tampabay.com

John of all trades named N Redington citizen of year

A North Redington leader, turtle bidder and uber volunteer earns a high honor.

By SHEILA MULLANE ESTRADA
Published March 19, 2006


NORTH REDINGTON BEACH - The award was supposed to be a secret, but when John Creighton kept asking why he needed to attend a Town Commission meeting, the secret was hard to keep.

"That's John," says Mayor Bill Queen. "When you ask him to do something, he asks 30 questions so he can be prepared."

Creighton, the town's civil defense/emergency management coordinator, Election Canvassing Board coordinator, Planning and Zoning Board chairman, and general "super" volunteer, is the town's eighth citizen of the year.

"He brings a special intellect to the table, and that is what being citizen of the year is all about," says Queen, a former award winner himself.

Creighton joins an impressive list of residents named since 1988 as this small beach community's outstanding citizens.

The first award was given to longtime Mayor Harold Radcliffe, now retired. Other citizens of the year include Diane Knizer (1989), Liz Limroth (1990), C.B. "Pat" Ryan (1991), Constance A. Jessup (1992) and Queen (1997).

The award is only given out when a resident's efforts for the town are deemed outstanding, Queen said.

"John constantly steps up to the plate and does whatever the town needs," he said.

Queen said Creighton's handling of the town's new site plan review process particularly impressed him and other commissioners.

"Making sure we get redevelopment right is critical with all the changes we are seeing on the beaches. John put in a lot of effort and made everything go smoothly," Queen said. "The town had high expectations for making sure buildings have the proper look for our town. John went the extra mile to make sure that happened."

Creighton and his wife, Barbara, first came to North Redington Beach in the early 1990s.

The Chicago native originally settled in Tampa but quickly fell in love with Pinellas beaches and North Redington in particular.

As a self-employed real estate investor, he had a flexible schedule and the time for "extra activities." That quickly turned into becoming the town's emergency management coordinator.

A bit later, he was drafted to buy back a painted turtle the town was auctioning as part of a charity event.

"The town decided they liked the turtle too much to let it go. I was appointed the town's bidder and was given a maximum amount to spend. I knew if I paid too much, the citizens would be concerned about their millage rates," Creighton joked. "But if I didn't come back with the turtle, the people on the turtle committee wouldn't speak to me."

His winning bid of $2,200 ensured that the town would keep the turtle, which rests outside the North Redington Beach Town Hall.

As Planning and Zoning Board chairman, Creighton says he tries to find "amenable" ways to resolve issues with homeowners and builders.

"There are reasons the ordinances were put in place. I try not to be confrontational," he says. "I feel there is a great compatibility and camaraderie between the town officials and the residents. The town allows volunteers and residents to have a voice and to be heard. It is a very good relationship."

During the award ceremony this month, Queen reminded Creighton that previous award recipients often went on to become commissioners or mayors.

"I think it scared him," Queen says, "but I told him he had earned it."

Creighton finally accepted the award "for all the volunteers" who devote time to the city.

Does he aspire to become a commissioner or mayor?

"No," Creighton quickly says, adding that he is "quite content to do my thing" and let the "politicians" work out the issues.

"Living here is a big thing for me. The town has a great mix of residential and commercial, tourist facilities and restaurants," Creighton says. "I want to help ensure this mix continues."