An office surprise party helped Jay Vavricek celebrate birthday number 59 and what a year it's been for Grand Island's mayor.
Firefighters sued him, the city council publicly reprimanded him, and citizens tried to recall him.
But with that effort falling short, he cut the cake, thinking of a new panel he's assembled to get back on track.
"I'm not looking for a committee that says yes, yes, yes," Vavricek said. "I want to hear pros and cons and indeed people have been outspoken, some have been critical. I want to hear that as well."
"It's been rough the last few months," said former mayor Margaret Hornady.
She says her successor has been less than thoughtful, as he shoots from the hip.
She said, "I've been critical of Jay. I'm glad, frankly that the recall effort is failing. I think he's
made many missteps but I also think nothing he's done comes to malfeasance."
Vavricek has appointed two dozen citizens, including Hornady, to meet with him monthly.
"To give me a greater sense of what people are thinking about and what's important," he said.
Hornady says it's time to heal.
"I'm sorry for the cliches, but we do have to work on it and that's why I volunteered for the committee," she said.
Vavricek talks about the positives -- more police officers and a budget that avoids layoffs without tax increases. It's a slice of hope this birthday.
He said, "I've dedicated all my efforts going forward but also task at hand of working very hard for people of Grand Island."
The new Mayor's Advisory Council includes the past two mayors Ken Gnadt and Margaret Hornady and former mayoral candidate Mary Lanfear who's been critical of Vavricek.
23 people will attend the first 90 minute session Monday night.
Recall Falls Short
That recall reached its final day, short of the signatures needed to put it on the ballot.
Despite the final tally, the recall organizer says the long hours of collecting signatures at the library was worth his time.
Jeb Wolsleben said, "I do, I think it is important both for the city of Grand Island to have somebody that basically calls the mayor out and his actions, and his attitudes, the way he's treated people."
He needed nearly 3,300 signatures but counted 3,100 by 5:00 Friday.
Since he's short, Wolsleben said he's not going to turn them in, to keep those names from becoming public.
Additionally, election commissioner Dale Baker said Wolsleben filed paperwork ending the recall petition process as of 9:37 a.m. on Friday. At that point, Baker said it was over, but Wolsleben continued to collect petitions until 5:00.