After six terms, 12 years, and more than 600 weeks of newspaper columns, it's time to pass the mantle as your state representative to a new generation of leaders.
State Rep.-elect Kevin Tanner takes over with the start of the new Legislative Session in January.
He will have my support and prayers.
The job is more challenging in these times of ever tightening budgets. Tanner will need your support and prayers too.
I had a lot of help in this job from several folks who deserve recognition.
I want to thank the media for allowing me to fulfill my promise to communicate with you on a regular basis. The secret of good government is a well-informed electorate.
Thanks to Gerald Lewy, my communications director and Emily Lewy, my legislative aide for keeping me out of all kinds of trouble.
Thanks to Bob Conaway, my finance director, for keeping my financial reporting correct and timely.
Thanks to my wife Anne for her honest counsel, patience and love.
And finally, thanks to my constituents for your encouragement, advice and votes. It has been my privilege to serve you.
One lady told me recently that she had assumed that I would remain until the Good Lord called me home.
I replied that His helper (my wife Anne) had called me home. Last week my Capitol office was cleaned out and is now ready for the next occupant.
All of us need to thank our local governments and school systems for keeping their budgets at a level that would require minimal or no tax increases. During this past year I have attended Association of County Commissioners of Georgia, or ACCG, meetings, Georgia Municipal Association, or GMA, meetings, and Georgia Mountain Regional Commission, or GMRC, meetings. I assure you that these organizations are well aware of the budgetary problems at all levels of government.
I have often written that my most important legislative purpose was to introduce local legislation to benefit constituents in the 9th State House District.
Second to that has been my efforts in support of requests for grants. Thanks to the efforts of dedicated writers, our district has received a number of grants - funds for gateway parks to high speed Internet and the diving bell to name a few.
The Economic Engine that drives our community is North Georgia College & State University - soon to become the University of North Georgia. It has been my pleasure to work with NGCSU, the board of regents, the governor, and the speakers to insure that monies needed for our University to grow were always there.
The most recent visible benefit of our efforts was the opening of the University Center (GA 400, exit 16) in Forsyth County.
We really underestimated the student requirements of that project. Those of us who were in the early planning for the new facility (designed for 500 students) thought it would be adequate for at least five years.
Last week President Bonita Jacobs told legislators that enrollment for the Fall Semester 2012 exceeded 500. It is already time to plan for a second building.
As I count my blessings at this time of year, I am especially grateful to Dr. Alan Binkley and Physical Therapist Rob Limehouse.
In September, Dr. Binkley repaired some old damage to my right shoulder and Rob has kept me on a regimen to regain mobility and strength.
Last week, they told me I could start practicing golf again.
May you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Even though I am also retiring my weekly newspaper columns, I can still be reached at 689 N. Chestatee Street, Dahlonega, GA 30533; phone: (706) 864-6589; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.