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It’s been a significant year for Los Alamos County Council. Councilors made big decisions on everything from moving ahead with a prospective developer for the Trinity Redevelopment Site to firing County Administrator Tony Mortillaro.
The year even ended with a bang — not only did councilors approve a contract for the municipal building design-build at their final meeting but they also said goodbye to four of its members.
“This has been a challenging year for council,” outgoing councilor Michael Wheeler said.
Despite tough decisions on controversial issues, Council Chair Mike Wismer said, “I believe the county of Los Alamos is privileged … to have Nona Bowman, Robert Gibson, Mike Wheeler and Ralph Phelps serve them.”
In a show of appreciation, each of the outgoing councilors received a Nambé plaque and Chief Wayne Torpy gave them special challenge coins in recognition of the council’s support of the Los Alamos Police Department.
He explained the coins are given to police officers to carry while on duty as a reminder to return home safely.
The outgoing councilors also received a few personal, informal gifts.
As a result of her years as a teacher, Bowman received rulers and a Steno notebook.
Wismer called her an advocate for improving Los Alamos’ appearance.
“I wish to thank the citizens of Los Alamos for electing me twice … this is a wonderful town to serve,” Bowman said.
Phelps filled the seat that was held by the late Jim West. “Phelps is a “real asset to this council,” Wismer said.
Phelps’ efforts led the county to develop an integrated maintenance plan and he was awarded a personal copy.
One of the things Phelps said he reflected on was if you want to get to know the community or be a part of Los Alamos, you either have to live here 25 years or join council.
Being on the council, Phelps said, was “really swell.”
Wismer referred to Wheeler as “our liberal force on council.” Adding, “Mike will be missed, not only as a councilor but as a friend.”
Since Wheeler has an interest in guns and going to the shooting range, he was presented with a mammoth-sized toy dart gun.
“It’s been a really amazing eight years,” Wheeler said. There have been a lot of interesting conversations and debates on council but through each of them were able to walk away as friends.
joked that Gibson’s dislikes could fill a huge three-ring binder and his likes were covered in two sheets of paper in a file folder, he said, “In my mind, Gibson … is a public servant of the highest order.”
Since his likes include the Department of Public Utilities and the Boston Red Sox, Gibson received an old meter box and a Red Sox baseball hat and sunglasses.
Gibson said he learns by doing and through being on council, he felt that he has learned a lot.
“We all do what we can,” he said, whether it is passing a comment, serving on a board or commission, or council – “if you are crazy enough.”