‘Meant so much’

Published 11:00 pm Monday, October 15, 2012

Retiring city Councilman Charles Meeks became emotional after being presented a street sign bearing his name, coupled with the announcement Railroad Avenue would be renamed Charles Meeks Avenue.

The city’s longest-serving official prepares to leave his post

Dozens gathered to celebrate the retirement of Troy’s longest-serving elected official on Monday afternoon with a reception at City Hall.

“We are grateful for what Mr. Charles has done, not just for us, but for the city,” said Mayor-elect Jason Reeves who is the third Reeves to serve with the retiring Charles Meeks.

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“The Meeks legacy is one that’s difficult to excel,” said Mayor Jimmy Lunsford, noting that Councilman Meeks has also served as one of the city’s mayors, a commissioner and has devoted countless hours to working with the gas district.

Councilman Johnny Witherington delivered heartfelt, emotional and funny words as he wished Meeks well in his retirement.

“I used to live two or three doors down,” Witherington recalled of his childhood home. “And I used to shoot out the street light with my BB gun.”

Witherington said he never thought back then that he would serve on the city council with Meeks one day, but that the time has been “an honor.”

“He brought a sense of stability to our team. It’s been very meaningful for me to serve with Mr. Charles,” Witherington shared before addressing Meeks. “I pray that you have many more years of health and happiness.”

But just because he is retiring doesn’t mean Meeks will be idle. He said he still plans to serve, and that’s a good thing since many groups will be asking for his assistance.

“Charles has been an absolute leader and supporter of economic development,” said Pike County Economic Development Director Marsha Gaylard. “I’ve still got his number and we’ll be calling on him for lots of things.”

Councilwoman Wanda Moultry thanked Meeks for allowing her to learn from him and Councilman Charlie Dunn pinned a Korean War Veteran pin on Meeks’ lapel.

“When you leave, I will be the youngest person on the council,” Dunn joked.

Reeves took the microphone once again in the council chambers to present Meeks with a retirement rocking chair from the City of Troy, along with another special gift.

“Mr. Meeks is a historical figure,” Reeves noted before unveiling a street sign and announcing that Railroad Avenue beside City Hall will be renamed Charles Meeks Avenue.

“I don’t know that I can say much because I am so emotional now,” Meeks said, with his wife of 61 years, Josephine, by his side. “But I’m not going to apologize for it because you mean so much to me.”

Meeks shared that he and his family moved to Troy from Covington County in 1960 and that it was the warm welcome he received into the community that called him to service.

“That’s the reason I got involved, to give back,” Meeks said. “It’s been a privilege of mine. It’s just meant so much to me.”