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Lee County ‘secret’ catches up with writer

Carlton Fletcher

Carlton Fletcher

You could have it all, My empire of dirt. I will let you down, I will make you hurt.

— Johnny Cash/Nine Inch Nails

Oh, my, the cat’s out of the bag.

I’ve been outed, and I don’t quite know yet what I will do about it. Just when you think you’ve got people hoodwinked ...

A few squawks and comments sent to this newspaper recently have revealed my deepest, darkest secret: I live in Lee County. According to the super sleuths who uncovered this earth-shattering bit of news, I am now a hypocrite because I often write about things that happen in Albany and Dougherty County.

I don’t want to fault anyone’s logic, but I’m having a little trouble making the connection here. Because I moved a few miles across the Dougherty County line, I’m no longer qualified to write about the city I work in, shop in, spend most of my time in? The city where two of my children were born?

I guess, based on that bit of reasoning, any reporter who writes about something going on outside the city where he or she resides, any local TV talking head who mentions a sporting event in Atlanta or a government decision made in D.C., or any blogger who discusses goings-on outside his immediate jurisdiction is being hypocritical.

Since the person(s) who made the startling discovery of my county of residence seem to think it’s a big deal, let me let you in on a few more secrets that will no doubt be equally as shocking:

— I drive a gray car!

— I am a proud graduate of Albany State University, and yet I’ve still written articles about Darton College! I’ve tried to keep this info from the bosses here, but now that my secret’s out, I’m sure The Herald will eliminate all those Darton stories from its files.

— I have made it known on a number of occasions that I’m not exactly a huge pet lover, but we have two dogs, two cats and a horse on our land — in Lee County! — and I not only tolerate them, I sometimes help feed them!

— I check out books frequently at the downtown Albany Central Library branch and have maintained family memberships at Chehaw Park and the Flint RiverQuarium even after moving across the county line and have yet to pay any out-of-county fees!

What you don’t know, super sleuth(s), is that my family’s move to Lee County — while not really a secret, still our business — was a necessity, one of those things you do when you can’t work because you’ve had cancer surgery and your wife can’t work because she’s taking care of you.

And what you — and everyone but a very select handful of people — also don’t know is that that cancer thing included a death’s-door experience that, but for God’s, my wife’s and a team of doctors and nurses at Phoebe’s intervention would have rendered me — in the words of my buddy Levine — toes-up while I still lived on Sixth Avenue in downtown Albany.

So, you see, I don’t particularly give a rat’s ass what anyone thinks about where I live, how I express my opinions, how I wear my hair or where I eat lunch every day. I’m just overwhelmingly happy to be here, happy to see my children growing up, happy to try — and fail — at adequately thanking my wife for sacrificing to keep me alive, happy to be coming every day to a job that I love.

I listened to Johnny Cash’s “American IV: The Man Comes Around” album over the weekend — the one he made just before he died in 2003 — and while I was moved by the anguish in his still-powerful singing voice, it made me realize how precious and short the time we have here is. And I think rather than worry about what someone else thinks of me or what I do or even where I live, I’m just going to get up every morning and thank God for another day, and then I’m going to live it.

You, on the other hand, are free to do what pleases you.

Email Metro Editor Carlton Fletcher at


Shinedownfan 3 years, 3 months ago

The main thing I don't get is why did you move here? The main reason to move to Lee County is for the schools, but your kids are prolly outta college by now.
What's gonna suck for you is on local election day, you will have no one to vote for, because all the candidates, on the local ballot last time, were Republican. Maybe some of it will rub off on you, or maybe living with us red necks will cause your eyes to finally open. (I think it may already be working.)


mr_nobody 3 years, 3 months ago

I don't agree with you a lot of the time, but this time I do.

Life in the fishbowl is tough. It's sad that you have to defend your family business and your job.


dingleberry 3 years, 3 months ago

Welcome to Lee Co! Lee has a quality of life not presently available for a family in Albany so I hope you enjoy it. I too live in Lee and have for many years which has never been a secret either. Let me be clear: People don't give a "rat"s ass", as you say, where you or I live. But people do care that your past writings, and those of others in the Herald, leave folks with the impression that a move to Lee Co is in essence merely "white flight" to avoid things related to race.

Such is not the case as your move to Lee so aptly shows. You came for personal reasons obviously unrelated to race--and so did I and likely most of those who have made the "wise decision". On return to the area in the early '80s with school age kids, I was interested in good schools, lower property taxes, and a more rural environment. The decision was easy--Albany didn't have what I wanted and needed.

And my goodness, look at what Albany has become in the last 18 years or so since the flood. It seems many don't want to acknowledge that the quality of life for a family has nose dived to the point that perhaps those who are willing to move to Albany either have to or are in search of our copious "entitlement" programs. Life is too short to put up with what Albany has become, although some won't readily admit it publicly.

