With the countdown to the end of his last month in office underway, the retiring Woodbury Mayor Bill Hargis gave his final "State of the City" address Friday, Nov. 19 at the Eagle Valley Golf Course to members of the Woodbury Chamber of Commerce.

Hargis used his speech to look back on his 18 years of service to the City Council in conjunction with the community's growth.

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Delivering his address with the aid of a power point presentation, Hargis explained how Woodbury has grown from "a bedroom community" of 26,900 to a thriving community of over 60,000 residents that has become known as one of the "best places to live."

"We're not claiming to perfect but we're doing our best," Hargis said.

Hargis pointed out that he was not responsible for Woodbury's vision and mission, he simply stayed consistent with the vision formulated by his predecessors.

"Woodbury didn't just happen," Hargis said, recalling the service of Woodbury's founders such as its first mayor, Orville Bielenberg.

Hargis noted that during his tenure a growing population meant increased demand in city services, including expansions of Public Works, Public Safety and City Hall.

He praised the increased quality of the city's Public Safety Department and its improved cardiac arrest saves, which he said is well above the national average.

"We hope you don't have a heart attack, but if you do, it's good to have it in Woodbury," he said.

Hargis also pointed out how the city's Park and Recreation Department has grown to include 120 miles of trails and 3,000 acres of park land, along with the construction of Central Park, the Bielenberg Sports Center and Eagle Valley Golf Course.

Hargis noted that the city experienced its fair share of "water issues" over the past 18 years, including the Bailey Lake Pump Station, implementation of state and federal regulations and wetland management.

"I'm going to remember water issues," he said. "Hopefully I don't wake up in the middle of the night anymore worried about water issues."

Hargis' tenure in Woodbury also brought with it a vast amount of economic and commercial growth to the city.

"Thank you for having your business in our community," he said to Chamber members.

Looking ahead

Hargis said he is confident in the City Council he will leave when he officially steps away from his mayoral seat Jan. 1.

"I hope to leave no surprises," he said. "But they will have plenty of issues to work on."

He said the City Council will need to participate in the Gateway Corridor Commission and focus on improving storm water quality in his absence.

"I won't have my office in City Hall, I won't be calling City Hall, I won't be calling the mayor, but I'll answer my phone," he said. "But my volunteer days are done."

Hargis said his tenure on the City Council and as mayor has been a learning opportunity and a growth opportunity.

"It's been a privilege and an honor to serve the community," he said. "I've really grown me as a person, I've gained a lot of intellectual knowledge and a lot of emotional knowledge.

"I won't be taking any questions, so if you have any give them to Mary," he said, a nod to mayor-elect Mary Giuliani Stephens, who was in attendance.