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McDonald ends mayoral tenure like he served, with class

Bartlett Mayor Keith McDonald, left, stands with his portrait painted by artist Jamie Lee McMahan, right, at McDonald’s retirement reception Dec. 10. Photo T Hollahan

Twenty years of Bartlett history ended Tuesday night, Dec. 13, when Mayor Keith McDonald presided over his last meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

A large crowd gave him a long, standing ovation after he was recognized by outgoing Chief Administrative Officer Mark Brown and the six aldermen. 

It was the last meeting for Alderman W.C. “Bubba” Pleasant as well, who has served on the board since January 2007 and was a 10-year representative in the Tennessee House before that.

On Saturday, a two-hour retirement reception was held for McDonald at Bartlett Station Municipal Center, where a portrait of him created by artist Jamie Lee McMahan was presented.

McDonald said Saturday he was grateful that board members made the decisions necessary over the years to prevent Bartlett from falling into economic distress like neighboring Raleigh had.

His advice to incoming leaders on Saturday, whom he also recognized Tuesday night – Mayor-elect David Parsons and elected aldermen Brad King, Robert Griffin and David Reaves –  was to “never forget the trust people have put in you. If you mess up, fess up.”

It was not just McDonald’s night Tuesday, though, some long-serving directors who are retiring were presented plaques for their service and keys to the city, presented with gratitude by McDonald in front of the crowd of family and friends.

Engineering Director Rick McClanahan was one, and the board voted Tuesday to rename the Ardie Road Water Plant to the William R. McClanahan Water Treatment Facility in his name.

Other directors honored included Terry Wiggins, chief of the Bartlett Fire Department for 15 years and an employee of the department since 1982; Mike Adams, director of Public Works who has served since 1994; Jim Brown, director of Code Enforcement since 2005; Tina Schaber, chief inspector of the Bartlett Police Department who began her service in 1991; and Brown, the CAO who McDonald praised Tuesday for keeping the city going while he was going through medical issues and called a great friend.

Mayor Keith McDonald, left, with retiring City of Bartlett directors Mark Brown, Mike Adams, Jim Brown, Rick McClanahan, Tina Schaber, and Terry Wiggins. T Hollahan

McDonald recognized many city employees who play vital roles in city government as well.

Do yourself a favor and watch the video of Tuesday night’s meeting on the city’s website when it is posted. It was filled with heart-warming gratitude for so many people who keep Bartlett running, mutual recognition for jobs well done, and much laughter.

McDonald has a really good sense of humor and made comments during the meeting, as he often does, that had people laughing out loud. He plans to write some in his retirement, and will no doubt incorporate that sense of humor in those stories.

He’s also a religious man. His parting words were:

“There are great challenges ahead for Bartlett and there are great opportunities ahead, and my prayer for you all is that you will see those, that you will get all the information you can, and you’ll make the best decision with that information at that time.

“You’ll never have all the information. You’ll never always choose what you will look back on and think all of those were great decisions. It just doesn’t happen. But together, as a group, you can do great things. I look forward to observing that from the sideline. 

“I want to thank God for allowing me the strength to do this. I want to thank my wife and my family. Patty and I have been married 51 years, and I know she feels every day of it (crowd laughing). I love her dearly, we made a really good team.”

After thanking others who worked with him, naming Jeanie Underwood and Loryn Hernandez, who could not be there because they are ill, he thanked God again.

“I thank God for whatever I did, and whoever I did it with. You get all the honor and glory, forever and ever, amen.” 

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