Outgoing public servants celebrated in ceremony
On Friday, Town of Franklin employees, board members and others from the community gathered at Town Hall to bid farewell to outgoing Mayor Joe Collins and Alderman Sissy Pattillo. After years of service, their tenure in the public eye, at least on an elected board, will come to a close when new officials are sworn in on Dec. 2.
Town manager Warren Cabe led the events and invited Pattillo up first to thank her for her commitment to the Town of Franklin.
“When you come into government service you have different areas that you excel at and for you Sissy, one of the things that comes to my mind is the beautification and making sure that the town is an appealing place for folks coming through,” Cabe said. “You have always had that sense of pride for your town, making sure that folks come in and like what they see and want to come back. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for that.”
Cabe presented Pattillo with a picture of the “new” Town Hall building that Pattillo was instrumental in getting constructed.
Pattillo, who was a teacher for 34 years, completed two terms as alderman before throwing her hat into the mayor's race this past fall, forfeiting her seat on the Town Board. She came up short in the mayoral race and therefore Pattillo will not be an elected official anymore, but promises to still be involved.
“I can't say enough about our employees. Anytime we've called on you all, you've helped us and with the Main Street Program, we've called on you quite a bit,” she said. “And yes, I'm changing hats, but I'm still with the Main Street Program so you haven't lost me yet. I'll still be calling on you. But it's been interesting, I have enjoyed it. I've made friends that are wonderful. I want to thank all of you.”
Once the applause of the filled to capacity room went quiet, Collins was invited to the front of the room. A Franklin native and lawyer by trade, he was elected as an alderman in 1997 and served in that capacity until 2003 when he was elected Mayor. Back in the spring, Collins decided that he would not be seeking reelection.
Presenting Collins with a bronzed gavel, the same one that Collins used to lead monthly meetings for the last nine years, Cabe expressed his appreciation.
“Folks don't realize that being the mayor or being alderman isn't just a one time each month thing. It's a 24-hour a day, seven day a week thing,” said Cabe. “Everybody knows you as Mayor Collins. Mayor Collins is the face of Franklin. When people think of Franklin they think of you. You've always done what you think is right for the Town of Franklin.”
He was also given a frame that held a picture of Collins and daughter Sara as he took the Oath of Office each year that he was elected and reelected beginning when she was in the first grade. Now, a junior in high school, Sara was present at the reception to share the moment with her father as the room applauded.
“Sixteen years around this table. It's flown by,” said Collins. “I'll tell you it's tough. A lot of times when people see you walking down the street, they expect you to pick up the phone and get it done, but your hands are tied. That's how the rules are but the public doesn't realize that and that's fine. We [the board and I] bumped heads. I think we bumped heads a lot more often than earlier ones did, but I think that made us a better board. We were not afraid to speak up and I'm very proud of that.”
Collins also praised his mother who was responsible for instilling in him over the years the importance of public service. Francis Collins, when working for the town took it upon herself to gather the portraits of mayors from the past. Little did she know that her son's picture would one day be hanging with those that she tirelessly gathered.
“She taught us public service. She is absolutely the reason that I ended up doing something for the community. I'm only 58 so there's still more time, but Francis Collins is the reason,” he said.