At the April 26 town board meeting, former Paonia town human resources advisor Dave Knutson praised outgoing mayor Neal Schwieterman for his 12 years of service to the community. Schwieterman was term-limited and officially ended his service with the swearing in of Charles Stewart as mayor.
He brought the community together "and worked to unify rather than divide," and did it with civility and respect, said Knutson. "In midst of contention, Neal strove to remind people that we're all in this together and have a duty to respect each other... It's my hope tonight that the new town council embrace this legacy and move forward in unity and service."
Outgoing trustee Amber Kleinman called Schwieterman "a peacemaker," and praised him for his leadership.
Schwieterman, who served as mayor for nine of his 12 years on the board and was a Paonia police officer for four years, was formally recognized by the town at the May 10 meeting. Newly elected mayor Charles Stewart presented Schwieterman with a certificate of appreciation and his board name plate. "Thank you very much, Mr. Schwieterman, for your service. It is very much appreciated by this community."
"It's the first time I've ever received a plaque where my name was spelled correctly," said Schwieterman. He thanked town staff, whom he called "the face of the town. It is them that makes the rubber hit the road and it's their work that the citizens of the town see."
Schwieterman estimates he served on the board with 30 people, some who have moved away, some who passed away. "Served because they wanted to give back to their community," said an emotional Schwieterman. "They all gave of themselves freely and they're wonderful people."
He also graciously thanked the citizens "who placed their confidence in me and allowed me to do my work."
And last, he thanked his family "for allowing me the time. It's a lot of nights away and it's a lot of missed dinners, and it's through their generosity that I was able to serve."