The last meeting of the year had little substantial business on the agenda, but councilmen John Beresford, Bob Rush and Bill Bryan, who each decided not to seek re-election, were all praised as their time on the council came to an end.
Mayor Gene Hobgood stood at the end of the meeting and thanked them for their service, although he didn’t mince words about the disagreements he’s often had with the three outgoing councilmen.
“To say that we disagreed on a number of issues would be the understatement of the year,” Hobgood said, before presenting Beresford, Rush and Bryan with commemorative plaques in appreciation. “But I wanted to say that these guys, when it came to putting their money where their mouth was, they got involved. They got involved because they wanted to do something for their city.”
In the last few years, Hobgood and the three councilmen have had sometimes contentious debates over topics such as the Canton Fire Department, property taxes and the power structure within the city.
Although Hobgood and the three councilmen have sometimes become frustrated with each other both in and out of council meetings, the mayor said that was not always the case.
“It wouldn’t have been fun if we had agreed every time,” Hobgood said. “But we agreed some.”
Former Councilwoman Pat Tanner, who has often attended the meetings since leaving office in 2011, also thanked Beresford, Rush and Bryan for their service.
“You three gentlemen have served this city well,” Tanner said, addressing the council during the meeting. “I appreciate the fact that you always put Canton first and did all you could do to elevate the city. You have attempted to do great things for this city — some successful and some not. It is never easy to be a servant of the people, but you always served with integrity.”
Tanner also noted the downside some of the councilmen have experienced, receiving criticism from city residents.
“You’ve had your critics, of which occasionally I was one,” Tanner said, as she held back tears. “But you’ve also had those of us who’ve appreciated you for the service you gave.”
Beresford, Rush and Bryan seemed to have mixed feelings as the meeting drew to a close.
“I’m going to miss it,” Beresford said. He said he would most miss his work on Etowah River Park, although earlier in the meeting, Councilman Glen Cummins, who has often not seen eye-to-eye with Beresford, said he planned to ask the new council to invite Beresford back to continue helping the park progress.
While Beresford was sad to see his term in office end, Bryan and Rush joked about how they had no plans to come back to council meetings any time soon.
Rush said he looked forward to getting back to his men’s’ bridge club, which he started just before he took office but had to quit because it met the same night as the council.
Bryan said he’d had his fill of working with the city for a while.
“I may be back in a year or two,” Bryan said. “It’ll be a habit I can break pretty easy. But it’s been good.”
The newly elected council members set to replace the three retiring, Sandy McGrew, Bill Grant and John Rust, will be sworn in during the first meeting of 2014, on Jan. 2.
During the meeting Thursday, the city council also:
• Voted unanimously — with Councilman Hooky Huffman absent — to move $10,000 from contingency funds to the public works department for repairs to the city’s portable outdoor stage;
• Unanimously approved authorizing the mayor to award a bid to Adkins for a maximum of $22,000 for construction design on a boardwalk from Heritage Park to Etowah River Park;
• Voted unanimously to postpone a decision on repaying Waste Management for overpayments to the city;
• Voted unanimously to postpone a decision on authorizing the mayor to award a bid for construction on restrooms at Brown Park; and
• Unanimously approved designating Shaw Hawkins as the city’s health insurance broker.