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Brooks official confesses: I appointed cousin to cemetery committee

Bravo to Carolyn Cary for sounding a voice of reason amidst the recent brouhaha over Lee Hearn’s nomination of Addison Lester to the Election Board. The fuss, which she so eloquently derided, is much ado about nothing, a tempest in the proverbial teapot.

I’ve known Commissioner Lee Hearn as a fellow resident of the Brooks community for 15 years. I know him to be honest, community-minded, plain-spoken, and straight as an arrow.

I know Addison Lester only by reputation, which is excellent, and by the reputation of his old-line Fayette family, which is also beyond reproach.

How do I know this? My family, on both sides, is old-line Fayette, too; we all knew one another and had known each other’s families for generations in the days Mrs. Cary refers to: the days when Fayette’s population was under 10,000.

No finer folks than the Bennett-Graham-Burch-Lester clan have ever lived here; Fayette is blessed to have had benefit of their presence and service since pioneer days. Maligning either gentleman in any way whatsoever is, in my judgment, unconscionable.

Sure, Mr. Hearn should technically have disclosed the relationship at the time of the nomination, but you know what? I believe him totally and completely when he says the issue of kinship didn’t cross his mind.

I believe him because I suppose I’m kin either by marriage or blood to anybody who’s kin to the Stinchcombs (my maternal grandmother’s family), and they’ve been in Fayette County so long (my 4-times great-grandfather Nathaniel Stinchcomb was drawn for jury duty in Fayetteville in 1830) and had so many children each generation that I have cousins on that side of the house who I don’t even realize are my cousins. So I could easily make the same mistake.

I’ve actually made a similar mistake, and now disclose it for the world to know: As mayor of Brooks (or maybe it was when I was a councilman, I don’t recall), I nominated my cousin Cathy Woods to serve on the town’s Cemetery Committee, and I failed to disclose that she’s my cousin.

For the record, one of my 4-times great-grandfathers on my dad’s side, Hillery Brooks (for whom our South Fayette village is named), was Cathy’s 3-times great-grandfather.

What degree of cousins that makes Cathy and me would give me a headache to figure, but the point is, who cares? I nominated the person I thought best for the job and she hasn’t disappointed. I know Lee Hearn did the same thing with respect to Addison Lester, and I know Mr. Lester will not disappoint.

So let’s please stop the nonsense, end this witch hunt, and get back to what’s important: trying to do what’s best for Fayette County.

I know Lee Hearn well enough to know he gives his best to everything he undertakes, and if Addison Lester is anything like his Bennett and Graham forebears, he does, too.

And incidentally, I’m not kin to either gentleman so far as I know (although my mother’s first cousin on the Stinchcomb side married Jim Minter’s first cousin on the Minter side, and Mr. Minter’s grandmother on the Harp side was a Burch, whose brother married Miss Nell Graham, who was a sister to Mr. Lester’s grandmother, Berta Graham Lester. Thus you can see just a glimmer of what Gordian knots these old Fayette kinships can be.)

May the Lord help us all if this continues to be re-hashed as an issue. It will mean that small-mindedness, mean-spiritedness, and downright hysteria have taken hold of Fayette County. I, for one, refuse to believe or accept that bleak outlook, and I stand staunchly behind Commissioner Hearn and Mr. Lester.

Dan Langford

Brooks, Ga.



Please Dan and Carolyn, stop. I know, and like and respect you both. But, you are way off base on this issue. For you, Dan, to state that “I nominated the person I thought best for the job … I know Lee Hearn did the same thing ..” is disappointing. If you screened your cousin for the position, I cannot know. But, do you believe that Lee screened anyone for the Board of Elections? Do you actually equate the Brooks Cemetery Commission to the Fayette County Board of Elections? I think you are attempting to inject some levity and so to make fun of those who do not agree that the appointment was a wise decision for the community. That is beneath you.

When a community gets larger than your relatives and close friends and acquaintances, establishing trust with “strangers” becomes much more important. You can attempt to blow that off, but I think you are mistaken to do so.

long-time Fayette County families and ship them up north for some reeducation! About four generations should do the trick, then they can reenter down here. Its these webs of cousins, long-time relationships, friends, Stinchcombs, whatever those are, and such that are all dragging us down with back-room deals, bypasses, snafus, and roundabouts! The soil needs tilling and the crops rotating around here!

Amen, I say to you, the vine doesn't grow far from the seed!

Go Braves, Fry The Fish!

Mike King's picture

Would this be some sort of politico speak implying that Mr Lester is unworthy of the nomination?

Sounds to me like you either have an axe to grind or own property on the east side of Fayetteville.

NUK_1's picture

It's not whether Lester is qualified or not, it's more in how he was appointed and the very flawed process where 2 of the 4 commissioners just took it for granted that "hey, if Lee likes him and he goes to church with him, good enough." Then Hearn has to reveal that he's related and didn't mention that for some reason, and follows it up with some crap about how "God knows" this or that as some pathetic excuse for his subterfuge.

Unlike some of the fringe in FC, I don't buy into the conspiracy implications that this is in some way to get only pro-WFB candidates elected and that Lester would "fix" an election. That's certainly been implied and it's certainly disgusting as hell and shows how low that crowd will go with zero proof except for whatever Steve Brown tells them to think. Some of that crowd of sheep has already shown they'd gladly throw the residents affected by the EFB under the bus in a second if it helped themselves and I doubt they'd stop at throwing them under the bus...they'd likely drive the bus over them and then backup and go forward a few times to make sure.

The appointment of Lester is very unfortunate because it tarnishes a guy(Lester) due to the fumbling, bumbling and stumbling idiotic actions of Lee Hearn.

