The long-awaited underpass has been named O’Keefe Way on Main Street.
“What a hoot,” said outgoing Wellington mayor Barbara O’Keefe as council voted last Monday to rename a portion of Main Street in her honor.
The portion stretches north from Taylor Street and Main to Clay Street. In essence, in the time it takes you to drive under the railway, you’ll have travelled O’Keefe Way.
“Let’s get that thing done so I can get some signs up,” village manager Steve Pyles urged council prior to the vote. “When you’re under the bridge you’ll be on O’Keefe Way on Main. Look for the lighted sign.”
The joke drew laughs from a festive crowd gathered for O’Keefe’s last council meeting of her 22 year tenure as mayor.
The chambers were packed with family and friends and Ohio Sen. Gayle Manning (R-North Ridgeville) who read a proclamation from the state senate honoring O’Keefe.
“You have combined civic concern and dedication with selfless initiative to become a dynamic leader in the Wellington community,” she said. Manning called O’Keefe one of her two favorite mayors because “she is the model of dedication and perserverance. She reached out to me before I even put out petitions to run.”
The other favorite? Manning also heaped praise and another proclamation last week on Amherst mayor David Taylor, who is bowing out after three terms.
Council also honored O’Keefe with a proclamation, which noted her years on the zoning board of appeals and village council along with 54 years of service at the Village Market, from which she is also retiring at the end of this year.
Mayor-elect Hans Schneider presented O’Keefe with a picture that included a story about the underpass and a section from the ribbon cutting. The $18 million railway underpass project is one of the accomplishments of which O’Keefe is most proud.
Councilman Steve Maurer was also honored with a proclamation from council for his service; he is stepping down from his position and chose not to run again.
O’Keefe read a brief note from Morris Furcron, who said he was retiring as zoning inspector to spend time with his family.
He has been inspector since 1998 and prior to that served as Wellington police chief. At a little gathering to honor the mayor, Furcron munched on a sandwich and said that at one point the mayor was thinking of not retiring.
Furcron grinned and told her, “Well, I’m going anyway.”
Catherine Gabe can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @ReporterGabe on Twitter.
Catherine Gabe | Wellington Enterprise
Ohio Sen. Gayle Manning and Wellington mayor Barbara O’Keefe share a special moment and some mutual adoration after Manning read a proclamation honoring O’Keefe.