Gil Barrett in ICU at phoebe

ALBANY -- One of the state's longest-serving county officials is in fair condition at a local hospital following surgery.

Gil Barrett, who served on the Dougherty County Commission from 1959 to 1998 and who spent the last 20 of those years as chairman, is in the surgical intensive care unit at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital.

According to county officials, Barrett fell ill about two weeks ago and symptoms became increasingly worse, prompting doctors to try a surgery on the 87-year-old last week.

During Monday's County Commission meeting, current Chairman Jeff Sinyard included Barrett in an invocation.

In May, when the county and Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany christened a landmark landfill-to-gas partnership between local government and the U.S. Navy, Sinyard presented Barrett with the key to the county in acknowledgment of his years of service.

During his tenure as chairman, Barrett served as president of the National Association of Counties and helped shaped the role of counties in U.S. policy.

Barrett was even called to the White House on occasion to consult with then-President Ford.

According to documents from the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library, Barrett, as a representative of the commission and NaCo, met with Ford at the White House on Jan. 18, 1975, to discuss citizens' efforts to fight inflation.