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Locust Grove mayor lauded by other leaders

Locust Grove Mayor Lorene Lindsey has been honored by her peers.

Officials in the City of Stockbridge hosted members of the Georgia Municipal Association, the Atlanta Regional Commission, state lawmakers and other state, and federal dignitaries at the Eagles Landing Country Club, Tuesday night, in Stockbridge.

Ostensibly, they came to get updates on governmental matters, such as the issue of transportation in the Southern Crescent area and the upcoming regional sales tax vote, but they also came to say good-bye, and pay tribute to one of the more respected mayors in the area, who announced, this summer, she would not seek re-election.

She was honored with accolades and a cake.

"She has been a force to be reckoned with," said Elizabeth "BJ" Mathis, Henry County Commission Chairman, who presented Lindsey with a proclamation. Lindsey also got one from McDonough Mayor Billy Copeland.

"She gives me spoonfuls of knowledge," said Stockbridge Councilman Mark Alarcon.

"There comes a time of the changing of the guards," said Henry County Commissioner Warren Holder. "Jake [Lindsey's deceased husband] and Lorene had no children ... they carried a group of boys to play baseball in Ola," said Holder. "Those are times we won't ever forget. Now, she talks to me like she thinks I'm still a little boy. She would tell me to sit down, and shut up. We're going to miss you."

Henry County Commissioner Fred Auletta told the group, "She did not tell me to sit down and shut, she told me to grow up."

Back in 2008, Lindsey, now 89, said she had heart bypass surgery. The doctor, she said, told her she had the heart of a 16-year-old. "I said I wish my other parts were just as young," she recalled.

"For the last 30 years, I've never said, ‘no,' except to one group, and that was the United Way," said Lindsey, who is known for her volunteerism. "But, when I became mayor, I joined them, and I've been with them for 12 years."

Lindsey reiterated her desire to continue to work with the United Way, Connecting Henry, and Meals on Wheels. Discussion of her benevolence led to a joke by Locust Grove Mayor Pro Tempore Otis Hammock.

"She's always been helping folks," he said. "Back in 1956, I messed up the soles of my shoes, and ... they were going flip-flop. I stopped in her store, and she was asking me what's wrong with my shoes. She pulled out a wad of money that could choke a horse. I saw her reach over, and peel off three rubber bands around her money," he said, "and she wrapped those rubber bands around my shoes."

The audience roared with laughter.

"I still have that wad of money, too," joked the mayor.

Lindsey announced months ago that she was retiring from politics this summer. Afterward, she recommend a successor –– Locust Grove Councilman Robert Price, who is running unopposed in the Nov. 8 municipal elections.

Tuesday's recognition was just one of a long list of honors for Lindsey during her public-service career. She has been in office since she won her first mayoral race in 1999. At that time, she was married. Her husband, Jake, died Feb. 10, 2002.

The couple owned and operated Lindsey's Supermarket for 39 years. She also worked for the federal government for 36 years, at Fort Gillem, in Forest Park.

It was not until she won that first mayoral election, Lindsey said, that she learned she was the first female mayor of Locust Grove.