In The News › Mayor’s assistant earns big honor; Kilpatrick a key cog in running town

Sep 29, 2011

Source: The Times-Picayune

Filed under: St. Tammany Parish

Mayor’s assistant earns big honor; Kilpatrick a key cog in running town

Thursday, September 29, 2011
By Bryan Gowland
The Times-Picayune

Running a small town is not a small job. Big cities have a list of departments that take care of various functions. Small towns such as Abita Springs, on the other hand, have the mayor’s office, which handles it all.

People in Abita like to know the mayor by his first name and speak directly with him on matters that concern them. The personal nature of administering the town requires the mayor to have a strong, dependable person to assist in keeping up with what is going on — someone who is strong, competent and dependable.

In Abita Springs, that person is Donna Kilpatrick, who recently received much-deserved recognition for outstanding government service by the Bureau of Governmental Research, which awarded her with the Excellence in Government Award. She was nominated by Alderwomman Patricia Edmiston.

Kilpatrick is the administrative assistant for Mayor Louis Fitzmorris, who refers to Donna as his “reliable right hand.” He is quick to recognize Kilpatrick as an important contributor to his success as mayor.

Fitzmorris inherited Kilpatrick as town clerk, and he immediately recognized her value. As the staff grew, he elevated her to the position of the mayor’s administrative assistant. Kilpatrick has a strong knowledge of every aspect of the town operations. She started out as the Planning and Zoning clerk, Clerk of Court for the Mayor’s Court, utility clerk and town secretary-treasurer.

An Abita native, Kilpatrick knows virtually everyone in town and is always kind and patient with people who have issues to discuss. For most of her career, she was the primary point of contact with the public.

Kilpatrick has always been wiling to step up to the plate and perform well beyond what is required to get the job done. Following Katrina, she lived at the Town Hall and oversaw the myriad tasks necessary to start the difficult recovery process.

The mayor and staff all hit the ground running following the storm, literally hacking their way with chain saws from Abita Elementary to the Town Hall to begin recovery efforts.

Kilpatrick was a stalwart key in the operations. She handled the contacts and complicated bureaucratic hurdles that FEMA and other administrative agencies placed before the town in order to keep things rolling. It is not unusual to see her at work into the evening long after others have gone home.

For these reasons and more, it is quite fitting that Kilpatrick was honored with this award, but she has one other important characteristic that is important to her success: her humility.

“The award came as a complete surprise,” she said.

It is more surprising to those of us who know her that it was so long in coming.

I have known Donna Kilpatrick since her childhood, when she was a student in my seventh-grade history class. It was a fortunate day for me when she came on board while I was serving as mayor.

As town treasurer, she took complete command of the finances and had a knack of knowing how to manage the money.

She has continued as a strong right hand for the mayor, and we are all happy for her to finally receive the recognition she deserves.

Sep 29, 2011

Source: The Times-Picayune

Filed under: St. Tammany Parish

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