Outgoing Pickerington City Councilman Gavin Blair received a special honor at his second to last council meeting on December 3 when Mayor Lee Gray gave him a "key to the city."
The symbolic gesture was bestowed upon Blair as a gift of appreciation for his service to the city over the past four years.
"The highest honor a mayor can bestow is a key to the city, I don't know if anyone on council has been given one before," said Gray during the meeting, adding "I hate to see (Blair) go."
Pickerington City Manager Bill Vance seconded Gray's words.
"In Pickerington, everybody has a role to play," Vance said.
"Gavin, you always played your role fantastically.
"You're a big reason for the success we continue to enjoy," Vance said.
Blair was elected to Pickerington City Council in 2009, and served as Council President as well as Chairman of the Finance Committee.
"It was a tremendous surprise that actually brought tears to my eyes," Blair said about receiving the honor.
"I love Pickerington with my whole heart," Blair said.
"I was born and raised in Pickerington, and the last four years were a chance to give back to a community that has given me so much," he said.
Blair chose not to seek re-election in November so he could focus on job responsibilities as CEO of the Dayton Area Board of Realtors, a position he assumed last June. He will continue to live in Pickerington.
Blair said the city's future looks bright, in large part because of the hard work put forth by his peers in city government.
"The last four years we have accomplished so much, but it all stems back to the fantastic team in Pickerington, starting with our mayor and city manager all the way down," Blair said.
"We have paved more roadways in the four years I was on council than (Pickerington) did in the last 20 years.
"We beefed up our police force, and are taking the lead in the fight against heroin in our region and state," he said.
"We will see a world-class hospital come to our area," Blair said.
"We have done everything while maintaining the lowest income tax in our region at 1 percent."
Blair said despite leaving City Council, he won't be a stranger, but he instead will offer his input when appropriate.
He said he will continue to live in Pickerington.
"The council is going to have to make tough budget choices, just as we have done the last four years," Blair said.
"But as I leave I won't criticize future decisions made by council, (but) rather work with them to do good as a private citizen," he said.
Newcomer Brandon Ogden will assume Blair's seat on council, effective Jan. 1. Ogden won the seat after running unopposed in the Nov. 5 general election.
Blair offered his successor both words of advice and encouragement for the term ahead.
"The best advice I can give Brandon Ogden as he comes in is just always be willing to ask questions," Blair said.
"If there is something you don't know then don't be afraid to ask about it," he said.
"Chances are we all asked the same question at some point."