Harlem leaders said farewell to one of their own Monday.
Mayor Bobby Culpepper presented a plaque to Councilwoman Robin Root, who opted not to run for another term. Monday’s meeting was her last.
“When I started this a long time ago, I just wanted to be involved and that I was,” Root said. “And I’ve loved every minute of it. This is bittersweet. I look forward to not being on the council, but I also am going to miss it terribly.”
Root served 12 years on the council and is active in city activities, including the annual Oliver Hardy Festival.
Councilman John Thigpen said the current City Council make-up has made for productive working relationships.
“It has been kind of fun with this chemistry,” Thigpen said. “I’m looking forward to Gregg (Stokes) coming on because I think he’s going to add to that chemistry. I’m going to miss having Robin.
Gregg Stokes, Harlem’s assistant fire chief, was elected in November to fill Root’s City Council seat.
Also at the meeting, the council approved the city’s 2012 budget, which included 2.5 percent merit raises for employees. City officials are planning for a total budget of $3,419,883 to include a $2,047,475 general fund budget and another $1,372,408 for Water and Sewer.
City officials recognized Kevin Stokes, a volunteer firefighter at the meeting.
“We especially appreciate all the time and hard work that you have done in helping us with this fire station,” Culpepper said.
Council members also agreed to change the monthly meeting dates in January and February because they fall on national holidays. The Jan. 16 meeting, which falls on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, will instead be moved to Jan. 20. The meeting scheduled for Feb. 20, Presidents’ Day, will be held Feb. 21.