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Holder looks forward to new chapter in life

 

By Claire Monroe
Special to the Times 

  Warren Holder bakes a mean pound cake. You might not expect culinary prowess from a man who owns a lawn and garden equipment store, but in many ways the District 1 Henry County Commissioner is a study in contrasts. Joking and lighthearted in one moment, he turns serious and thoughtful the next. A member of the “old guard” having entered local politics four decades ago when Henry County was barely on the map, Holder championed the growth and progress that made it one of the fastest-growing counties in America by the mid-2000s. But one thing that doesn’t surprise anyone who knows him is Warren Holder’s deep passion for the place he calls home.

Warren Holder pictured above at his Locust Grove business, plans to keep busy after serving nearly 40 years in public service.                                             Photo by Claire Monroe

  “I have always had a love for the county,” says Holder, 62, who traces his public service roots back to Henry County High School, where he served as senior class president in 1968. From there, he just kept on going: Student Senate at Abraham Baldwin College, Locust Grove City Council (His term began in 1972, when he was the ripe old age of 21.), Farm Service Agency Board, Henry County Board of Education, and Central Georgia EMC. Holder was elected to the Henry County Board of Commissioners in 1996 and took office in 1997, representing District 1 in the southern part of the county. “I even had opportunities to run for [Commission] Chair, but I wanted to keep representing the people I’ve represented now for 40 years,” he says.

 In those 40 years, Holder has watched as Henry County has morphed from sleepy little community to exploding suburb. “Back then, there were no red lights or water meters in Locust Grove. I-75 had just opened. If there was one thing that totally changed Henry County, it was I-75. It allowed Henry County to be discovered.”

  Discovered it was. “With the growth came problems and challenges,” recalls Holder. “In the late 1990s until the mid-2000s, our biggest challenge was managing that growth.” He points with pride to SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) as a primary driver of county improvements. “If it had not been for SPLOST, we wouldn’t have the roads, the signaling, the parks, the libraries, the jail, or many of the other amenities we have now.”

 Known as a fierce advocate for his district, Holder also takes pride in the Department of Driver Services office in Locust Grove. “The idea was that if we located it there, people would also stop and shop at Tanger,” the outlet mall off I-75 at exit 212, which would bring more spending to southern Henry County. He believes another lasting accomplishment is the establishment of a clear boundary between Henry and Butts Counties, which improved public safety responses in that area.

  There are also things Holder wishes could have turned out differently. “I wish I had a better rapport with the Georgia Department of Transportation to secure more road money for District 1,” he says. “I wish I could have done more for the county employees.” Pay and benefits for county employees, including public safety personnel, proved a significant issue in the 2012 election, in which Holder lost the Republican primary by 17 votes to businessman Bo Moss.

  “I’ve always said that when the decisions I make don’t please the people, they’ll fire me and send me home, and it will be time,” Holder says matter-of-factly. He does have a concern, though, about the lack of longevity among the incoming Board. “You need new people with new ideas, but you’d better have some stability and continuity, too,” he says.

  Aside from public service, stability and continuity have come in Holder’s life from his family. He and his wife Cindy have been married for 42 years. Their two children and four grandchildren live within two miles of them, and Holder says his family’s support has been critical over the years. He enjoys gardening and, yes, baking.

  Looking to the future, Holder says he plans to devote more time to his business, Warren Holder Equipment, which he started in 1970. As for politics, he says he has no plans at this point. “I’m going to focus on my business and see what opportunities are out there. We won’t know until that time comes,” he says.

  Meanwhile, Holder says he is thankful to have served the people of his district and of Henry County. “It’s a pleasure to know you have done something to help someone,” he says. “At the end of the day, if I can be remembered as somebody with integrity and as a man of his word, I don’t need anything else.”

 

 

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