As far as the letter writer's long FC genealogy lesson and "old line FC," Zzzzzzzzz. What is this, a war between Old Fayette vs. New Fayette or Old Fayette vs. Common Sense? I don't get it. Believe it or not, some people come from great families and happen to grow up to be deadbeats or murderers. I missed that point entirely except for "sticking up for that there old Fayette."

PTC Observer's picture

[quote=NUK_1]The appointment of Lester is very unfortunate because it tarnishes a guy(Lester) due to the fumbling, bumbling and stumbling idiotic actions of Lee Hearn.[/quote]

This sums up the situation very well.

you think Lester was not in on the deal? I think he was fully aware of the reason he was being appointed. If my first cousin once removed (not second cousin as repeatedly reported by the genealogy challenged Citizen) asked me to be appointed to fill a position currently occupied by an obviously experienced person, I would think something fishy is going on. I think I would have kindly refused the appointment, unless there was some family business that needed 'attending to.'

Go Braves--Way to Beat the Fish!

NUK_1's picture

I'm sure he knew that Hearn was going to nominate him, but whether he knew what Hearn did/didn't revel to the other commissioners and the public I have no idea.

As far as qualifications go, I'd venture to say that most people who ever serve on a Board of Elections for local govt also had no experience as a BOE official prior to being appointed. Whether Lester owns land near or even ALL the land near the proposed WFB route in no way means he's going to try or even be capable of rigging an election in FC.

I'll go one step further: Brown spearheaded the same thing to a WASA board member years ago(replacing a very experienced board member with a newbie) because Brown was all huffy that the WASA board wouldn't donate their unused landholdings to the City of PTC.

Just how would an "elections" board cousin have any influence on "maximizing" the profits on land near the 54/WBP?

I had never heard of an elections board before except to wonder sometimes why they make it difficult to vote sometimes with silly rules and places.

These people can't help it if they inherited some old land that is now valuable, and others aren't getting paid enough for road rights, or so they say.
Apparently Georgia still has Hatfield and McCoy feuds among selfish families who fought to keep slavery going. Didn't the Hatfields and McCoys really fight over land? Or who married who?

I don't know how Lester can help Hearn on the land deal, but its pretty obvious that the appointment was not about improving the quality of the Board of Electors! Perhaps it was to give the fellow greater visibility in running for the County Commission to take over for one of the trio that is likely to get ousted in 2012. Maybe he was going to use that position to run for some other elected office with more power! Maybe Jesus told him Watts was in league with the devil! Who knows for sure? There is much inbreeding and back-scratching here in FC that dates back to when Chief Mcintosh was just a papoose!

Shame on SB for ousting the WASA fellow! He should investigate himself again!

Go Braves--Down the Fish Tonight!

Gort's picture

Appointing relatives to political posts sure sounds like ‘stacking the deck’ to me.

Remember: If you think Social Security and Medicare are worth saving, vote Democratic.

suggarfoot's picture

The writer of the letter to the editor is trying to gloss over some obvious facts. Hearns conx is not as far back as 1830s and he isn't some 9th cousin twice removed. His Mother and the guy in question are 1st cousins. He is also head of a family group trying to maximize the money they make off a very large piece of property at the cornor of the byspass and 54.

Most honest people would have found someone else that wasn't related in order to keep the appearance of everything being on the up and up.

At best, it is very tacky and doesn't say much for Hearn's ability to make sound decisions.

The cemetery committee is quite a bit removed from the election board. Mr. Lester, however, stands to benefit from the development brought about by the West Bypass, which Mr. Hearn says he supports "no matter what."

What has taken hold in Fayette County is the spirit of transparency in government, which the three amigo commissioners don't want.

Gort's picture

So what if there is nepotism in politics! If you don’t like it, take your complaint to my cousin the commissioner!

Remember: If you think Social Security and Medicare are worth saving, vote Democratic.

MajorMike's picture

Thank you for my "hump day" laugh. I found your letter to be not only illogical and rambling, but one of the most sanctimonious pieces of bullcrap to ever grace these pages/blogs. I am happy that you have discovered some maybe/sortof tenuous genealogical connection to the prime suspects in this manner, but that and the "Old Fayette" connection does not excuse the misinformation and deception perpetrated by Commissioner Hearn and his (second) cousin Addison Lester. Given the controversy and unpleasant disclosures, Mr. Lester would step back from the plate if he had any ethics at all.

I absolutely love your use of the phrases small-mindedness and mean-spiritedness. It is those very same phrases that the droolers (liberals) routinely apply to any disagreement to which they have no valid argument. Said phrases are usually followed closely by accusations of "lack of compassion".

And oh, by the way, William Tecumseh Sherman was my maternal Grandmother's great, great uncle (Her maternal side). I suppose that makes me "Old American" (in more ways than one). So the General and I are what – 7th cousins, 236 times removed? That and $2.50 will buy me a cup of (decent) coffee.

Gee golly whiz, now I'm wondering if anyone in these blogs is going to get mad at me for Atlanta being burned to the ground in the War of Yankee Aggression.

Mike King's picture

Establishing one's kinship to that villain of our ancestral south might place you in line for admonishment in Rhonda Rich's next column.

MajorMike's picture

I also admit to one of my ancestors (paternal side) being the first man hung for train robbery in Indiana, but we don't tell people that my nephew was a student at Auburn. oops................

Mike King's picture

I know what you mean. Ashamedly, I do have kin that actually went to Clemson, but it seems they all are employed by the side of the family that went to the real University of South Carolina.

mudcat's picture

Just be sure whoever takes General Sherman's place has a map showing the current Congressional districts and he just burns the odd numbers and leaves the even numbers alone

Better be careful! There may be those in those mentioned districts of Atlanta who could get ideas about the Peachtree City enclave of weirdos!
(All hat and no cattle).

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