The City of Key West is grateful to the Key West Chamber of Commerce for the extraordinary opportunity to recognize City employees for their dedication. During the Chamber’s luncheon on December 14th, four people were recognized for their service to the community.
Public Works Foreman Oscar Ladino was named City Employee of the Year, an award sponsored by the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum. City Manager Patti McLauchlin introduced the award, pointing out that Ladino is largely responsible for all of Duval Street and just about every event that happens in the city,
“In a year where we were short-staffed and asking everyone to do more with less, Oscar has risen to the challenge,” said McLauchlin. “With more and bigger events being thrown at him he has managed to make the process seamless to organizers and City staff alike. Oscar is an incredible asset to the Community Services Department and the City of Key West. His value as an employee cannot be overstated. We are extremely lucky to have had Oscar here for over 20 years.”
Capt. David Zarate was named Firefighter of the Year, an award sponsored by Keys Federal Credit Union. Capt. Zarate has been with the Key West Fire Department since 2003, and Emergency Manager Capt. Gregory Barroso noted that he has a passion for training his fellow firefighters and passing on the knowledge he’s gained.
“David has stepped up at every opportunity to act capably above his class as ommander in the absence of his supervisor,” said Capt. Barroso. “Most recently, during Hurricane Ian, David displayed extraordinary initiative while actively responding to the fire at 3201 Flagler Ave. That night, during intense weather conditions from the storm, acting-Commander David responded and directed over 25 men and women to control the fire. David’s leadership and effective response saved lives and other structures in the surrounding area.”
Key West Police Officer Andrea Bernatova was named Police Officer of the Year, an honor sponsored by Opal Key Resort and Marina. Key West Police Chief Sean Brandenburg noted in his introduction, that she speaks three languages, holds a Master’s Degree in economics, and sponsored her own attendance to the police academy. Many new officers garner sponsorship from local law enforcement, who pay a salary and for tuition. Officer Bernatova was determined. She is, he said, the kind of officer who he hopes to see in future leadership roles in the department.
“On her very first call,” said Chief Brandenburg, “she responded to a local hotel for a man having a medical emergency. She saved that man’s life, earning the Key West Police Department Life Saving Award. She is a well-rounded officer who frequently receives letters of recognition from the community for her compassion during calls to service. We are very lucky to have her on our team.”
The Chamber also recognized City Manager Executive Assistant Dorian Patton with their Key West Star Award for his selfless volunteer service to the community and local businesses.
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