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Posted: June 25, 2017 5:00 a.m.

Welch: My time as an honorary council member

It was my privilege to be selected as Oxford’s Honorary City Council member for the month of June. I was picked for the honor by Post 1 Councilmember Sarah Davis.

One perk that comes with being chosen as an honorary member is being picked up by City Manager Bob Schwartz and Police Chief David Harvey in a police car and taken to lunch. That being said, my co-workers at The Covington News were somewhat dismayed to see me handcuffed and placed in the back of the chief’s car until I explained it was all a mistake and that I was innocent. Once he knew that, Chief Harvey removed the cuffs and I got to ride up front. Bob had to sit in back.

Lunch was a time to get to know a couple of the people who work every day to keep Oxford safe and moving forward. As a reporter, it’s always good to get to know government leaders outside of the usual ways, which mostly involve meetings. It was also interesting to learn that Chief Harvey and I might have crossed paths earlier in other careers when we both worked in public safety for DeKalb County.

Another perk of the honor is the chance to see Oxford’s government at work. I was supposed to spend time with Chief Harvey, City Clerk Lauran Willis and Utility and Maintenance Supervisor Jody Reid. That was the plan, but while the chief was telling me about police operations, he was dispatched to a house fire inside the city and I got to go.

As much fun as sitting on the dais with the Mayor Jerry Roseberry and the members of the council was, riding in a police car with the blue lights and siren going was awesome. I also got to see the professionals from the City of Covington and Newton County Fire departments make short work of a kitchen fire. Those guys are good. We can all sleep better knowing they are there if we need them. Going to the fire got in the way of my seeing the city’s other two departments, but I got to take pictures of the firefighters in action and get them online for The News.

My two responsibilities as the honorary member were to attend the council’s May 15 work session and June 5 meeting. The work session was the more exciting of the two as citizens came in to voice their displeasure with the city’s plan for sewers on Emory Street. Sitting next to the mayor and the members as they listened patiently while each citizen voiced their concerns was a lesson in how government should work.

After the session, one of the council members asked how it felt to be sitting “up there” with everybody looking at me. I’ve got to admit, it can be intimidating.

The June 5 council meeting was interesting, if not exciting. I was presented with a proclamation naming me the honorary member. I also got the same stack of papers the elected members got before the meeting. Sitting out in the audience, we may not understand all of the things members are considering while they’re trying to make the best decisions for the city. I do now.

I would like to thank Mayor Roseberry and Councilmember Davis for the honor and the rest of the city council for allowing me to “serve” with them for a month. It was interesting and informative. And they didn’t seem to hold it against me that I work for a newspaper. It makes a fellow proud to be from Oxford.

Darryl Welch is the community reporter for The Covington News. He can be contacted directly at dwelch@covnews.com or by phone at 770-728-1438.

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