Highlands lost a great citizen this past week, former Mayor John Cleveland. From 1983 to1997, John served as our mayor. But, his service to his beloved hometown went well beyond his long tenure as mayor.
Mayor Cleveland provided leadership for many initiatives that benefited this community. Many current operations of town government were nurtured and developed through Mayor Cleveland’s leadership.
Mayor Cleveland was instrumental in creating the lasting legacy of the Town of Highlands Scholarship Program. He enlisted the support of many leading citizens in the creation of the endowment that under grids this unique scholarship program that provides financial support for graduates of the Highlands School in pursuit of advanced education. It has had a tremendous impact throughout this community.
Mayor Cleveland had a guiding vision as an advocate for initiatives and policies that would benefit the overall community. He was instrumental in advancing zoning policies that insured a planned and sustainable Highlands.
I remember John’s leadership role in the critical decision the town board made in allowing the hospital access to water and sewer. Commissioners were grappling with the hospital’s request for town water and sewer services although they were well beyond the town limits. While the board debated the policy aspects of the issue, Mayor Cleveland stepped forward to provide clarity and focus. His position was that allowing the hospital to access these essential utilities would be in the longterm community interest regardless of existing policy. As I sat in the audience during this discussion, I came to realize John was a community leader that provided the right perspective for making this critical decision.
I do not have the space to list and discuss all the other community committees and programs that Mayor Cleveland served on. I had the honor of serving with him on the planning board for a number of years.
On a personal note, when John was in better health, he was one of my frequent and wise advisors, especially when I first became mayor. He would cross the street from his real estate business and come over to my office in Town Hall.
Mayor Cleveland was a great resource of information and town history. We spent time just talking out what had been done in the past and what were some of the critical issues currently facing the town. He always encouraged me to engage with the county commission to get Highlands’ fair share of county tax revenue and services. John was not shy in being the leading advocate for Highlands. He also had a great sense of humor and joked many times that we would all get through the latest controversy.
In addition to being a great mayor, John was an accomplished realtor. He was thoroughly convinced that anyone buying property in Highlands was making the best personal investment of their life.
Finally, John was a devoted to his family. On behalf of the Town of Highlands, our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Wynn, and his family.
- Town of Highlands Mayor Pat Taylor