Mayor Judy Thein will hand off the gavel in the new year to Curt Giambruno, who served this past year as vice mayor and was elected mayor at the end of Thursday’s meeting.
Councilman Chuck Leonard will succeed Giambruno as vice mayor in 2008.
The first hour of Thursday’s meeting, which lasted three and a half hours, was devoted to reviewing the council’s year and giving proclamations commending service to several groups and individuals.
The council chambers were full, thanks in part to a large contingent of young people who came to hear the discussion on the skate park, which came later in the meeting.
Before getting down to business, the council held a moment of silence in remembrance of community member Bernie Edwards, who died last week at age 75 and whose funeral is Friday.
In her last meeting as mayor, Thein said she wanted to recognize numerous individuals who had worked to make the city a better place in 2007.
The year 2007 brought much-needed change to Clearlake, said Thein.
She recounted changes in staff, including the arrival of City Administrator Dale Neiman in February.
“Behind every great administrator there is a village,” said Thein, referring to the city’s staff.
In 2007 the city also had a “very tough, no-frills budget,” and Thein thanked financial director Michael Vivrette for his work to keep the city on target.
Thein said the city has many goals ahead, including hopes to someday be the county’s “retail center.”
She credited City Engineer Bob Galusha for his work, which has helped get the city in position to be among the first in the state to receive bond money for planned street repairs.
“Our police department also yearned for a new look and a new destiny,” said Thein, recounting Police Chief Allan McClain’s arrival in June.
“You can have a department without a chief, but you can’t have a chief without a department,” Thein said.
She credited McClain with mentoring his officers, and lauded the department’s dispatchers and clerks for their critical roles in protecting the public.
Thein, on behalf of the council, also recognized the city’s residents. “We thank our citizens for their support and trust they place in us.”
Although many challenges remain ahead, Thein said the council is proud of what it has accomplished in the year past, and is proud of it citizens and the community.
Thein had an armload of proclamations to hand out, and started by giving bouquets of flowers to Denise Rockenstein of the Clear Lake Observer-American and Elizabeth Larson of Lake County News, thanking the two reporters for their work to cover council and city business in 2007.
Thein next thanked City Clerk Melissa Swanson, presenting her with flowers and a proclamation of thanks for her work, which includes a dizzying number of responsibilities.
Swanson has devoted considerable energy to making the city’s wish tree for children in the care of Child Protective Services a success, said Thein. The hard-working city clerk was visibly moved by the presentation, dabbing at her eyes with a tissue.
Thein next presented a proclamation to Ken Young of the Lake County Community Care-HIV/AIDS program. Young said the program is the best-kept secret in Lake County, offering testing, information and other support services.
“The face of AIDS has really changed,” said Young, noting that the disease spans every community.
Awareness is critically important in Lake County, where there is a large intravenous drug-using community, said Young. The disease is growing rapidly amongst the 15 to 24 age group, with a 25-percent spike in that group in just the past year.
Proclamations were presented to city departments and their staff, including community development, public works, finance, engineering and the police department.
Service clubs including the Clearlake Soroptimists, Rotary, Lakeshore Lions and Kiwanis were honored for their efforts on behalf of the community.
Other proclamations were given to the Planning Commission, the Clearlake Vision Task Force, the Clearlake Chamber of Commerce and the Clearlake Youth Center.
One of the most heartfelt presentations was to Team DUI, the group of individuals from agencies around the county who are working to fight underage drinking and driving under the influence.
There to receive the proclamation from Thein, who also is a founding member, were Clearlake Police Chief Allan McClain, Sam Laird and Crystal Martin of the District Attorney’s Office Victim-Witness Division, Lake County Superintendent of Schools Dave Geck, California Highway Patrol Officer Adam Garcia, Carrie White of AODS and Catherine Rose.
The group came together through like concerns, said Thein.
Garcia thanked the community for being receptive to the group’s efforts.
Group members lauded Thein for her work in bringing the group together. McClain decribed her as “the little engine that could,” and Laird presented her with a plaque for her work.
Thein, who lost her daughter Kellie two years ago to a crash caused by a drunk driver, “turned a personal tragedy into a very empowering movement,” said Laird.
Last but not least, Thein presented a proclamation to the city’s citizens for their contributions to make Clearlake a better place. The proclamation will hang at city hall.
She also thanked Neiman, who she said asked to remain in the background but whose contributions are highly valued by the council.
The council then moved on to other business, but with a lengthy agenda, 10 items still remained unconsidered by 9:30 p.m., leading the council to decide to continue the meeting next week.
The council will reconvene at 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 17, in its last official meeting of the year.
E-mail Elizabeth Larson at firstname.lastname@example.org.