Nearly every official and key staff member of Colorado Springs government and Colorado Springs Utilities gathered Wednesday night to laud the public service provided by departing Councilwoman Helen Collins and Councilmen Keith King and Larry Bagley.
Council President Merv Bennett led the storytelling, noting that Bagley - who headed the Marijuana Working Committee - "will forever be indelibly associated with Colorado Springs' marijuana industry. You've done heroic work."
Joked Bagley: "There were a few free samples involved."
During the event at the Patty Jewett Golf Clubhouse, Bennett marveled at King's stamina, saying: "Keith has been running this incredible school, doing City Council work and work for Utilities. I don't know how you did it."
Collins hadn't arrived when Bennett noted how she "made quite a name for herself by constantly voting 'no.' I greatly admire her for staying true to her convictions. I believe Helen spoke for parts of our community that don't have a voice."
But Collins materialized just after Mayor John Suthers described her as "one of the most respectful and polite people I ever met."
"I was out looking for a job," said Collins, who lost her bid for re-election April 4.
"I thank Yolanda (Avila) for running; she's going to do a great job I'm sure," Collins said of her election opponent.
Suthers was saying, "The city of Colorado Springs was here long before we got here" when Councilman Tom Strand interrupted with: "Except Larry!" Bagley has taken a lot of ribbing as the oldest member of the council at 73.
"Keith was the only legislator I ever knew who understood the Colorado School Finance Act," Suthers said. "When I think of Larry Bagley, I think of his incredible reservoir of common sense."
Utilities CEO Jerry Forte remarked on the city's good people, saying, "I'm glad for you all, including the media ..."
"Oh Jerry," Suthers interrupted, "let's not go too far!"
Forte said King "constantly was moving the agenda forward for the community, Utilities and his real passion, education."
As for Bagley, he said, "My great grandfather has been gone for a while, but he said good things about you."
Forte told Collins, "You are the consummate respectful human being, and you really pushed our agenda in a good way."
When it was the former council members' turn, Collins urged the council, "Please, please think of the southeast," the long-neglected District 4 region she represented.
Bagley said he was "continually amazed at the dedication" of city and Utilities staff.
King, who earlier served as a state senator and representative, said his council service was the most interesting during his 20 years in politics. "This is a city of champions," he said, choking up. "There are just a lot of good people here."