Council says goodbye to outgoing city manager

Published 10:41 am Thursday, January 11, 2024

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On Tuesday, Meg Kelsey attended her last regular city council meeting as the city manager of LaGrange. 

Kelsey’s last day with the City of LaGrange will be Friday after serving the city for 27 and a half years. She began with the city in 1996 as a senior development specialist, working her way up to assistant city manager under the late Tom Hall and officially taking over for him in 2016.

Kelsey announced her impending resignation in mid-December, saying she was leaving the city to take a job with the City of Newnan. Newnan has since announced Kelsey as their new Assistant City Manager of Finance and Human Resources.

“It’s been an honor, and it’s been a privilege to serve LaGrange and really to be here for such a long time and raise my family here,” Kelsey said. “LaGrange will always be a part of me and part of my heart.”

Kelsey praised the current city staff, telling the council she was leaving them in very capable hands. 

“I can’t say enough great things about the employees that work here, and they too are part of my family. I will never forget them and what they mean to me,” she said.

Members of the council said their public goodbyes to Kelsey near the close of the meeting on Tuesday.

Councilman Jim Arrington noted that Kelsey was the city manager when he first got onto the council.

“I know and have known some of the other [city managers,] but I appreciate the way you handle business and thank you for your friendship,” Arrington said.

Similarly, Councilman Leon Childs said Kelsey is the only city manager while he has been in office. He noted that the two didn’t always agree, but he thanked Kelsey for her keeping the city in good financial standing.

“We haven’t always seen eye to eye on some things, but I will say for the most part that you left the city in very good financial strength,” Childs said. “That’s the main job of any city manager. So we thank you for leaving the City of LaGrange very, very strong and fiscally responsible.”

Councilman Mark Mitchell said he was on the council when Kelsey was first appointed city manager.

“I’ve never doubted it for one second. You hit the ground running and have been a strong, strong leader,” Mitchell said. 

“We’ve had many cross disagreements, but I think you’ve always been fair. I felt like to all of us, [the council], you didn’t preference one over the other, and I felt that that was where you needed to be anyway,” Mitchell said. 

“We really appreciate what you’ve done for the citizens. It’s not always been easy,” he said.

Councilman Quay Boddie thanked Kelsey for the talks they shared about his grandmother and her former service to the city as well as the counsel they shared. 

“Thank you for being a major part of my family before I even knew it. I’m going to miss you because there hasn’t been a time that I couldn’t come in your office and have you just break down things for me, especially with me being so green,” Boddie said.

Councilman Tom Gore said that LaGrange has faced lots of challenges over the last few years, but Kelsey has handed them well.

“LaGrange has faced many, many challenges from really early on. I don’t think we all anticipated how many challenges would come your way so quickly and repetitively during the time that you’ve served us, but you’ve handled them all very well and done a great job,” Gore said.

Councilman Nathan Gaskin said Kesey has been an inspiration to his family, especially his wife and daughters.

“It’s really sad to see you go on behalf of myself and my family. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. My daughters look up to you. They were impressed by you. And they want to follow in the steps of being a very strong woman, just like their mother wanted them to be. My wife was very fond of you, God rest her soul,” Gaskin said. “She said, ‘That’s a good woman right there. She’s got her head on straight.’ That always stuck with me.”

Mayor Willie Edmondson closed out the comments by remembering the words of the late LeGree McCamey. 

“When Meg took the position as city manager, Mr. McCamey said, ‘Not only did she step into Tom’s shoes, but she wore her own stilettos.’ Thank you so much for that,” Edmondson said. 

During her time as city manager, Kelsey preferred to work in the background and never really boasted of her many accomplishments for LaGrange. 

“I appreciate all of y’all and the faith that you gave to me to have this position,” Kelsey said to the council. “I hope that I made you proud and that I’ve done the best for the community. That’s really what I’ve strived to do.”