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Mayors shoes will be hard to fill
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Mayor Joe Lane Cox's shoes will be hard to fill.

As I am sure many of those paying tribute to Dawsonville's mayor will say, he has loomed large in the recent history of this county.

We have lost a true citizen.

Although he had already held important positions before then, I first knew Joe Lane as Dawson County's sole commissioner.

Because I was involved with the Dawson County Woman's Club and we were involved in promoting the restoration of the historic courthouse on the square, I became a frequent visitor in the commissioner's office.

There were a number of citizens whose advice was just to bulldoze the old building and forget it, and it was indeed a huge undertaking.

Without the cooperation of the commissioner, the sheriff's office, and particularly the public works department, it would not have happened.

But Joe Lane appointed and chartered a Historic Buildings Association as a legal organ to receive and disburse funds, later included that restoration in a SPLOST, and was generally an advocate of the project.

We finally "got 'er done."

I believe that the entire county is glad that it is there.

Later, when the new Dawson County Senior Center was finished (another great accomplishment), he opened the space previously used by the center - in the basement of the county-owned doctors' building - to the newly formed RIC Rack. Nobody knew how that venture would turn out, but Joe Lane had faith in it.

He also allotted space in the deteriorating old jail (before its restoration) as a storage area for the woman's club.

In those days, there were no fast-food restaurants here, and potential jurors and witnesses had to report to the courthouse and hang around for hours before being used or dismissed, and there was no place to go for a quick break.

So members of the club ran a "concession stand" in the lobby of the courthouse during court weeks, and we had lots of equipment; like big coffee makers, crock pots and paper goods, which required storage.

Those are just a few examples of cooperation between county and civic organizations.

Working closely together engendered mutual respect and appreciation.

Because I always found Joe Lane to be a gentleman, I was never hesitant about visiting his office with requests and problems.

Judy, his wife and No. 1 assistant, was also always welcoming.

I probably didn't get a positive response every time, but I got a cordial hearing and left with positive feelings.

Not being a resident of the city of Dawsonville, I have had very little contact with Joe Lane after he became mayor, but there was the same genuine cordiality whenever I saw him.

During his tenure, Dawson County really began to grow, and he fostered that growth.

But he did not want his native land to lose its unique character, nor to allow the new growth to destroy its heritage.

Although I have not agreed with every decision that Joe Lane Cox made, I have never doubted that he wanted the best for his town and county.

He certainly dedicated his life in service to that cause.

He was also my personal friend.

Yes, indeed, he will be missed.

Helen Taylor's column appears periodically in the Dawson Community News