Communities like this one are special. There are lists and lists of people that impact us positively on a daily basis. Business owners, government leaders, and citizens of the community touch all of us and make these changes in our lives and it is for those reasons and those peoples that we have the incredible community that we do. Recently, we lost one of our own who was an undeniable force for positive change and an all around incredible human being with a brilliant mind. Even though Tom Hall may no longer be with us, his legacy will continue to live on far beyond his time.
On the morning of Friday, October 28, an incredible amount of local leaders and citizens gathered together on the site of what will be the new Great Wolf Lodge in order to dedicate to the road and entrance to the lodge to Tom. Mayor Jim Thornton, newly appointed City Manager Meg Kelsey, and the entire City Council were exceptionally close to Tom and as the Mayor pointed out, nearly all of the major city developments of the past 20 plus years have had Tom’s fingerprints on them.
City Manager Meg Kelsey served as Tom’s assistant City Manager for years and shared a bit of his legacy with the crowd on hand. Tom began his career with the City in 1985 as the assistant to the City Manager. He served in this role until 1988. In 1991, Tom left LaGrange and headed to Morrow, Georgia as their City Manager until returning to LaGrange in 1994 as the City Manager here where he served until his recent passing.
His legacy includes some incredible accomplishment such as supervising the City’s shift from property taxes to utilities, implemented the City’s self insurance programs, establishing the municipal court and probation office, work with the telecommunications business, and helping LaGrange become one of the intelligent cities of the year 2000. Tom’s legacy speaks volumes and now, his last major project will forever bear his name on the street that leads into its domain.
County Manager Todd Tentler also had some words about Tom and gave some information on the project that lay in the background of the meeting that day. The road itself that will lie in front of Great Wolf will be 1.45 miles long funded by the County SPLOST fund. The staggering number is that the property sitting behind the road will be worth over $1 billion and will include the Great Wolf Lodge, complete with Water Park, and some commercial developments by Selig. This attraction draws thousands of people every year and will be a tremendous boost for that area and the community as a whole.
The group of honor this day was Tom’s family that were all on hand for this incredible occasion. Tom’s son Dylan spoke to the crowd of how his father has been a part of some cool things in his life and thanked everyone for their outpouring of support in these recent months. The construction continued on in the background as all of those in attendance reflected on Tom’s life and his legacy.
As everyone made their way down to the front of the sign for group photos, the list of great people that were in attendance was truly incredible. In this group alone, there were all four living mayors, including our current Mayor Jim Thornton, members of the City Council, the County Commissioners, both City and County Managers, members of the Chamber of Commerce who sponsored the event, and so many more.
At the end of the day, we all make impacts on each other’s lives. These impacts, negative or positive, make changes in our lives that we carry on with us. For Tom Hall and his family, it is certainly clear that he leaves behind some of the most wonderful and positive changes in the history of this community and now the drive into his last great project will bear his name as his legacy moves forward.
Jeremy Andrews Staff Writer