TAVARES — In a ceremony that was both joyous and somber, Lake County commissioners honored outgoing board members Welton Cadwell and Jimmy Conner Tuesday for their service.

“Their service and commitment cannot be understated,” Commission Chairman Sean Parks said. “Their hard work is evident in our improved parks, business growth and there is so much more.”

Cadwell, 62, and Conner, 61, were defeated in the August primary.

“While you may seem more casual in your demeanor on the outside,” Commission Chairman Sean Parks said of Cadwell, “your tenure on the board has been anything but casual. Your hard work is evident from north to south, whether it has been your focus on quality of life or public safety your leadership is unparalleled. I will miss your wisdom and judgment. I also appreciated your sense of humor.”

He also spoke highly of Conner.

“We had our differences especially early on,” he said. “While we don’t agree on everything, I am glad we put aside our politics and found a way to work together for the betterment of our county. I will miss your sense of humor, believe it or not. I got where you were coming from sometimes. I know at least one thing about the state of politics and religion these days: on the outside, there are many casual Christians. Right or wrong, you Commissioner Conner have always been all in, and there is nothing casual about you for sure.”

Parks presented Cadwell and Conner with plaques and county Public Works Director Jim Stivender gave Cadwell a street sign with the Lake County logo titled “Cadwell Way.” He gave a similar sign titled “Conner Court” to Conner.

Lake County Sheriff Gary Borders also presented Cadwell and Conner with plaques for their service.

“Welton Cadwell has been my teacher in a lot of ways,” Borders said. “A lot of people call Cadwell the common sense commissioner. That actually means he was pretty tough. If you couldn’t justify what you wanted, you couldn’t get it. What I respected most about him is he did not grandstand about it. He always worked with you behind the scenes. It has been an honor to be able to work with Commissioner Cadwell.”

Borders particularly thanked Conner for his support for pay raises for his deputies.

“You took a stand to support them in getting them raises and making sure we have the proper equipment to operate the Sheriff’s Office as well as Commissioner Cadwell,” Borders said. “It has been an honor to be able to serve alongside you over the years.”

Prior to his work as commissioner, Conner served three terms on the Lake County School Board and 10 years on the Tavares City Council.

Elected to the County Commission in 1992, Cadwell has served on numerous boards over the years. He was chairman of the Lake Emergency Medical Services Board and Central Florida Expressway Authority; vice chairman of the National Association of Counties and Economic Development Steering Committee; and past president of the Florida Association of Counties.

Cadwell said he served with 14 different commissioners, seven county managers and five attorneys in his time on the Commission.

“And for some crazy reason, one public works director,” he said laughing, referring to Stivender.

Then, the mood turned somber.

“I got to do something I loved for 24 years,” Cadwell said.

He then quoted Vin Scully, former L.A. Dodgers announcer, who stated, "You shouldn’t be sad because your time is over. You should be amazed it ever happened."

Cadwell was then overcome with emotion. He walked back to his seat to a standing ovation.

Conner also took a moment to honor Cadwell.

“I have no doubt Commissoner Cadwell and I leave this place in a better place than we found it,” Conner, 61, said. “I have been blessed to serve with a lot of good folks. I don’t think I served with anybody that is more honorable than Welton Cadwell. He is like Reggie Jackson was in 1977 when the Yankees won the World Series: he is the straw that stirred the drink."