Eugene Leggett’s swan song attending a council meeting as mayor of Washington was brief. The June 21 meeting, rescheduled from the week before, lasted only about 25 minutes.
He was kidded “How come you finally figured out how to make it so short,” Leggett said.
The evening went by without much fanfare that it was his last meeting as mayor. That may come when the council next meets in July, said new mayor John Fox Sullivan, who was a council member at the June 21 meeting and became mayor today (July 1).
Three council members were absent from the June 21 meeting — Jean Goodine, Patrick O’Connell and Gary Schwartz.
Leggett isn’t going anywhere. He decided not to run for re-election as mayor, but he did win a four-year term as a council member.
Being mayor “takes a lot more work than I realized,” he said, noting that he will turn 85 soon. “I didn’t feel I could do it for another four years.”
Knowing that Sullivan was interested in the job and ran for it “made it easier for me to step aside.”
Leggett attended his first council meeting as mayor in February 2003. It didn’t come easy.
Leggett recalled that he was nominated to fill a council vacancy in September 2002 but “council was at loggerheads and was split 3 to 3″ and there were four people in contention for the vacancy. The matter went before a circuit court to resolve.
He attended his first meeting on council in January 2003 only to be chosen mayor in February 2003 after the mayor resigned.
Leggett stood for election in 2006 and won a four-year term.
He counts the rebuilding of the town’s reservoir and the installation of a sewer system as accomplishments during his tenure.
The $1 million reservoir project more than doubled the size of the town’s water supply.
The extra capacity is ” important for firefighting capabilities and as a supply of water in case of damage done to the system,” Leggett said.
He said there was an incident where fire responders filling their tankers from the reservoir shut off the water too quickly. Doing so “sent a shock through the system” that blew a crack in the main water line and resulted in the reservoir being depleted in a half hour, according to Leggett.
That happened about 8:30 on a Saturday morning, and service wasn’t restored until the afternoon.
“If we had had a 200,000 gallon reservoir then we could have saved half of the water,” Leggett said.
He said getting a sewer system approved for the town was a lengthy process that required an environmental assessment and reviews involving multiple agencies.
The town secured a $4 million loan at 0 percent interest through the Virginia Resources Authority. That saves the town a significant amount of money that otherwise would go toward paying interest on the loan, he said.
The town got a permit to build the treatment plant in June 2006 from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. A contract for construction was awarded in January 2009. It went online this spring.
The town is getting a $490,000 from the state to help pay off the loan on the sewer system, Sullivan said.
The town’s new mayor says there is “very little change” in the town budget approved at the June 21 meeting compared to the previous year.
A unanimous vote of those present — Alice Butler, Jerry Goebel, Leggett and Sullivan — secured passage of the budget.
The budget includes funds for promoting the town, including $4,000 for the county visitors center. A vote on that allocation will come at the next council meeting, Sullivan said.
The council also unanimously approved spending $1,200 to repair the town’s welcome signs and $750 to install “risers” on the manhole covers on Main Street needed when the street is resurfaced.