HASTINGS, Fla. – It may remain the Potato Capital of Florida, but the town of Hastings will dissolve and become an unincorporated part of St. Johns County in two more weeks.
The historic end of Hastings, which was established in 1909, moved one step closer Monday evening when the final town commission took place and residents poured their hearts out.
Mayor Tom Ward began the last town commission meeting in Hastings history with the Pledge of Allegiance, a pray and then thank-yous.
"Father, we thank you (for) prospers that came out of this building," Ward prayed. "You will forever be in my thoughts and prayers as we transition into this new chapter in our lives and futures."
Shelby Jack, who serves as town manager until Feb. 28, presented plaques of service recognition to the mayor and commissioners.
"I must admit, there's a myriad of emotions that I'm experiencing," Jack said. "Joy, sadness."
Fifteen residents sat in folding chairs in the meeting room and applauded each presentation.
"I think, mainly, I want to say thank you for all the years of service and the commitment," said Rotary Club President Nancy Quatrano.
Town employee Floyd Cooper added, "I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everybody for the opportunity to be part of this family. And I appreciate it and, especially, my manager. God bless you all."
Ward was honored for his 22 years of service. Ward also recognized the town manager's 25 years.
While they said, "No tears," there was a battle to hold them back.
"The mayor says, 'And it's been a pleasure almost the whole time,'" Ward said, laughing. "You got to to be honest. Cheers."
The business of governing continued. But in March, St. Johns County will take over and the town commissioners will give way to the county commission.
In November, 82 percent of voters agreed to dissolve the town, hoping that county leadership will translate to lower service costs and eliminate at least one ad valorem tax.
Hastings was founded in 1890 and then became a town more than 100 years ago.