May 22 marks Justin Hewlett’s last day as mayor of Cleburne, the same day Scott Cain will be sworn in.
Since Cain will be sworn in at the beginning of the May 22 Cleburne City Council meeting, council members and city staff took the opportunity during Tuesday’s meeting to honor Hewlett, who was elected in 2010.
Councilman John Warren presented a plaque with a mayor’s gavel attached and said he was honored to have served with Hewlett on both the city council and the Cleburne ISD school board.
Councilman Bob Kelly praised Hewlett’s input and leadership in guiding the city through troubled economic times.
“We’ve tackled big issues in the last two years and had to make a lot of tough decisions,” Hewlett said.
Hewlett name checked several highlights of his term including city policy changes, some of which, such as changes to the city’s trash pickup system and employee compensation changes, proved controversial, budgeting challenges courtesy of declining gas lease royalties and economic turbulence and the planning of water projects to ensure an ample supply of water for Cleburne over the next 50 years.
Not to mention the hiring of a new city manager.
“[City Manager Rick Holden] has exceeded all my expectations,” Hewlett said. “As have the city staff.”
Hewlett called it an honor to have served with the current council and praised the hard work of city employees including their input into the oft times tough decisions of the council.
“I think a city or any organization succeeds best when we listen to diverse opinions and take those views in mind to come up with the best decisions,” Hewlett said.
Much remains to be done, Hewlett said, including preparing Cleburne for the changes expected once work completes on a project to extend Texas 121 from Fort Worth to Cleburne.
Hewlett said Cain, who was in attendance, will do a great job as mayor and encouraged him to make full use of the experience of the city staff, especially City Secretary Shelly Doty and Deputy City Secretary Ivy Peterson.
“Use them and learn from them,” Hewlett said. “They certainly helped me a lot.”
Hewlett concluded by thanking another audience member.
“My wife and soulmate,” Hewlett said of Sydney Hewlett. “She always knows the right thing to say such as ‘I wasn’t elected mayor’ whenever I asked her to come to some event.”
Hewlett did not seek re-election as he is running for the Congressional District 25 seat. Cain won the race by default as no one else filed to run. That proved true of the other two council seats up for election this year, which prompted officials to cancel the city’s planned May 12 elections.
The remainder of the meeting proved short and uneventful.
Council members approved the purchase of a Caterpillar dump truck from Holt Cat Truck Centers in the amount of $122,775.41. The city’s wastewater department will use the truck.
Council members also approved acceptance of a $12,962 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance grant. The grant, which requires no city match, will help purchase equipment for the Cleburne Police Department.
Council members postponed action on filling a vacancy on the city’s zoning board of adjustment board. Member Vince Castle’s term expires Sunday and a replacement is needed. Staff members had no recommendations to offer at this time. Residents interested in serving on that or other city boards are encouraged to contact city hall.