Three Canton councilmen bid farewell
by Joshua Sharpe
December 20, 2013 11:40 PM | 1981 views | 3 3 comments | 45 45 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CANTON — The last Canton City Council meeting of 2013 saw what seemed to be a sincere “so long” Thursday night to three retiring councilmen.

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.



Comments
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Jim Windon
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December 22, 2013
Yes, thanks are in order. Thanks for leaving us with the second highest debt of any city in GA. Thanks for being on watch as our streets disintegrate. Thanks for making Canton a place where businesses avoid due to the dysfunction of our local government. Thanks for the future burden of digging out of the mess you created. But most of all, thanks for the recent elections that give us hope for the future.
Jim Windon
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December 26, 2013
And a special thanks to Bill Bryan for sending a nice email to my business account. It had that personal touch that everyone appreciates and was the model of the professionalism that we have come to expect from the outgoing council. Very cool Bill. Very classy.
Bill Bryan
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December 26, 2013
Unfortunately Mr. Windon's comments included quite a bit of inaccurate information. In hopes of saving Mr. Windon from any further public embarrassment I chose to send the corrected information directly to him instead of using a public forum. However, his continued public hounding of the outgoing Councilmembers calls for a public response. Here is the email I sent to Mr. Windon.

"The current council actually reduced the debt we inherited from 63 million to 42 million. We recently had to borrow 7 million (at less than 2% interest) to improve the sewage plant due to irresponsible residential development, again incurred before our time in office. A net reduction in debt of 14 million without raising taxes in a time when property values and revenues were declining is not too shabby.

Your comment about businesses avoiding Canton is even more untrue than your debt statement. Just check out the increase in the business and commercial tax digest over the past several years. With property values shrinking as costs of goods & services continued to increase, how do you think we kept the city in the black?

Regarding the “disintegrating” streets, it is not necessarily the responsibility of the Canton Taxpayers to fix your bad decision. Why didn't you do your homework before buying? Here's an idea: Stop blaming others and take some personal responsibility."
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