Lynchburg, VA - This week Lynchburg Mayor Mike Gillette is celebrating his one year anniversary in that post. His first year he said was a memorable one, filled with many accomplishments and challenges.
Gillette said he's proud of all he and city council have accomplished during year one of his Mayorship. He said it's all been incredibly exciting, even from day one.
Who can forget the storm that knocked out power to thousands? The derecho occurred just days before Mike Gillette became Mayor.
"We started with the derecho, which was quite a time to become the mayor. I was jumping from shelter to shelter and making sure that the city's response was reasonable" he said.
Talk about a stormy start for the new head of the Hill City.
"Hopefully it makes us resilient so in the future, when we face a similar problem, which it's only a matter of time, these things happen periodically, we'll be ready to do an even better job" said Gillette on July 10, 2012.
Once the clouds cleared and the streets were swept clean, it was back to business for the Mayor. A laundry list of items lay waiting; among them, balancing a daunting budget. But it would be one that for the first time in years would include pay raises for city employees.
"It would've been six years without a raise. So that's another great accomplishment of this past year" said Gillette.
When asked what he felt was the biggest project of his first year, he didn't hesitate, "Heritage may end up being the biggest thing I accomplish in all of my years on council" he said.
A new Heritage High School has been a focus of the Mayor's now for years.
"I do feel a special connection to Heritage because it's something I had worked so hard on even before I had become the Mayor" he said.
For this busy business owner, husband and father, we asked what it was that called Mike Gillette to the mayorship.
"Each of us wants to simply take an opportunity to place a personal stamp on that role" he said.
Gillette was quick to say all the accomplishments of his first year are due to the hard work of all city council members. He said some of his goals for his second year include continuing to improve Lynchburg's fiscal situation, as well as working towards further implementation of the city's comprehensive plan.