By Mollie LaSalle
COLMESNEIL – After serving 19 years, and one year into his ninth term as mayor, Don Baird submitted his resignation to the Colmesneil city council at a special called meeting on Monday June 21.
Baird was a city council member when the late E.B. Sheffield approached him and asked him to consider running for mayor. Baird had no conceivable thoughts of running for the office, but after a lot of discussion back and forth, he changed his mind and in 2002, he ran and beat the incumbent mayor 2-1.
Baird accomplished many things while in office. He has been a part of the many grants the city has been awarded over the years, and he is most proud of his partnership with Mike Marshall in the creation of the Emergency Service District #7, Colmesneil’s first Volunteer Fire Department. Baird explained, “Mike Marshall told me if he got elected (Commissioner Pct #3) and he ever got any money, he would help me get the Fire Department built. So, with grant money, money from Pct #3, and David Waxman, who went out on a limb for us, we got the funding. Waxman “worked his magic” and went before Commissioner’s Court to secure the rest of the money needed for the project.”
Newly appointed mayor Duane Crews offered up these words for the former mayor: “Don Baird has been the longest tenured mayor in Colmesneil’s history, and he has done a lot for the community. He has set the bar pretty high, and I don’t think any other mayor has been through what he has. We’ve had three major hurricanes, floods, and droughts on his watch. He’s been there through it all, and I want to Thank him for a job well done.” Councilmember Gene Allen added “You’ve (Baird) been my best friend and my mentor, and I want to thank you for a job well done.”
Fellow councilmember Billy Andrus echoed similar sentiments, as did Bubba Sheffield and Virgie Sullivan.
Baird stated more than once during the meeting that he has enjoyed his time in office and feels he has accomplished many wonderful things for the city. He has devoted endless hours to the city, his church and the youth of the community. He and his wife Barbara will be remembered for the elaborate Christmas displays at their home on Sutton Drive; if you ever went out of your way to see it, you were not disappointed. The Bairds’ Christmas displays were a must-see every December, and a tradition in the area for sightseers.
Baird was honored by the Tyler County Chamber of Commerce with its prestigious “Citizen of the Year” award in 2015, and he was honored on his 90th birthday in 2018 with a proclamation from U. S. Representative Brian Babin (R-Woodville). Lucas Babin, the county’s District Attorney (then a candidate for the office) was also in attendance.
The now-former mayor and his wife aren’t leaving Tyler County, they are just moving closer to family. Upon tendering his resignation, Baird offered up these words: “It’s been a good journey, we’ve accomplished a lot and I have enjoyed every minute of it. But the time has come to move on, step aside, and let the younger people take over. I want to thank the council members and the employees for their dedication and loyalty. I also want to extend my gratitude to friends and foe alike for the courtesies and the willingness to follow under my leadership.”
City Secretary Wendy Bendy summed it up with these words: “tonight was a very sad night for me. Mayor Don Baird resigned from the City of Colmesneil. He has been the best boss, mentor, and leader I have ever had the pleasure of working for. I will miss our conversation, but I will only be a phone call away. I love you and I will miss you tremendously.”
With the former mayor stepping aside, Crews presided over a short meeting. After the first two items on the agenda (resignation of the mayor, and appointment of new mayor) the last two items on the agenda were the appointment of a new mayor pro-tem and removing and adding signees to the city’s accounts with Citizens Bank. After some discussion around the table, council unanimously appointed Andrus to be the new mayor pro-tem and added Crews’ and Andrus’s names to the signee list, and also removed Baird’s name.