Clarence Brown celebrates 20 years of service to community
by Amanda Stegall
Aug 29, 2011 | 3442 views | 0 0 comments | 29 29 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Clarence Brown stands out in front of the conference center that bears his name. As of Sunday, Brown has served Bartow County 20 years as sole commissioner.
SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News, File
Clarence Brown stands out in front of the conference center that bears his name. As of Sunday, Brown has served Bartow County 20 years as sole commissioner. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News, File
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What most would consider a busy and hectic day at the office is just normal routine for Bartow County Commissioner Clarence Brown as he works with his staff and citizens to make Bartow a better community for people to live in.

Following the death of Commissioner Frank Moore in 1991, Brown took office to complete the term. The "to-do" list was long back then and Brown has accomplished several difficult tasks throughout the past 20 years as sole commissioner, the longest recorded tenure the county office has seen.

"Leadership would be the one quality that would best define him," Steve Bradley, county administrator, said. "He's put a lot of time and effort and blood, sweat and tears in on behalf of the citizens of the county ... [thinking of] what's in the best interest of the people in this community. I think that was always at the forefront."

Bradley joined the Commissioner's team in 1993 as county administrator. Since then, he recalls several accomplishments and tough decisions Brown has faced.

"The commissioner recognized that the county was going to grow rapidly and he authorized us to begin a growth management plan, which we adopted [and] put in affect in 1996," Bradley said, "and that helped guide us as we were growing into where we could manage the growth rather than have it going completely out of control. ... The plan helped us to specifically determine where growth should occur.

"So a lot of the road improvements that have occurred: intersections, reducing severe curves, putting in traffic signals, replacing bridges and things like that, we didn't just go at it haphazardly," Bradley said. "We developed a plan and all of those, both the growth management and transportation, had a good bit of public input that went into it as well."

Obtaining public input has always been one of Brown's main goals, whether it be during a monthly meeting or via telephone, both office and home.

"I had people call me in the middle of the night at home saying they had no water," recalled Brown of the poor water pressure and flow throughout the county. "So we added reservoirs and built the water pressure back up."

Brown has not only served Bartow over the years, but also participated on several boards throughout the region from environmental protection to the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission.

"He's demonstrated outstanding leadership both as a commissioner and in other organizations in which he has served, all of which benefited the county as well," Bradley said. "I go around to a lot of meetings and wherever he goes a lot of people gather around him to talk to him about issues and get his opinions on things."

In the areas of economic development, Brown has stressed a need for jobs.

"He was instrumental in many of the industries that have moved here during his tenure," Bradley said. "He's always felt like it's important to provide people with good jobs, good benefits and wages and he's worked tirelessly in that effort."

Concerning the addition of Toyo, Bradley noted that the decision was not easy to make as Brown understood why some citizens were opposing bringing the industry to the community.

"He made a tough call because he understood why people were opposing it, but in the end he did what he felt was in the best interest of the county and as it turns out it's proven that it's very important," Bradley said. "Toyo is one of our major employers and without them right now our unemployment would be a lot worse than it is.

"He likes to get information and he expects his staff to be candid with him and give their opinion and bring him the information he needs when trying to make a decision. He's the one that has to make the final call and sometimes they're not the easiest decisions. For example the Toyo Tire/Sony decision, which many people were outspoken against, he had gotten a lot of calls but in the end he felt like it was very important that we get this industry in to Bartow County and he had to make a decision. Sometimes those get to be difficult, lonely decisions that no one can make.

"There's probably many things I could say," Bradley said. "He's had a very active tenure. There's only one time that I know that we, his staff and the public, went against him. That was naming the conference center. He didn't want that to happen, but that got out of his hands.

"He's a person with an even keel [but] he's strong-minded," Bradley said.

Brown added that he did not stay in office for 20 years on his own.

"I say thanks to the people for having enough confidence in me to keep voting for me," Brown said.

The commissioner's term will officially end and be eligible for election in 2012.