In 2008, history was made in Upson County when Maurice Raines was elected to be the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners. Not only was he the first African-American chair, but also the youngest commissioner to ever be elected in the county. While the last four years have had their share of ups and downs, Raines feels honored to have had the opportunity to serve the community that he loves with all his heart.
It is through that opportunity that he has been able to have a hand in moving Upson County forward. One of the biggest accomplishments Raines felt has been made during his time in office is the relationships that have been formed with government leaders on the state level.
“There is no segment across the state in which Upson County is not known,” said Raines. “We have been able to build upon relationships with not only local Representatives and Senators, but also the Lt. Governor, Speaker of the House and the Governor himself. I feel that can only be good for our community.”
The relationship between county employees and officials is one that Raines is particularly proud of and thanks everyone for being a part of Team Upson. He knows that without everyone working together, many aspects of county government would not be possible and he thinks there are many great leaders in the mix.
Other notable achievements he is proud of include streamlining and approving the county budget and paying off the Tax Anticipation Note before the end of the year, each of the past four years. The county has also saved money by no longer being self insured, and has received grant funding from the Department of Community Affairs to improve housing for families in need.
Although he feels there are many successes to discuss, there is always a flip side and Raines admits things were not always smooth sailing while he was in office; namely, the relationship between the county and the City of Thomaston. It has been no secret that the two entities have not gotten along lately, but Raines feels confident he made an effort to work out the differences.
“Although the City-County relationship has been portrayed as bad over the years, especially the last seven months, I can whole-heartedly say I gave 100 percent trying to build a relationship in the spirit of cooperation. Unfortunately, you cannot have cooperation without compromise; we all have to give and take.”
When asked if there were any instances in which he felt there were misunderstandings between the government and the community, Raines stated he feels there were two main misconceptions. The first was made when it comes to the LOST proceedings with the city. He noted the every dime of the money received by the county goes to support all tax payers in Upson County regardless of whether they live in Yatesville, Thomaston or the unincorporated county.
“Neither I nor anyone on the Board of Commissioners ever set out to hurt one segment of the community, we are all in this together,” said Raines. “I am not bitter about the situation, I am better because of having gone through it. Hopefully, a judge will soon decide what is best for the community.”
The second comes from the incident involving former Commissioner Sandra Trice.
“I’ve often heard people say they wonder why I didn’t do anything in the situation with Mrs. Trice. The thing is neither the board nor I had the authority to do anything in the matter. We did seek advice from both the Governor’s office and the Attorney General’s office and they were both very supportive. It is unfortunate if the community did not understand our position on that, but what we must realize is things happen for a reason.”
As Upson County begins another year, Raines hopes the new board will continue on with many initiatives that have yet to come to fruition, such as recreation improvements, a recycling plan for the county and a better retirement package for county employees. He is very proud of the way the board has truly worked together over the last four years and it is his prayer that will continue, along with them looking out for the best interest of everyone in the community.
As far as future plans go, Raines is going to focus on his career with the Georgia State Patrol where he is ranked Sgt. 1st Class and serves as Post Commander of the GSP post in LaGrange, a position which has been on hold while he served as chair.
“I am grateful that I was able to serve my hometown these last four years and grateful for Judge Hamby appointing me as interim chair back in 2003. I’ve learned that you should never say never, so my future in politics remains to be seen; however, if the current board should need my help in any form, I hope they know I am only a phone call away.”