Oakwood said goodbye Monday night to three city council members with a combined 76 years of experience.
And for Martha Collins, Ron McFarland and Montie Robinson, much has changed since they began their long tenures with the South Hall County city.
“We started here long ago with two hair salons, one little country store and a post office — that’s what we had,” said Robinson, who served for 35 years, speaking at a reception at City Hall.
He said he recalled telling Mayor Lamar Scroggs, whose own tenure spans four decades, that we “need to be a recognized place.”
Collins and Robinson wrap up their final four-year terms Dec. 31 with the city having expanded far beyond its tiny core around Railroad and Main streets. The city now has commercial strips, bustling colleges and industry all around its borders.
Along the way, “I know we may have made some unhappy people … but we got over that,” Robinson said.
For health reasons, Collins, who was on the council for 15 years, has been unable to attend meetings the past few months — something she said she regretted.
“I love the city of Oakwood,” she said.
McFarland, who served 26 years, has been off the council since he resigned in January.
“I found out there was a lot more to running the city than being on the council,” he said. “We had good times — they far outweighed the troubled times.”
Turning toward the table where his loved ones sat, McFarland said, “My biggest supporters are my family right here. Without them, I couldn’t do anything.”
City Manager Stan Brown, standing next to Scroggs, read proclamations honoring each of the council members.
“Their service has been distinguished and long — it’s almost like losing family here,” Brown said.
Collins and Robinson effectively began their move to retirement when they decided not to seek re-election Nov. 3. Dwight Wood and Sheri Millwood were the lone candidates to replace them, and they take over Jan. 1.
Pat Jones has been serving since she won the election Nov. 3 to replace McFarland.