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Posted: January 19, 2012 8:59 p.m.

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Social Circle honors servants

Long-serving officials honored at Blue Willow

By Amber Pittman/

Several Social Circle residents converged on the Blue Willow Inn to recognize outgoing mayor Jim Burgess, as well as council member Anne Peppers and magistrate judge Becky Dally, who stepped down as judge when her husband Hal Dally was elect...

Three of Social Circle’s longest-serving, outgoing officials were honored by citizens Tuesday at the Blue Willow Inn.

 Mayor Jim Burgess served for 14 years, Councilwoman Anne Peppers served for 12 years and was city clerk for 24 years before that, and Municipal Judge Rebecca Dally held her position for 22 years.

 Burgess and Peppers both decided not to run for reelection because they wanted to give younger residents a chance to lead the city. The two elected officials also agreed that recruiting General Mills and Solo Cup to Social Circle and starting work on a bypass road were among their greatest accomplishments.

 Peppers also served for more than two decades on the Social Circle Board of Education.

 “It meant a lot to me (to be honored),” Peppers said. “I’ve lived in the city all of my life; the city means a lot to me, and I enjoyed what I did. I appreciate what the people did for me.”

 Burgess, 79, said previously he was also proud of the strong financial position of the city, and he said he grateful for a unified council, saying he never had to case a tie-breaking vote.

 While he won’t actively participate in local government unless sought out, Burgess plans to continue serving as a lobbyist for the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia and the City of Savannah and perform mediation for cities.

 “It was a very warm experience to have the citizens of this community come and express their appreciation for the time that I’ve been serving as their mayor for the last 14 years,” he said. “When you’re in public office, people don’t often tell you they appreciate what you’re doing, that goes with the territory…but to know that our finances our strong and the projects we’ve undertaken have been well received, that’s what meant a lot to me.”

 Local attorney Dally stepped down as Social Circle municipal judge when her husband, Hal, decided to run for mayor, because a sitting judge is not allowed to campaign for any elected official.

 Ironically, she became judge in 1989 because of another conflict of interest. Originally, Social Circle’s attorney also served as its judge, but the state told cities that practice wasn’t allowed. Dally was given the choice to take either position, and she chose judge.

 Municipal court is held twice per month, and Dally said she heard about 100 cases per month. She said she’ll miss working with city employees the most, including the court clerk and officers, probation officers and the city solicitor.

 “I was honored to be included with Jim and Anne. I was just doing my job; I was appointed by mayor and council and paid to be the judge. I don’t feel like it was so much community service as a job I did and enjoyed doing. It was quite an honor to stand up with the two of them,” Dally said.

Dally will continue to run her own practice, Rebecca Polston Dally PC, which specializes in residential real estate.

 New Mayor Hal Dally and council members Angela Porter and Steve Shelton were sworn in at this week’s council meeting.

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