Commissioner Ken Smith serves his final month representing District 3 on the Troup County Board of Commissioners in December, bringing to a close 12 years of service since first elected in the year 2000.
“Ken Smith served his district with distinction,” said Commission Chairman Ricky Wolfe. “He strived to represent the majority view of his constituents. We owe him a debt of gratitude for his service.”
Achievements he’s most proud of, Smith said, include resurfacing and construction of hundreds of county roads, building a senior center in West Point, and serving as a member of the state’s Criminal Justice Coordinating Council.
A lifelong Troup County resident, Smith worked 40 years as a self-employed grading contractor and brought to the commission knowledge valuable to the county’s road department. During his tenure on the Board of Commissioners, more than 328 of a total of 450 county roads have been paved or repaved and huge road construction projects have been completed, including the extension of Pegasus Parkway and Lukken Industrial Drive.
“All of this was thanks to the people of Troup County trusting us with SPLOST funds,” said Smith. “Had it not been for them voting for SPLOST through the years, we would never have been able to make these important improvements. Plus, we have a road department that’s second to none.”
Construction of a new senior center in West Point was another high point of Smith’s career on the commission. “When I was elected, the seniors in West Point were meeting in the basement of the gym at the old high school,” he recalled. Today, seniors meet at a modern facility at 1114 O.G. Skinner Drive, also built with SPLOST funds.
Other projects completed under Smith’s watch include construction of the Troup County Government Center, new health department, Gray Hill community center, new fire stations and boat ramps; relocation of E-911 offices to the Government Center; multiple improvements at recreational sites throughout the county; implementation of a merit system for county employees; completion of a comprehensive land use plan; and improvements at Pyne Road Park. Smith was instrumental in developing a master plan for the park, which features an equestrian arena and will eventually include a multi-use facility.
In January 2010, Governor Sonny Perdue appointed Smith to the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, which Smith has served on for almost three years. He is the only county commissioner serving on the council board, which consists of representatives throughout the state who develop criminal justice legislative and executive policy proposals and advise the governor on criminal justice issues. The council also serves as the state’s administrative agency for federal and competitive grant programs.
Most recently, Smith’s relationship with the council helped Troup County land two grants: one for $170,000 for the local drug court and another for $40,000 for the mental health court, said County Manager Tod Tentler.
Smith was a vocal opponent of House Bill 489, what he terms “the worst piece of legislation ever to affect county government.”
“It put a large burden on county government requiring it to fund total operations of parks and recreation, airports, libraries and other things,” said Smith. “This year, by constantly bringing this forward every chance I had, an agreement was reached with city governments to effectively undo this legislation and level the playing field.”
Improved communications with the cities of LaGrange, West Point and Hogansville, thanks to Smith and his fellow commissioners, made this possible, Tentler said.
“The thing that’s impressed me most about Mr. Smith is that he’s always prepared for meetings,” said Tentler. “He always did his homework and always did what he thought was in the best interest of the citizens of Troup County, even if it was not the most popular decision at the time.”
Smith said he leaves Troup County in good shape.
“We’ve been preparing for new industry and I believe there will be announcements in the near future of more good things coming our way,” he said. “Troup County is the envy throughout the state. We have good working relationships with our other elected officials and constitutional officers, and I see good things ahead for us.”
Smith hopes to do more traveling with his wife, Velna, and spend more time with his three children, nine grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren. He admits he’ll miss the camaraderie with fellow Troup County commissioners and county employees.
“We’ve got some good employees who go far beyond the call of duty when assisting people,” he said. “In the past 12 years, I’ve never called on them to help when they have not been available.”
Smith praised his fellow commissioners, but couldn’t resist ribbing them.
“It’s been a pleasure working with them,” he said. “We’ve got good commissioners. If they’d just voted with me more, there’s no telling what we could have done.”