Trenton City Clerk Calls It Quits After 29 Years

The November meeting of the Trenton City Commission was more sparsely attended even than usual, possibly because it was held on Tuesday, Nov. 13, instead of its regular day, the second Monday of the month, the 12th being the legal observance of Veterans Day this year.

(Photo: 2016 shot of City Clerk Lucretia as she read the announcement the other elected officials had quietly changed her job to an appointed rather than elected position.)

Perhaps the biggest news coming out of the abbreviated meeting was longtime City Clerk Lucretia Houts' announcement that she will retire next year.

"I've enjoyed being with the city of Trenton for 29 years, and more important, I've enjoyed serving the citizens of the city of Trenton for 29 years," said Ms. Houts.

Perhaps she meant it as a reminder that it was the voters--as opposed to the city commission--who kept returning her to office throughout the three decades. Until two years, ago, Ms. Houts was in the peculiar position of holding the only full-time elected job in the tiny city government as well as being the last elected city clerk in Georgia

--a situation apparently invidious to the part-time mayor and city commissioners, who asked the Georgia Legislature to change Ms. Houts' job to bring it under their control. Ms. Houts would have been up for election in 2017 otherwise, but after the local legislation served at the pleasure of the part-timers.

Her resignation is effective on Feb. 27.

Otherwise, business as well as attendance was light at the Nov. 13 meeting. The city followed the Dade County Commission in approving two appointments for the Dade Industrial Development Authority. Sharon Moore, who was serving out the unexpired term of Dora Crisp, was reappointed to the board, and Peter Cervelli, formerly IDA executive director, was approved as a new board member.

Additionally, the commission approved an intergovernmental agreement with Dade County by which the county board of elections will continue administering city elections. Until last year, city elections were held at City Hall, but the 2017 city elections were combined with a county referendum and administered by the county, and now the city will continue staying out of the election business.

Finally, the city commissioners approved a resolution to start a bid process for right-of-way clearing for the city sewer system. Bids will be posted on the city city website,, as well as advertised in print.

Fire/Utility Commissioner Jerry Henegar said he had met with engineers regarding needed work on the sewer, explaining that Trenton's sewer is getting long in the tooth. It dates from the late 1980s and early '90s, with a collection system built in the '60s, he said. "It's a direct bottleneck to the growth of the city of Trenton," said sewer chief Dewayne Moore, who was in attendance.

Trenton Police Chief Christy Smith gave the monthly police report in the absence of a sitting police commissioner--Sandra Gray resigned that post in September and a new commissioner cannot be chosen until a special election is held in March. She said collected police fines for October were $23,705.60 for a year-to-date total of $248,387.48.

She said the Trenton PD had done well in the October Dade Superior Court term, commending her officers for standing up well under questioning. "Sometimes we are belittled on the stand and sometimes our integrity is questioned," she said.

Commissioner Henegar expressed similar sentiments about city building inspectors, asking those with construction or remodeling permits in Trenton to show the city's representatives a little respect. "Do not get ill with my inspectors," said Henegar. "They're just doing what they're supposed to do."

Henegar also announced that firefighter classes will be held in early 2019 and that the city and county volunteer fire departments all badly need volunteers. If you're interested in the classes, call City Hall at (706) 657-4167.

Parks and Recreation/Animal Control Commissioner Terry Powell said the Trenton Civics Center had been rented for a total of 120 hours in October and that anyone who wants it during the holiday season had better go ahead and call now. "This time of year is our busiest time," he said. Again, City Hall can be reached at the number above.

Streets Commissioner Monda Wooten thanked the Dade County roads department for paving Pace, Killian and LaFayette streets at a fraction of the cost a private contractor would have charged. "I don't know what I'd do without Billy," she said.

Commissioner Wooten referred to Billy Massengale, Dade's gravelly-voiced roads boss.

In his own monthly report, Mayor Alex Case brought glad tidings of the new LED lighting the Georgia Department of Transportation will shortly begin installing at the Trenton interstate exit. He said the work will begin right after Thanksgiving and be finished around June. The contractor will stage equipment in the old scenic overlook not far from the Trenton exit and has promised not to work from 6-9 a.m. and 4-7 p.m. on weekdays so as not to interfere with work and school commuting.

In his financial report, Case like other area officials announced SPLOST (special purpose local option sales tax) collections are up recently, and said it was encouraging to see residents were shopping locally.

After a 15-minute executive session, Mayor Case announced that he and the commissioners had discussed a complaint the city had received from a law firm in Dalton asserting that one of Dade's police officers had violated the plaintiff's constitutional rights. The mayor said he did not believe a formal lawsuit had yet been filed but that in any case the session had been for information only and the commission was turning the matter over to the city attorney.

The Trenton City Commission's next meeting is at 6 p.m. on Dec. 10 at City Hall.

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