First-ward Perry City Council member Phil Stone, a 10-year veteran of city government, was the object of gratitude and good wishes at Monday night’s council meeting.
Stone did not seek reelection in the Nov. 3 contest because he and his wife, Cathy Stone, are relocating to the Minneapolis area. He will finish his term at the Dec. 21 council meeting, but his fellow local leaders honored the three-term councilor and mayor pro-tem for his devotion to public service and fiscal prudence on behalf of the people of Perry.
The council chose Monday’s meeting to thank Stone and to host a brief reception afterward because “the clock is ticking,” said Perry Mayor Jay Pattee. “We have two meetings left in December, and we didn’t want to crowd anything in at the last minute.”
Pattee presented the outgoing council member with a certificate of appreciation for his service to the people of Perry, and the other council members echoed the mayor’s praise and thanks in turn.
“Thank you for your 10 years of service,” Pattee said, “and for 10 years of being here.” He said Stone’s tenure on the council has seen “10 years of some tough decision making at the beginning and some hard times with the lean budgets, but it also includes some very positive decision that helped form this town and make it what it is today.”
“I want to thank you particularly for your fiscal responsibility and oversight over the years,” said Dr. Randy McCaulley. “You have been a mentor to all of us.”
Council member John Andorf thanked Stone for his government service and also drew attention to Stone’s longtime active involvement with the Perry Lions Club as further proof of his public spirit.
“I considered Phil a mentor when I joined Lions,” Andorf said, “and he was also a mentor to me as I joined the council. So I want to thank Phil for those two personal things and recognize him for all the things he’s done in the community.”
Council member Barb Wolling praised the detailed eye Stone brought to the city’s financial affairs and the way he “helped us drive forward, not haphazardly but with focus.”
At-large council member Chuck Schott described Stone as “a rock of stability” in the sometimes choppy seas of municipal government. “If you had questions or something you didn’t understand or just needed someone to bounce something off, Phil was always a good person to go to,” Schott said.
Stone thanked the mayor and council members for their gracious words, and he seemed visibly moved when gaining the floor to reply. The 40-year teacher of U.S. government and history at Ogden High School is like a senior statesman on the council, bringing a dignity and gravitas to the proceedings even when probing to the heart of the matter in issues of public interest.
“It’s been fun,” Stone said in accepting the certificate of appreciation from the mayor and council. “It’s been a real honor.”
He said he learned about many issues in service that might not otherwise have entered his orbit.
“I found out in the process that I had learned a lot of things,” Stone said, “some of which I really didn’t need to know.” He numbered turkey vultures among these unforeseen issues, along with plowing snow, burning leaves and wind turbines. The council chuckled its agreement.
“I do want to say to the people of Perry as you look ahead to the future,” Stone said, striking the note of a farewell address. “Towns progress, and the things that we’re trying to do are to make Perry better. As you travel around the state of Iowa, you can tell towns that are progressive and making changes for the better. It isn’t always cheap or easy, but if you don’t do anything, pretty soon you look around and say, ‘Well, it’s just like it was 10 years ago,’ and that isn’t good for towns.”
Stone also generously welcomed his successor to the first-ward seat, Dean Berkland, who was elected in a write-in campaign and will assume office in January.
“Hopefully, we’ve done a few things to make Perry a better place to live,” Stone said, “and I want to thank Dean for joining in and becoming a part of what can be kind of a fun thing on occasion.”