It has been 20 years folks: four years as a councilmember and 16 years as mayor. It's time to step back and evaluate what I'm going to do in full retirement. I retired from Northside Hospital in 2018.
I feel confident that the City of Woodstock will be in great shape. Mayor Elect Michael Caldwell is going through a four-month "training" period to become acclimated to the way the City operates. He's a quick learner and will have no trouble getting up to speed by January 1, 2022.
My time spent serving the Woodstock community over these many years has been 99% enjoyable. Everyone has that 1% of a job that is not enjoyable. In my estimation, we have the best staff the City has ever had. City Manager Jeff Moon is top notch and has surrounded himself with great department directors who have well trained staff members to provide excellent customer service.
When the recession hit in 2008, just as Jeff Moon joined us as the new City manager, things got hairy quickly. He and I worked overtime for quite a while. We were proud of the fact we did not have to lay off any staff members while also making sure stakeholders did not receive substandard services.
Jeff and I agreed that the recession was the best time to buy property for parks, trails, and administration buildings. These included the dog park, Towne Lake Pass trail, and the current City Hall Annex on Highway 92 near Trickum Road. The biggest prize was what is now our City Council Chambers and Woodstock Arts (formerly Elm Street Arts), and the large parking lot behind the building where plans eventually call for a second parking deck. We went out on a limb financially, but it paid off handsomely. The City of Woodstock is in solid financial shape.
The thing I am most proud of is the Northside Hospital Cherokee Amphitheater. The best part about the Amphitheater is that it is debt free — paid cash for it — which is quite an achievement. This venue is such a draw, pulling people to the downtown area to enjoy live entertainment, shopping, and great restaurants. When our citizens and other visitors spend money in downtown Woodstock, it helps small businesses and creates jobs.
This is not a "farewell" letter. I'm not moving to Florida or Louisiana (my home state). I'm staying in Woodstock. I hope Mayor Elect Caldwell uses my phone number to ask for advice or to ask any questions that may come up. Who knows? Maybe there's something out there that will pique my interest. Stay tuned.
Finally, thank you, Woodstock, for trusting me with the job! It has been an honor.