If you don’t like change, you might want to stay away from Augusta’s City Hall for a month or so.
City Manager Bill Keefer has less than two weeks left at the helm of the City of Augusta. His last day of a 16-year tenure will be May 17. There will be a reception at City Hall from 1:30-3:30 p.m. that day.
Former Mayors Ross Rountree and David Crum joined current Mayor Kristey Williams in wishing Keefer well as he moves on to Grove, Okla.
“He was hired in 1996 and has worked with three mayors, 27 council members, three city clerks, and many city employees,” Williams said. She said Keefer had finished many major projects during his tenure including the new levee that Keefer began working on soon after the flood of 1998 and will be finished this summer.
“Even though we were different in many ways, we found common ground in our love and concern for the City of Augusta and its residents,” Williams said.
Crum, who was mayor when Keefer was hired, said he was proud to have been a part of bringing Keefer to Augusta. A current member of the State House of Representatives, Crum said he would miss hearing from Keefer.
“I will miss your calls with advice,” Crum said. “It was always a pleasure to hear from you.”
Rountree said it was an honor and privilege to serve with Keefer as a mayor.
“Through good times and bad, you always demonstrated your expertise with the decisions you made that were for the good of the city and not yourself,” Rountree said.
Rountree said Keefer’s impact on the city is more than a city with physical and financial improvements.
“You were a great city manager,” Rountree said. “But you were a great personal mentor and friend to me. I am sad to see you go but I want to thank you for leaving Augusta a better place to live.”
Keefer, never one to seek or enjoy the public spotlight, agreed to say a few words. As always, he deflected praise to the employees he worked with.
“You can’t do this job alone,” Keefer said. “I have worked with three wonderful mayors, a number of great council members, and many many great employees.”
When he spoke of the city employees, Keefer fought back tears.
“I really wish the people appreciated these employees more. They make it al work,” Keefer said. “Augusta is home. We raised our family here and is has been a wonderful place for us to live.”
Page 2 of 2 - Monday night, the governing body made plans to replace Keefer in both the short-term and permanently.
The council held an executive session at the end of a long meeting and reconvened at 9:55 p.m. with a decision on how they would move forward.
For the time between May 17 when Keefer leaves and when the next city manager is hired, the council appointed Josh Shaw, Assistant to the City Manager, to serve as the interim City Manager.
“I have the utmost confidence in Josh’s ability to successfully fulfill the role of interim City Manager,” Keefer told the council. “I know that he will serve the community well in that capacity.
After the business of the council had been conducted and before the executive session, the council heard more news about upcoming changes. City Attorney David All resigned from the post he has held for more than 30 years.
All said that after he learned of Keefer’s departure, he began to examine his role with the city, as well. He decided to resign his position with the city even though he will continue his private practice.
All’s last day with the city will be May 31.
The council also voted to hold a special meeting next Monday to hear from the three firms that were chose as finalists to become the consultant to help the city find a replacement for Keefer.
The firms will be scheduled for 45-minute presentations beginning at 7 p.m., Monday, May 13. That meeting is open to the public.