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New leadership takes the helm in Henry County


By Jimmy Cochran and Mickie Jackson 

  On December 20, 2012 a new era of government began in Henry County. After a very active campaign season, when the final ballots were counted, the county had three new commissioners and a new chairman. State Court Judge, and former Chair of the Board of Commissioners, Jason T. Harper presided over the swearing-in ceremony and welcomed the four new commissioners to the Board and to public service. The four new members bring a wide range of experience and skills to the BOC.

Henry County Chairman-elect Tommy Smith, surrounded by family and friends, takes the oath of office at the December 20 inauguration ceremony.                       Photo by Mickie Jackson

  Tommy N. Smith will serve as the new Chairman of the Board of Commissioners. Smith is a resident of Hampton, where he served as both mayor and a city councilman.

  Smith said he wants to attract more small businesses with under 300 employees, to the area as well as businesses that cater to trade and technical careers. He said that is why he supports Southern Crescent Technical College building a campus in Henry County.

  “We have a lot of planning to do to attract small businesses,” said Smith. “We really need to think about companies that employ technical type jobs.”

  Smith said he will be accessible to everyone.

  “I am a team player so I’ll represent all of Henry County,” said Smith. “Regional issues are important but they can’t be our main focus. We need to take care of Henry County first and then take care of regional issues.”

  Smith welcomes citizens’ input and urges open communication both ways.

  “I will keep communications open so I can represent you,” said Smith. “We will listen and at the end of the day, move in the direction that represents the majority of the people.”

  He said his focus will be to treat other people’s money the same as he does his own and illustrated that point by getting together with the other newly elected commissioners to pay for the inauguration reception out of their own pockets.

  “We’re sincere about wanting to do the right thing and we made a point to indicate that we practice what we preach.”

  Representing County District 1 is William J. “Bo” Moss. A resident of McDonough, Moss has been the owner of a flooring company for over 30 years and said that balancing the county budget and putting a priority on spending is one of the most important issues facing the county. He said he will work very hard to move the county forward.

  “I am honored that the citizens of District I chose me to be their commissioner and I am going to work very hard with the existing and new board members to get the county back on track with the budget,” said the self-proclaimed conservative Moss.

  He also asked for citizens’ patience as the board begins their work in the new year.

  Brian Preston was elected in District II and will continue to serve in the seat in which he was appointed earlier this year. This past February, Preston was tapped to fill the unexpired term of former District II Commissioner Fred Auletta after Auletta was appointed as County Manager. Preston has lived in Henry County for 28 years, is a CPA and runs a business consulting and wealth management practice. He said he plans to improve the business and economic development in the county so that residents don’t have to seek employment and other resources outside of Henry County.

  Representing District III on the Henry County Commission is McDonough resident Gary Barham. He retired from the city of McDonough as the Public Works Director, after spending 31 years working for the city.

  According to Barham, the newly elected Board of Commissioners is coming in at the worst time in Henry County history, particularly with all of the land purchases in the past several years, and said he supports a freeze on land purchases except for the case of right-of-way or road improvements.

  He also said he wants to look at all county departments in order to get a pay scale in place, recognizing that the police department should be looked at first.

  “We’re losing people every month,” said Barham. “We’ve got a five-year officer making the same salary as a one-year officer. At present we are a training facility for other counties. We’ve got to keep these people that we train here in Henry County,” he said.

  He said he will also place an emphasis on conservative spending and transparency.

  “This is the people’s government, not Gary Barham’s or Tommy Smith’s. I don’t own it, but I own it as much as any other Henry County citizen,” said Barham.

  During the inauguration ceremony, held in the Community Room of the Administration Building, Henry County Probate Court Judge Kelley Powell administered the oath of office to the four incoming commissioners, each of whom was surrounded by friends, family and supporters. Especially poignant was the fact that Judge Powell is the daughter of Chairman-Elect Smith.

   “I have my family here and I will not let them down,” said Smith after taking his oath. “There’s going to be some good times. There’s going to be some bad times. I would like to ask that you keep us in your prayers and at the end of the day, government will meet your expectations.”

  The BOC is rounded out by District IV Commissioner Reid A. Bowman, Sr. and District V Commissioner Bruce M. Holmes.

One change already announced earlier this month under the new leadership is a change to the BOC meeting schedule. Beginning in January there will now be two meetings a month instead of four, to be held on the first Tuesday of the month at 9 a.m. and the third Tuesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. Due to the New Year’s holiday, the first meeting in January will be held on January 8 at 9 a.m.

  Smith said the first meeting will be an organizational meeting allowing key appointments from the Board.

  For more information on the Henry County Board of Commissioners or on Henry County Government, visit



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