Florida Keys Electric Cooperative recently held their first board meeting in the completed addition of the Marathon Operations Center. The 4,200-square-foot one-story expansion increases FKEC’s capabilities to feed and house crews after a major storm and offers a more functional space for meetings and training. 

Before the meeting, FKEC board members and staff unveiled the name of the building addition: the Michael H. Puto Emergency Operations Annex. A surprised Puto thanked his fellow board of directors and FKEC staff for the honor. 

Representing Marathon members for 28 years, Puto is the longest-serving of FKEC’s directors. He was the board secretary for 18 years and is now the vice president. Puto has been Marathon city manager, county commissioner, vice mayor and mayor of Monroe County, and was appointed to the 16th Judicial Nomination Commission. He has received more than 50 community service awards and is a certified emergency manager.

With a commercial-grade kitchen, dining/training room, and mezzanine, the expansion improves FKEC’s self-reliance after a significant hurricane. The construction also further increases the strength of the entire building to a category 5 storm-rating. 

“The new facilities in Marathon mirror our capabilities already in place at our Tavernier Operations Center,” said CEO Scott Newberry. “In the immediate days after Hurricane Irma, FKEC employees were able to prepare food to feed over 250 storm restoration workers at the Tavernier building. We now have the same food preparation capabilities in Marathon and more indoor space to accommodate employees and storm restoration assistance crews.”

The addition extended the west end of the building toward the facility’s grid-connected solar array. FKEC also paved additional property behind the Marathon building to make it more functional for a post-storm restoration basecamp if needed.  

In 2019, permitting was approved, and FKEC broke ground on the addition to the original building, constructed in 2005. As with all FKEC construction projects, the co-op considered sustainable materials and implemented energy-saving measures where possible.

FKEC Marathon Building Highlights

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  • 4,200 square-foot one-story addition with mezzanine, commercial-grade kitchen, and dining/training area.
  • The mezzanine provides additional protected warehouse storage.
  • The highly efficient commercial-grade kitchen is designed to use minimal water and energy and includes dry storage, freezers, coolers, meal prep and cooking areas. 
  • The kitchen can produce 200 meals at a time. 
  • The dining/training room comfortably seats 80 people, and is equipped with the latest technology for improved meeting capabilities.
  • The facility maintains adequate on-site power generation, fuel, water, food, and food preparation facilities to operate for at least three days without outside assistance.
  • The entire facility is category 5 storm-rated. 

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