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Lanett honors retiring chiefs from Valley, West Point

LANETT — The City of Lanett has honored two men who do not work for the city during their meeting on Monday night. Though neither was actually employed by Lanett, both are retiring and made an impact on the city over many years — Valley Police Chief Tommy Weldon and West Point Fire Chief Mitt Smith.

“Both of these gentlemen have always been friends with this city,” said Mayor Kyle McCoy. “They looked out for us, and we looked out for them. It’s a great honor to serve as mayor, and it’s so helpful when you get good cooperation from neighboring cities. Mitt and Tommy have been great ambassadors for their cities.”

Lanett Police Chief Johnny Wood made a plaque presentation to Weldon on behalf of the city, and Fire & EMS Chief Johnny Allen made the presentation to Smith.

“I can’t tell you what an honor it has been for me to have worked with you in law enforcement,” Wood said. “I’m sure anyone else who has worked with Tommy feels the same. He has always lifted us up with his faith and his professionalism.”

The plaque notes that Weldon has put in 36 years of dedicated service to the people of Valley, Lanett, LaFayette and Chambers County.

“Chief Weldon has been a mentor and an inspiration to those under his command,” it reads. “He has always provided assistance and resources whenever the City of Lanett called on him. Chief Weldon has had a tremendous impact in every agency in this county with his guidance, leadership and service. Chief Weldon, your tireless work ethic and professionalism has set the tone for your agency and for the agencies around you. You will always be honored and remembered here. We wish you a long, peaceful retirement and the best of luck in your future endeavors.”

Weldon thanked the mayor, council and Wood for the recognition. He said that he had learned a valuable lesson from the late Charles Story.

“If a nearby agency calls you for help, you drop what you are doing and help them,” he said. “We call that the Charles Story Rule.”

Fire & EMS Chief Johnny Allen said that Lanett had been fortunate to have had someone like Mitt Smith in the sister city of West Point.

“You were always there to help us when we needed it,” he said.

The plaque notes that Smith had over 30 years of dedicated service to the people of West Point, Troup County and the City of Lanett.

“Chief Smith’s commitment to doing things the right way, educating those in the fire and EMS profession so they, too, will be great servants to others, along with his great desire to always be a good neighbor, truly sets him apart from most,” the plaque reads. “However, it is Chief Smith’s morals, his character and his honesty that truly sets him apart.”

“Whether it was a small tool or an ambulance, Chief Smith always made West Point’s resources available to Lanett when needed,” the text continued. “He always kept the line of communication open between both departments, which allowed us to continually be in position to deliver superior service to those we serve. Chief Smith, you have been a true blessing to us all. Enjoy your retirement and stay safe!!”

Smith was touched by the presentation but managed to joke that “those police officers in the back need to go outside and find the real person this plaque is talking about.”

That got some good-natured laughter.

Smith said that West Point, Lanett and Valley are separate cities but that public service officers see things in a different light.

“We see West Point, Lanett and Valley as a single community,” he said. “We are very proud of that. I will never forget the relationships we had with the cities of Lanett and Valley. It has been very special to have experienced this.”