by Peter Jakey–Managing Editor
There were several agenda items on Monday’s Onaway City Commission, but the main order of business was giving mayor Gary Wregglesworth a proper send-off during his final meeting at City Hall. He has overseen more than 400 meetings spanning two decades. Before that he served 10 years as a commissioner. His mark is on the sewer project, as well as his proudest accomplishment: restoration of the courthouse.
City staff and the rest of the commission chipped in to purchase a framed copy of the colorful cover of the Onaway Outlook that chronicled the dedication of the refurbished landmark. It has been in the office at City Hall since then.
Former commissioner Bernie Schmeltzer, sitting in t
he audience, spoke first during the public comment period.
“I would be remiss if I did not publicly thank you,” said Schmeltzer, who stepped down a year ago as the longest serving commissioner in the city’s history. “I served with you the majority of your tenure on the commission…it was a pleasure… and I want to thank you on behalf of the citizens of Onaway.”
Former city manager Joe Hefele said Wregglesworth cast the tiebreaking vote when he was hired in 2001.
“It gave me the opportunity in the profession I am still in,” said Hefele. “Obviously, without you I don’t know what I would be doing but it may not be this. So, I forever will be thankful for that.
“I was pretty amazed that we were able to do what we did under your leadership with the limited funding we had.”
Hefele wished Wregglesworth well, “It was great working with you. He also joked, “We will always have the pink room at the Grand Hotel,” said Hefele. The comment brought spontaneous laughter from the mayor. “With that, congratulations and best of luck with the next chapter in your life.”
Commissioner Jessie Horrocks said she will be sad to see him leave. “We are going to miss you,” she said.
Commissioner Chuck Abshagen called the evening a “bitter sweet night. Bitter for the four of us, sweet for you. Gary, it has been a pleasure working with you. I am proud to have had that opportunity to work with you and if I can do half the job that you’ve done, I will be so happy with myself.”
Commissioner Matt Dunn thanked Wregglesworth for all that he has done for the city, before commissioner Ron Horrocks took his turn to honor the outgoing leader saying he was grateful for Wregglesworth’s ability to stay the course not seeking applause or self-satisfaction.
“Your leadership has been with integrity, wholeness and authenticity as a person in fulfilling your purpose of making a difference whether for a loved one, friend or the city of Onaway. You made sure it affected you, friends and neighbors equally.
“Now Gary, whatever you chose to do with all that time you will have, there is one thing for certain, in this crazy world you will continue to make a difference. It is with gratitude I want to personally thank you for helping make possible the changes to enrich the city…You have helped to make the city of Onaway a better place for us all.”
Wregglesworth thanked everyone for all the kind words. “It is appreciated.”
With that, he moved on with the rest of the meeting, and 30 minutes later, smacked the gavel down one last time, bringing an end to a well-respected run.