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Despite growth, city has ‘closeness’

Current, past mayors reminisce

POSTED: February 24, 2010 4:00 a.m.
Frank Reddy Dawson Community News/

Mayor Joe Lane Cox, left, talks with former Mayor Pete Gilleland on Feb. 12 at city hall.

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City of Dawsonville Mayor Joe Lane Cox says if folks from yesteryear saw the city these days “it would blow their minds.”


Growth in much of Northeast Georgia has changed the look and lay of the land in Dawson County, as well as the city of Dawsonville.


But Herbert Robinson, 93, said Dawsonville has done a fine job managing that growth.


“Dawsonville hasn’t seen the same kind of growth Dawson County has seen, but I think they’re handling growth pretty well,” said Robinson, a longtime Dawsonville resident who now lives in Hall County.


Cox agreed.


“Despite the growth this area’s seen, Dawsonville’s still got a closeness about it. Some of the growth, it’s been good, and some of it’s been bad, but it’s still Dawsonville,” Cox said.


In an interview Feb. 12, Cox and former Mayor Pete Gilleland, 91, reminisced on the city, how it’s changed and what the future holds.


Gilleland, who has collectively served the city for 40 years as a mayor and city councilman, was born 10 miles outside Dawsonville. When he was 7 years old, his family moved to the city.


“They were just finishing Hwy. 9, then,” Gilleland said. “It wasn’t paved. They was using mules and carts and sand and gravel out of the river bottom for the road.”


Added Gilleland: “I remember some things from those days, others I don’t ... but I know that financially, nowadays, it’s getting pretty rough. I don’t see much of a turn around yet.”


Cox, who has been involved in politics since 1976, agreed that financial times now are “tougher than ever ... at least the toughest I’ve ever seen.”


Cox was judge of Probate Court from 1977-1980. He was later elected Dawson County Sole Commissioner and served from 1981-1992.


He said being an official in the city of Dawsonville is an honor, because “we got some good people here, and we’ve got good staff in the city. I’d put them up against anybody.”


Offering advice for future city officials, Cox said “they’ll have to be tight with their money, watch it real close, and educate the people as to what we can afford and what we cannot.”


Gilleland said it was “a good point ... you’ve got to watch your money, especially now and on into the future.”


Gilleland was honored Aug. 6, 2007, when officials dedicated the new city council chambers in his name.


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