Florida Keys News - Islamorada/KL Free Press
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Hanson retires after serving four commissioners

KEY LARGO -- The consistent face of the Key Largo commissioner's office is leaving at the end of the month after 16 years at the post.

Donna Hanson, executive assistant to District 5 County Commissioner Sylvia Murphy, sat in a conference room Monday at the Murray E. Nelson Government and Cultural Center day-dreaming of the travels she will take.

On the agenda so far is a Christmas trip to New York's Times Square, a two-week skid in Portugal and Spain with a women's travel group and a late summer trip to Alaska for a master gardening conference.

"I want to see the world," the 65-year-old grandmother said. "I'm getting old."

Hanson is no stranger to travel and over the span of her career has taken many trips to different parts of Europe, but has been hassled by working out the proper vacation dates. That will no longer be a concern.

Also, Hanson wants to work in more time for her eight grandchildren, seven of whom live in New Jersey and another in Plantation.

Regardless of her travels, Hanson plans on remaining a Lower Matecumbe Key resident.

"This is home," she said.

Hanson will continue volunteering with many local groups including the Upper Keys Garden Club and Friends of the Islamorada Area State Parks.

Hanson has moved to three different offices while serving four county commissioners, including Mary K. Reich, Nelson, Glenn Patton and Murphy.

Her fondest memories of working with Nelson were his annual list of goals.

"Every year, we would sit down and make a list of goals and mark them off as we accomplished them," Hanson said.

Hanson described Murphy, though, as tackling one issue raised by her constituents at a time. Many times, Hanson said, their problems require delegation to different county departments for investigation.

Their latest undertaking was prompted by residents in low-lying areas whose neighborhoods were flooded during Tropical Storm Isaac. Murphy's office arranged a public works investigation into the flooding.

"People mostly come into the office when they have a problem," she said. Hanson said it's not unusual to have two to three residents a day walk in the door with an issue.

"If not daily, I learn something new every week," she said.

Murphy lauded Hanson's job performance over her many years.

"She's going to be missed," Murphy said. "I think she is the only aide to go through four different commissioners."

Hanson will be replaced at the beginning of the year by Pam Johnson, who has begun the transition process. Hanson said it could take Johnson six months to get a proper feel for running the office.

jgore@keysnews.com

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