Commissioner Bobby Kuppers sat on the Board of Commissioners for his last meeting on Nov. 20, and in between continuing to work with the best interest of Maconians in mind, the board took time to recognize Kuppers for his four years of service to the county.
Fellow commissioners and other county employees who spoke of their time working with Kuppers, commended him for the level of integrity and intelligence he brought to the Board of County Commissioners and his diligence to always, regardless if it was what was favorable, stand up for the people he was in office to represent.
Kuppers took office in December 2008 and immediately began working to encourage cooperation and understanding to the county board. One of the biggest impacts Kuppers had on the board that is sure to continue after he is gone is his philosophy of “don't ever stop having the conversation.”
Kuppers always led the board in discussions about topics that were not always ideal, and regardless of political parties or agendas, Kuppers encouraged the entire board to talk about it and make decisions based on the needs of the community at large.
“Thank you for teaching me and the rest of us to always have the conversation,” said Commissioner Jimmy Tate. “It has been an honor to serve with you.”
County attorney Chester Jones echoed Tate by saying he took the words right out of his mouth. “It is so important for us to never forget to have the conversations. Bobby did that on a daily basis which allowed this board to work together and meet on common ground,” said Jones.
Jack Horton, who has served as Macon County's Manager for five years, noted that he had worked with Kuppers from the beginning of his tenure with the county and couldn't think of a better man to have served with. “I have been in this business a long time, while I have been with Macon County for about five years, I have worked in county government for 35 years,” said Horton. “I have worked with a lot of elected officials in a lot of jurisdictions. In the four years Bobby has been on this board, everyone has worked well together and always do the right thing for the right reasons. Bobby has done a terrific job as county commissioner and he will be missed greatly.”
Mike Decker described Kuppers as more than just a county commissioner, but as a true public servant. “I appreciate the passion you brought to the job and I certainly appreciate all you have done as a true public servant of Macon County,” said Decker.
Commission Chairman Kevin Corbin agreed with the rest of the board and commended Kuppers for his effort to bring the board together regardless of their political affiliations. “Bobby, I appreciate you,” Corbin began. “We sit on opposite sides of the political aisle, but your leadership and willingness to work together, matched with a love for Macon County that is so admirable, we should all take notes from you. You have done an exceptional job as commissioner.”
The board room was full of supporters who came to wish Kuppers well, and emotions ran high as he addressed the room.
“There is not enough time in the day to thank everyone that deserves it. First I want to thank the county commissioners,” said Kuppers. “It has been a pleasure to sit on this board with you. People don't understand the work we do when we aren't sitting up here for this board, but our job as county commissioner goes far beyond a monthly meeting. I have enjoyed serving the people of this county with these men up here.”
Kuppers went on to thank the county employees who do all the work and should receive the praise for what gets done in Macon County. “We just sit up here and raise our hands to approve or deny the requests of the county employees. They do the work, we just give them the go ahead,” said Kuppers. “They deserve all the thanks and credit, not me, not us.”
Commissioner Kuppers continued his list of thanks by recognizing the media, department heads, the finance directors he has worked with, and then the people of Macon County. He had parting words of thanks for each commissioner and put their work and accomplishments before his own.
Corbin and Commissioner Ronnie Beale presented Kuppers with a plaque and a Michael Rogers painting to commemorate Kuppers' time on the board.
Beale, who has served with Kuppers the longest, said that while serving the county, he has worked with nine commissioners, but not one of them has been as dedicated to working on behalf of Maconians as Kuppers has been. “From getting a swimming hole for the Nantahala Community, to pushing for the preservation of Cowee School, Bobby has stood up to be a voice for members of the county time and time again,” said Beale. “There is no better servant or someone more dedicated to his position as this man, and I can assure you that we have not seen the last of Bobby Kuppers.”
In his final words before the board meeting broke for a reception for Commissioner Kuppers, he reminded the board of what should remain in focus moving forward.
“Don’t ever stop having the conversation,” Kuppers said. “When you do, you become a victim of partisan politics, and to the citizens of Macon County, you’re worthless. If the only reason you’re sitting behind this counter is because your party wants you to do it ... that’s a shame and you ought to be fired. You need to do it because the people of Macon County need it done. We have always done that behind this board in the four years I’ve been here, and I trust that will continue.”
Kuppers will remain on the board until Dec. 3, when his successor, Paul Hidgon who won the November election, will be sworn into office.