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Childs will seek another term, Ball will not

One veteran county commissioner will seek reelection this year while another is hanging it up.
On Tuesday, Grady County Commission Chairman Elwyn Childs announced his plans to seek election to another four-year term, while at the same time District 4 Commissioner Al Ball said he is retiring.
Chairman Childs served on the board in the 1970s and 80s before reentering public service 12 years ago when he unseated former commissioner George Bivins.
“I would like the opportunity to continue to serve the people of District 1 and all of Grady County honestly and fairly as I have in years past. My health is good and I have the time and desire to serve. I would appreciate the opportunity to continue serving my friends and neighbors in District 1,” Childs said.
The retired farmer is now associated part time with Clark Funeral Home. He and his wife, Yvonne, have four children and six grandchildren.
“The people have shown confidence in this board by supporting the renewal of the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax and with those funds we have been able to do a lot to improve roads and replace bridges in the county. I will continue to have an open mind and to listen to all sides before making a decision. Although the economy is improving, we still must watch our expenses very carefully. I will work with the other members of the board to hold the line on taxes and county spending if I am elected to another term,” Chairman Childs said.
Commissioner Ball on the other hand said he had made the decision to focus on other community activities and his church, Greater New Corinth Missionary Baptist Church, rather than seek a third term on the board.
“When I first decided to run for the commission, I made a promise to myself to commit to serving about 10 years. This December will mark nine years and eight months, which is about as close as I can come to fulfilling that promise to myself. Ten years was the phase of my life I decided to serve in government and now that phase is over. I am involved in so many other things and often my role may be viewed by others as a conflict with my government service. That will no longer be the case,” Ball said.
The District 4 commissioner is very active in the Boys and Girls Club of Cairo/Grady County, the Grady County Help Agencies, Inc., and Habitat for Humanity. He was also recently named a deacon of Greater New Corinth M.B. Church, where he is in charge of budgeting and finances of the church.
“By not running for another term, I will have more time to commit to the other things I am involved in, particularly my church. I certainly will not be idle,” Ball said.
Commissioner Ball looks back over his tenure on the board with both happiness and regret.
“We can finally, finally, say we are in a position to move forward and make Tired Creek Lake a reality,” Ball said.
The District 4 commissioner said he is proud to have been part of the team to obtain a permit to build Tired Creek Lake. Dam construction is tentatively slated to begin this summer.
“I can’t wait to see it finished, but I don’t have to be on the board to see it. I’ve never been one of those people who thinks they can’t do it without me. There are plenty of other capable people who can and will do a better job than I’ve done,” Ball said.
In addition to obtaining the Tired Creek permit, Ball is pleased with significant improvements to the operations of county government and, in particular, in the Emergency Medical Service and the Recreation Department.
“Over the years, we have had some challenges, but I am very pleased with the leadership in place and the improvements made in these two areas,” Ball said.
Commissioner Ball said he is also proud of the fiscal management of the county. “I’m glad we never had to borrow a lot of money to just pay the employees or keep the government operating,” Ball said.
Ball, who strongly supports the Archway partnership with the University of Georgia, said he believes cooperative efforts like Archway can have an impact on the community.
During his years of service, Ball was an advocate for involving new people on various committees, authorities and commissions. “I was often told that no one wants to serve, but what I found when I approached members of my community about serving, they were very willing to serve. I believe all it takes is someone making the effort to ask.”
The District 4 commissioner said he is disappointed he and his fellow commissioners were not able to do more for “common everyday folks” and those “less fortunate.”
“I often wish we as a board would have been more open and proactive. There is a general resistance on the board to change, and in my view that is not positive,” Ball said.
Commissioner Ball said he also considers the lack of diversity in county government some what of a personal failure. “I wish I could have done more to encourage diversity in our hiring, but that has not happened.”
The retiring commissioner said he was troubled the county commission has not found a way to improve the wages of county employees on the low end of the pay scale. “The way we have implemented increases in the past is not equitable to those on the lower end of the pay scale. I wish I could have done more for them,” Ball said.
Ball was first elected in March 2003 to fill the unexpired term of the late commissioner Howard Copeland. He retired from the Grady County School System in 2007 after serving 18 years as the school social worker.
Ball and his wife, Elsie, have two children and six grandchildren. The Balls reside at 1412 S. Broad Street.
Qualifying for local offices opens Wednesday, May 23, and will conclude at noon on Friday, May 25.
In addition to the District 1 and 4 commission seats, the District 3 seat currently held by Commissioner Charles Norton is also up for election.
Other county offices to be voted on this year include sheriff, probate judge, chief magistrate, clerk of court, tax commissioner, coroner and school board members from Districts 1, 3 and 4.

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