A call to rebuild and recommit underlined the State of the City address Thursday as Conyers city council reviewed the year’s accomplishments, welcomed a new councilman, and paid tribute to councilman Marty Jones, who retired after 23 years.
Mayor Randy Mills said, in opening comments, “This community has a renown past, an inspired present and the potential for a glorious future. With a carefully crafted formula that includes job growth, public safety, quality of life, service delivery and planned development, we are resetting the state of success in Conyers and Rockdale County.”
Returning councilmen Vince Evans, Gerald Hinesley and new member Dr. John Fountain were sworn in.
Fountain, a dermatologist and Conyers native, said unlike his med school classmates who planned on opening practices in high-powered metropolises, he wanted to return to Conyers. Besides family, friends, and church, Conyers offered a “good safe community, with good schools, a reasonable cost of living.”
“It was a city where one individual could help guide the future,” he said. “You can’t do that anymore.”
Six individuals active in bettering the community were named recipients of this year's Spirit of Conyers Award: trail biking enthusiast Ben Bishop, Double Springs Baptist Church deacon Lonnie Fears, Jr., columnist Darrell Huckaby, Progressive Club president and Pastor Aldren Sadler, Sr., and Rockdale Elections Supervisor Cynthia Welch. The Conyers employee of the year and recipient of the Dee Buggay Award of Excellence for 2011 is Donna Freeman, GIS Manager in Planning and Inspection Services.
Jones’ fellow councilmen used humor to lighten the mood but their tributes still caused the outspoken real estate developer to dab away a few tears.
Concilman Vince Evans speculated the ways council meetings would be different. “The mayor will have to learn how to say ‘Does anyone have any questions?’ without saying ‘Marty?’”
Councilman Gerald Hinesley came up with a few lines that Jones would never say, including, “Let’s go Gators!”, “I wish I hadn’t said that” and “I just don’t know where I stand on that issue.”
“Marty is a man of honesty and integrity,” said Hinesley. “Nobody loves this community and has more passion for this community and its residents and employees than Marty Jones.”
Councilman Chris Bowen lamented losing his conference wingman. “It’s been a blessing. I’ve learned a lot from you. A lot of issues you believed in, I believed in. We win some, we lose some. You’ve been a great friend and I’ll always cherish the time we spent together on the council.”
Jones later said, while watching a montage of pictures of himself through the years, that it was like being at his own wake.
“It was very kind of them. I appreciate it," he said of the tributes. He added, “I’m glad they kept it fairly clean. My mom is here.”
He said it didn’t seem like 23 years had gone by. “It just seems like I’ve been doing this a few years. I guess part of it is because it’s been enjoyable… It’s been a great group, a great ride.”
“Retiring undefeated is a wonderful feeling,” he quipped to a bystander.
(Jan. 5, 7:15 p.m.) IN BRIEF: Six residents active in contributing to the betterment of the community were named recipients of this year's Spirit of Conyers Award by the city of Conyers at Thursday night's annual State of the City address. The recipients are: bicycling enthusiast Ben Bishop, Lonnie Fears, Jr., columnist Darrell Huckaby, the Rev. Aldren Sadler, Sr., and Rockdale Elections Supervisor Cynthia Welch. The city of Conyers Employee of the Year for 2011 is Donna Freeman, GIS Manager in Planning and Inspection Services.
Returning councilmembers Vince Evans, Gerald Hinesley and new member Dr. John Fountain were sworn in while tributes to the 22-year service of retiring councilmember Marty Jones were given.
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