Rice's family, pictured from left: Mike, Ann, Layton, Mary and David.
Rice's family, pictured from left: Mike, Ann, Layton, Mary and David.

first female board member served 14 years

by Jason Koler

photo courtesy: Colleen Tagle/FKAA

Florida Governor Layton Chiles made history in 1995 when he appointed Mary Rice to the Florida Keys Aquaduct Authority Board as the first female director. She would be reappointed in 2001 by Jeb Bush and would also serve until 2009 including her selection as the first female Chair in 2007.

On Wednesday, October 26, FKAA Executive Director Jim Reynolds celebrated the dedication and achievements of Rice by renaming Marathon’s FKAA Customer Service Center at 3200 Overseas Highway in her honor.

Reynolds referred to Rice, “as a dedicated member of the Board giving diligently of her time for the promotion, fiscal accountability and advancement of the purposes of the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority.”

In 2005, the FKAA received a $500,000 grant to construct a high performance LEED “green” building and decided to name the building after Rice in 2007.

However, due to economic challenges of the past few years, the FKAA placed the project on hold which prompted the current board to rename the Marathon Center in her honor until a new building is constructed.

Rice later said her time on the FKAA board was a rewarding experience made fond by the “great group of people who work at the Aquaduct.”

She referred to the transition that enabled the FKAA to become a wastewater authority as a major achievement as well as the implementation of new technologies to increase the agency’s efficiency.

A lasting memory will be fielding a call from then DCA Secretary Thaddeus Cohen who politely asked Rice to sign and fax the interlocal agreement that would make the FKAA the wastewater authority for the city of Marathon.

“I can’t right now,” Rice told him. “I am fishing.”

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