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      Piedmont mayor resigns; council to appoint replacement Friday

      The mayor of Piedmont submitted a letter of resignation Thursday, lest than a year after taking office.

      Rick Freeman won election last fall but health issues led him to step down.

      Council member and mayor pro-tem Bill Baker will be in charge in the interim, but Baker said that should be just one day. The city council will meet Friday at 12:30 p.m. to appoint a new mayor.

      The city has 60 days to select someone, but Baker said they want to decide quickly. It could be any of the seven council members, or any Piedmont resident.

      Baker said he is sad to see his life-long friend deal with medical problems, but is also sad Freeman can't continue to serve the community.

      "I was very excited about him getting elected," Baker said.

      "Nice guy, we were in boy scouts together. Grew up, went to Piedmont High School together. Nice person."

      Freeman had surgery in February, and started having issues with blood clots afterwards. He went public with the problems and attended meetings when he could, but doctors advised him to stay off his feet as much as possible.

      "He worked hard to win and I think he really wanted to do a good job, and did during the year he was here. But I think health just was a priority and he needed to get that straightened out and I agree with that fully," Baker said.

      Baker has 22 years of experience on the city council, and when a previous mayor died in 1996, he filled in to finish the final year before an election. He said he is willing to do it again to complete the three years remaining of Freeman's term.

      "If the council wants me and the votes are there, I'll serve," he said.

      Whomever the new mayor is, Baker said the first priority must be fixing some fire hydrants. Recent testing found about 10 have leaks or aren't working properly. Baker said residents should not worry.

      "I want the public to know that we have plenty of fire hose and we do have a water tanker truck that we can use. We're not in jeopardy of anybody's house burning down," he said.

      The council is in the process of ordering replacement parts for the hydrants.