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Rich not seeking re-election

Decatur County Commissioner Palmer Rich said Monday he is not seeking re-election.

Rich, who will turn 75 years old in December, said he will not seek a fourth term for the District 4 County Board of Commissioners seat, which includes a large portion of the City of Bainbridge.

“When I first ran for this position in 1998, I felt that two or three terms would be sufficient for a commissioner to serve,” Rich said in a prepared statement. “Fresh ideas are always good for moving Decatur County forward. I thank the citizens of this county for giving me the opportunity to serve three terms.”

In his more than 11 years on the Board of Commissioners, Rich said the biggest changes occurred in 2000, when the commission was in transition.

During his tenure, Rich saw the county administrator move from Alan Thomas to Jim Bramblett and then to the current administrator, Tom Patton. Also during the more than 11 years Rich has been on the board, there was a shake up in the leadership of both the county’s Emergency Medical Services and Fire and Rescue departments. Related to Fire and Rescue, the county settled on a gender discrimination lawsuit while another is pending, as well as under-appeal civil lawsuits stemming from the settled discrimination lawsuit.

But apart from the controversies, there were also big successes.

“I’m especially proud of the new landfill, which has become a productive revenue source, and the acquisition of the 8,500-acre Silver Lake Wildlife Management Area. By co-purchasing this tract with the State of Georgia, we have invested in the lives of our children, grandchildren and generations to come.”

The Silver Lake tract was purchased from International Paper in 2008, and it involved the financial commitment of various entities, including the state, in order for the successful purchase.

Among some of the other major accomplishments that occurred during the time that Rich served as a county commissioner are the renovation of the historic Decatur County Courthouse, the remodeling of the county’s administrative building on Broughton Street, upgrades to Emergency Medical Services, the 911 system and county planning guidelines, institution of the animal control ordinance.

Rich said he liked the new concept of the county government training inmates to fight fires, which in turn would assist the county and volunteer fire departments with fire emergencies.

“That’s a good accomplishment,” Rich said Monday.

Rich said he always strides to move Decatur County forward, and he credits the other county commissioners and the county staff with working well together to moving the county forward.

“It’s not I or me,” Rich said.

First elected in 1998, Rich took office in 1999. A couple months after taking office, Rich retired as a forester with International Paper Southland. From 2006 to 2009, Rich served as the chairman of the Board of Commissioners.

Retiree Frank Loeffler said Tuesday that he plans to run for the seat being vacated by Rich.

Qualifying for countywide elections is April 26 to April 30. The other county commissioners whose seats are up for election are Earl Perry and Gary Phillips.