County Council Recognizes Outgoing Members, Auditor
By David Slone
WARSAW — Thursday was the last Kosciusko County Council meeting for members Ernie Wiggins and Jon Garber and County Auditor Michelle Puckett, and they were recognized for their service by everyone there.
Garber, who was not in attendance Thursday due to illness, and Wiggins did not seek re-election this year to the council. They will be replaced by Dave Wolkins and Tony Ciriello, respectively.
Puckett hit her term limit as auditor, but was named by a Republican caucus Dec. 6 as county treasurer. Current County Treasurer Rhonda Helser won the election for auditor to replace Puckett. The swearing-in ceremony is Dec. 20 after the 9 a.m. County Commissioners meeting.
County Council President Sue Ann Mitchell expressed the council’s “most sincere appreciation” to Puckett for her service to the Council, “her amazing cooperative spirit has been such a blessing.” She acknowledged Puckett’s “years of hands-on experience, her forward-thinking for solutions when problems arise, her willingness to always provide for the needs of the council and so many others involving county government, but most of all her dedication to doing the job and doing it right.”
Mitchell said Puckett will be missed, but Puckett’s knowledge and understanding of county government will remain as she will be the county treasurer next year.
“This would certainly be a different feeling if her talents were going to be lost by county government,” Mitchell said, adding Puckett accomplished her job, did the best job she could, made many improvements and found the office better than she found it.
Knowing that Puckett wants to be a county council member some day, and as a token of appreciation, Mitchell presented Puckett with a small token of appreciation — a pin making her an honorary county council person.
Puckett thanked the council for allowing her to serve them “each and every day” over the past eight years; for believing in her, in her abilities and in her knowledge to successfully support the council; for encouraging her to learn and grow; and for mentoring her.
She thanked each of the current and past council members she worked with by name for “making me the person I am today” and for truly being able to call each of them friends.
“I could not have done this without you, and I would have not wanted to,” Puckett said.
Though he was not present, Mitchell then honored Garber. Garber came to the council after serving many years as the Warsaw Parks director. She said Garber had a great grasp of budgeting as he had done that for many years for the city. Garber replaced Council President Bob Sanders after Sanders died.
Mitchell said Garber has been a contributing member, is very thoughtful and considerate with county business. He served on many committees, including the Bowen Center Board.
After a standing ovation for Garber, Mitchell then recognized Wiggins and presented him with a token of appreciation.
She said, “Honoring Ernie Wiggins is an honor in and of itself.”
Wiggins moved from Warsaw Common Council to city mayor to county council “and are we ever glad he did,” she said. Wiggins “eased right in” to the county council position and served on a number of committees and boards, as well as served as the council president.
“Ernie is the quiet linger, the peacemaker, the compromiser, the budget guru who will likely know what he is thinking and will stand up for” what he believes is right, Mitchell stated.
When Wiggins speaks, Mitchell said people listen, and he is always willing to talk out plans and ideas.
Wiggins said it’s been an honor to serve on the county council. He said he was looking forward to Wolkins and Ciriello serving on the council, but he will just be a phone call away.
“Thank you for your friendship. It’s been fun,” he concluded.