Free Lance-Star reporter Robyn Sidersky covers Caroline County government and schools. You can reach her at 540/374-5413 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow coverage on Facebook or Twitter as well.
Farewell, Percy Ashcraft, farewell…
Here’s the farewell speech given by outgoing County Administrator Percy Ashcraft last night:
Remarks to the Board of Supervisors
March 8, 2011
Mr. Chairman, I ask permission to address the Board of Supervisors…….
I also ask permission to exceed the three-minute time limit…..
Mr. Chairman, members of the Board, my name is Percy Ashcraft and I am a resident of the Madison District……
For the last 11 ½ years, I have had the privilege of being your County Administrator. As of 12:01 a.m. Saturday morning, I will relinquish that authority and begin a new career path that will take me to Prince George County……
With this being my final meeting of the Board of Supervisors, I hope you don’t mind if I share some parting gifts with each of you….
Mr. Underwood, regretfully I will not be able to work very long for you. I want to publicly congratulate you on your appointment and wish you much success….
In order to make it through the days to come in this environment, I have taken the opportunity to pick you up a survival kit….
Included in that kit are (1) Band-aids, knowing that remarks made to you will cut pretty deep at times; (2) Some aspirin, for those headaches that will soon appear if they haven’t already; (3) An ice pack, to keep the swelling down from some of the verbal punches that will likely be thrown; (4) a compass to direct your path; (5) a set of binoculars that can help you see which two Board members might be huddling on various issues; and (6) finally a canteen that can contain your favorite beverage. On some of these long nights, you may want to consider something stronger than water.
Good luck as you survive in this environment……
Over the last three-plus years, you have pointed out on numerous occasions where there are cracks within our government system. I offer you this pack of “Sili Putty” to help in your efforts to make the necessary repairs within our operations…..
I have also heard you from time to time bring the conversations back around to where topics can be discussed on the same level. Some of us refer to that as oranges to oranges or pineapples to pineapples. I believe your common phrase is “apples to apples,” so I want to present you with this card game that might help keep you and our Staff on the same level…….
Finally, in my conversations with you over the years, I have listened to your candid comments and shared your frustrations. I know you dislike matters pertaining to:
1. Our debt
2. Our amount of borrowing
3. Our sometimes creative finance system
4. Our method of purchasing
5. Certain rezoning decisions
6. Certain utility investments
7. And on a broader scale, the platform of the Democrat Party.
I would imagine it is hard to keep track of all the things that make you uncomfortable or dislike, so I am giving you this book entitled “I Hate Everything,” for quick reference.
You brought a spirit of economic development to this Board upon your election in 2007 that was refreshing and productive. I would like to leave with you the game of “Monopoly” as a reminder of the basic principles of economic development……
Your recognition to upgrade our wastewater treatment plant will open more economic development and residential opportunities in the future. I leave for you a symbol of that upgrade….
And as you know, you have found yourself from time to time in some serious discussions with residents of certain kinds of development. A certain gravel pit comes to mind, and there is another one being considered at the Planning Commission level.
In order to do the proper research on these projects, I want to give you this construction set that should give you a keen insight on how construction works…….
And finally Mr. Popowicz, if you ever decide to move away from the world of politics, you certainly have a future in the music business. You were seen singing some Johnny Cash at the Relay for Life a couple years ago. Here is a microphone for you to practice……
Mr. Chairman, the Bible refers to the doubting Thomas….
Many times over the last 11 ½ years, you have had to be convinced of the facts. You are not from Missouri, but you have had to be shown. So I want to leave you with this bumper sticker that tells people straight up that you have to be convinced….
You have also referred many times to your background in architectural design and vast knowledge of technology. It’s not easy to always combine the two, but I thought giving you this “Etch-a-Sketch” will allow you to take advantage of both professions at the same time….
One of our first opportunities together we shared a bowling lane. I swear to this day that I am not very good. I leave you with this miniature bowling game……
And finally Mr. Chairman, I want to be certain that a little piece of me is left behind as a reminder to you of my years of service. So I am leaving you with one of Thomas the Toy Train’s favorite characters – Percy.
First, let me congratulate you upon your retirement. I know we have spoken a time or two about you taking up the game of golf. I thought I would provide you with a set of clubs that might help you in getting started…..
You have been another member that has not been easily convinced. You have said many times, “The proof is in the pudding.” Well, the time has come for you to find out. I am leaving you with the pudding. Actually two kinds, the pre-made and the traditional.
You have been the gatekeeper of the finances as a member of this Board. As all of us know, every penny counts. I am leaving you with this piggy bank to continue to protect the finances of Caroline County.