On the subj of "Can you live in Lee and objectively write about Albany", I feel not only can you do it, but perhaps your perspective is even better than it was--you have done both. And you should write on Albany since Albany is likely your business, entertainment, and cultural center--at the moment.


ObjectiveEyes 3 years, 3 months ago

I think there is a misconception that the vast majority of the "newbies" in Lee County fled Dougherty County. The fact is, I don't know a lot of folks who actually did that. I moved here from Mitchell Co. (ok, I could be accused of white-flight, too, I guess). But, I have LC friends from Miller Co, Tift Co, Early Co, even the great State of Mississippi. But, I cannot remember a single friend that moved from DOCO to LC. But, dingleberry, you are right...if you are going to condemn with a very broad brush, you just may get a little paint on yourself. But, why is "white-flight" condemned, but, any other reason for moving to LC is ok?


dingleberry 3 years, 3 months ago

Well, OE, it seems these days that whites have to avoid any possibility that race was why the move was made--must be politically correct you know. However, blacks don't get challenged on their reasons for moving to Lee, it seems there can't be a "black flight" issue. The fact that Lee is a "good fit" for a family just doesn't seem to work well these days, at least not in some folks minds. My neighborhood has mostly Albany transplants from long ago, those who wanted the good schools and lower taxes--worked for them too.


ObjectiveEyes 3 years, 2 months ago

dingleberry: I live in Calloway Lakes and have a black families on either side of me and across the street. One is a retired school teacher, one an electrician at P&G and one is self-employed. All great neighbors.


myside 3 years, 3 months ago

I read and enjoy your articles, and don't give a damn where you live. You are an asset to Albany, whether you live there or not.


Cartman 3 years, 3 months ago

Congrats on gettin' that Lee County attitude. Next time you see a 'Banian, sing 'em this:
They love our milk an' honey,
But they preach about some other way of livin'.
When they're runnin' down my country, hoss,
They're walkin' on the fightin' side of me.
Merle Haggard


Kay523 3 years, 3 months ago

Mr. Fletcher can dish it out but now he is a victim? Sounds like he suffers from "Rynders Syndrome".


whattheheck 3 years, 3 months ago

If moving to and living in Lee County isn't an issue, why respond at all? Perhaps it's the stigma of "racism" basically perpetuated by the local media. Get over it because as long as Albany follows its current path, for many the roads will lead out of town to Lee County and beyond. Think about it. Why has Albany's population stagnated for the past 30years? Is it because schools are well respected by all? Or, is it the tax rate that borders on ridiculous with no hint of relief in sight? Perhaps it's the daily report of shooting, stabbing, robbing, burglarizing, and even home invasions causing the problem? When one looks closely at the Commission and BOE, is there a realistic, positive future to be seen?

So many questions and so few answers. Lee isn't utopia, but for this part of the country, it is as close as many will get to it. .


Jacob 3 years, 3 months ago

For you not give a rat's ass, you sure do get testy about it, no? Sounds like a hit dog hollerin.....


Sister_Ruby 3 years, 3 months ago

Are you my granny? She used to say that about the bit dog...


KaosinAlbany 3 years, 3 months ago

Uh, Carlton, it should be NIN first then the man in black. I believe NIN was the originator of the song but the man in black produced a better version of it. Sorry, just grew up listening to NIN and had to say it.


Royalstar 3 years, 3 months ago

I moved to Lee County from another south georgia town in 1983. I called myself moving to Albany but the first question realtors asked was, "do you have kids in school." When I said yes they all said you need to live in Lee County. At that time Lee County had an excellent school system but today it isn't the same. There is black flight coming to Lee County and it is going down hill just like Albany.


Albanite 3 years, 3 months ago

One benchmark of being a grown-up is realizing that nobody actually gives a "rat's ass" where we live, how we live or even IF we live - except to the extent that it directly affects their own well-being. That includes your minister, wife, employer, co-workers, children or any of the 14 people who still read the Herald.


gotanyfacts 3 years, 3 months ago

A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin. H. L. Mencken


waltspecht 3 years, 2 months ago

When I came here in 79, my Navy friends in Charleston, that were from Mitchel County and Dougherty County, all told me to buy in Lee County above 212 feet elevation. One of them was a minority. I was amazed at the height of the flood waters and the quoted height they had told me to buy above. Wonder how they knew? The one thing they had wrong was what I could get for how much money. Miller building had apparently already affected the prices. As I understand the other industry had years before. So tell me, what does Lee County have to do with a better Cancer enviornment? Enquiring minds want to know.


whattheheck 3 years, 2 months ago

Sounds like school to me Walt. Also, ya' can't have a horse in downtown Albany unless we go ahead with the Holman mule barn renovation project. Makes Lee a real winner for sure.


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