By Brady Extin | For The Times-Post
PENDLETON — The town of Pendleton is mourning the passing of one of the town council’s longtime members.
Councilman Chet Babb died unexpectedly early last Wednesday morning.
“Chet’s legacy of service and love for Pendleton will be felt in the Pendleton community for generations,” a statement from the town said.
Babb was a member of the council for 13 years and played a big role in making Pendleton the town that it is today.
“Chet was a constant during my time on the council, and the one thing about him is that he always wanted Pendleton to reach its full potential. Whether that was being the best place to live, the best place to visit, or the best place to work. Chet was relentless in his pursuit of Pendleton growing into its potential,” town council president Marissa Skaggs said. “He was very into making sure we had an employee-forward work culture, that our employees were taken care of and that everything was as good as it needed to be. That was his goal in everything that he did. He just wanted Pendleton to reach its full potential.”
Earlier this year, Babb stepped aside as town council president and handed the reins over to Skaggs, but he remained a member of the council and a close confidant of Skaggs.
“Even when I joined the council, Chet took me under his wing and showed me the ropes. After we transitioned and I became president, he was still very present in a lot of decision-making,” Skaggs said. “We would cross paths two or three days a week and just kind of touch base about things that were going on. A lot of that work that went on in between meetings, Chet and I worked very closely together.”
A veteran of the United States Navy, Babb used his time on the town council to be the moving force in several major infrastructure projects and was a big believer and supporter of the police and fire departments in Pendleton.
Improvements to the town’s stormwater drainage system and the formation of the South Madison Fire Territory stand out to town officials as big projects that Babb played a major role in making happen.
“He was the advocate for the fire territory from the town of Pendleton’s side,” Pendleton town manager Scott Reske said. “The other thing that was really, really important, we recognized that we had some storm water issues in town and the town was starting to experience some extreme flooding situations. Chet was able to get a revenue stream going to start and do construction projects on that.”
The willingness to help the town in whatever capacity needed and the knowledge that Babb brought to projects such as those are things that Skaggs says the town will miss dearly.
“Chet was always that person that would answer the phone if you called, and I was fortunate enough to see him several times a week,” Skaggs said. “He was always open to whatever was going on, and just had so much institutional knowledge, and that will be sorely missed.”
Reske, who was hired by Babb, said that over the years the two worked together on many of those town projects, and it was that time spent together that led the two to becoming good friends.
“The best thing about Chet is he always listened to what you had to say, and he allowed myself and the other town employees to take ownership of the work that we did,” Reske said. “I really didn’t know him before I was hired, but by the end, I’d say that we were really close friends.”
Even through various medical issues, Reske said that Babb was always back as quick as possible to help the town.
“He was a tough guy. He had a lot of medical issues but would always come back in as soon as he was able to,” Reske said. “Even after this last incident, even after I knew that he had passed, I still expected him to show back up in my office because that’s what he had done so many times. He just kept coming back.”
Babb’s seat representing District 1 on the council will be filled by a caucus held by the Madison County Democratic Party at a date to be determined.