CRESTVIEW — The Crestview City Council has unanimously selected former Mayor George H. Whitehurst as the Mae R. Coleman Citizen of the Year Award's second recipient.
Whitehurst, Crestview's longest-serving mayor, was first elected in 1961, and served three terms in office, including 1967-76 and 1995-97.
"People in this city have so much admiration for George Whitehurst for all he has done for the city," Mayor David Cadle said. "He had the vision many years ago that the city could develop into what it is today, and he acted on that vision."
Whitehurst, who founded the Whitehurst Funeral Home in 1955, is one of the group of local business leaders that Crestview Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Wayne Harris calls "The '56ers" because they founded the chamber in 1956.
Whitehurst's accomplishments in office included obtaining funding to convert the former Yellow River Railroad bed into today's Industrial Drive.
His other accomplishments while mayor and after leaving office include:
- Being proactive in the Community Development Block Grant program
- Procuring funding for two fire department substations and the Crestview Public Safety Building
- Initiating the drive for elevated security lights at the Interstate 10 and State Road 85 interchange
- Coordinating the county millennium celebration,
- Initiating a drive and raising funds for the Okaloosa County Veterans Memorial
- Securing 15 acres at no cost to the city for the Crestview Public Library and the community center
- Aiding fundraising efforts for the chamber of commerce building.
Coleman — who is assembling a citizens committee to recommend future award recipients — credited such acts for Whitehurst's honor.
"This is an award for what you do in this community, for your community and for your neighbors," she said. "It is a humanitarian award. Mayor Whitehurst did good for the city. I know he did what he did for humanitarian reasons."
When Crestview acquired a former light-manufacturing facility on the corner of Stillwell Boulevard and Industrial Drive in 2009, the city council unanimously named it the George H. Whitehurst Municipal Building. Today, it houses the Crestview Police Department and Warriors Hall auditorium.
Whitehurst's nomination followed Cadle's recommendation at the Jan. 28 council meeting.
"Mayor Cadle has made a wonderful suggestion for our Citizen of the Year recipient," Council President Ben Iannucci III said at the council's Feb. 11 meeting.
Councilman Charles Baugh Jr. moved to approve whom he called "probably Crestview's No. 1 citizen, former Mayor George H. Whitehurst, as the 2013 Citizen of the Year, based on Mrs. Coleman's comments and the mayor's recommendation."
A burst of applause sounded throughout the council chamber as five "yes" votes appeared on the tally board.
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.