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Reception honors longtime Gainesville public servants
Council members, city attorney leaving public life
Brenau Downtown Center's Manhattan Gallery is filled Wednesday afternoon during a retirement reception for longtime city council member Bob Hamrick, Myrtle Figueras, and city attorney James "Bubba" Palmour.

It was time for thanks and appreciation, reflection and farewell.

A reception at the Brenau Downtown Center in Gainesville Wednesday honored the decades of service of three stalwarts in city government. 

Councilman Bob Hamrick

The city’s leadership is changing fast, and it begins with “Mr. Gainesville” himself.

Hamrick is the longest-serving member in the council’s history. First elected in 1969, he represents residential neighborhoods from Green Street east to Limestone Parkway.

“I’ve been privileged to serve this long and appreciate all the support people have given me,” Hamrick said. “Gainesville and Hall County is a good place to live.”

Hamrick announced his retirement in July.

Councilwoman Ruth Bruner said Hamrick “has personified loyalty to the city. He has been so faithful.”

Bruner said the city will miss Hamrick’s “institutional knowledge.”

“I’m sure we’ll be calling on him,” she added.

But Hamrick is ready for retirement. He said his days would be spent with family and friends.

“There’s a list lying around that they expect me to get to,” he said with a laugh. “I’m just going to take life easy and enjoy the good life here in Hall County.” 

Councilwoman Myrtle Figueras

“I’m going to try my best to find out what retired people do,” Figueras said.

That’s a fitting statement for a woman known for her hard work and dedication to Ward 3, which includes the city’s historic African-American neighborhoods.

Figueras has served on the council since 1996 and also served two stints as mayor before it became an elected position.

She announced in June that she wouldn't seek re-election.

Figueras worked as a teacher in the Gainesville school system for more than 30 years prior to joining the council.

Barbara Brooks, who won a runoff election Tuesday to replace Figueras, said she has learned a lot from her predecessor.

“What I appreciate most about her is her ability to keep Ward 3 in the fold,” Brooks said. “I trust her, And I think the community, at the end of the day, has had a person in office they can trust.”

Figueras will find it hard not to stay involved with all the support for her at the reception.

“It’s so exciting,” Figueras said. “To see all of these friends makes my heart jump.” 

City Attorney Bubba Palmour

Palmour wants to make one thing clear from the start: he’s not retiring.

Instead, Palmour plans to devote his time to his private law practice. It’s a career that becomes a life.

“You can’t get away from it,” he said with a smile.

Palmour said he was proud of his time as the city’s legal counsel, a position he served two stints in and continuously since 1987.

Palmour announced in July that he did not plan to seek reappointment.

Councilman George Wangemann said bringing Palmour on board was one of his first decisions as a city official.

“He brought a lot of good, thoughtful legal council to the city over the years, and for the most part kept us out of trouble,” Wangemann said. “I think it’s proven to be a great decision over 29 years.”

Palmour said he’s seen a lot of changes as Gainesville has grown from a small town to a center of commerce.

“I’ve really enjoyed what I did,” he said. “I hope I have contributed something to the growth of Gainesville and how the city leads in many, many areas.”

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