Sarasota County commissioners Dec. 7 had just recognized all the youngsters whose artwork was chosen this year for the Neighborhood Environmental Stewardship Team’s annual calendar when Commissioner Christine Robinson asked them for a favor.
Addressing the 11 children, she said Commissioner Jon Thaxton was celebrating his birthday. She asked if the youngsters would help him mark the occasion by singing “Happy Birthday” to him.
With Thaxton standing behind Josh Kroepfl, 9, whose artwork had been selected for the calendar cover, the children, the other commissioners and audience members complied with Robinson’s request.
As the children headed back to their seats, Interim County Administrator Terry Lewis joked of Thaxton, “I was figuring (he was) 62 or 63; he’s 59.”
As a few audience members gasped, a grinning Lewis glanced back at Thaxton. “What’s he going to do? Fire me?” Lewis asked.
Lewis has been serving as interim administrator since June, following the resignation of County Administrator Jim Ley in late May. Lewis agreed Dec. 1 to the commission’s request that he stay on through Feb. 15, so new County Administrator Randall Reid would have his help for a couple of weeks.