Fellow Berea City Council members praised Virgil Burnside, their longest-serving and only minority colleague as he attended has last meeting Tuesday
Burnside, who has served on the council for 17 years did not seek re-election.
Burnside was presented with a plaque commemorating his years of “leadership and dedication to the Berea City Council, 1997-2014.”
“He’s been the most professional person you can imagine,” said council member Violet Farmer. “He has meant so much to the city of Berea. He’s the epitomy of what a public servant should be. You’ve been an exemplary human being and mentor to all of us.”
Council member Diane Kerby recalled when Burnside was tapped to fill a seat being vacated by then council member Randy Stone, who became city administrator. “He has been an excellent choice, a great friend and a true public servant.”
Burnside said, “I’m really the one who has been blessed. I have been really honored and pleased for eight terms to be able to serve the citizens of Berea and honored to have their support and their confidence in me to do that job.”
In addition, Burnside praised the city administrator, department heads, employees, the mayor and his council colleagues. “I’ve been blessed to work with really good people.”
Initially appointed to serve on the council by Mayor Clifford Kerby, Burnside retires undefeated, having won all eight of the council races he entered, beginning in 1998.
He has lived in the city for 45 years, having come to Berea College as a student in 1969. In January, the college named him its vice president for labor and student life.
After Burnside’s comments, he stepped down from the dais and the mayor and members of the city council elected for terms beginning Jan. 1 prepared to be sworn in by Madison Circuit Judge William G. Clouse.
Steve Caudill was the only new face in the group, joining re-elected incumbents Mayor Steve Connelly,and council members Ronnie Terrill, Chad Hembree, Chester Powell, Billy Wagers, Jerry Little, Farmer and Kerby.
When appointed in 1997, Burnside was among the younger members of the city’s governing body. He expressed confidence that Caudill, now the youngest council member will serve the city well.
“I think the city really did make a good choice in Steve Caudill. I think he’ll do an excellent job,” Burnside said. “I was really hoping that we would get some young faces up here, instead of all these gray heads and hairless heads,” Burnside joked.