- September 30, 2021
Volunteers are a crucial part of Longboat Key’s government. Residents who have chosen to give their time to the town, helping its core functions run smoothly, were formally recognized for the first time in more a decade at last week at Town Hall.
Vice Mayor Maureen Merrigan, herself an unpaid volunteer, albeit one elected by town residents, kicked off the program by addressing the group of volunteers who were present at Friday’s ceremony and acknowledging the importance of the work that they do.
“If you look at this key and you think about volunteers, we have volunteer opportunities and volunteers for everything from Kiwanis to sea turtles to Friends of Tennis,” Merrigan said. “If you think about the ones that most directly impact the town, it’s really you all, this group. You make our jobs as commissioners much easier. We are very appreciative of what you do.”
Following direction from commissioners, Town Manager Tom Harmer said that the intention is to ensure the program is recurring for years to come.
Members of the town’s Planning and Zoning Board, Zoning Board of Adjustment, Citizens Tax Oversight Committee, Consolidated Retirement System Board of Trustees and the Investment Advisory/Finance Committee were recognized for their time and effort.
The Planning and Zoning Board was the only board that had all of its members in attendance for the recognition program.
“I just want to say how pleased I am to work with this group on the Planning and Zoning Board,” board member Margaret Nuzzo said. “They’re fantastic. I feel very lucky.”
Staff liaisons, including Planning, Zoning and Building Director Allen Parsons were asked to not only provide the certificates to members, but also give a description of the board and the work that goes into serving on it.
“We are very fortunate to have the staff we have at the Planning and Zoning Department,” board chair David Green said. “The professionalism, the work they do, makes our job a lot easier because there is a lot of volume to it and it’s important work.”
“Thank you again, all of you,” Merrigan said at the closing of the program. “You make the town, the key, a better place. When you hear about all the work that you do behind the scenes managing huge amounts of money, huge projects…we can’t thank you enough. We often see the end product of the work you do and you make it easy for (the commission) because we know it’s professionally done. We have a lot of brain power here on the Key and in the various committees.”
Because the recognition program only just returned, members of the Town Commission, who previously served on the Planning and Zoning Board were also recognized. The board was recognized as often serving as a pipeline for interested parties to move on to a seat on the commission. Recognized commissioners included BJ Bishop, Penny Gold, Mike Haycock and Debra Williams.
Volunteers, commissioners and town staff also used the program as an opportunity to thank Harmer for his time spent working for the town and wishing him well in his retirement.
“This is a tough, tough week for us,” Commissioner BJ Bishop said. “Tom has been such a phenomenal town manager…I have spent a lot of years in public service both up north as well as here in Longboat. I can tell you from all of the town managers I have worked with in Virginia and here, he has been the finest person I have ever had the honor of working with and he will be greatly missed.”
Board members were also given the opportunity to meet new town manager Howard Tipton, if they hadn’t already, as Tipton was set to formally take over the role Jan. 30.
Harmer will remain with the town until Feb. 6 to ensure a smooth transition in leadership.