By Sarah Naron
GRAPELAND – Various representatives of the City of Grapeland were present at a luncheon held Tuesday, May 8 at The Station in honor of Grapeland Mayor Pro-Tem Michael Chapman, who recently announced his decision not to run for re-election to the Grapeland City Council.
“My kids are getting older, and they’re very busy, so I’m very busy,” Chapman explained. “So, that’s why I decided not to run.”
Chapman began serving as a councilman in May 2012.
“I just wanted to be involved in the community and try to help out,” Chapman said when asked what inspired his decision to become a council member. “I wanted to learn things, and I did. When you get involved with a city, you learn a lot of things you didn’t know about how things run and how things work.”
Former Grapeland Mayor George Pierson praised Chapman’s efforts in combatting a water well issue experienced during Pierson’s tenure as mayor.
“He was the one that really monitored the funds,” Pierson explained. “He pushed to hurry up and get it completed and everything. That was one of our hardest tasks during the time that I was mayor. He worked with me hand in hand.”
Despite a number of budget disagreements, Pierson said, he and Chapman “worked it out” and described Chapman as “a professional.
“I hate to lose him,” Pierson said. “Matter of fact, I asked him to run again. He was great.”
Former Mayor Pro-Tem Wanda Nichols also spoke of her gratitude for the opportunity to serve on the council alongside Chapman.
“I enjoyed serving with him when I did,” she said. “His interest is in the community and the people in the community. He was an asset to the city, and I wish him the best of luck.”
In addition to the city council, Chapman also serves on the Grapeland Economic Development Corporation.
“We are thankful to have him on the EDC,” said GEDC President C.L. McGill of Chapman. “He’s always upfront, he knows where he stands and he’s always willing to work. He’ll go out there and do the extra mile.”
Brandon Bridges, also of the GEDC, described being “a godly person” and representing “good Christian values” as traits he admires in individuals with whom he works.
“I’m proud to say Michael does,” Bridges said. “His better half helps keep him in line in those regards. It’s just a wonderful family.
“Thank you for serving, Michael, and thank you for all you do and what you represent in our community,” Bridges finished.
As Mayor Balis Dailey pointed out, undertaking an unpaid public service position such as that of a councilman “is an extremely wonderful sacrifice of yourself” for the local community.
“It’s wonderful, Michael, that we have an opportunity to tell you how much we appreciate what you’ve done in the past six years,” Dailey said. “And of course, you’ve inspired us for what you’ll do in the future.”
Dailey provided information on a few of the many projects Chapman played an instrumental role in while serving on the council, including balancing the city’s budget for two consecutive years.
“Also, in addition to that, working with him, we have been fortunate to get $1.7 million in grants,” Dailey continued. “And that was not easy. But in that, this is what we got out of it. We were able to change the old nursing home into something that’s valuable and something that’s now providing a great community service. And Michael was a key part of that particular plan and the vision that we had.”
Chapman, a collector of knives, was presented with a commemorative knife along with a certificate expressing gratitude for his service to the city.
“This is something to hang on the wall so that when you pass by, you’ll say, ‘Man, I remember all those nights. I remember standing outside, trying to solve problems; trying to keep people happy,’” Dailey said of the certificate. “You can just look at that and remember it.”
Sarah Naron may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.