By Lyonel Doherty
A box of Kleenex was Maureen Doerr’s best friend on Tuesday.
When the Town councillor was called upon to give her final report, there was a long pause as she covered her mouth with her hands. Fellow Councillor Petra Veintimilla then handed her the box of Kleenex.
“How do you say thank you when you’re sad? How do you convey your feelings when they’re still raw?” Doerr asked.
The local businesswoman has had the privilege of sitting at the council table for seven years.
Sniffing, she noted it was fun and challenging, with its ups and downs, accomplishments and setbacks.
“Not all decisions made at this table will be to everyone’s liking. But this table is not a popularity contest.”
Doerr said being at the table means working for the betterment of the whole community, adding that some decisions are harder to make then others, knowing that it will alienate some citizens.
“I am a person who speaks her mind, which can be thought of as a fault to some. But I was raised to never simply go with the flow and say what you think people want to hear.”
Doerr said Oliver’s infrastructure will always be the most important job on council, noting that without the maintenance of that, there is no community.
She expressed her pride in the revitalization of Oliver’s emergency social services, adding there is now a strong group of volunteers ready to handle any disaster.
Doerr has been a long-time volunteer in the community, working to enhance Oliver’s Art Walk, Rotary Club, Youth Ambassador Program, Oliver Business Association and Christmas Light-Up. And she recently joined Crime Watch.
Doerr said she will miss being a part of the change and growth of Oliver, and thanked Town staff for their strong support.
“To my fellow council members, you have the torch to carry forward. Don’t let me down.”
Doerr joked that she won’t be here to hit fellow Councillor Larry Schwartzenberger anymore, but he will always know that she is there.
She thanked outgoing Mayor Ron Hovanes for his unwavering commitment and years of service to the town.
Finally, Doerr said she hoped her contribution has made a difference.
Schwartzenberger said it was a real pleasure working with Doerr, Hovanes and water councillor Andre Miller, noting he learned a lot from them individually.
“I can say without hesitation that they all contributed to the betterment of our community.”
Miller said the past 28 years on council was a real pleasure.
“I’m actually glad it’s over.”
Re-elected water councillor Rick Machial thanked Miller for serving the Town for so long.
He stated that Miller was his partner on council and without that cooperation it would have been a lot tougher.
“I’ll see him all the time driving past my packinghouse.”
Before his final address, Hovanes playfully remarked that he actually won the municipal election at Oliver Elementary School.
He referred to Travis McIntyre’s class where the students re-elected him with 113 votes compared to Martin Johansen’s 32.
Hovanes said he felt like a rookie on council after 16 years compared to Miller’s 28.
The mayor thanked the citizens of Oliver for an opportunity that not everyone gets to experience.
“Nobody goes on to a small town council or any council without the intent of hopefully leaving your community in a little better place than when you found it.”
He noted that many things have taken place to make Oliver a better place for everyone’s children and grandchildren.
Hovanes paid special tribute to his wife Tara, whom he noted has given as much to Oliver as he has.
“Thank you very much . . . I couldn’t have done it without you.”
November 5 is the inaugural meeting and swearing in of the new council.
“I wish them well,” Hovanes said. “You know what? For those of us that are leaving, we’re handing over something pretty special, so don’t screw it up!”
Doerr then piped up, “We’ll be watching.”