Lingle heralded after final commission meeting

Photo by J.D. Sumner

Photo by J.D. Sumner

ALBANY, Ga. -- After eight years on the Dougherty County Commission and nearly 30 in local public service, Commissioner Chuck Lingle bowed out of the limelight following the last meeting of 2010 at the downtown government center Monday.

Lingle was joined by his fellow commissioners, friends and family Monday as he culminated a public service career that spans two different elected positions and nearly three decades.

"It's been a joy to me to work with you, and to help guide this county forward. I will miss it. I'd be a liar and fool if I said otherwise, but there will be other things to fill the void," Lingle said.

Lingle's retirement from public service won't be entirely complete, however. Before the gavel fell on Monday's meeting, Lingle was replaced as the commission's delegate on the Dougherty County Hospital Authority and then named a citizen appointee to the same board.

When asked why he wished to continue to serve on the authority, Lingle said simply that "there are a few things we still have left to work on."

Lingle's sendoff Monday prompted comments from each of his colleagues on the commission, former board member and board of education chairman Lamar Reese, and Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital CEO Joel Wernick.

Born in Independence, Kan., Lingle's first foray into local politics started in 1981 when he was elected to the Dougherty County School Board. Lingle served on the board through Dec. 31, 1994.

In 2002, he was elected to the seat he currently holds on the Dougherty County Commission.

First-time commissioner Ewell Lyle will be sworn in to replace Lingle in January, and Lyle said that Lingle has been a source of education and inspiration as he prepares to enter the political arena.

"It's been great having him available to watch and answer questions I might have going through this," Lyle said. "I want to be clear that I didn't run against Chuck. In fact, had he ran for another term, I likely wouldn't have. ... He's a good guy, and I hope I'm able to continue representing the people of the district as good as he did."

A veterinarian by trade, Lingle also served on many boards and agencies outside of the two elected positions he held.

He is past president of the South Georgia Veterinary Association, was a member of the Lower Flint Ocklockonee Water Council, served on the local Hospice board and is past president of the board for Porterfield Memorial Methodist Church.