By MJ Kneiser, WLHR Radio, Lavonia
Lavonia Mayor Ralph Owens has recently been named the Georgia Mountains Regional Commission’s Elected Official of the Year for 2012.
The GMRC covers 12-counties, including Franklin, Hart, and Stephens counties. Owens said last Monday that he never expected to receive such an award.
“It’s an honor to receive it and it got me by surprise, but I’m honored to get it,” Owens said. “I’m sure there are a lot of other people who deserved it as much as I did.”
Mayor Owens has been mayor of Lavonia since 1990. In that time, he says the city has undergone significant change for the better.
“Well when I first took office we had two police cars and five or six policemen and those two cars were used 24 hours a day,” he said. “Now, we have a new police department, 14 police officers and each officer has his own car. There’s just so much more equipment than we had when I first came here.”
Owens also pointed to the town’s water and sewer department and road department as entities that have developed since he first took office.
Some of the biggest accomplishments while in office, Owens said, though have to do with bringing jobs to the town that sits along I-85.
Owens said future plans for Lavonia include repaving the roads in the downtown area and putting the finishing touches on the renovation of the Lavonia Train Depot.
Owens has three more years to serve this latest term as Mayor. He would not say whether he plans to run again.