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Rutenber to retire
Ends 25-year record of public service


After serving the town of Farragut since its inception 25 years ago, Connie Rutenber has decided it’s time to move on.

She announced she would not seek re-election as an alderman on the Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen or as the Board’s representative on the Farragut Municipal Planning Commission after the end of her current term in April.

Farragut Mayor Eddy Ford said, “She has served Farragut over its entire life as a town in many different capacities. I admire and appreciate all she’s done for the town. She’s got culture.”

Rutenber served on the planning commission for most of the past 25 years. Former Farragut Mayor Bob Leonard said, “I appointed Connie to the planning commission in 1980, the same year the town was incorporated, soon after I was elected mayor, and she’s been a hard worker for the town ever since. I knew her from living in Village Green (subdivision) and was aware of the impact she had on the beauty of the subdivision as president of the (Village Green) Garden Club.”

She also served on the FBMA for several years, first appointed by Ford to fill a vacant seat in 1995, then elected in 1997 and 2001.

“Connie has done an outstanding job as alderman by representing the town, moving forward and championing many ideas and trends that make Farragut what it is,” Ford said. “She’s done so much for the aesthetics of our town, her commitment to trees and green spaces.”

When Rutenber started her first appointed term as alderman, her goals were more general than specific, such as building a specific type or number of buildings.

“I wanted to help the town continue to develop in a quality way. The town was still in the becoming stage, and my dream was to continue its development in an esthetically pleasing manner,” she said.

Leonard said Rutenber was a big part of advancing green space, the beauty, the parks and playgrounds that make Farragut distinct.

“Connie is a very strong supporter of town ordinances and believes we ought to keep part of Farragut green. She’s a very fine, gentle person with an incisive mind and knows what it takes to create both a working community and a beautiful one,” Leonard added.

Rutenber used her background in art in her work for the town. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Madison with a bachelor’s degree in related arts. She worked as an interior designer in Wisconsin and Pittsburgh, Pa., for 10 years.

In 1975, she moved here with first-grade daughter, Kari, and her husband, Jim, who took a position with Oak Ridge National Laboratories. Once here, she got involved in community service. Besides work for the town, she and Jim are charter members of Farragut Presbyterian Church where they have served in many positions.

Rutenber said she is proudest of her impact on the parks, green spaces and walking trails. “Green areas and parks are vitally important for a community. Parks are a place where you can refresh yourself, refresh your soul. They are a place for children to get good, healthy activity and play safely.”

She said her biggest dream was to keep Campbell Station green and to have a park there. “I thought it would be fantastic to keep the Campbell Station corridor leading into the town green. What a great message that sends out about the town,” she said.

Rutenber also served on a committee that helped make design decisions about Campbell Station Park.

She said, “You have to plan parks in the beginning. You can’t go back later and try to add parks. The goal was to have a park in each of the town’s four quadrants. They will become more and more valuable as time goes on.

“The walkways, the connections between subdivisions, were also important to me so that kids could walk or ride their bikes without getting on busy streets. The ten percent green space ordinance per subdivision makes a big difference for the town.”

Rutenber also championed the need for visible business street signs on Kingston Pike for the business community and citizens.

“It used to be difficult to locate a business, because there were no readable signs from the street. I worked for several years to make it a priority. The planning commission eventually devised a plan that spelled out the numbers from east to west,” she said.

Rutenber cited several reasons for not running for another term.

“I’m entering a new phase in my life. I’ll be a grandmother for the first time in less than a month. I want more time with family — precious time that won’t continue forever. Also, Jim and I want to do some traveling. We’ve kept connections with friends in Wisconsin where we used to live and with friends all over the country,” she said.

She added she also has a stack of books she wants to read and several art ventures she wants to pursue.

“I had a fantastic opportunity to be a creative part in the growth of the community; now I want to spend time being creative on a more personal level. I enjoy photography a great deal, as well as fiber arts, crafts and needlework. I want to visit lots of museums and take some classes at the arts and crafts schools. I think Jim would find a class he enjoys as well.

“Can you tell I’m excited?” she asked.

 

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