FENWICK ISLAND – A trio of municipal officials reflected on their time at town hall as they said their goodbyes during last week’s meeting of the mayor and council.
Friday was Town Manager Merritt Burke’s last day in Fenwick Island and Friday’s meeting was the final one for council members William Weistling and Diane Tingle. Neither is on the ballot for the election scheduled for Aug. 6.
“It’s been a very short 10 years,” Tingle said. “I’ve enjoyed it.”
Both she and Weistling have spent the past decade representing their fellow residents on the town council. Their seats as well as the one currently held by Gardner Bunting are up for grabs in this summer’s election. Bunting, however, is the only incumbent that filed for reelection.
Both Weistling and Tingle said that while they would no longer serve as public officials they would remain in Fenwick Island.
“It’s been a pleasure,” said Weistling, who has served on various town committees throughout the majority of his 23 years in Fenwick.
Burke recalled his first interaction with Weistling when he was hired in 2012. He said that upon running into the councilman in the parking lot of town hall he asked him what his goals should be as town manager.
“He stopped dead in his tracks and said ‘get the budget under control and go find the town some grants,’” Burke said. “With those two marching orders, that’s what we did.”
Burke said that during his four years with the town the budget had been reined in and $400,000 in grants had been acquired.
“We did our best with the budget,” he said. “It’s lean.”
Burke thanked Tingle for her devotion to the community.
“Your passion for the community is unprecedented,” Burke said. “I think everyone in this room respects the history you have with this town.”
Other staff members voiced their well wishes for the departing council members.
“Town employees have always held you in the highest regard,” said Pat Schuchman, the town’s building official. “You’re respected by the employees and you show respect to the employees. I’m really going to miss you.”
Police Chief William Boyden echoed her sentiments.
“The two of you have always been open and honest with me,” he said.
Boyden and Schuchman also thanked Burke for his efforts during the past four years.
“The town was fortunate to have someone as innovative as you,” Schuchman said.
Burke, who is leaving the town to take a position as CEO of the Sussex County Association of Realtors, said he’d enjoyed his time in Fenwick Island and thanked his coworkers, the council and the community. He said he’d developed a transition plan to aid town staff until a new manager was hired.
“I’ll be available to help in any way I can,” he said.
The town began advertising for the position this week.