Citizens, family and friends gathered at city hall on Monday night to honor Covington City Manager Steve Horton as he attended his last council meeting as city manager.
Former Mayor Kim Carter read through Horton's accomplishments and his years of service with the city.
"I'm here as a citizen and former co-worker to offer my thanks and the community's thanks for a job well done," Carter said. "For more than 34 years and 10 months Steve Horton has been a devoted public servant for all the people of Covington. He's been the voice of experience and the illuminating light for three mayors during his tenure as a city manager for the city of Covington."
Carter told the council that before Horton was city manager he led the city forward in multiple roles and has always given sincere, fatherly guidance to generations of city employees.
He began his career with the city of Covington on Feb. 9, 1978 as a patrol officer in the police department. During that time he met his wife Mary Thomson Horton. During the next 10 years of service Horton served as an investigator and was promoted to both sergeant and lieutenant.
On Nov. 3, 1988, Horton transferred to the electric department to work as a line worker until Dec. 1, 1993, when he was promoted and became the city of Covington's first Safety/Risk Manager.
In June of 1996, upon the retirement of the police chief, Horton was again promoted to serve as the interim police chief, with his permanent appointment being made on Sept. 30, 1996. On Sept. 4, 1997, Horton applied for and was appointed as the public works director for the city, where he served as the right-hand-man to former city manager Frank Turner.
On Dec. 2, 2005, Turner retired as city manager and recommended Horton to be his replacement, and the mayor and the council approved.
"He's remarkable in performing his job. He can find the middle ground in situations that you would think were near impossible," Carter said. "He's risen through the ranks of his 34-plus career always to levels of increasing responsibility."
After heart felt words were shared by Carter, the council chambers were filled with a round of applause from the audience for Horton. During the council comments portion of the meeting, council members expressed their appreciation for Horton.
"I want to thank you, Steve, for what you have done and thank you for helping me through my tenure here also," Councilman Chris Smith said.
"Steve, you are a fixture around here, and it's going to be hard to think about trying to go through the concerns and problems we have without coming and talking to you about it," Councilwoman Hawnethia Williams said.
"Thank you for being a mentor; thank you for being a representation of how you are supposed to represent yourself as a gentleman and as a man," Councilman Keith Dalton said.
"You are my friend and you will always be my friend," Councilwoman Ocie Franklin said.
"I always judge people in the depth-of-the-man type stuff and the depth of this man just blows me away personally," Mayor Ronnie Johnston said. "I had the opportunity to watch you work for about a year, and I've watched you interact with people and with citizens and even how you have interacted with me.
"In many ways he's been like a father figure to me-matter fact there have been a few meetings where he put me in my place, but he did it respectfully," Johnston joked. "I just want to personally thank you for everything that you have done."
During his city manager report, Horton gave a tearful thank you to his wife, family, colleagues and citizens.
"I appreciate everything that was done and said about me tonight. When I started working for the city 35 years ago, I could have never imagined that I would be where I'd end up at today," Horton said. "I don't know what it's going to be like with me being retired or whatever comes with it, but I am going to take it one day at a time and trust in the good Lord that it will all pan out the way that everything else has."
Horton will retire on Dec. 21.