Leadership by Lee brought city together

Published 10:57 pm Saturday, October 13, 2012

By Larry P. Stover

Monday, Oct. 15 will be Valley Grande’s final city council meeting for Mayor Tom Lee. It brings to conclusion eight years of leadership to our community. Of the nine years that Valley Grande has been incorporated as a city, Tom Lee has served us well for eight of those years as mayor.

Being the mayor of any city is a challenge but bringing together a wide range of people in forming and developing a new community has a whole new set of challenges itself.

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Those of us in leadership roles know it’s almost impossible to make everyone happy all the time. Being mayor of a young community magnifies such issues.

Tom has worked very hard with his council to find common areas of need and concern for the city. These past few years have seen so much growth and development for a small town. With a very limited annual budget, much has been accomplished. Fire protection has been improved. The municipal building has brought everything under one roof. A sewer system is coming into reality. But, the number one focus has been on the family.

The walking trail at the city park has been a real boost to the city. Not only is it in use every day, but also is an awesome setting for Founder’s Day and the Independence Day celebration around the Fourth of July. It’s a great place to take your children and grandchildren to play, picnic, ride bikes, or just sit around and visit under the shade trees.

A major addition to the community was putting in the baseball fields. It was a major undertaking but the results have been astounding. Baseball fever is growing throughout the Valley Grande area.

It was a personal joy for me to direct the T-ball program this past spring. Our peak crowd was nearly 350 people for one of the games.

By the end of the season, a new concession stand was built with added restroom facilities. This complex is something Valley Grande residents can be proud of.

Future plans include purchasing bleachers, installing scoreboards and adding lights on the fields.

On a personal note, I first met Tom Lee more than six years ago. Our church on Summerfield Road had been damaged by hurricane Ivan and we voted as a congregation to move to Valley Grande. I met with him and then the city council. Tom and I became instant friends. Tom helped us in more ways than I can count as we went through the building and relocation process.

No one will ever know (except his wife Janette) how many hours our mayor has put into this job. In a non-paid position, he has sacrificed his time and energy to help make Valley Grande a better place.

Thanks Tom, you are the personification of why Valley Grande is “Simply Beautiful.”