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Leadership, lessons learned remain key to future success

By LISA WHALEY

Publisher

It seems appropriate in an edition titled Progress 2018 that the Herald & Tribune would take a moment to look back to past actions that brought us to where we are today — and to say goodbye to a mayor who we believe made so much of it possible.

As most everyone is aware by now, Mayor Kelly Wolfe recently announced his immediate surprise resignation to a packed boardroom at the March 11 meeting of the Jonesborough Board of Mayor & Aldermen.

There were a lot of tears, and more than a few requests that he maintain his mayoral role — with good reason, in our opinion. Since the moment Wolfe stepped into the mayor’s seat more than nine years ago, his impact was immediate and apparent.

Wolfe’s background was and remains deeply entrenched  in construction. When he stepped onto the board in 2008, he was already well-versed in managing tight schedules and meeting specific budget constraints while still arriving with results in which he could be proud.

This is a background that would serve Wolfe and his town well in his nine years at the helm.

Wolfe’s tenure could easily be described as: spot a problem, arrive at a solution and then get it done. He believed as a town that you get what you pay for – and set out to make Jonesborough’s staff pay scale more equitable. He understood that a inferior infrastructure would always stall Jonesborough’s growth, no matter how grand the idea, and helped orchestrate better water lines and a more efficient waste water treatment structure.

In less than a decade — the time Wolfe has been mayor — the town has witnessed downtown revitalization, the building of a new Senior Center that is the envy of surrounding communities, the restoration of the Booker T. Washington School into a local school for the arts, the reconstruction of the Chuckey Depot, and the growth and near completion of the town’s linear trail.

As for the future, thanks in part to a sizable donation from Wolfe and his wife, Jennifer, Jonesborough is looking forward to the day when the Jackson Theatre will open, bringing more opportunities to Tennessee’s oldest town.

Those contributions have been tremendous — yet we believe Mayor Wolfe’s greatest gift to Jonesborough may be something even more.  Over and over again, as conversation has turned to the mayor’s surprise resignation, one picture has re-emerged.

For 9 1/2 years, Mayor Wolfe has truly been the face of Jonesborough, as well as its greatest cheerleader. At every event in Jonesborough, in its stores or on its streets, the mayor has clearly shown his love for his small town. He has talked freely with visitors, neighbors and friends about its wonders. He has made sure that the movers-and-shakers in Nashville knew our name.

And while Kelly Wolfe was making sure everyone who didn’t live here understood the value of this town, he was also reminding those of us who do live here that we truly inhabit a little slice of heaven. And if we would just join together, we could make it even better still.

That, my friends, may be the greatest gift from our former mayor to the town of Jonesborough. If we can but remember that our future continues to be bright as long as we join together, his work will be done, but his vision will continue.