The longest serving county commissioner is calling it quits.
At Monday evening’s Surry County Board of Commissioners meeting Commissioner Jimmy Miller, 82, gave county staff a letter of resignation effective March 31.
“I have enjoyed my many years of service to the citizens of Surry County and offer my full support to the employees of Surry County who make it a superior place to live, work and play,” wrote Miller.
Miller was first elected to his seat as one of the two commissioners representing Mount Airy in 1988. However, the long-time commissioner was defeated in last week’s primary by Larry Johnson, who founded Johnson Granite.
Miller’s colleagues indicated they were thankful for the nearly three decades of service Miller gave the county.
“We appreciate his service and hope he has many years of retirement ahead,” said board Chairman R.F. “Buck” Golding.
Vice Chairman Eddie Harris also applauded Miller for his years on the board.
“He is an icon in Surry County,” remarked Harris. “His contributions have been many.”
Harris also described Miller as being “fair and impartial,” never allowing political party affiliation to stand in the way of what was in the best interests of the county or its residents.
Commissioner Larry Phillips, who is also from the Mount Airy District, described Miller as a selfless commissioner.
“At a forum Jimmy (Miller) said, ‘It’s hard to take credit for anything because it takes all five (board members),’” recounted Phillips. “That really spoke to his attitude.”
Though Miller remained humble throughout the recent election, he did indicate large projects which were completed throughout his time on the board such as a number of new schools being constructed and opening Fisher River Park were among the accomplishments of which he was most proud.
Commissioner Van Tucker, who joined the board after Commissioner Paul Johnson resigned in January, also said he has been impressed by the work of Miller throughout the commissioner’s time on the board.
“Mr. Miller served Surry County for a very long time,” said Tucker. “He worked hard and diligently. For that, we say thank you.”
While Monday was Miller’s last regularly scheduled meeting on the board, Golding asked that he return one last time.
“We hope you’ll come back and be recognized for all your years of service,” Golding told Miller.
Once the vacancy exists on the board, county commissioners will have the ultimate say as to who is appointed to fill Miller’s seat.
However, the county board is required to consult with the county Republican Party and receive its recommendation prior to making its final decision.
When Paul Johnson resigned in January county GOP members opted to recommend Pilot Mountain resident Paula Stanley to take the seat rather than Tucker, who was the party’s effectual nominee for the general election race against Democrat Ronald Bowman.
After consulting with Stanley, commissioners opted to scrap the party’s recommendation and put Tucker in office.
While the same method will be used to fill Miller’s unexpired term on the board — and the board may choose whoever it likes to fill the slot — Larry Johnson will be the party’s candidate in the November election.
With no opposition from Democrats or independents, Johnson is effectually the Commissioner-elect. Regardless of who commissioners appoint to fill the remainder of Miller’s term, Johnson will almost certainly take the seat beginning in January of 2017.
At Miller’s last meeting the board tended to a number of matters, including purchasing property for Flat Rock Elementary School and a change to the financing for the interstates sewer project.
Miller said his years on the board had been an enjoyable experience, and not one he will soon forget.
“It’s been 28 short years,” joked Miller on his way out the door. “It’s been worth every minute of it.”
Andy is a staff writer and can be reached at 415-4698.