Matt Lasley | GC News-Gazette Rick Embry, middle, is sworn in as the new Mayor of Leitchfield by Judge Shan Embry, far left, alongside members of his family. Also pictured, from left, are his grandson, Mason; his grandnephew, River; his wife, Joyce; his grandson, Ethan; and his son, Craig.

Matt Lasley | GC News-Gazette

Rick Embry, middle, is sworn in as the new Mayor of Leitchfield by Judge Shan Embry, far left, alongside members of his family. Also pictured, from left, are his grandson, Mason; his grandnephew, River; his wife, Joyce; his grandson, Ethan; and his son, Craig.

The winds of change swept through Leitchfield last week as the city of Leitchfield saw its new Mayor and City Council take their oaths of office and a several longtime officials be recognized on the eve of their retirements.

During a special call meeting held at Leitchfield Fire Station 1 on Friday, Dec. 28, new Leitchfield Mayor Rick Embry and five members of the new Leitchfield City Council - Raymond "Tooty" Cottrell, Margie Decker, Clayton Miller, Harold Miller, and Kelly Stevenson - were sworn in by outgoing District Judge Shan Embry.

Also joining the City Council this term will be Billy Dallas, who was absent from the meeting but had been sworn in previously.

The oaths were preceded by recognition of longtime Mayor William "Turkey" Thomason, City Attorney Kenneth Smart, and Councilmember Margaret Fey, all of whom completed their terms at the end of 2018.

Thomason's tenure as Mayor concluded on Dec. 31 after nearly 24 years. He first took office in April of 1995 to complete the term of ailing Mayor Sherrill Watson. Prior to that, he served as a member of the Leitchfield City Council for 13-and-a-half years, first taking office in this capacity in 1982.

Smart's tenure as Leitchfield City Attorney also came to an end on Dec. 31, as he retired after a 38-year career that first begin in 1980. Smart's successor as Leitchfield City Attorney will be Dennie Fentress.

Fey served four terms on the Leitchfield City Council before unsuccessfully running for mayor in 2018. She concluded her eight years of service on Dec. 31, as well.

Thomason and Smart were first recognized by the City Council, who presented them with keys to the city of Leitchfield. They and Fey received retirement watches from the city, as well.

All three then received Certificate of Service Awards and Grayson County Commemorative Coins from Grayson County Judge Executive Kevin Henderson, who worked alongside the outgoing Leitchfield leaders for several years, both as a Leitchfield police officer and as Leitchfield Police Chief.

Next, District 5 State Senator Steve Meredith read and presented two citations from the Kentucky State Senate to Thomason and Smart for their many years of service. The citations were signed by both Meredith and Senate President Robert Stivers.

Lastly, former state legislator Richie Sanders then recognized all of the outgoing officials, as well.

Thomason recognized Sanders and Meredith as two major proponents of the proposed extension of William Thomason Byway, for which the city did not receive the $23 million grant it had applied for but did receive a promise from Governor Matt Bevin that the project would be funded eventually.

Thomason said the project may commence in 2020.

Thomason then read a statement in which he professed his love for his community and thanked his family members for their sacrifices during his tenure as mayor. He also thanked the citizens of Leitchfield and Watson for giving him the opportunity to serve as mayor, as well as his fellow councilmembers for their assistance with his work over the years.

He specifically thanked former City Councilmember Steve Elder for his assistance with the passage of the Leitchfield restaurant tax, which, he said, brings in $800,000 in tourism revenue each year.

Thomason also thanked all of the city employees with whom he has worked over the past 36 years, including Smart and Attorney Dave Vickery, and he wished Embry his best for a successful future for the community as mayor.

"Thank you again for being here and your support," Thomason said. "I am blessed and have made many lasting friendships. I wish each and every one of you the best. I have always tried to serve and treat all people with respect and to provide our citizens with good service."

Thomason, who will next work with Leitchfield/Grayson County Industrial Development, then turned the podium over to Embry, who provided his first address as Leitchfield Mayor.

Embry said the community of Leitchfield thanks Thomason and that there are memorials to his tenure all over the city. He also expressed his regret for his remarks made during a contentious debate between himself and Thomason at a December City Council meeting, and said he hopes that, one day, the citizens of Leitchfield will say he did almost as well as Thomason during his tenure as Mayor.

"I'm so thankful to be elected Mayor of the city of Leitchfield," Embry said. "I'll be at city hall every day."

Embry said his door will always be open to suggestions.

"I want to grow, and I look forward to you helping me, and I look forward to the council helping me," he said.

In other business:

*The City Council approved the second and final reading of ordinances providing $1,000 for each new employee hired by OFS and Xtreme Fabrication over the next 60 months.