Changes at city hall

Steve Wingate to retire

The Monticello City Council earlier this week honored City Manager Steve Wingate, preparatory to his retirement later this month.
Wingate, whose last day will be Friday, June 28, received much praise and a bronze eagle on an American flag with an attached inscribed plaque on Tuesday evening, June 4. Monticello's first city manager, Wingate has held the position since November 2007. Prior to his hiring, the city had a superintendent of public works.
During his tenure, Wingate has overseen numerous projects, including construction of a new wastewater treatment plant, the upgrade of much of the city's aging water and sewer infrastructure, creation of the ecological park, and a reclaimed water project that recycles effluent from the wastewater treatment plant and pipes it to Simpson Nursery, where it’s reused to irrigate the trees and shrubs, significantly reducing groundwater consumption and the city's effluent-testing fees.
Wingate called it an honor and privilege to serve the council and Monticello's citizens. He noted that his career started on the bottom rung of the public works department in the small town of Hilliard in Nassau County and he had worked himself up from there, eventually becoming the department's director, before taking the city manager position here.
“We've had a good run in the last 11 and a half years,” Wingate said, citing the $50 millions worth of projects that he and the council had accomplished.
The council members, for their part, lavished praise on Wingate, calling him selfless, compassionate and forward thinking, among other qualities.
“You care for this community and its citizens and have always had their best interests at heart,” Councilman George Evans said.
Councilwoman Julie Conley lauded Wingate's work commitment and ready accessibility.
“You' left your fingerprint on this community,” Conley said, citing several of the major projects Wingate had overseen over the years. “You put your heart into your job everyday.”
City Clerk Emily Anderson called Wingate reliable and a problem solver, recalling an incident when Wingate had resolved a cranky customer's longstanding complaint and another occasion when he had rescued her husband after his vehicle had left him stranded in the woods.
“More than a coworker, he's been a friend,” Anderson said.
Councilman Troy Avera applauded Wingate's careful use of taxpayers' money.
“You took our tax dollars and squeezed them until they squealed,” Avera said. “You've also always approached citizens with compassion and reasonableness.”
Councilwoman Gloria Cox, the council's newest member, thanked Wingate for making her feel welcomed.
“You said you'd help me and you did,” she said.
City Attorney Bruce Leinback called Wingate among the finest of public servants.
“I've worked with a lot of public employers and employees, and you're the finest public employee I've known in 40 years,” Leinback said. “You're a problem solver and a forward thinker.”
And Police Chief Fred Mosley called Wingate a great administrator and friend.
“The thing I love about you is your spirit,” Mosley said. “You don't ask what citizens can do for you, you ask what can you do for them.”
A farewell party is planned for Wingate from 5-6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 18, at City Hall.

Raymond Clark to take helm

At the same time that the Monticello City Council was honoring outgoing City Manager Steve Wingate on Tuesday evening, June 4, it was also welcoming the latter's replacement-to-be, Raymond Clark.
Clark, a longtime city employee who is undoubtedly familiar to many local residents, has already begun taking on some of his new duties, although he won't officially assume the position until July 1.
Clark was selected by the council at a special meeting earlier in the week and his appointment was reaffirmed at Tuesday evening's meeting. He currently serves as the public works director, a position he has held since 2008.
Clark, in fact, has an extended history with the city, going back to 1988, when he began working in the street department. He remained in the street department until 1995, when he switched to the Jefferson County Road Department.
He returned to the city's employment in 1997 as an equipment operator in the water department and stayed there until 2007, when he went to work as a lineman for Tri-County Electric. In 2008, Clark returned to the city as the public works director and has since held this position.
He was one of 17 candidates to apply for the city manager position. Besides his acquired skills and wide knowledge of city operations, Clark also has earned several specialized certifications and has taken managerial training courses.
In his letter of application for the position, Clark noted his long history and extensive experience with the city.
“I have the unique advantage of having worked in progressively responsible positions within the departments that I now supervise,” Clark wrote. “This experience provides me with the ability to offer the city a seamless transition upon Mr. Wingate's departure.”
The council apparently agreed with his assessment.