01/14/05 — Retiring city manager honored at reception

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Retiring city manager honored at reception

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on January 14, 2005 2:00 PM

More than 200 people gathered at the Goldsboro Country Club on Thursday to honor retiring City Manager Richard Slozak.

A number of current and former city employees, two previous city managers, the city council, as well as many state and local officials, paid tribute to Slozak's 33 years of service to Goldsboro.

Slozak retirement

News-Argus/Dennis Hill

Retiring City Manager Richard Slozak, right, enjoys a light moment with Councilmen Charles Williams, left, and Chuck Allen Thursday at his retirement party.

The two-hour event consisted of good food, light-hearted memories and a few poignant moments.

Slozak told the group that the decision to retire was a tough one, but he realized that he would be "older than Moses" if he waited to finish all the city projects that were planned.

He also said that his wife's bout with cancer several years ago made him take stock of his life.

"I realized that you live your life in phases, and my family has always been my support, my rock," he said, looking directly at his wife, mother and children. He paused briefly, overcome with emotion, before thanking his family for their love and support.

Gene Dillman, a representative of the state League of Municipalities, presented Slozak with a resolution from the organization, recognizing him for "faithful service and lasting contributions."

The Wayne County Chamber of Commerce gave him a glass plate in appreciation for his efforts to help the city.

Ed Cianfarra, the city's chief building inspector, presented Slozak with a stainless steel barbecue grill, cookbook and utensils -- gifts from the city's employees.

Cianfarra took the opportunity to make a few jokes at Slozak's expense during his presentation.

"One of the things I learned was that he's cheap," Cianfarra said. "Oh, I mean frugal. Frugal, that's what he told me to say."

The City Council gave Slozak a grill cover with the city seal and a travel voucher for a cruise as a going away present.

"It wasn't all love and kisses, but over the years I've grown to respect Richard," said Councilman Chuck Allen, who said Slozak taught him how to work on developing relationships within the council.

Councilman Jimmy Bryan credited Slozak for the city's excellent financial status, while Councilman Bob Waller said that Slozak has done great things with the city's water and sewer plants.

"And he's finally learned about sidewalks," Waller added.

Councilman Charles Williams said that Slozak is one of the most competent municipal managers in the state and is admired by many people.

"He's a man of sensitivity," Williams said.

Mayor Al King said that it was unusual for a city manager to serve just one city in a 33-year career.

"You're a rare animal," King said.

Former Councilman Steve Clark said he was proud to have been a member of the council that hired Slozak as city manager.

"It was one of the best things we ever did," Clark said. "He was the right person at the right place at the right time."

Slozak, who began his career with the city as a federal aid coordinator and later served as its financial director, said that he never thought he would be in Goldsboro for 33 years.

"I had no contacts here, I planned on staying a couple of years but I fell in love with the community," he said. "They really accepted me and the longer I stayed the more difficult it became to think about leaving."

Even being a Yankee Polish Catholic didn't keep people from reaching out to him, he said.

"Some people had trouble with my name, and I tried to tell them it was a name from northern Wayne County, but no one ever believed that," he said. "I've been called Kojack and Slojack, and everything inbetween."

Slozak said he had no plans to leave the community because he considers Goldsboro home.

He thanked everyone present for their praise and said they gave him more credit than he deserved because he was just a "small cog in the wheel."

"I accept the accolades on behalf of the people of Goldsboro and the city staff," he said. "I've had the greatest time and I wouldn't trade it for the world."