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The start of the December 6, 2016 meeting was a refreshing break from the norm with outgoing council members setting an unusual lighthearted tone. Perhaps it was because three termed-out seats would be handing off responsibility for Districts 1, 2 and a bittersweet farewell would be said to Mayor Paul Donahue.

Executive Pastor at The Rock Church, Mike Polhemus, opened with an invocation. His involvement in this particular meeting was important for him to be involved with because it would be the last for his friend and leader of our Town.

“I feel really honored—especially for this one—to get to do the invocation,” said Polhemus. “This is Mayor Donahue’s last time sitting behind the desk up there.” Donahue, who has served on Town Council since 2008, was elected to the serve as Mayor in 2011.

Just as he has done for the past eight and a half years, he called the meeting to order, accounting for all council members except Councilman Teal of District 6.

After some playful banter among the members present, Donahue took his opportunity to open the discussion with a few minor suggestions for future council meetings. A hot topic during his time in office, he first made a request for a tweak to the way unscheduled public appearances are timed.

“Usually they have three to four minutes–depending on the item that’s on the agenda–and it’s been the Mayor’s job to tell them that they have 30 second left,” Donahue continued, “What I would recommend is that the council move forward with some sort of a timer so that it can be set up there, so it doesn’t fall on the Mayor to be the bad guy.”

He went on to make a second minor ‘housekeeping’ suggestion and upon finishing his short, Donahue used more humor to keep the mood light. “And that is all the complaints or comments I have,” he said to a smiling crowd, “Eight and a half years and that’s all I got guys.”

Council chambers was filled with family, friends and residents both saying farewell to outgoing council and welcoming new council members.
Council chambers was filled with family, friends and residents both saying farewell to outgoing council and welcoming new council members.

Public comment opened, and more than 10 members from the community took the opportunity to graciously thank the Mayor (District 1) and outgoing council members Heath (District 2) and Wilson (District 4) for their service to Castle Rock. The impressive resumes that were read next during the proclamations echoed their sentiments.

“As many of you know Mark Heath has been a council member for a number of years and we have a proclamation of commendation for him,” said presented Donahue. Since 2012, Heath has worked on several boards and commissions that have been instrumental in the creation of current infrastructure and the economic vitality of Town of Castle Rock.

District 4 council member Wilson was the second to be given a proclamation that dictated similar accomplishments during his time in office, not excluding his help in attaining future water sources for residents. “Whereas securing water resources for our communities future has been at the forefront for Councilman Wilson, he helped process the first surface water at the Plum Creek Water Purification Facility,” said Donahue.

Mayor Donahue was the final outgoing member to be given his Proclamation of Commendation. Inviting his wife Jen up to accept his plaque, Mayor Pro Tem Jen Green took over as the presenter to publicly thank him for his years of work at making Castle Rock the accomplished Town it is today.

As emotion filled the room, Donahue accepted his parting gifts, and left the crowd with several notes of optimism. “Thank you very much Jen, I appreciate everything and want to say thank you to the rest of council,” he continued, “It’s been a wonderful honor to serve with each and every one of you—present council and past council members—and I really do believe that council is going to be in good hands for the next two years.”

Donahue also thanked his wife Jen for her support through the good and bad times and expressed his gratitude to both former Town Manager Mark Stevens and Town staff. “One of the great things about our community is our staff…I’ll never forget it.”

Council took a short intermission, returning five minutes later to have outgoing council step down and new council members be sworn in. Jess Loban was sworn for District 1, James Townsend for District 2, followed by Jason Bower for District 4.

The new face of Castle Rock Government.
The new face of Castle Rock government.

Pursuant to Town Charter and Town Code, and by unanimous vote, council voted in the new Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem. By unanimous vote, Mayor Pro-Tem Jennifer Green (District 3) stepped up to fill the seat for Mayor of Castle Rock and Councilmember Valentine (District 5) was elected to serve as the New Mayor Pre Tem.

The meeting concluded with the Town Manager David Corless briefly touching on future plans for the direction of the Town for 2017 along with a reading from presiding Mayor, Jennifer Green.

“I did want to close with a bible verse I grew up with, saying on a week to week basis…May the Lord bless you and keep you; May the Lord shine His face upon you, and be gracious to you; May the Lord lift up His countenance to you and give you peace now and forever more.”