discussing core topics for special district staff.

The FASD serves as the Department of Community Affairs primary education and training arm. Successful graduates are recognized and awarded their certification each year at the FASD Annual Conference, held each year in June. Hickey attended the conference with Fire Chief Danny Duncan and retired district official Bruce Cochrane.

The CDM program not only recognizes the professional and educational accomplishments of district managers of special districts, but promotes professionalism among the members of this profession.

"I’m just so proud to be a part of this," noted Hickey, who became the district’s administrator 15 years ago. "I hope that we can continue to develop this program around the state and make other districts aware of what we do and have them get involved."