Minden says 'good-bye' to veteran town board members

The accolades began 3 minutes into the final Minden Town Board meeting Wednesday for Bob Hadfield, Dave Sheets and Ross Chichester, and the tears flowed shortly after.

Grown men cried, literally, as staff members and Minden residents expressed what the combined 76 years of service meant to them and the community.

Term limits forced the trio off the board this year; they were joined Wednesday night by their colleagues Ray Wilson and Bruce Jacobsen who faced a similar fate two years ago.

"I want to express my sincere thanks on behalf of the town citizens for your faithful duty for this board for so many years," said 30-year resident Robert McMillan.

"The Rock of Gibraltar, as you leave, a very large stone is falling into the Mediterranean Sea," McMillan said. "In certain things we may disagree, but your purpose has always been for the good of the town."

Hadfield and Sheets, both age 68, were elected to the board in 1986.

Chichester, 55, was elected in 1982. He's following his Minden service with a seat on the Douglas County School Board beginning in January.

Wilson and Jacobsen were both elected to the board in 1984 and served until 2008.

Town counsel George Keele, who delivered individual tributes to the three outgoing members, struggled for composure as he neared the end of his remarks.

"It's unfair to put me behind George," said town engineer Bruce Scott. "We really are proud to have been a part of this."

Scott presented the five outgoing members with plaques that were fashioned from pieces of the original 1906 Minden water line.

He apologized that Wilson and Jacobsen had to wait, but said the line was still in service when they left the board.

Board member Steve Thaler, appointed in 2008 with John Stephans, said he would describe the long-time board members as "phenomenal."

"John and I have had the luxury of living your dreams," Thaler said. "I never knew - even as a resident for the last 20 years - what you do behind the scenes. Minden has been able to bring money into the community, through building the water system and the maintenance facility, all thanks to you. I hope we can live up to your expectations.

"What you did for this town will be seen for years to come."

Stephans, elected board chairman for 2011, referred to Hadfield, Sheets and Chichester as "three sages."

"Your sacrifices in my eyes have not gone unnoticed," he said. "The learning curve has been steep, but we have learned to disagree in a friendly manner. This board, and the previous board, brought no hidden agendas to the table. The purpose - to do what's best for the town of Minden - hasn't changed."

Public works director Greg Hill unveiled five water fountains he created to resemble the landmark Minden pillars at the town entrance at Sixth Street and County Road.

Built with redwood, each fountain has a pump with a meter that pipes water into a bucket.

"The old Minden pillar lights up to help you see into the future," Hill said. "The fountain represents your efforts on behalf of the water system which was much more than a drop in the bucket."

Hill said he first started planning the design two years ago.

Fighting to control his emotions, Hill said of the board's service, "It's unusual for anyone to spend these countless hours of time. We have to ask ourselves why they did it. Not for the money, for many years they worked for nothing.

"It's because they love the town. They love living in the town. This is their community. These five board members contributed 124 years of service, knowledge, expertise and dedication to the community."

Even though Hill built the fountains, he said they represented the thanks of the staff and all town residents.

Wilson said he was looking for the new board members to continue strong oversight.

"This will never happen again," he said, noting term limit restrictions.

Jacobsen, observing he has lived in Minden all his 56 years, said he was adding Sheets, Chichester, Wilson and Hadfield to his personal Minden hall of fame.

Evoking the memory of his father, the late Sen. Lawrence Jacobsen, he said, "Let me simply say thanks."

The meeting also was attended by County Commission Chairman Mike Olson, Commissioner-elect Lee Bonner, Comptroller Claudette Springmeyer and newly elected town board members Matt Bernard, Charlie Condron and Roxanne Stangle.


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