You have also been a fighter for better internet and cable service to your communities. You have had some healthy exchanges with Comcast and others over the years. Let this remote be a reminder of those discussions and hopefully good things to come…..
And finally, everyone should have a theme song. You have been so active over the years in encouraging such developments as Ladysmith Village and Pendleton and others.. As a matter of fact, I am one of those Village People who has enjoyed the community. And your latest pursuit is to do something that benefits the health and well being of all of Caroline County, citizens young and old. To provide a place for kids to play, enjoy safe after school care and camp opportunities.
This song Mr. Acors is for you. Que it up……
Mr. Chairman, if I may on a more serious note……
I want to thank the members of this Board, and previous supervisors Morris, Farmer, Taylor and Rozell, for the absolute privilege of serving as your County Administrator…..
This community opened its arms to my family and me in October, 1999, and have allowed us to live out our life’s goals to the fullest extent. There is nothing that I wanted to do that I was not able to do while being here in Caroline County. Personally you have allowed me to pursue the charity work that I so much enjoy and hundreds of kids have been served as a result. I am deeper in my faith today because I have worked for supervisors who seek spiritual guidance before they make crucial decisions……
Our successes in this room, and in the old courthouse where it all started, have been many. As a result, we have improved the quality of life in this community in every aspect for now over a decade. As the face of Caroline changed, we changed with it and made it better both for the generations of families who live here and those who moved here in recent years.
I won’t name all the projects that your leadership has accomplished during my years, but a few are worth mentioning. (1) Giving over 200 residents of Dawn their first real look at modern indoor plumbing immediately comes to mind; (2) Developing a modern utility system for the growth areas of the County; (3) Investments in public safety that have included modernizing our Sheriff’s office and moving toward the strong Chief management system in our Fire & Rescue…..
(4) You created a business environment that recruited the likes of M.C. Dean and McKesson and preserved the jobs at Value City and VSE. (5) You preserved the history of this building and made it the hub of community activity. (6) You answered the mandate of our district judge by building a new courthouse and remodeling the old one. (7) And you wisely invested in a new government administration building that now allows our citizens to conduct their financial business in one place….
(8) You recruited the State Fair of Virginia to the birthplace of Secretariat, and (9) you reached All-America City Status in 2009…..
When I arrived in Caroline in 1999, we had no email system for the County. Our only department internet source was a private account for then Economic Development Director Jill Barr. Today we have been recognized as having one of the most interactive websites and email systems throughout this Commonwealth. We are on top of the social mediums like Twitter and Facebook and have online surveys and chats that give our viewers a chance to offer their opinions and get in touch with us at moment’s notice.……
A moment about education. We have always struggled with providing enough resources to fund the Public School Division, but in my mind, you did the best you could with other sources competing for those dollars. I want to thank all the teachers and administrators who invested their time into the lives of my three children. I have had the unique perspective of having a child at every level of our school system, and all three received the best education by some of the best teachers you will find anywhere….
Beating each other over the heads with baseball bats is not the answer to advancing public education. My prayer is that an educational vision will be developed for this County and that egos will move to the back of the school bus and the children and their hope for a better future sit firmly in the front…..
Mr. Chairman, I would be remiss tonight if I didn’t take a moment to thank the many employees who I have had the privilege to oversee. They responded to duty in good years and not so good years. They took Customer Service seriously and made the citizen first in their daily tasks…
I told the Caroline Progress yesterday that we have been lucky to assemble the best management team in the state and keep it together for many years. These men and women could go a short way into neighboring counties and earn more money, but they have invested their lives into Caroline County and its potential…..
My immediate staff of Alan Partin and Pam Hall are second to none. The next person who occupies this person inherits a loyal and committed pair who had no agenda other than to work hard for me and Caroline County…..
Mr. Chairman, Tony Dungy is quoted as saying “It’s about the journey – mine and yours – and the lives we touch, the legacy we can leave, and the world we can change for the better.”
I follow that up by saying it is so easy to be successful, but the best result is being significant. When you have made significant contributions, then you have touched lives for the better. We have done that gentlemen and I thank you for allowing me to join you in that effort….
In closing, author Pam Kidd said it best when she said, “Even as I mourn what I’m losing, help me to fly, trusting you Father God to take me to places that I haven’t yet imagined.”
Gentlemen, as I assume my new responsibilities in Prince George County next Monday, I am a better person for having been in Caroline County. And in the end, isn’t that really what is most important for all us?
God bless you and the great citizens of this County…..