We’ve all gotten them. Those brilliant idea assignments that your boss comes up with that shouldn’t “take that long to do.”
Williamsburg’s new Hall of Mayors, a display of photos featuring all past mayors in town history, is one of “those” projects.
Williamsburg Mayor Roddy Harrison, who is a retired teacher, first got the idea for the Hall of Mayors while walking the halls at Williamsburg Independent School about 11 years ago and seeing pictures of the former superintendents on the walls there.
He thought why not do something similar at city hall with pictures of former mayors. He figured it would only take one summer to gather the all photos.
11 years later the project is done.
“It is one of those bright ideas I came up with,” Harrison said laughingly.
The Hall of Mayors was officially debuted to the public during a standing room only ceremony at Williamsburg City Hall Monday afternoon. It is a permanent display in the council meeting room at city hall.
Harrison said that several summer workers over the years were tasked with trying to help track down the photos, including: Haley Harris, Rachael Rains and Hailey Pool.
Gina Hamblin, Harrison’s administrative assistant and sister, did much of the work too.
“She jumped into this thing as a labor of love and got all this stuff together,” Harrison said. “Over the course of time, we have learned so much about our past and our history thanks to her.”
Harrison also thanked local residents Pat Jones, Brenda Meadors and Justine Wilson for their assistance.
“It has been a long time coming, but I am so proud that tonight we are going to unveil the Hall of Mayors,” Harrison said. “It is the perfect time (to do this). It is the bicentennial. We are 200 years old. Happy birthday Williamsburg and Whitley County.”
Three former mayors were on hand for the ceremony Monday, including Marcella Mountjoy, Paul Estes and Donnie Witt.
“I am thankful to be here on this happy, happy occasion,” Mountjoy noted. “The slogan up there says, ‘It feels like home.’ That is what it feels like here. It is home because we are here with those that love us; those that have memories that we share; and those that are going to be our future also.”
Mountjoy added that she loved being mayor, but never dreamed of being mayor when she was growing up.
“I enjoyed being your mayor as much as anything that I have ever done. I felt like I was serving our people. I wanted it to be fair and even and kind. All of my dreams happened. I am blessed by having all of you remembering a little bit about when I was mayor,” she added.
“I thank you for being here today to recognize all of these people in the past, who have served and made Williamsburg what it is today.”
Witt noted that he was just glad to have gotten the opportunity to serve as mayor.
“Thank you to all the people and for the support,” Witt noted.
Hamblin said that she was able to find photos of all the former mayors except for four, including: Samuel Van Dyke Stout (1888-1889), Charles H. Keeton (1892-1894), Pete Weesner (1922-1927), and Zeb Ward (1927-1930).
Anyone having a picture of any of those four former mayors is asked to contact Hamblin at 549-6033.
Upcoming bicentennial events
An ice cream social is planned for Saturday from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. outside the Whitley County Courthouse.
The ice cream social will include free games, and music provided.
In addition there will be a “20 Decades of Williamsburg Costume Contest” where contestants can dress up representing any of the past 20 decades of Williamsburg history.
There will be one male and one female winner out of three age brackets: 12 and under; ages 13-19; and ages 20 and up.
Judging will take place from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Saturday, and the winners will be announced at 1:30 p.m.
Winning contestants will receive one free season pass to the Kentucky Splash Waterpark.
Organizers added that you don’t have to dress up in costume to take part in the other events.