LEESBURG, Ga. -- More than four decades of service to Lee County's government came to a close Tuesday night.
Barring an unforeseen called meeting, Betty Johnson served in her final meeting as a member of the Lee County Commission. Johnson is retiring after four years as a county commissioner and more than 37 years in the Lee County Tax Office -- most of that as tax commissioner.
Johnson's last day as District 2 Commissioner is Nov. 8. Her successor, either Luke Singletary or Mary Egler, will be sworn in the following day.
"Betty has always done the right thing," said Commission Chairman Ed Duffy. "She has voted her conscience in every issue she has faced, and Lee County is better for it."
Duffy said Johnson is most widely known for her advocacy for Lee County's employees, including initiating a recent compensation study.
"Betty is Lee County through and through," he said. "Her love for the community is well-known. ... Betty, you will be missed."
Johnson called the day bittersweet, thanking Lee citizens for allowing her to serve almost 41 years.
"It was my honor and privilege," she said.
Johnson, who paused briefly to compose herself, then addressed county employees.
"Ya'll have been my top priority for years and years," she said. "I appreciate every one of you. I thank you for your hard work and your dedication to Lee County. You will be seeing me around for sure. I'm not going far."
The Commission then passed a proclamation honoring Johnson. She began working in the Lee County Tax Office in January 1972 and was elected tax commissioner in 1981, serving until October 2008.
She has served on the county commission representing the Leesburg district since then.
During the business session of Tuesday night's meeting, Veronica Johnson, superintendent of elections in Lee County, said about 11 percent of the county's voters have cast ballots during early voting.
She said the office has mailed out 493 absentee ballots and has received 263 back so far.
Early voting will continue through next week with polls open from 8:15 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Voting will also be open this Saturday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.
In other action, the commission:
- Approved an alcohol license for Brijesh Patel at BP Food Mart, 1420 U.S. Highway 19 South.
- Declared a 1987 Ford dump truck and a slopper attachment for a motorgrader surplus property.
- Approved county holidays for 2013 including New Years Day on Jan. 1, Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 21, Good Friday on March 29, Memorial Day on May 27, Independence Day on July 4, Labor Day on Sept. 2, Thanksgiving on Nov. 28-29, Christmas Eve on Dec. 24 and Christmas on Dec. 25.
- Approved a bid from Custom Interiors for $35,500 for flooring and installation at the Lee County Library in Leesburg.
- Appointed Robert Farr to a vacancy on the Lee County Department of Family and Children Services board.