GMA inducted Palmetto Mayor Clark Boddie, Perry Councilmember Phyllis Bynum-Grace, and former LaGrange City Manager Tom Hall into the Municipal Government Hall of Fame at the association’s annual convention in Savannah.
The Hall of Fame honors municipal officials who exemplify the best in public service, and who, throughout their careers, have made extraordinary contributions to their communities and Georgia’s cities.
Boddie has served the city of Palmetto for more than 30 years. He served as chief of police for the city for eight years, during which time he improved the level of service through community policing; worked with the mayor and council to improve police benefits; brought the jail into compliance with state requirements; and led efforts to earn the department’s first POST certification.
Since then, Boddie has served two stints as mayor, for a total of 25 years in office. Through his leadership, the federal General Services Administration located a 1.5 million-square-foot distribution center in the city’s industrial park in 1988. Today, the facility houses a Lowe’s Distribution Center that is one of the city’s largest electrical users. He helped establish the city’s first senior center in partnership with the county, and throughout his tenure, improving all city facilities has been a major priority for him.
Boddie has also had a major impact on the region and the state. He was involved in the first ever Mayors’ Walk in the region to benefit seniors, he serves on the regional commission board and chairs its Aging and Health Resources Committee and as chairman of the regional jail authority.
Within GMA, Boddie has served as chair of the Public Safety Policy Committee and currently serves as an at-large Board member.
“He’s been a strong supporter of GMA over the years,” said GMA Executive Director Lamar Norton. “His dedication to the Mayors’ Christmas Motorcade is legendary, and he has served as chair of the regional hospital Motorcade for more than 15 years. On top of all that, he serves with a joy and an enthusiasm that is contagious. He loves his city, and he’s a wonderful ambassador for GMA.”
Bynum-Grace has served on the council for 18 years, and during that time she conceived and helped facilitate the installation of four neighborhood passive parks in predominantly minority-populated neighborhoods lacking park space. She also established an effective communications process between the police department and minority neighborhoods, resulting in a decrease in the crime rate. Bynum-Grace also pioneered reviews of the city’s regulatory services to the general public, making it easier for people to apply for permits, rezoning and city utilities.
In addition, she helped transition the former Recreation Department to the Department of Leisure Services, giving it a wider focus and including programs for youth, senior citizens and disabled persons. Within the community, she volunteers her time to assist disabled persons through Family Connections, Camp Can Do and immunization and screening programs, and collects food, clothes and housewares for residents in need.
She has been a big supporter of GMA, encouraging her fellow officials and city staff to attend GMA conferences and training. She has taken more than 275 hours of training and received the Certificate of Distinction, the highest training level currently available.
“She’s been a strong supporter of GMA over the years,” said GMA Executive Director Lamar Norton. “She’ll be the first to tell you that there’s always more to learn about city government to be an effective leader. If you need proof of her commitment to continuing education, just take a look at how much training she has attended since taking office.”
Hall’s career in public service began in 1985 when he was appointed assistant to the city manager. He quickly started making his mark on the city and in 1988 was promoted to Assistant City Manager. He briefly left LaGrange to serve as city manager of Morrow, but returned to LaGrange as city manager, where he served until his death.
During his tenure, he supervised the city’s revenue shift from property taxes to utilities; purchased and grew the cable television enterprise; started and expanded the city’s telecommunication business; began curbside garbage collection and recycling services; guided the city through its service delivery strategy negotiations; and established the city municipal court and probation program.
In 2000, the city was named as one of the Most Intelligent Cities by the World Teleport Association and as City of Excellence by GMA and Georgia Trend in 2001.
“Tom was a tireless advocate for cities and a fierce protector of municipal home rule,” said GMA Executive Director Lamar Norton. “Whenever a significant policy issue emerged that required careful thought and analysis, GMA staff was quick to call on Tom for his insight and advice. And he answered the call.”
He served on countless GMA task forces, including one in 2007 that led to successful efforts to renegotiate the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax law to give cities a more equitable share of revenues. He served on the GMA Legislative Policy Council, and was a frequent speaker at GMA conferences.
“Few managers had the depth of knowledge that he did on such a wide range of subjects, including telecommunications, public works, utilities and technology,” said Norton. “If you wanted to hear about a best practice, Tom was definitely a ‘go to’ person.”