Tifton Gazette

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December 2, 2013

Kessee honored on final night as Tift City Council member

TIFTON — There were all smiles and tears Monday evening as Councilwoman Marianna Keesee took her seat for the last time at her final Tifton City Council meeting. She has served on the council, representing District 1, for eight years. She had announced in August that she would not seek re-election.

The city presented Keesee with a gift, a white jacket with the city of Tifton logo, and a crystal award recognizing her for her “excellence in public service.”

After uttering tearful thank-yous, Keesee heard from her fellow council members who expressed gratitude for having served with her.

“I’m going to really miss you,” said Vice Mayor Johnny Terrell, noting he could always depend on Keesee for having good notes if he was unable to make it to a meeting. “It’s been a pleasure to work with you.”

Councilman Chris Parrott said sitting next to Keesee during meetings has only been a joy. He said with him being “one of the new kids on the block,” sometimes having that voice of experience next to him has always helped and he’s going to miss that a lot. He thanked Keesee for what she’s done for the council and her district.

“I cannot thank you enough for your guidance,” said Councilwoman Julie Smith. “These people have no idea how much time, energy, effort and heart you’ve put into this community.”

She added, “You’re such an example for me, and I’m proud to say that you’re my friend.” She said she’s going to miss Keesee and looks forward to working with Wes Ehlers, who’s been elected to represent District 1.

Smith thanked Keesee for her service and the example she’s set for her.

“I hope I can live up to that example. I love you, and I just can’t thank you enough for the service that you provide to this community,” she said.

Mayor Jamie Cater said he’s really going to miss Keesee. He said they haven’t always agreed on everything, but that’s OK.

“We’ve always been buddies, and we’ve always been able to communicate,” he said. He told Ehlers, who was sitting in the audience, that he has some big shoes to fill.

Cater said he’s always admired Keesee for standing by what she believes on certain issues.

“Nobody does it like you do it,” he told her. “We’re going to miss you. I love you.”

Keesee was surprised and excited to see friends in the audience, including her choir family from First United Methodist Church and friends in the community. She thanked them for coming.

She read the following statement, “As a retiring city official, I offer my thanks to and express my pride in the people who work for the city of Tifton and the citizens who volunteer for public service on various boards and commissions. Their talent, loyalty and commitment to service and to our city are strong.

“I am equally proud of the regular business carried on by the city every day: the water, tested and safe, streams down every time I turn on the spigot; the gas comes through the pipes every time I turn on my stove; the garbage is picked up every week; the extra things I place beside the garbage can are taken away; the street gutters are cleaned, the yard debris is taken to the inert landfill, the streets are swept, the potholes are filled in — all on a regular basis; the public safety and fire protection officers daily protect our city; and the technology used to support all city departments functions all of the time.

“As Tifton continues to prosper, I see ever-present, continuing needs for city leaders to address. These include street and storm water improvements, more personnel for safety, fire and enforcement, and tax equity issues for city residents.”

Keesee said she’s planning to spend more time with her grandchildren kayaking on Virginia rivers and other adventures, but Tifton will always be her home.

“It is a jewel of a town,” she said. “I am honored to have been the first female elected to the City Council and have respected the trust placed in me by citizens to study the facts and vote for the best interest of Tifton during the past eight years.” She added that Ehlers will study the facts and offer an unbiased and informed vote for the citizens.

On her last meeting of her term of office, she left the audience with the words of Thomas Jefferson who told his friends when he returned to his Virginia home following his presidency: “I will gladly lay down the distressing burden of power.” She smiled as chuckles could be heard throughout the crowd.

After Keesee wished Ehlers well and thanked everyone for being there, the crowd stood and applauded.

To contact reporter Latasha Ford, call 382-4321.

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