With the deadline approaching to file for local offices, Berryville’s longest-serving alderman has another decision to make.
Joel Gibson’s service on the city council began in 1992 after he retired from the Soil Conservation Service (SCS). Still going strong at 98-years-old, Gibson said he will probably run again, but he found some humor in his situation.
In an interview last week, Gibson said, “I’m a deacon at Southern Heights Baptist Church, and I tell them the same thing as I tell the mayor: I’m too old and too slow.” He still does both jobs too well, though. “They don’t want me to quit as deacon,” he said, “and no one runs against me.”
Gibson’s work at the SCS has served him well as an alderman. “I’ve worked with the public all my life,” he said. Most of his work dealt with engineering, and that background comes in handy when considering projects like Berryville’s planned rural water system.
Gibson said working with Mayor Tim McKinney has helped to keep him coming back to the council table year after year. “Tim’s a natural leader,” he said. “I’ve worked with enough people to know who has it.” Gibson said McKinney “sees things that need doing and finds a way.”
The relaxed style of city government also helps keep Gibson coming back. “We try to avoid a fuss,” he observed. The first council meeting of the year took 13 minutes, and included a zoning change and pay raise for the city attorney. Stability seems to contribute to that efficiency. Max Nichols, a relative newcomer, came to the table in 2011. Linda Riddlesperger began in 1997, and Cindy George took the chair left vacant by the death of her father, Burt George, in 2005. City Clerk Leonda Davis began in 1995.
McKinney has served as mayor since 1991, and will deliver the annual State of the City address at the next council meeting, 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 6.