Westmoreland reflects on local accomplishments

Published 10:55 am Wednesday, November 30, 2016

By Jennifer Shrader




On the day of what will be one of Rep. Lynn Westmoreland’s last visits to LaGrange, it was almost fitting that it rained.

The rains that came Tuesday and are expected again today could add as much of a foot to West Point Lake, something Westmoreland, of Grantville, made a personal mission while in office.

“I was laser-focused on that lake,” said Westmoreland, R-Grantville, after speaking to a group of political science students at LaGrange College. “I took it as a challenge. It was so unfair.”

Westmoreland became known locally for his involvement in the “Water Wars” between Georgia, Florida and Alabama, which still are ongoing today. Atlanta and interests along Florida have been in a fight for water from the Chattahoochee River basin. West Point Lake is caught in the middle.

In fact, the lake is still on his mind as he prepares to leave office. Westmoreland chose not to run again after 12 years in office. Former Mayor Drew Ferguson IV, of West Point, will succeed him in January.

“I told Drew, don’t let me down on that lake,” Westmoreland said.

The congressman educated himself on the lake and the water wars, particularly after the drought that hit the area in 2007.

“I remember being at a meeting at the chamber of commerce and seeing those business owners who were losing their businesses (on the lake),” he said.

Seeing the faces of those affected made the science of the water wars and the seriousness of the drought real.

Westmoreland is also proud of efforts he was part of to bring the Kia plant to West Point and improve water infrastructure in Hogansville, as well as other projects outside Troup County. But the congressman, who believes in term limits, believes it was time to step down.

“People do get stale,” he told the LaGrange College students. “I believe half the people up there are.”

Westmoreland has other opportunities he’s planning to pursue now that he won’t have the confines of his office to consider. His name also has been suggested throughout the state as a candidate for governor in 2018.

Any decision on whether to run won’t come soon, he said.

“The governor has two more years and two more sessions of the legislature to get through,” Westmoreland said. “I don’t want to be in the position of having people call me every time an issue comes up saying ‘What do you think of this?’”

Westmoreland says he will miss the office, and will miss LaGrange and Troup County.

“Troup County has been good to me,” he said. “I will miss the clowns, but not the circus.”

He will miss having the opportunity to help his constituents.

“I really will miss walking into Home Depot and having people come up to me and say ‘Thank you for helping my mom with her Social Security or my aunt with her Medicaid,” he said. “That’s why we all got into this business to begin with. Our number one deal is helping people.”

Reach Jennifer Shrader at jennifer.shrader@lagrangenews.com or at 706-884-7311, Ext. 2153.