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County recognizes Willis for 46 years of service

Troup County as a whole has seen a lot of changes since January 1973, but one constant in all of that change has been county attorney Jerry Willis.

During Thursday’s Troup County Commission work session, Willis was recognized for 46 years of service to the county. Commissioner Lewis Davis presented a framed copy of The LaGrange Daily News from Jan. 3, 1973, which featured a story on Willis being appointed county attorney. The other top stories from that issue included the board of commissioners approving the sale of beer and wine in the county and the adoption of a $1,569,275.64 county budget — well below the 2019 fiscal year budget of more than $40 million.

“Maybe not everybody knows this, but as far as this board of commissioners go, there are only two individuals that we can hire and fire,” Davis said. “That is first off the county manager and second the county attorney. It is a very challenging and difficult job sometimes for county managers and county attorneys to be able to keep their jobs because of elections and different things. But, when an individual is able to retain his job for 46 years, it is a pretty big deal.”

Willis credited the people he has worked with over the years for his success as the county attorney.

“The credit goes probably more than me to surrounding myself with very smart lawyers,” Willis said. “I have done that with my firm, but it’s awfully nice of Mr. Davis to call this to our attention, 46 years. I also want to say that I think it would be 45 years that I have had the great pleasure of serving with [Commissioner Richard English].”

English has been on the Troup County Board of Commissioners for 30 years and took on an active role in Troup County Parks and Recreation before that.

English said that he appreciated what Willis has done for the county over the years.

“It’s been a pleasure,” English said. “I was at a meeting in Savannah, and I mentioned that we had the longest serving county attorney in the State of Georgia, and we were blessed to have you.”

Prior to his appointment by the Troup County Board of Commissioners, Willis launched his own law practice, Willis McKenzie LLP in 1968. His law practice still provides support in civil litigation matters.

At the same time, he has helped guide the county through changing times.

“We are very blessed as a county to have a good legal counsel,” Crews said. “It means a lot to stay out of trouble, and he does a very good job, him and his firm, of making sure that we stay out of trouble. [There is] also the fact that he is a great man, and so we thank him very much for all his service to Troup County.”

The framed newspaper will be displayed in the Troup County Chairman and Commissioners’ Office.

“I just wanted to recognize that he has been here 46 years,” Davis said.

“He is the longest serving county attorney in the State of Georgia, and we as a commission think it is a big deal. I’m proud of him.”

The Troup County Board of Commissioners will meet again on Tuesday at 9 a.m. at 100 Ridley Avenue.