Craig said goodbye to a prominent community leader Tuesday.
Gene Bilodeau, vice president of Community College of Northwest College and Craig City Council member, accepted a new position in Rapid City, S.D., as the executive director of their University Center. He and his wife will be making the drive north Saturday, he said.
More than 100 people came to Bilodeau’s send-off at CNCC, and many expressed bittersweet feelings about his departure.
Russell George, president of CNCC, said Bilodeau will leave a hole when he’s gone.
Bilodeau “has been the face of this college for 20 years. His work for the students is matched by his work for the community and that’s the ideal community college role,” George said. “He’s all about community. He’s all about college.”
“We’re really going to miss that,” George said.
Mayor Terry Carwile said he was sad to see Bilodeau go.
“I wish him well,” Carwile said. “But it’s going to leave a void in the community. He’s just been super involved. Above and beyond the call of duty.”
While Carwile and City Council will have to appoint a replacement to the council, it won’t be easy, he said.
“He’s been very much the voice of reason, the voice of consensus,” Carwile said.
The community overall, will feel Bilodeau’s absence, he said.
“It will be the height of good fortune if we can have anybody come into the community that can even approximate that,” Carwile said.
Christina Oxley, executive director of the Craig Chamber of Commerce, pointed out Bilodeau’s community engagement. Bioldeau has been involved with the Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership, the Chamber of Commerce, City Council, CNCC and Rotary, she said.
“That is going to be some big shoes to fill,” Oxley said.
Audrey Danner, interim director of the Craig/Moffat EDP, agreed. It would be hard to see him go, she said, but she wished him luck.
“This must be very exciting for him; new beginnings,” Danner said.
Bilodeau was instrumental in bringing the new CNCC campus to Craig, George said.
“If there is ever a godfather of a building, (Bilodeau) is the godfather and (CNCC) is the building,” he said. “Look at what he’s accomplished.”
Bilodeau got up and spoke at the event, and said he was “humbled” by the community’s response to his leaving.
“To see people coming out like this is pretty humbling,” he said. “It’s nice to know I’ve had some kind of impact on people.”
The hardest thing about leaving Craig would be saying goodbye to a community that took such good care of one another, he said.
“I’ve seen this community, over and over again, rise to the occasion,” he said. “When the troops rally, they really rally. (It’s a) great community of great people.”
Contact Erin Fenner at 970-875-1794 or firstname.lastname@example.org.