Long Time Coming: Key players in West Shawmut annexation honored – Valley Times-News

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LANETT – Two men who played key roles in the West Shawmut community annexed to Lanett were posthumously honored at Monday’s meeting of the Lanett Town Council. The annexation effort took place in the 1980s. Two West Shawmut businessmen, Will Ramsey Sr. and Jack Heard, were among the community leaders leading the effort. Ramsey was president and Heard vice-president of the West Shawmut Merchants Association at the time. Others involved in the effort were John Garrett, Alfred Lyons, Frank Jenkins and Homer Heard. Current county attorney Skip McCoy did the legal work for them. The goal of annexing West Shawmut to the city was achieved in 1988; Plant City happened simultaneously.

Mr Ramsey would have celebrated his 100th birthday last Friday if he were still alive today. Mr. Heard is the father of Mayor Jamie Heard.

“I didn’t know that until the last minute,” Mayor Heard told the Valley Times-News. “I’m glad that (board member) Tony (Malone) organized this. Both men deserve recognition for what they have done.

Ramsey was born on February 18, 1922. He was the son of Ed and Hattie Ramsey. He and his wife, Gladys Trammel, Ramsey had been married for over 50 years and had four children – Willie Ramsey Jr., Gladys Ramsey Zanders, Perry Lee Ramsey and Marlene Ramsey Winston.

Mr. Ramsey was a local entrepreneur and wanted West Shamwut annexed to Lanett to improve gas, water, sewage and better postal service and neighborhood streets.

The late Homer Jack Heard was born June 10, 1917, and was the son of Homer and Annie Bell Brooks Heard. Heard was married to former Emma Lee Lovelace for 56 years. They had six sons and two daughters. Heard ran a taxi service for many years in West Shawmut.

A large crowd was present to witness the reconnaissance.

“Thank you all for coming out tonight,” said board member Malone. “This recognition is long overdue. I’m glad their family members, friends and loved ones are here to see it.

“We are excited, happy and blessed to be here,” said Phyllis Stiggers on behalf of both families. “These two men deserve all the accolades they can receive. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this recognition.

Also recognized by proclamation presentations on Monday were Ms Anita Billingslea and Ms Darlene Ray, who are retiring from the Lanett Housing Authority, and Ms Clemmie Terry Jones, who celebrated her 99th birthday on Tuesday February 15.

Ray retired from the Housing Authority in December and from Billingslea in January.

Ray was with the LHA for 46 years and Billingslea for 33 years. A resident of Lanett, Billingslea began her career with the Authority in 1988. She started out as a cashier, worked as an accountant for 16 years and served as general manager for 12 years before her recent retirement. She was the wife of the late Jonas Billingslea, who had volunteered as a coach and mentor for the Lanett Recreation Department, touching the lives of many young people in the area for over three decades. The Billingsleas have three adult children: Anidra, DeMario, and Jovantae; a nephew, Antonio, and four grandchildren, Taliyah, DeVaughn, Dacian and Reagan.

“I want to thank God for giving me the strength and wisdom to serve the Housing Authority,” Billingslea said. “I want to thank my family for being here tonight and always supporting me over the years. I want to thank many elected officials and city workers for helping us in so many ways over the years.”

“I’m so happy to be retiring after 46 years,” Ray said. “I would like to thank my family, my friends, my relatives and my co-workers for supporting me for a long time. I would like to thank the council and the mayor for this recognition.

Ray has the distinction of having once been a resident of a housing authority in Lanett and working her way up to become the executive director of the Lanett authority. She was the authority’s senior property manager for 12 years before her retirement. While rising through the ranks, she was an accountant and assistant manager for nine years and general manager for 16 years.

During his tenure, the Lanett Housing Authority acquired central heating and air conditioning for all tenants, built a new administrative office on First Street, and awarded the first Alabama Association of Housing grants to tenants in the accommodation company.

When Clemmie Terry (Jones) was a young child living in Randolph County, she caught typhoid fever. Many did not expect her to survive, but thanks to the grace of God, she recovered and is still with us now.

Clemmie was the tenth child of the late Jessie and Precious Terry. She moved to Lanett in 1955. She and her husband, Eddie B. Jones, raised seven children. She is now the grandmother of 36, the great-grandmother of 72, and the great-great-great-grandmother (so far) of 29.

“She is a loving and elegant woman who takes great pride in her appearance and her flowers,” reads the proclamation. “She loved to prepare meals, her specialty being sweet potato pie. After many years, Mrs. Jones retired from working for Bill and Janet Cook as a housekeeper.

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