Friends, colleagues put Gen. Manning's service into perspective
Guests included Idaho lawmakers, Idaho’s lieutenant governor, the director of the Ada County Highway District, the Idaho division of the Federal Highway Administration and all levels of ITD employees. They came for one purpose – to honor retiring board chairman Darrell V Manning.
Although he is comfortable and at ease in front of audiences, Gen. Manning and his wife Rochelle were genuinely touched by the outpouring of appreciation and praise.
Gary Blick, the board’s representative from District 4, served as master of ceremonies for the 35-minute tribute. On behalf of the board and the department, he presented Gen. Manning with an ornate clock in appreciation for his years of service.
Not that Gen. Manning needs a clock. Highly organized and proficient in parliamentary procedure, the retiring chairman ran board meetings with the precision of an Air Force pilot. Meetings started on time and followed a rigid agenda, a tribute to his efficiency.
An inscription on the clock read: “Darrel V Manning, in recognition of your service on the Idaho Transportation Board, 2007 to 2012. Your commitment and leadership to the transportation department and the citizens of Idaho and the United States is greatly appreciated.”
ITD Director Brian Ness said Gen. Manning was the deciding factor in his decision to accept an offer to become ITD’s administrative leader. The chairman and wife Rochelle invited the Nesses to join them for dinner after a long day of interviews. Gen. Manning committed to do everything possible to ensure success if Ness accepted the position.
Transportation board member Jim Coleman read a letter of commendation for the retiring chairman from Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, thanking him for “an outstanding career in public service” and acknowledging the personal sacrifice of time and energy that Gen. Manning has given.
“You should take great pride in your impressive record of service and the many challenges you have met and mastered. Your continued efforts go above and beyond in each field in which you have participated … My dear friend, thank you again for your dedicated service to the Idaho Transportation Department. I look forward to your advice and counsel in the years to come.”
Peter Hartman, Idaho division administrator of the Federal Highway Administration, appropriately quoted others in praising Gen. Manning. “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant,” he said quoting Robert Louis Stevenson. “Darrell is one of those guys who has definitely planted a lot of seeds, but stayed long enough to see a lot of harvest …”
“ ‘To give real service, you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money and that is sincerity and integrity.’ There is no man that’s served the country or state with more sincerity and integrity than Darrell Manning,” Hartman added.
He also read a letter from FHWA Director Victor Mendez and presented Gen. Manning with a plaque.
Col. Bruce Wong, director of the Ada County Highway District, recalled that his highway district owes its existence to Gen. Manning’s foresight. The latter was instrumental in enacting legislation that allowed voters to create ACHD.
“I quite sincerely believe that I would not be standing in front of you today as the ACHD director if it wasn’t for that gentleman,” Wong said.
He presented Gen. Manning with a statue of an eagle to signify strength and power and the district’s first-ever commemorative coin, borrowing from military tradition that dates to the Knights of the Roundtable. The coin is a symbol of strength, pride and honor, Wong said.
Retired transportation board member Neil Miller (District 5) said Gen. Manning was unafraid to tackle difficult challenges, such as advocating revolutionary, perhaps progressive measures to streamline Idaho government.
“You cut into the existing establishment and took out some things that were unneeded and replaced them with great improvements that have helped Idaho over the many years … I feel it is a privilege to be counted as your friend.”
He also thanked Rochelle for her support, quoting David O. McKay, “No man has reached any measure of success without the help of a good woman.”
Transportation board member Lee Gagner (District 6) characterized Gen. Manning as “one of the most unpretentious people I’ve ever met. He has a great sense of humility that should be highly, highly respected.”
Gagner said, “I’ve become a better person because I’ve known you.”
In his humble, yet commanding style, Gen. Manning corrected a couple of historical license taken in his video tribute and sincerely thanked those who made his tenure as chairman successful and rewarding.
"It has been a great honor for me to be associated with the transportation department. Over the years, I’ve seen the professionalism of the employees of the department and I’d put them against any department in the state of Idaho or in the nation for that matter," Gen. Manning said. "And I’ve dealt with a lot of them ... You really get a lot of respect for the people that run the agency."
Transportation plays a crucial role in the state's economy, the retiring chairman emphasized.
"If you can’t get goods to market and people to the marketplace, you have no economy. And the things they do are key to everything that we do in government in Idaho."
In closing, he thanked the friends who attended the ceremony and reminded everyone in the room, "It has been a great privilege for me because public service, after all, is its own reward."