Council meeting features tributes to Jarratt

Published 11:00 am Wednesday, March 27, 2024

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Franklin City Manager Amanda C. Jarratt received a variety of tributes to her years of service in the city and the region during the Franklin City Council meeting Monday, March 25, which marked her final time sitting on the dais as city manager.

Jarratt submitted her resignation as city manager on Feb. 1, and it became effective at the end of Tuesday, March 26. She has been hired as a deputy city manager for Virginia Beach, the largest city in the state.

A Feb. 2 news release from the city of Virginia Beach noted that Jarratt’s hire is the culmination of a nationwide search. She will be overseeing four city departments: Agriculture, Convention & Visitors Bureau, Economic Development, and Planning and Community Development.

At the conclusion of the city manager’s report to the council on Monday, she said, “If I may take a personal point of privilege, it has been a pleasure working with you all over the last five years. I have greatly appreciated my relationships with you all.”

She then highlighted some of the biggest events during her five-year tenure as Franklin city manager that began in January 2019.

“I was reflecting with the staff earlier, and we have gone from a microburst, to a pandemic, to a fund balance below policy level, to a barricade situation the night before we all stayed up for the fireworks; the institution of fireworks in an Independence Day celebration; an explosion, several tragedies across the entire community where everyone pulled together to overcome; hurricanes; power outages; a bomb scare; multiple meetings, more than I would like to recall with the health department; the holiday party with the staff, the cookout with the staff; and the development of the lead team,” she said. “And so I just would like to say, ‘Thank you.’”

Council members replied by saying “thank you” to her and helped initiate a standing ovation among all those present at the meeting. A quorum of the council was present, with only Ward 3 Councilman Gregory McLemore absent.

Jarratt, who grew up in Windsor, has served extensively in the Franklin community from 2006-24, working in different roles with the city and with Franklin Southampton Economic Development Inc. during that time.

When she first got out of graduate school, she served as Franklin’s city planner, working in that role from 2006-08. 

She was promoted to deputy director of Community Development for the city in 2008 and served in that role until 2009, when she left to go to Roanoke Rapids for a time.

After she returned, she worked as FSEDI’s manager of marketing from May 2011-March 2012, and then she was promoted at that point to president and CEO of FSEDI. She held that role until January 2019 when she started her tenure as Franklin’s city manager.

After Jarratt’s remarks during Monday’s council meeting, Franklin Mayor Robert “Bobby” Cutchins shared his tribute to her.

“Amanda, on behalf of myself and the city of Franklin, we wish you all the best in your endeavors, and I’d like to publicly thank you for your service to the city over the past five years and your many years at FSEDI,” he said. “The city has made significant progress and completed many worthwhile projects to benefit our community.

“In addition to your service to the community, you’ve advocated tirelessly for the city employees, city residents and as well as the city,” he continued. “Your efforts have helped position the city for a bright future, even though we had to pause for approximately two years due to the pandemic, in which time you stepped up to help the city through those trying times.

“We do thank you very much,” he said. “It means a lot. And if you ever need us, call.”

Ward 1 Councilman Mark R. Kitchen spoke next.

“I’d like to say, Amanda, many, many thanks for the years that you’ve given to us,” he said. “You’ve brought us together as a team. You’re an awesome and gracious leader with a big heart and even bigger backbone. I wish you would have stayed 10 more years, and if it hadn’t been for the bullying and intimidation, I think you would have, but Godspeed, and God bless you.”

Kitchen had previously submitted a statement to The Tidewater News, alluding to “haughty attitudes and inflated egos” on the council that he believed played a role in Jarratt’s departure.

Ward 5 Councilwoman and Vice Mayor Wynndolyn H. Copeland was the next to speak after Kitchen on Monday, and she thanked Jarratt for her dedicated service.

“You’ve done a lot for the city, and we just greatly appreciate you, and you will be missed,” she said. “Godspeed.”

Ward 4 Councilman Dr. Linwood Johnson praised Jarratt for possessing a multiplicity of abilities that helped her become a highly successful manager, and he said that these abilities had been recognized by more than just the council.

“When I went through the state, different areas, individuals would come up to me and call out your name and mention those (abilities), and they gave you the title of being one of the greatest city managers in Virginia,” he said.

He praised her for helping promote the Franklin Business Center and the city overall.

“Basically with that, individuals would come up to me and say, ‘Y’all have made tremendous progress,’” he said. “I didn’t have to tell them that. And so with that, my best wishes, and you’ll do great throughout your next endeavor.”

Ward 6 Councilwoman Jessica G. Banks referenced a reception in Jarratt’s honor held in a conference room in the back earlier in the evening when she said, “I didn’t get a chance to say anything in the back because I really can’t put everything I’m feeling right now into words, but I’m going to try my best: I just want to say thank you for your integrity, your transparency. Team Millennial all the way!

“It is not easy, but I think that your personality was so diverse for us all,” Banks said. “And I know this may not be grammatically correct, but my grandmother would always say, ‘When you do good, good will follow you,’ and I stand on that, and I believe that it relates to you. So Godspeed in your future.”

Ward 2 Councilman Ray Smith reiterated his tribute he made at the reception.

“I think I said earlier, but Ms. Jarratt has served this city very well,” he said. “For a town of 8,000 people, we have probably progressed more under her administration than most any city I know of, and there’s quite a few cities around the east of 8,000 people or less, and most of them have a pretty tough time, and she’s navigated through this maze of different things with excellence, and I’d like to thank her again.”

Cutchins concluded the series of tributes by putting into context the city manager role and Jarratt’s achievements in it: “Always remember this — if it was easy, everybody would do it.”