County Commissioner Shelly Buhler steps down in tearful goodbye

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Longtime Shawnee County Commissioner Shelly Buhler said goodbye in her final county commission meeting Thursday morning.

Buhler’s made countless contributions to improving the county during her time on the commission and there was no shortage of tears as colleagues recognized her for her efforts.

"I'm so appreciative of this today,” Buhler said through tears. “It's not important to just do things, but how you do things and to be recognized, so I thank you."

Go Topeka’s Matt Pivarnik thanked Buhler on behalf of the Topeka Partnership and all of its partners for her years of servant leadership.

Buhler served 12 years on the commission – before that she spent six years as Rossville’s mayor. She’s leaving the commissioner position to focus on her new job as the president of Hayden High School.

"Commissioner Buhler worked tirelessly to put Topeka and Shawnee County on a path to success she literally created momentum," Pivarnik said.

Colleagues recognized Buhler for her work on projects including the new Willard Bridge and the Bettis Sports Complex, and even surprised her with a gift to remind her of what she’s accomplished.

“Are you serious?!" Buhler exclaimed. "For those of you who don't know what this is, this is a part of the old Willard Bridge.”

Buhler's replacement, Bill Riphahn, will be sworn in to serve in the district one commission seat Monday (1/14) at 9:00 a.m.

On the agenda at her final meeting -- commissioners heard about completed improvements to Old Prairie Town and the Ward Meade Botanical Gardens.

Also at the meeting, commissioners approved forming the Greater Topeka Youth Partnership commission. Go Topeka’s Matt Pivarnik says the group would give young people a greater voice.

"This is not one-way mentorship, this is not about the adults telling the young leaders what to do this is about the young leaders telling the adults what they want their community to be going forward," Pivarnik explained.

The goal is to keep young professionals in the area after college.