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2012: A Year of Change in Clayton County
by Bill Baldowski
December 26, 2012 10:39 AM | 1909 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
After incumbent Clayton County Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell and challenger Jeff Turner finished in a virtual tie in the  July 31 General Primary Election separated by only 10 votes, Turner was elected to the position in the election runoff, taking 67.3 percent of the vote to Bell's 32.6 percent.
After incumbent Clayton County Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell and challenger Jeff Turner finished in a virtual tie in the July 31 General Primary Election separated by only 10 votes, Turner was elected to the position in the election runoff, taking 67.3 percent of the vote to Bell's 32.6 percent.
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In Clayton County, 2012 could be described as a year of cheers and a year of tears, a year of change and a year of new beginnings.

From severe weather radios donated to schools by Clayton County Fire & Emergency Services in February to the shooting death of a Clayton County police officer while on duty this month, it was a year which covered all gambits of human emotion.

In addition to the weather radios being given to schools, the Clayton County Water Authority also released its 10-year master plan in January for the county, which included 28 major improvement projects carrying a price tag of $226 million.

In February, the Clayton County Commission accepted a $250,000 matching grant from the Georgia Department of Transportation for improvements to the Jester’s Creek Trail designed to improve the enjoyment of walkers using the facility. Also that month, the Forest Park City Council passed an ordinance, for the first time, which stated that, on the streets of the city, pedestrians must be dressed properly. The ordinance became known as the “Baggy Pants” ordinance as it was directed, at least partially, toward those individuals who wore their pants below their hips.

In March, Mayor JB Burk officially opened the pedestrian tunnel which ran under Jonesboro Road which offered a safe alternative to walkers having to cross this major Clayton corridor. In addition, former Lovejoy Councilman Bobby Cartwright was elected mayor of the city in a special election that month.

Later in March, the Georgia Department of Education named 15 Clayton County schools as “focus schools,” designated to receive special attention from the state school board.

It was in April that Morrow saw numerous volunteers assembled to create the Morrow Community Garden, a project which grew through the year. Also that month, Clayton County public schools adopted the Georgia Common Core Standards which would be used to assist students in being more competitive in their chosen career field.

Perhaps Clayton County saw its most surprising event come in the elections that stated in July and continued through runoffs which saw Bell and Commissioner Wole Ralph, each having served two terms, lose their seats to political newcomers while Clayton Board of Education incumbents Wanda Smith and Trinia Garrett also lose their seats. Ralph described the ousting of incumbents as reflecting a “sea of change” that took over Clayton County.

In September, Morrow hosted the opening of the Lee Street Bridge project while Lake City opened it new community center.

In November, Clayton County Parks and Recreation was selected the Agency the Year by the Georgia Recreation and Parks Association for communities with 150,000 or more while Morrow introduced a new public playground.

The year ended with the Clayton County Library System opening the new Forest Park Branch. However, the month closed on a sad note as Clayton County Police Officer Sean Callahan was gunned down in the line of duty, the first Clayton County police officer to die in the line of duty in the department’s 84-year history.

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