When Taneytown councilmembers, city officials and citizens trickled into city hall and upstairs into council chambers they were greeted by a familiar presence.
Beside Clerk Clara Kalman, Attorney Jay Gullo and Jim Wieprecht, the acting manager, at the city staff desk, there was a vacant chair and bouquet of roses. And perched atop the far end — that closest to the council table — lay a portrait of late city manager, Henry Heine.
A former mayor of Taneytown, Heine died Oct. 26 after a battle with esophageal cancer. He was 71.
The somber stage was set for the Mayor and Council to address the elephant in the room at their meeting Wednesday, Nov. 7.
“Henry was a dear friend. And not only a dear friend to me, a dear friend to this council and a dear friend to the citizens of Taneytown,” said Mayor James McCarron, having just called to order the monthly workshop meeting. “He worked long and hard and tirelessly to make Taneytown a better place. I think he accomplished those goals very well.”
“He’ll be truly missed,” added McCarron, who knew Heine for more than 30 years, many of which they called each other colleagues.
In an unprecedented and commemorative manner, McCarron opened the floor to his councilmember colleagues to share on public record their fondest memories of the man who helped lay the foundation of their tenures as city lawmakers — and coached them through the ups and downs along the way.
Heine, councilmembers made abundantly clear, was a consummate mentor. He welcomed those who sought his wisdom and institutional knowledge of Taneytown, be they the most seasoned or least experienced elected officials.
“No matter when I would stop by here [and] no matter when I would call him, he always answered and he always took the time even if he was doing something,” said Councilman Bradley Wantz. “You could tell he was doing something, he just wouldn’t admit it to you.
“We use the word ‘mentor’ and that’s exactly what he was, because I think he took each and every one of us under his wing. Because he’d been here.”
Wantz went on to thank Heine’s family — a fitting gesture with Heine’s widow, Linda, in the audience — “because I know that this city took him away from you many times,” Wantz said. “We appreciate your sacrifice.”
McCarron asked Linda Heine to address the audience if she wished.
She did, thanking almost every member of the council, various city staffers and friends for their support of her late husband all the way to the end.
She highlighted McCarron’s and former councilman Carl Ebaugh’s close relationship with the family; “[Councilman] Joe Vigliotti’s daily visits, even when Henry could not move or speak”; Mayor Pro Tem Diane Foster and Councilwoman Judith Fuller and Wantz as being “crucial in Henry’s last months.”
Heine thanked Gullo, city department directors Keven Smeak (Public Works) and Bob Mitchell (Parks and Recreation), and Dan Dennis, the city’s technology guru.
McCarron was ready on Wednesday to discuss the next steps of what he said could become “biggest thing to ever happen to Taneytown.”
The mayor asked for the council to consider his suggestion of instructing city staff to come up with a variety of locations that could accommodate the memorial — which Casteel said requires 5 acres at a minimum — and to return their findings to the lawmaking body at one of the future monthly public meetings.
Taneytown mayor and City Council visited renown sculptor Gary Casteel's studio Thursday. The 72-year-old artist has proposed plans for a National Civil War Memorial in the small city, 15 miles south of where the war-defining Battle of Gettysburg took place.
“The most important thing is that all of our modern wars have memorials — Vietnam, Korea, World War II, World War I,” McCarron said. “The war we lost more Americans than any other time in our history was the war between the states, the Civil War. And this memorial will recognize those men that died for our country.”
Sculptor Gary Casteel, of Gettysburg, made it his mission to create a National Civil War Memorial after finding that it, unlike other major wars the United States participated in, did not have a national memorial. He's proposed to the Taneytown Mayor and Council they erect it in the small city.
Casteel has said repeatedly that his proposed memorial is not a Confederate monument, nor is it a Union monument, but an all-encompassing memorial that aims to educate and recognize a pivotal — albeit bloody — moment in American history.
Vigliotti pointed to the proposed centerpiece for the commemorative structure.
“The heart of this memorial is going to feature a Union and Confederate veteran reunited after the war,” he said. “And with the way that things have become so divisive these days this is the kind of thing that, in my mind anyways, is going to be more healing than anything.”