The community of Melfort is reeling Tuesday following news of MLA and former mayor Kevin Phillips' death.
The news broke early in the morning quickly spreading to city hall where Phillips was mayor from 2006 to 2009. Current mayor Rick Lang said he was shaken by Phillips' passing which was unexpected.
“Kevin always did his absolute best for the citizens of Melfort and as an MLA for the constituents that he represented. He always put in a full effort, always tried to do what was right,” Lang said.
Lang said the City of Melfort flourished under Phillips’ watch.
“While he was mayor, Melfort grew substantially from a population perspective. It’s still growing but that was a turning point for the city of Melfort in the sense that the population reversed from a decline,” Lang said.
Lang said he was a also a major driver behind the city’s crown jewel, the Kerry Vickar Centre.
“One of the major projects was the construction of the centre; it’s one of our premier facilities. It rivals major cities and it’s second to none,” Lang said. “I have run into different people in different situations and the comment always was that he [Phillips] was very genuine and likable,” Lang added.
Nicole Gagne who ran for mayor in the recent election, said she worked closely with Phillips through her work as the Melfort Chamber of Commerce director. She said there’s not enough words to describe Phillips’ legacy.
“So much to say, from a chamber perspective our thoughts go out to April and the family. It is a huge loss for Melfort and the constituency. Kevin has been a driving force for Melfort and the area for many years and has left his footprint on the growth of the community,” Gagne said.
Phillips won the seat in the legislature in 2011 taking over for Rod Gantefoer, who said Phillips carried the torch providing service to the constituents.
“He certainly was a considerable force in the constituency. He accomplished a lot for the people and constantly advocated on their behalf. He was a great MLA and I’m proud to call him a friend,” Gantefoer said.
A memorial book for Kevin Phillips is now at Melfort City Hall if people wish to leave a message or tribute for his family.
April Phillips, Kevin’s wife is a current member of city council.
He was 63.
On Twitter: @ClarkStork
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