2011-08-03 / Opinion


Jerry Chapman, Mayor, City of Colquitt

One thing I’ve been fighting for since I first took office is to remind everyone, especially the County Commission and Board of Education that the city is in the county, and that we all pay county taxes. Ever since Colquitt was chartered, there have been projects funded 50/50 with the county, resulting in the city taxpayer being billed twice, once for their city share and once for their county share. Any venture that benefits the county as a whole should be funded totally by the county. This way everyone pays his or her share only once. If a special project is needed to shore up infrastructure that only benefits the school, a county government should have to pay for it. Why should the city taxpayer have to foot the entire bill just because the school is in the city? City taxpayers pay just as much for every piece of county equipment as do people living outside the city and should have that equipment working for them. We were making good progress on working together with the past county commission chair, but as faces change, working relationships also change. Let’s hope common sense prevails, and we can get back on track to working together and working fairly.

Before I was mayor, I served two terms on the City Council. My brother, Joe, served two terms about a decade before he talked me into running for office. I love my brother, Joe. I even love his name, “Billy Joe.” The name just sounds like someone you’ll probably like, someone fun, and it sure fits my brother. He’s someone most people like, and he’s always been fun to me. I’ve never really liked my name. The j and ch just kind of run together like you’re ordering something cheesy at McDonalds. Funny story about my name. I was dubbed Jerry Michael Chapman (except for a nickname pinned on me as a child that I’m not revealing). At least I thought I was. I first saw my birth certificate when I was 16. Instead of “Jerry Michael,” the certificate read “Jimmy Michel”. Why “Jimmy,” I don’t know, and “Michel” is awfully close to “Michelle”! I asked Mama about the mix-up. “Son, your daddy must have given them that information.” “Mama, it’s got your signature on it.” “Well, I was pretty drugged up from the delivery and all.” “But, Mama, I was born on the 2nd. You signed it on the 19th!” “Well, son, you were my fifth child, and I was 38 years old. You’re lucky I got it that close.” It never was an issue. My SSI card and driver’s license both read “Jerry Michael,” and I basically forgot about it. In 1999, I won a trip to Los Cabos, Mexico. Before 9/11, you could travel to Mexico with a driver’s license and birth certificate. I had both. Unfortunately, they did not match. I arrive at the Tallahassee airportfora6a.m. flight for the trip of my life. As good of a salesman that I am, I could not talk them into letting me on that plane. I came back home and begged Judge Ronnie Joe Lane and Annie Laura Middleton to give me as much official looking documentation that could bluff me into Mexico. I got there a day late, came home and got my birth certificate corrected. I now have a passport.

Anyway, back to my brother. Joe is the kind of guy that will give you the shirt off his back. He’ll also give you the shirt off of my back! He once gave away my bicycle to a boy that had helped him with yard work. “I didn’t think you ever used it,” he said. “I’m a 12-year-old boy without a car! What do you think I’m using?”

Joe was the one that took me hunting and fishing when I was a kid. When Daddy died, he took up even more time with me. I have a million stories I can tell. Some are best untold, but true to his name, he was always fun! Still is! When I had my birth certificate corrected, I should have had it changed to Billy Joe. But, I’m sure that would have caused some confusion, and the name fits him better, anyway.

You can e-mail me at: candyzar@bellsouth.net, write me at P.O. Box 276, or fax me at 758-2595. We have council meetings on the second Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. I encourage everyone to attend. If you’d like to address the council, call by the prior Thursday and ask to be put on the agenda. You can also reach me at home at 758-3259 or at City Hall at 758-1004.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

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