By Alex Bridges
WOODSTOCK - Town Council voted unanimously at its meeting Tuesday to appoint Reid Wodicka as a successor to Larry D. Bradford, who retires June 1 after leading Woodstock for 26 years.
Mayor Jeremy D. McCleary and council members spent most of the meeting lauding Bradford and the town's achievements under the administrator's leadership. Council members, including Stephen D. Heishman, spoke highly of Bradford's willingness to help them. Heishman also said Bradford looks out for his employees.
"He's given so much to this town, taking very little credit," Heishman said.
The mayor also allowed members of the audience who know and have worked with Bradford to speak. Colleagues spoke of Bradford through laughter and tears, recalling the town manager's sense of humor and vision.
Bradford spoke first to give his final town manager's report.
"This is it," Bradford said. "Well over 25 years I had the good fortune to be hired as the town manager of Woodstock. The community has been a great place to work and to raise a family, but it's now time for another generation to serve."
Bradford served under three mayors, including former Mayor Bill Moyers, who also spoke about the town manager and recalled the hiring process. Bradford noted that only two of the people working in the town offices at the time of his hiring remain there now, including Town Attorney Albert T. "Al" Mitchell.
Mitchell called Bradford his best friend and said he couldn't drive through any block of Woodstock that had not been improved in some way during the town manager's tenure.
A few employees recalled Bradford's sense of humor in the office and some of his practical jokes. But they also lauded his ability to encourage his staff to grow.
Town Clerk Angela Clem fought back tears to speak about her time working with Bradford. Clem later announced that the town plans to build a garden sitting area in W.O. Riley Park in Bradford's name.
Earlier in the meeting, McClearly welcomed Wodicka to the town. Heishman told Wodicka he would have some big shoes to fill as Bradford's successor.
Wodicka, a 26-year-old native of Lynchburg who was born around the time Bradford began his role in Woodstock, served as town manager of Elkton, Va., from 2009-2011. Wodicka lives in Charlotte, N.C., but plans to continue to pursue a doctorate in public policy at the University of North Carolina.
McCleary noted that Wodicka served as a volunteer firefighter for several years.
"We think he's going to bring a lot to the table," McCleary said. "He's got some great plans, great vision and has some great experience and knowledge to bring to the table."
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or email@example.com