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Posted: March 20, 2009 12:00 a.m.

Chambers elected to council

Resident was former planning and zoning committee chair

Jennifer T. Long/

All smiles: Lowell Chambers, right, celebrates with his family Wesley, 14, Zachary, 12, and wife Melanie Sheets at a reception after the announcement of his election to the post 5 Porterdale City Council seat Tuesday.

Lowell Chambers safely secured his seat as Porterdale’s city council member for Post 5 in a landslide election Tuesday.

Chambers received 51 votes compared to his opponent, Andy Grimes, who received eight. A candidate not on the ballot, Wayne Maddox, received eight write-in votes as well.

Because Tuesday’s was a special election to fill the post 5 seat left vacant by Kay Piper for health reasons in late October, Chambers will have to run again in November’s municipal elections to gain a four-year term.

Chambers previously sat on Porterdale’s planning and zoning commission for six years and served as the board’s president for five years. Last fall he was not reappointed by the council to the board.

"I would have been perfectly happy to do that job for a number of years," Chambers said. "It’s an important job."

Councilmember Arline Chapman encouraged Chambers to run for the post 5 seat when it became unoccupied.

Chambers said like all other local government entities, the Porterdale council has many challenges to face in the months ahead.

"The most critical issue facing all municipalities’ and states’ governments is budgeting, and how to maintain as much as we can until this economy gets better," Chambers said.

He said he will rely on the city’s professional staff as well as fellow council members to brief him on the specifics of their current financial situation as well as on any economic development projects on the horizon for the city.

"I’m going to do a lot of listening and try to understand what the issues are with the budget," Chambers said. "I think we need to be as conservative as possible with expenditures right now."

Other priorities for Chambers include gaining a Better Hometown designation from Georgia’s Department of Community Affairs and attracting and sustaining future and current businesses in the town.

"I want Porterdale to take advantage of its uniqueness – our riverfront location and historic nature of our mill village," Chambers said. "I want us to be a community that people can be proud of."

He said he would like to see more access points to the Yellow River, which runs through the heart of the city, for recreational uses, especially along a trail system headed by the newly refurbished train depot.

Chambers is a licensed professional engineer holding degrees in fine arts, music education, agricultural engineering and a Master’s in city planning.

With 20 years of experience as Atlanta’s director of the Department of Watershed Management, chief engineer for the city’s Department of Public Works and engineering design chief for the Department of Water, he is responsible for the $500 million evaluation and rehabilitation of the city of Atlanta’s sewer system.

In addition to his work designing and constructing other water and sewer systems he has designed and constructed reservoirs, roadways and various types of public and private utilities.

Chambers is the founding member of The Friends of Porterdale and serves on the board of directors for Smart Growth Newton County.

He and his family – wife Melanie Sheets and sons Wesley, 14, and Zachary, 12 – have lived in Porterdale for eight years. He and his family are active members of Covington’s First United Methodist Church.

Sworn in Thursday by Porterdale Mayor Bobby Hamby, Chamber’s first regular meeting as a councilmember will be on April 6.

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