By Ed Brock
His friends and colleagues say Clayton County Commission Chairman C. Crandle Bray has left his mark on this county.
As of Thursday that became official with the dedication of the new Clayton County Police/911/Emergency Operations Center in Jonesboro as the C. Crandle Bray Building.
"You can look around and see his hand on so many things he's been involved in," Commissioner Charley Griswell said during Thursday's dedication ceremony.
Griswell cited the Senior Center in Riverdale, the new Harold R. Banke Justice Center, the restoration of the old county courthouse in Jonesboro, The Beach at Clayton County International Park and plans for six new recreation centers and an aquatic center as further examples of works that "are going to have Crandle Bray's hand on them."
"I think the world of this man and I'd do anything for him," Griswell said.
The crowd that attended the ceremony filled the briefing room at the new building and spread out into the halls.
Clayton County Police Capt. Jeff Turner said each division of the department probably has two to three times more space in the $19 million, 90,000-square-foot building on the corner of McDonough Street and Ga. Highway 138. The new building also brings together in one building sections that had been spread out between the old headquarters building, built in the early 1970s, and the Clayton R. Christopher emergency operations center next door.
The dedication ceremony was replete with good-natured jabs at Bray from guests such as Commission Chairman-elect Eldrin Bell who commented on Bray's retirement from the commission in January.
"He's been leisuring for a long time, now he can make it official," Bell said. "No, this is not a roast, it's a toast. It's a toast to a giant of a man who made a decision in his life to stand apart. And what better way to stand apart but through serving others."
Commissioner Gerald A. Matthews, who is also leaving the commission in January, recalled the difference between Griswell, who also served as commission chairman previously, and Bray. Griswell would call Matthews, a former barber, at 10:30 p.m. as Matthews was preparing for bed and ask him for a haircut.
"Chairman Bray, he doesn't operate that way," Matthews said. "He'd call at 5:30 in the morning."
Matthews went on to say that Bray exemplified the idea that a leader stands and "takes the heat" of their decisions, such as when Bray pushed for the creation of Tara Field, Clayton County's airport in Hampton.
"It took leadership to stand there and be strong, and it took vision to see what it would mean to the county," Matthews said, adding that the same leadership led to the construction of the Bray Building. "I can't think of a better facility or a more beautiful facility than this one."
In his speech, Bray said he was especially pleased to have such a "life-saving" facility named for him.
"Anybody who has a real need has a connection to this building and I'm especially honored by that," Bray said.
Bray praised Griswell and Bell, and said he would feel good about the things he's done in office when he steps down in January.
"I do believe Clayton County is leading in a lot of categories and has the opportunity to lead in a lot more," Bray said before urging the crowd to tour the new building. "Some of the things we have in this facility will amaze you."
The building includes a media room for press conferences, several kitchens, smoking balconies and a "mud room" where officers who have been involved in operations literally in the field can come in and clean up.
Slaterpaull Architects designed the building and The Facility Group of Smyrna handled the construction, both under the supervision of Lee Design and Management.
Clayton County Police Chief Darrell Partain's office is at the front of the building on the second floor overlooking the rotunda with a glass dome through which the public will enter the building.
"It is fitting that this building will bear as such the name of Crandle Bray," Partain said.