Allegood is in his third term as mayor of that north Cobb city and generally has gotten high marks. For one thing, it’s one of the few areas of the county where signs of growth are still apparent. And downtown Acworth has become a “go-to” destination in the past decade for those who appreciate fine dining.
But beyond an appreciation for Allegood’s record, the fact that his name is suddenly in the mix is further confirmation of the perceived weakness and flaws of incumbent Chair Tim Lee and his field of challengers. Lee, a Republican, angered many county residents by choosing to raise property taxes rather than cut spending this year to balance the county budget. He’s also riled much of the county by his ardent support for using the bulk of the county’s revenues from the proposed TSPLOST next year to build a light-rail line from the MARTA Midtown station in Atlanta up to Cumberland Mall. He’s also shown himself to be seriously out of synch with his fellow commissioners on a number of issues, most recently his sudden push for a county/school system “split-the-penny” SPLOST. Several insiders have hinted to Around Town that Lee is thinking about foregoing next year’s race altogether.
Already in the race against Lee for the GOP nomination in next summer’s party primary are former Commission Chairman Bill Byrne and retired Marine Col. Mike Boyce. Byrne served as chair during most of the 1990s and was seen as a strong but polarizing leader. Boyce has never been on a political ballot and is not widely known in the county, at least not yet.
Another name mentioned is that of retired exec Larry Savage of east Cobb, who Lee defeated last year in the race for the remainder of the term as chairman created by the resignation of Sam Olens to run for state attorney general.
Northwest Cobb Commissioner Helen Goreham has been mentioned as a possible candidate for chair, especially if Lee opts out, and did nothing to discourage such talk after Around Town suggested in its Dec. 6 edition that she might be considering such a run.
Goreham and Allegood are both popular with voters — but would be drawing from the same geographic region of the county and thus might cancel each other’s advantage if both were on the ballot.
Whoever inherits the job will not have an easy task. Finding ways to balance the county budget likely will be the biggest challenger, with heavy pressure on the next chairman to make deep cuts rather than hike taxes again. Meanwhile, some are grumbling that budget-cutting is not a priority for County Manager David Hankerson, most of whose career has been spent on the government payroll and at a time when county budgets and staffing levels were steadily increasing. And Lee hasn’t exactly leaned hard on Hankerson to make such cuts, those critics claim.
The bottom line, several politicos told AT, is that the identity of “the final candidate isn’t out there yet.”
MEANWHILE, one politico noted that the “perfect candidate” is already out there — but not likely to be interested. That would be state Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-north Cobb).
Tippins knows the county inside and out, having been raised here and having spent years on the school board including service as its chairman. He’s a self-made millionaire, knows how to cut a budget and has plenty of “walking around sense,” the observer said.
But Tippins is owner of a pipe-installation company that relies heavily on contracts with the county, which would present obvious conflict-of-interest questions if he were a candidate.
And besides, Tippins is an avid outdoorsman. Said our source, “There’s no way Lindsey would ever pass up a quail-hunting trip just to attend a ribbon-cutting!”
MORE ON THE RAPTOR: As noted in Saturday’s Around Town, the 195th and final F-22 Raptor will roll out of the Lockheed Martin plant today, a bittersweet ending to a program originally conceived to last much longer.
The final Raptor will look just like its predecessors and is scheduled to join an F-22 squadron at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage, Alaska. Mariettans will still see and hear the occasional Raptor screaming overhead, as the plant will serve as the technical support center for the F-22 fleet and for future modernizations.
“While our facilities are second to none, most maintenance work and upgrades will be performed at the operational bases and at the USAF Depots,” said Alison Orne, P-3 and F-22 Program Communications spokeswoman.
F-22 production at the plant peaked in 2006 when 27 of the Raptors rolled out, each the culmination of a year or so’s worth of work. Though 5,600 people company-wide were involved with the Raptor program at that point, that number topped out at 944 employees in Marietta.
Those among the plant’s current 8,300 workers who’ve been working on the F-22 will now transition to other LM programs like the C-130J Hercules, the P-3 Orion’s Mid Life Update, the F-35 or the C-5M Galaxy upgrades.
Much of the quadrant of the massive B-1 Building that has housed the F-22 program now will be used as warehouse space for temporary storage of large parts and subassemblies for the C-130J. It’s possible the Raptor line could be restarted at some point, though not necessarily at the Marietta plant. The tooling for the Raptor line will be packed up and shipped for storage at the Sierra Army Depot in Ferlong, Calif.
As the line was being shut down, Lockheed fully documented with still photos, video and written descriptions every process, every ‘this-is-how-you-do-it’ methodology, etc., just in case the line were ever restarted.
BTW, the cost of the final four Raptors to roll out was $153 million each, according to Ms. Orne.
MARIETTA LOST A LINK with the past and one of its most distinctive characters — as well as arguably its best-known surviving World War II veteran — with the passing over the weekend of former prisoner of war Harry Livingston Jr. at age 91.
A retired insurance agent, Livingston spent years as a straight-shooting member of the Marietta Board of Lights and Waterworks and the Municipal Electrical Authority of Georgia. He headed the Cobb Chamber of Commerce in 1969, was active in veterans’ groups and was a strong supporter of the Marietta Museum of History.
Livingston was a B-17 Flying Fortress pilot during WWII. His plane, dubbed the “Back to the Sack,” survived flack so ferocious that one of its wings had to be replaced at one point in order to take part in the next day’s mission.
As Livingston memorably put it, “I completed 7½ missions” over Germany. His luck ran on out on Oct. 6, 1944, when his and 10 other “Forts” were shot down on a mission to Berlin. One of his crewmen survived the mission and the war despite being smashed directly in the face by an anti-aircraft shell, but was left so disfigured that he chose to spend the rest of his life in a V.A. hospital.
Livingston parachuted safely down but was quickly surrounded by angry pitchfork-wielding farmers and townspeople who’d been dodging bombs just moments before.
He later was interrogated by a German officer who spoke perfect English and whose first words upon entering the room and looking through the dossier on Livingston were, “Dr. Livingston, I presume?”
The rest of the interview was short on humor, with the German holding a pistol to his captive’s head and threatening to shoot him. In a 1991 interview with the MDJ’s Joe Kirby, Livingston said that didn’t scare him.
“We were in a room with stone walls, and I knew if he’d fired the gun the bullet would have ricocheted all over the place,” thus endangering the interrogator as well, he said.
He and other prisoners were fed starvation rations that winter, then sent on a 95-mile-long “death march” through the snow to keep them from falling into the hands of the oncoming Russian army. He recalled being so hungry on the march that when a stray chicken happened to dart into the column, he swooped it up, tucked it inside his overcoat, snapped its neck, plucked it and with the help of his buddies, devoured it without the guards noticing.
“It made a hell of a mess inside my coat,” he conceded.
He was liberated April 29, 1945, and returned to Marietta some 50 pounds lighter. He quickly married his old Class of ’37 Marietta High School sweetheart, Louise Franklin, and got on with life.
Having seen first-hand the excesses of groups like the Hitler Youth, he almost immediately co-founded Boy Scout Troop 27. He, Dan Worley, Buck Northcutt and Richard Keefe were among the city’s best-known Scout leaders of that era.
Livingston, known for his sometimes blunt demeanor and loud, raspy voice, eventually let bygones be bygones. As Around Town noted in 2006, Livingston had purchased a German-made car — a Mercedes.
“I helped destroy Germany, so I wanted to do something to rebuild it,” he quipped.
Services for Livingston will be at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Marietta First United Methodist Church, with the Rev. Dr. Sam Matthews officiating.
Harry Livingston Jr., RIP.