Fort Mill Times

After a decade serving Tega Cay, Mayor George Sheppard steps down

Now former Mayor George Sheppard received a fond farewell from city residents and officials during the first city council meeting of the year Jan. 2.
Now former Mayor George Sheppard received a fond farewell from city residents and officials during the first city council meeting of the year Jan. 2.

If all’s well that ends well, George Sheppard’s time as mayor in Tega Cay went pretty well.

A standing room crowd showed up Tuesday night to see Sheppard and city council members Dottie Hersey and Jennifer Stalford off, and to welcome new mayor David O’Neal and council members Alicia Dasch and Heather Overman with swearing-in ceremonies. Much of the attention came the way of Sheppard, who served two years on council before his eight in the mayor’s seat.

“George really turned this city around and we owe him a great debt of gratitude,” O’Neal said.

Sheppard and the councils he worked with earned praise for getting the city out of debt and into a roughly $3 million reserve fund, purchasing the former Tega Cay Water Service, turning the city golf course from a money drain to a moneymaker and working with neighboring municipalities to promote the area as a whole.

Bob Bartkin, city finance director, knew exactly why Sheppard earned the praise he did Tuesday, when it came to finances. Bartkin and Sheppard have been working on budgets for a decade.

“Hands on at all times,” Bartkin said. “Every line item was a topic of conversation with the mayor.”

Finance wasn’t the only city department where Sheppard devoted his time. Chief of Police Steve Parker said Sheppard understood what police departments need, and why citizens need them. And, the police chief said, Sheppard was always willing to serve both.

“Mayor Sheppard has been very supportive to public safety,” Parker said. “He understood that public safety is important to the citizens because they want to know that they live in a safe city, and that they’re well protected.”

Hersey said Sheppard was “everywhere at all times” for Tega Cay, including meetings he didn’t have to attend, swearing-in events he didn’t have to conduct, a council meeting he came to just off an ankle surgery.

“I have never seen a person in my lifetime, serve so unselfishly,” Hersey said.

Praise even came Tuesday from beyond city limits. Mayor Guynn Savage brought some of her Fort Mill Town Council members to honor the neighboring mayor, who they say was integral in regional issues like federal transportation funding. Fort Mill and Tega Cay send students to the same school district, play together through recreation programs and more.

“We know that we serve many people beyond the borders of both our communities,” Savage said.

Savage believes Sheppard set Tega Cay “on a path for greatness,” and said Fort Mill would vote at its next meeting to have a “George Sheppard Day” in his honor.

“This gentleman answered every phone call, every question,” Savage said. “He did it with respect. Even when we disagreed, he did it with respect. And he did it as openly and as honestly as anything I could have hoped for.”