It was like old home week, literally, for Deron Hicks.
Though he's now a high-powered attorney representing the Atlanta Homebuilders Association, most famously in cases opposing impact fees, Hicks was in Evans on Monday to present a seminar that overall was a pretty fair view of the fees.
Perhaps just as importantly, he was delivering the facts to an audience that included his father and former high-school principal: Ray Hicks.
Hicks graduated from Evans High School in 1986 while his dad was principal. "It was a different county in those days," the younger Hicks said. Since then, he's moved to a small farm near Columbus, served a term on a small-town city council and represented homebuilders in fights against governments around the state.
With the homebuilders taking an attitude that it's easier to influence how impact fees are imposed rather than fight them afterward, Hicks has been traveling around the state to help clarify some of the confusion around how the fees work.
Surprising to many in the audience Monday, Hicks didn't come out blasting the fees. In fact, his presentation made it clear that the fees are actually easier to impose than many officials had been led to believe, though they'd better do all their homework first.
The older Hicks, who also served as chairman of the Columbia County School Board, had to be proud of the job his son did before Deron left his hometown. But at the same meeting Hicks also dropped the news that he's leaving, too.
After spending several of his retirement years shuttling to a second home in St. Augustine, Fla., Hicks said he and his wife have decided to pull up stakes and move to the Sunshine State for good.
Their spacious Appling home was just a little too big with no kids in the house, Hicks said, so they're downsizing with the move to St. Augustine.
It's Columbia County's loss. While Hicks and I sometimes disagreed on school issues, he was always gentlemanly about it. He took a lot of heat for "running off" former superintendent Tom Dohrmann -- and I applied some of that heat -- but has largely been vindicated as time has passed.
Hicks was replaced on the board by combative Lee Muns, who has designs on the soon-to-be-created countywide board chairmanship. But Hicks would like another of his successors to seek that post: Former Evans Principal Gene Sullivan, who last year retired as Richmond County deputy superintendent.
Speaking of Evans, my apologies to CPA David Crews. He's an Evans grad, not a Harlem High alum as I wrote Sunday.
I guess not everyone is lucky enough to be a Bulldog.
We've lost several significant people in the community recently. Red Fulcher helped found the Harlem Volunteer Fire Department and served on city council. Rowland Dye was the county attorney for nearly a decade in the 1980s, shepherding the county through legal land mines during an era of tremendous growth and upheaval.
Another loss came elsewhere but was felt here, as School Board Chairman Regina Buccafusco lost her mother to fast-moving cancer.
Buccafusco recently told a story about her mom's sole visit to a school board meeting.
She lived in New Jersey, and sat near the back of the room during the session. Afterward she asked her daughter, "Did you understand anything they said?" When Regina answered yes, her mom said, incredulously, "You did? I couldn't understand a thing!"
The Southern accents were just a little tough for her to decipher, it turned out. I'm sure the inflections in heaven are easier to understand.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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