Leaving Office Doesn’t Mean Leaving Town

I’ve been asked to write an article for this magazine saying thanks and goodbye to the people of Woodstock. After thinking about it for some time, I came to the realization that this isn’t a farewell. I’m not going anywhere. Some people have asked what I will do with my time. Knowing I’m from New Orleans, they’ve asked if I’m moving back there. Absolutely not! Woodstock is my home. I’ll be buried in the Georgia National Cemetery whenever that happens.

How do you adequately thank people for their support spanning 20 years, 16 as mayor? I think it’s appropriate to talk about the improvements I’ve been a part of during this time.

Shortly after taking office, we hired a new city manager. Jeff Moon came to us from Orange Beach, Alabama. He had a heavy background in developing parks and trails; he brought with him Preston Pooser, our first true parks and recreation director. We sat down at lunch one day, and I asked them for three things: more park space, more trails and an amphitheater. They delivered on all three … within 10 years! I was thinking possibly in a 20-year time frame. Wow! I can’t thank them enough for a job well done.

Of course, as soon as Moon arrived, we entered the great recession. After assuring staff members we would not lay off anyone, we decided that was the time to start buying property for a new city center when prices were at their lowest. Two of the largest acquisitions were the former First Baptist Church location, which is now the Chambers at City Center, the home of city council meetings and the Woodstock Arts theater and parking lot, and the City Hall Annex on Highway 92. This building was purchased for just over $5 million, and it included all the office furnishings. Today, this building is worth approximately $10 million. We took a risk, but I believe these moves produced great results.

Those are some of the highlights. Now, let’s get to the thank-you’s.

Without the support of my family and friends, I certainly would not have been very successful, much less be able to do the job at all.
— To my wife, Jan: Thank you for your love and support over these 20 years. I couldn’t imagine doing this without you.
— To Jeff Moon and the greatest staff I ever could have hoped for: thank you for your unwavering support.
— To every council member I’ve ever served with, we didn’t always agree, but I knew everyone had the same goal in mind: a better Woodstock.

Finally, to the people of Woodstock: Without your support of our ideas for what we could become, I wouldn’t be writing this today. People have asked me what I think is the legacy I’m leaving behind. While I believe that’s best left up to others to determine, I can say this: I couldn’t have done it without you.

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Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Donnie Henriques
Woodstock Mayor

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