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The Covington News - - Lo­cal news -

“We may have had our dis­agree­ments on cer­tain is­sues, but in the end we agreed to do the right thing for New­ton County,” Flem­ing said.

He con­cluded by say­ing to call him if he could ever be of any as­sis­tance to the county.

Monty Laster was ap­pointed to serve the re­main­der of Billy Strick­land’s term after his death and was re­elected to serve his own four-year term in 2004. He served on the com­mis­sion for four years and 11 months.

“A lot of times when we were sit­ting up here dis­cussing is­sues, we were not on the best of terms,” Laster said, “but we get by it.”

He said his fam­ily was al­ways sup­port­ive of his ser­vice, but ul­ti­mately they were the rea­son he de­cided not to seek re­elec­tion.

“After one year, my grand­daugh­ter said she wanted her grand­fa­ther back,” Laster said.

He shared with the crowd a funny story about how Sher­iff Joe Ni­chols had come to a meet­ing ask­ing for as­sis­tance in a mat­ter in­volv­ing two neigh­bors. Ap­par­ently the neigh­bors had no in­door plumb­ing and went out­side to use the re­stroom. After an al­ter­ca­tion, the neigh­bors would carry a shot­gun with them and fire it into the ground after they had re­lieved them­selves.

Word got out around the county that the com­mis­sion­ers were go­ing to ban deer hunt­ing in the county and at the next meet­ing they had a lot of ex­plain­ing to do as the board room was filled with an­gry, cam­ou­flaged men.

He said his fam­ily has been in New­ton County for 160 years and that he wanted to con­tinue to serve the county in a vol­un­teer ca­pac­ity.

“Be part of the com­mu­nity,” Laster said to the crowd. “ I im­plore you to do that be­cause it makes you feel bet­ter.”

Varner was the last to speak. He took of­fice in 2001 and did not carry the county vote against Demo­crat Kathy Mor­gan in this year’s elec­tion.

Ewing said giv­ing Varner the print of the court­house was very ap­pro­pri­ate since he over­saw its ren­o­va­tion.

“He said, ‘if they can make a silk purse out of this sow’s ear, they’ll be do­ing good,’” Ewing said of Varner’s ini­tial com­ments about the court­house’s ren­o­va­tion.

Varner had to hold back tears to make his state­ments.

“I think the last eight years have been tremen­dous,” Varner said. “I’ve got­ten to know y’all and I love y’all.”

He told a story about how Tommy Craig said one night after a meet­ing, “ Let’s go home and get some sleep and do bat­tle to­mor­row.” He said those words of­ten echoed in his mind through­out his ten­ure.

More like the Varner the pub­lic has come to know, he slammed his hand on the lectern and gave this gen­eral ad­vice to those who now hold of­fice in New­ton County.

“Al­ways re­spect the process whether you like the per­son in that seat or not,” Varner shouted.

He said men and women have died for democ­racy and if the po­lit­i­cal process is not up­held then this county and coun­try will re­vert to chaos.

Varner then calmly thanked the county staff for all they do for the com­mis­sion and res­i­dents. He con­cluded with a sen­ti­men­tal state­ment.

“Most of all, I’ve up­held the name of Varner,” he said, “and that means more than any­thing.”

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