Ellen Hess is back. Sort of.
It has been about a year since the lone, longtime fixture at Airpark Advisory Board meetings last attended one of the quarterly meetings.
She has been on vacation for much of that time since her late husband, a former board member, passed away.
And while most of the board and city officials expressed joy at seeing Hess take a seat Wednesday, Nov. 7, in the chambers at City Hall, it was short lived.
She shared the news when she took to the dais at the end of the meeting.
“I’m kind of sad,” Hess said. “I’m not sure this is part of the minutes. I’m moving.”
The quiet chambers fell silent.
Hess attended virtually every meeting for the last 14 years despite never having served on the Airpark Advisory Board or been in a plane or helicopter at the airpark.
She said she will no longer be in the audience because she is moving from her Clearview Lake Estates home to an unincorporated part of the city.
Hess began coming to meetings in the summer of 1998, and said she learned so much about airplanes, aviation and working as a resident with the city.
“I think it’s very quaint that we’re an airpark,” Hess said. “That gives Clearwater a homebody type thing.”
Dennis Roper, chairman of the advisory board, thanked Hess for years of devotion following the meetings.
“You have no idea how much difference you make with the neighborhood you live in,” Roper said. “Giving them the fact rather than hearsay. We couldn’t break through that barrier.”
Hess said her homeowner group is going through changes and reduced the number of its meetings from four to one a year. The group has relied on Hess to relay airpark issues to them.
“I’m certainly going to miss you Ellen,” Roper said. “There is no replacement, but if you can find someone from your neighborhood to sit in on a meeting ...”
Hess said she might stop in on a meeting and said she will be at the airpark open house, which is planned for when runway extension construction and other airpark upgrades are complete.
She is moving to Regency Heights mobile home park and won’t be able to vote on local issues. With her recent surgeries, Hess said she is looking forward to relaxing in the complex's heated pool.
“I just wanted to say thank you,” Hess said.