Outgoing City Manager Craig Martin says good-bye at last-day reception

Sean C. Morgan

Former city councilors, staff members and Sweet Home residents said goodbye to City Manager Craig Martin Friday afternoon at a reception in his honor.

Martin, who had been city manager since 1997, entered an agreement with the City Council April 19 to enter involuntary retirement effective on Friday, April 30.

“It tears at my heart, actually,” said former Mayor Craig Fentiman. “I hired him.”

Martin, a Sweet Home High School graduate, came back to Sweet Home from a county parks and recreation department in Wenatchee, Wash. He had no city management experience at the time.

Tim McQueary, a former mayor who was also present, would probably remember this, Fentiman said as he recalled the words of former Councilor Robert G. Danielson at that time: “Take a chance on him. He’s going to be great.”

“He ended up being a terrific, fantastic city manager,” said Fentiman, who worked 16 years with Martin as city manager. “I cannot say enough about Craig.”

Fentiman said the two ended up being “really good friends in the long run” and wished Martin “the best.”

“I want to thank everybody for putting up with me, especially my staff,” Martin said to the group of about 30 people in the City Council chambers. “I just really appreciate the moral support from everybody in the community. I’m going to miss you guys, but hopefully, I’ll still be in your hair. It’s not like I’m moving to Mars. We’ll stay in touch.

“It’s been great. Honestly, all the good things that have happened, it’s not because of me. It’s you folks (the staff, the council). Everybody’s played a part in it. It’s been great. It’s been a great effort. It’s been a great ride.

“Like every surfer knows, eventually the wave hits the beach. I just wanted to make sure I didn’t end up with my head stuck in the sand.”

Martin also thanked his wife for putting up with him for more than 30 years, nearly 19 of them in Sweet Home, where they raised their three children.

“If we could do it all over again, I don’t think we would do anything differently,” Martin said.

Alice Grovom praised Martin’s involvement in the Beautification Committee’s efforts to beautify Sweet Home and Martin’s wife, Willa, a fifth-grade teacher at Hawthorne Elementary, for her Veterans Day and Memorial Day programs she organizes with her students at the Sweet Home Veterans Memorial each year.

Wendy Younger was Martin’s administrative assistant for more than nine years.

She recalled taking the job and being “very intimidated,” though she hastened to add that it was not because of Martin.

“I was young. It was different. I knew really nothing about the city. I had social service experience and some office stuff.

“I learned so much and that was because of Craig, who made every day a great day to come to work. I never once thought ‘I don’t want to go this morning.’”

“He was the best boss and an amazing leader. The city’s not going to be the same without him,” she said, addressing her final statement to Martin: “Thank you for all your dedication, loyalty, respect for others and kindness.”