ALBANY, Ga. -- His health may have kept him from attending the last several Dougherty County Commission meetings, but that doesn't mean long-time District 6 Commissioner Jack Stone hasn't kept up with what's going on.
And, as those who know Stone might expect, he definitely has some strong opinions about some of the issues his colleagues have been tackling.
Told that fellow Commissioner Lamar Hudgins tried to take up his slack as the commission discussed House Bill 386, which, among other things, alters the way taxes are collected on car sales, the former auto salesman made it apparent how he felt about the bill.
"That will never happen ..." the feisty Stone said. "I'd love for it to work so our taxpayers would get a break on their ad valorem taxes, but there's no way (casual sales) will make up for the taxes they're not going to collect.
"They tried to do something like this before, and within three months they'd abandoned it. The counties are going to come up short on this, you mark my word, and they can't operate without funding. There's just no way this is going to work."
Stone, who is serving his 27th year with the commission, said he's had a number of health problems that have kept him pretty much homebound.
"I've about got my blood pressure leveled off, and I'm about to get over a bout of acute bronchitis," Stone said. "I had it, about got rid of it, then it jumped back on me again. It's just been one thing after another.
"I've also stayed sick at my stomach, but I've got some new medicine that's helped a lot. I have an MRI scheduled (today), and if I get through with that in time I'm going to try and make the meeting."
Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard said Stone's absence has been felt by the board.
"No one presents their thoughts and conclusions quite like Jack," Sinyard said. "Jack has his own way of presenting ideas and, whether you agree with none, some or all of what he says, you know when he makes a comment he means what he says from his heart.
"Jack's always been a giver, and we're fortunate to have that kind of people serving on the commission. Jack Stone is just one of a kind, and he's serious about his love for Dougherty County. He deeply cares about this community, and we've missed his presence at our meetings."
Stone said he's talked frequently with Sinyard and has encouraged the board chairman to work with Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital CEO Joel Wernick to push the hospital to provide health care for inmates at the Dougherty County Jail at a reduced cost, which Phoebe has done the past several years.
"That's what's kept us afloat lately," Stone said. "I know we're asking Phoebe to sacrifice, but the county helped both hospitals (Phoebe and the former Palmyra Medical Center) keep their doors open back when things were tough on them. Now we need help."
Stone also said he's been frustrated by reports of the county school system's plan to close schools in the lower-income eastern part of the county.
"The people in East Dougherty County are always getting the short end of the stick," Stone said. "I hope the School Board will look into this further and make a decision that affects everyone in the county equally."