Mayor bids fond farewell to city hall
A lot of handshakes, hugs, and a few tears were shared Friday afternoon by the crowd at Greencastle City Hall, gathered to honor outgoing Mayor Nancy Michael and city council members Russ Evans, Bob Sedlack and Tom Roach.
"This is a great county and a great community," Michael said in her closing address.
"I am just one person," she said. "Everything that's happened in this community has been because of two letters -- W and E. And it's a "we" community that you've let me lead."
Michael admitted she did not have "a clue" about what she was doing when she took office in 1996. She had told then-Mayor Mike Harmless, "You're stupid. I'm not that stupid!" when approached about seeking the mayor's seat. But then the idea grew on her, and she credits a strong staff and city team that has moved the city forward during those 12 years.
Michael was presented parting gifts of a watch from Mason Jewelers, a fence picket from the Emerald Palace playground by the city Park Board, and a firefighter's helmet from the fire department.
City Attorney Laurie Hardwick also presented a list of accomplishments the city has seen during Michael's tenure in city hall.
"Despite what some of the recent political ads might lead you to believe, there have been major improvements to our city that have taken place during the last 12 years," she said.
The short list of those projects included a new water plant, Franklin Street renovations, Barnaby Street, reconstruction of many sidewalks, a new sewer plant, a move into the new city hall and demolition of the old structure, a new police department building, the westside project to renovate streets, curbs and stormsewers, demolition of the old water tower, street department improvements, the new shell building for industrial prospects, expansions at Chiyoda, Heartland, Nova Solutions, FB Distro and Lear Corp., several renovations and expansions at DePauw University, and the growth of the city parks department to include Rokicki Park, Mary Field Park, Mapleberry Park, Jaycee Park, a portion of Big Walnut Sports Park, and the growth of People Pathways.
Hardwick also pointed out that Michael took the Fourth of July celebration to a new level by creating an all-day festival in the park that includes activities and the fireworks.
The commercial development has also been strong, with the growth of Ivy Tech Community College, Cinergy MetroNet, and more than 24 new or expanded retailers, and three new bank buildings.
Many of those improvements are things that retiring council member Sedlack pointed out did not exist when he first sat on the board in 1983. There was no Wal-Mart at all and Veterans Memorial Highway was an abandoned railroad track.
But he pointed to one recent development as the item he is most proud of during his tenure -- the citywide smoking ban.
Outgoing council member Evans agreed.
"Making Greencastle smoke-free is something I'm very proud of, whether it cost me the election or not," Evans said.
While he leaves the council after just one four-year term, Evans will not be leaving city service. He has been tapped to sit on the city park board to fill the term of Leslie Hanson.
Council member Tom Roach is leaving after 16 years of making city decisions. Roach was unable to attend Friday's reception.