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January 23, 2014

Retiring town clerk gets huge send-off in White Springs

Jasper — On Tuesday, Jan. 14, White Springs Town Clerk Shirley Heath was treated to a huge retirement send-off party inside town council chambers.

More than 50 friends, neighbors, town officials and other guests were on hand to salute Heath’s 18 years of service to the town of White Springs.

When Mayor Helen Miller asked Heath if she thought her retirement day would ever come, Heath responded, “No, when I turned in my letter in August, I thought January was years away, but it went like that,” she added, snapping her fingers.

Guests were invited to come up and say a few words and first up was District 4 Hamilton County Commissioner Randy Ogburn, who said Heath has been a great friend and neighbor to he and his wife Martha. He thanked her for all her hard work to make White Springs a better place to live.

“The thing that I thank you the most for is your integrity,” Ogburn said to Heath, “That speaks louder than anything.”

Former White Springs Mayor Joseph McKire said, “I do want to thank you for your service to the town of White Springs, particularly during the time I was in office. You and I came through some times where we had to have the right person for the right job at the right time, because we were under some mandates that we had to fulfill, and not just anybody could do that,” he added.

“You have really conducted yourself very professionally through a wide range of many, many, circumstances, some of which would be so frustrating that it would be difficult for a person to keep their cool,” said Vice Mayor Walter McKenzie. “You have well represented the town of White Springs because in many instances you were the face for the town of White Springs.”

Elaine McGrath from Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park said it seems as if she has worked with Heath forever.

“You’ve done a lot to help bring the town and the park together,” said McGrath. “Like I said before, we have lots of volunteer jobs here at the park.”

Three of Heath’s Florida Association of City Clerk cohorts presented a moving, and at times tearful, presentation about their times spent with Heath at different functions. Jasper City Clerk Jennifer Hightower, along with Audrey Sikes and Linda Johns, on behalf of all the members of the association, gave Heath an honorary resolution plaque that detailed her career.

“We are a network of people and we help people,” said Johns. “Not only in our community, but Shirley has helped with every community that we’ve been a part of.”

Heath thanked everyone for coming out to help her celebrate her retirement and offered a few humorous anecdotes about her associates at town hall.

When all was said and done, Heath proclaimed, “Well, I’ve attended my last council meeting, typed my last minutes, held my last election, and hopefully handled my last 119 request for public record,” she added, as everyone laughed along with her. “I can’t tell you how many thousands I’ve handled,” she added.

All in attendance enjoyed a delicious buffet of food, including Heath’s retirement cake that was beautifully decorated as a beach with palm trees and surf boards. It seemed quite apropos as Heath is leaving soon on a Caribbean cruise with her husband.

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