Longtime director of public works for Solvang, Tully Clifford, is saying his goodbyes and preparing to head north.

Canada-bound Clifford was honored by the city council on Monday night for his four years of service to the city. Clifford is the second-longest serving director in the city since its incorporation.

Click to enlarge image

He has overseen more than $5 million in completed construction projects, including revitalization of Copenhagen Drive and First Street, as well as the refinishing of the Solvang Veterans Memorial Hall floor.

A proclamation honoring Clifford, read by Solvang Mayor Jim Richardson, pointed out Clifford’s streamlining of the special event process for the city. The proclamation specifically praised his work on the AMGEN tour of California in 2009, calling it “near perfect.” The proclamation outlined his many accomplishments and included his ability to deliver year-round tree lighting to the city.

“He will be missed as a man about town checking on jobs and progress,” said Richardson. He also said Clifford was truly dedicated to his work and the people of Solvang. In the proclamation, Richardson pointed out that Clifford had carried a wheelchair-bound person over a section of sidewalk that was being replaced. Clifford lived in Orcutt but quickly became a staple of Solvang life, even displaying his unique fused-glass creations at the Artistic Pony on First Street. Clifford superheated glass to form a variety of colorful items, many of which are still on display.

Richardson complimented him on his thoroughness in reports to council, and thanked him for being concise in his presentations during meetings. The mayor’s sentiments where echoed by the city council, who all said they regretted seeing Clifford go.

“Tully, you are undoubtedly one of the best public works directors that I’ve had the pleasure of seeing in action. Councilman (Hans) Duus said that you could do the impossible, like walking on water, but of course, you knew where all the stones were,” said councilman Ken Palmer. He added, “I’m really sorry to see you go. It always hurts me to see good employees leave the city. You have lots of friends here and if it get’s too cold, please come back.”

Nov. 5 will mark Clifford’s last day of work for the city. After that he plans to motor cross-country to Crowsnest Pass, Alberta, where he reports for his new job Nov. 15 as chief administrative officer of the municipality. Essentially, he will be doing the work of a city manager, but for three smaller cities that form a municipality of about 7,000 people.

Crowsnest Pass is about 50 miles north of the Canadian border, due north of Montana’s Glacier National Park. But the scenic Rocky Mountain landscapes and fly fishing aren’t the only reasons Clifford is making a northward trek.

Clifford – a native of Calgary, Canada – said he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be closer to his family. However, he said he would miss Solvang. “There’s lots to like, Solvang is a good organization to work for and very well set up for what we need to do,” said Clifford. “The people in this community really care. People will stop you and give you suggestions; I’m going to miss that quite a bit.”

Clifford thanked City Manager Brad Vidro for hiring him. “Before coming to the city of Solvang, I knew a little bit about it, what I didn’t realize was the wonderful opportunity you were offering me.”

Clifford said that the city was in good shape regarding public works, and the current capital improvement program responded to the needs of the community. Clifford added that he hoped he had put in place a program that would allow his successor to continue with the work.

“I think your shoes will be tough to fill,” said Richardson. During the meeting, the council approved contracting with Steve Shively as a temporary Public Works director. Shively has worked for the city as a stand-in director on three occasions in the last decade and would be able to fill the position with little training. Shively will work part time in cooperation with the city manager, while the city searches for a permanent replacement. Currently, the city is taking applications through its website, www.cityofsolvang.com. Although the council wished Clifford good luck and a hearty goodbye, there was some good-natured ribbing about leaving Solvang for the more frigid North. “I Googled Crowsnest Past – do you know how cold it’s going to be up there after all those years in California?” said councilman Edwin Skytt before wishing him good luck and assuring “sunny California always beckons.”

Councilwoman Joan Jamieson asked Clifford how he planned to deal with rockslides and promised to visit him during Rum Runner Days, a yearly event in July. Vidro thanked Clifford for his work, but also pointed out he would be working in an area famous for developing the Kentucky Fried Chicken gravy recipe. “Blame it on Canada,” Richardson said.

Clifford took the jokes in stride and said that he hopes to winter on the Central Coast after he eventually retires.

The public is invited to a going-away luncheon for Clifford on Nov. 3, at Hans Christian Andersen Park in Solvang. Call Debbie Elliott at the city of Solvang, 688-5575, to make a reservation. brookshire@syvjournal.com brookshire@syvjournal.com