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Hearing held for street renaming

The City of LaGrange heard comments for and against the renaming of East and West Crovat Street to Boss Street on Tuesday during a public hearing. 

The city originally received the request to rename the street in honor of the late Anthony Jerome “Boss” Freeman on Aug. 6. Freeman was a LaGrange High School graduate who attended Auburn University starting in 1984. While there, Freeman served as the manager for the Auburn University football team. He graduated with two degrees in 1990 and returned to LaGrange where he cut hair. He played a major role in organizing the West Georgia Superstar Football Camp for years, and he has been recognized as a mentor within the community.

The majority of the council has not expressed strong feelings one way or another on the renaming, there has been some hesitancy due to the large number of residents that would need to update their addresses if the name is changed. 

“I think it is very unusual to change addresses for that many people at one time,” Council Member Tom Gore said. “I’m not sure people realize how much of a hassle that is.”

One of the speakers on Tuesday attempted to alleviate some of those concerns.

“I went by each and every last address just to see if there was support or opposition toward the street being renamed after Boss,” said Leon Childs, a local resident. “I did not get a single signature that said they were opposed to the name being changed to Boss Street. The only concern that I had was on East Crovat and West Crovat side, you have the same address numbers, so for example, you have 104 East Crovat, 104 West Crovat.”

The council had discussed that exact issue during its work session earlier in the day, and the council considered having an East Boss and West Boss street as a possible solution. However, the proposal of east and west sections of the street was not included in the ordinance read on Tuesday.

According to City Manager Meg Kelsey, the City of LaGrange sent letters to residents of East and West Crovat Street, and several members of the city council said that they personally spoke to residents on the street. Council Member LeGree McCamey said he heard positive feedback on renaming the street Boss Street. He said he had spoken to nearly 40 people who live on the street. However, Council Member Nathan Gaskin said that he had at least one resident of the area tell him they were strongly against the renaming, and one resident did speak against the renaming at the meeting.

“I live on it now, and I was raised up on that street,” said resident William Hill. 

“I lived there until 1965, when I left here. I came back here four years ago, and I didn’t know the person. Change is good, but I want East Crovat to stay the same. I don’t know where it came from, but my mother lived at 200 for over 30 years, until she passed. My thing is, if you want to do something for the person’s memory, come to East Crovat and West Crovat and help me clean that street up.”

Hill talked about people throwing trash in the street.

“When you change the name on the street, you don’t realize the people have a lot of paperwork that they have to change, and it costs,” Hill said. “I might can afford it, but somebody else can’t. So, I’m 100 percent against changing the name of East and West Crovat.”

The city council has discussed the necessity of changing addresses at length since the original proposal. Kelsey said that if the street name is changed, all city documents, including utilities, will be automatically updated. However, residents would need to change documentation such as drivers’ licenses, cable bills, work information and insurance. 

Childs said that the residents that he had spoken to would be willing to make the change in order to honor Freeman’s legacy, whether it be on East Crovat Street or include West Crovat Street as well.

“Just as long as it has something of representation of Anthony Jerome Freeman and his contributions and what he did for this community,” Childs said. “He was a staunch advocate of education. He was a staunch advocate of mentorship. He saved a lot of young guys’ lives. He was a very highly educated man. He would give the shirt off of his back. I am 42-years-old now, and I can remember times when he cut my hair for free because I didn’t have money enough to pay him to cut my hair. He did that not only for me but for a lot of kids in the community.”

Childs highlighted Freeman’s impact on local children, and another resident of the neighborhood, who was not identified, spoke in favor of the renaming and offered to help clean up trash on the street.

The city clerk reported receiving several calls with questions regarding the renaming, but the only concern that she reported from those calls was over the numbering of homes.

Ultimately council members expressed a desire to vote in line with the wishes of the majority of the residents of the impacted street.

“I don’t have a preference for it one way or another, but the people need to be well aware of what they have to do,” Gaskin said during work session.

The LaGrange City Council will hold the second reading and vote on the renaming of East and West Crovat Street to Boss Street on Sept. 11 at 5:30 p.m. at 208 Ridley Avenue.