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School leaders thank retiring county manager for his support

County Manager Steve Wyatt presents a budget overview to county commissioners. County Manager Steve Wyatt presents a budget overview to county commissioners.

Henderson County's school system leaders came to the meeting of the Board of Commissioners on Wednesday to publicly thank retiring County Manager Steve Wyatt for his support of the schools, including aggressive investments in new and renovated schools, security and technology.

Immediate past schools superintendents David Jones and Bo Caldwell, current Superintendent John Bryant and past and current chairs Amy Lynn Holt and Blair Craven expressed appreciation for the strong working relationship that has helped make the county schools system among the top 5 in the state by most measures.

"We want to thank you for your service and dedication to Henderson County, not only our county as a whole but also our great school system," Jones said. "We were able to build a lot of buildings and do a lot of things that would not have happened without you."

"When Steve Wyatt would call me or I would send a text to have him call me, he would always say, 'What have you done for your country today?' Caldwell said. "And it kind of got to be a little pressure on what my answer woud be." His answer on Wednesday: "I've gotten to know you because to me there's no better person to learn from. You truly love this country, you love our state and you truly love our community. ... I've always heard, if you want to go fast, go by yourself. If your want to go far, go together and that's what we've done is we've gone together."

Immediate past School Board chair Amy Lynn Holt recalled that she arranged a meeting with Wyatt in the days following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that killed 17 children in Parkland, Florida, to plead for funding for school safety. "Then he said the Board of Commissioners would have to approve it but I've set aside a million dollars so we can have SROs in every school," Holt said. "We tested that out when we had a tragedy that happened and that SRO was right there where he needed to be."

Schools Superintendent John Bryant said: "I'm saddened that I won't have more opportunity to work alongside you because your service has been a model of how that service should be." If the School Board, county administration and county administrators have enjoyed a productive working relationship, "it's not because we've always agreed," he said. "It's because we've never stopped talking."

"That was unexpected and certainly undeserved," Wyatt said of the praise. "As far as David Jones and Bo and John is proof positive that the Board of Education has continured to improve their quality through the years. But we have had a wonderful working relationship and you can drive around this county (and see the proof). But it's a team. It takes folks that have vision and then have the courage. This board a couple of years ago raised taxes 5 cents and it all went to education."