JASPER, Tenn. - After 12 years as mayor, Billy Simpson has presided over his last city meeting.
"It's sad, but it's time for me to say goodbye and leave it to the new board," Simpson said.
At this week's meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, former Alderman Paul Evans was sworn in as mayor.
The new board includes Alderman Paul West and a yet-to-be-named alderman who will be appointed to fill Evans' vacated position.
Simpson thanked the staff, board members and department heads who have worked with him over the years, and he said the revamped board will have tough challenges ahead.
"[They] have a lot of roads to travel and a lot of hills to climb," he said. "I think they can do it, and I'll be pulling for them."
Simpson decided not to seek re-election last November because he said he wanted to spend more time with his family and just "enjoy life for a while."
Alderman Steve Looney, who served on the board with Simpson for eight years, said Simpson has "truly been an asset to the town of Jasper."
"He has tirelessly worked for the town obtaining grants, which during his 12-year term must total in the millions of dollars," Looney said. "This has saved the town money that would have been otherwise funded solely by the town."
Warren Nevad, a municipal management consultant with the University of Tennessee's Municipal Technical Advisory Service, said Simpson has been "a father figure" to him as the two worked together to improve Jasper.
"It's an end of an era," Nevad said. "We appreciate everything Billy did for the city."
During Simpson's tenure as mayor, Nevad said, Jasper won the Small City Progress Award in 2002, the City Parks Award in 2004 and a statewide law enforcement award in 2007.
Evans said he appreciates the opportunity to serve as mayor and will do the best he can.
"No one will work harder than I will to do what's best for this town," he said.