HAZARD — The Hazard City Commission met for its final regular meeting of the year on Monday, which also served as the final meeting for longtime Commissioner Lou Ella Farler.
Farler began her first term as a commissioner 10 years ago. She decided not to run for re-election, opting to concentrate on her career as she is slated to become CEO of the Hazard First Federal location early next year.
“I appreciate the opportunity to have been able to serve the city,” Farler said following Monday’s meeting. “I’ve enjoyed every second of it. I’ve learned a lot from everyone involved, and it has been a pleasure to serve with Mayor Nan Gorman, as well as Mayor Bill (Gorman).”
Farler’s planned departure ultimately left a seat on the commission up for grabs during last month’s election. Ricky Steele easily won that contest as the top vote-getter, while the three remaining commissioners — Dr. Fitz Gilbert, Jimmy Lindon, and Happy Mobelini — each won re-election to the commission.
“I’m excited for Ricky,” Farler continued. “I know that he’s very qualified and excited about doing it, and that doesn’t happen every day.”
Steele, along with Commissioners Gilbert and Lindon, took the oath of office prior to Monday’s meeting. Steele said he has ideas for the city both big and small, but he doesn’t expect to begin his first term in public office by forcing those ideas on his fellow commissioners.
“As far as getting in here and ruffling feathers, that’s not what’s in my head at all,” he said.
But there are issues Steele has been considering, such as economic development. He noted the progression of other towns like Pikeville, Somerset, and London, and added that Hazard has similar assets, such as a flagship hospital and a college, and those are areas where perhaps officials can look to expand.
“There’s always room to improve,” he said. “Look at Somerset and London, and Harlan is starting to pick up with tourism. I think we need to look at stuff like that.”
Mayor Nan Gorman added that she is also looking forward to begin working with Steele on the city’s behalf, and listening to any ideas he may have in helping to develop Hazard into the future.
“I think he’ll do a great job,” said Gorman. “We’re going to miss Lou Ella, but change is always there and he’s a young man, and I think it’s good to have this young man on our team because he’s going to come with maybe some different ideas that we need to hear.”
Barring any special called or emergency meetings, Steele will participate in his first meeting as a city commissioner on Jan. 21.