Valley Council member reminisces about Shawmut Circle amidst city growth

Published 10:30 am Saturday, June 22, 2024

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LANETT — Valley City Council Member Jim Clark was the guest speaker at a recent meeting of the West Point Rotary Club. He and Program Chairman Greg Duffey reminisced about the old days of playing sports on Shawmut Circle. The field there is named for their mentor, Roger McDonald.

Clark is one of five brothers. They all loved playing sports in Shawmut, especially softball. Jim is the oldest of the bunch. He’s retired now after a lengthy career as a consultant in the textile industry. He has worked with Bibb Industries, Allied Signal and for the Georgia Quick Start program. He now represents Council District 1 for the City of Valley. That’s mostly the historic Shawmut Mill village area. He succeeded Paul Story when the former council member ran for and won the office of Chambers County probate judge.

Clark and wife Judy live on 33rd Street in the mill village. It’s the same street where the new Chick-fil-A is going up. That portion of 33rd runs from Highway 29 to the Circle. The part of 33rd where the Clarks live is on the opposite side.

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“I’m am really excited about Chick-fil-A coming,” he said. “It’s a fast-moving project, and it could be open before you know it. It’s the kind of project that could bring other businesses with it. I am glad they are coming. My wife and I will be going there all the time.”

The new Chick-fil-A will likely employ between 80 and 120 people. “Chick-fil-A is a top-notch professional organization,” Clark said. “It’s good to have them in your town. I have gone to the work site and told the workers that we are so happy about what’s going on there right now. We are excited about our city and the growth that is taking place.”

Clark is optimistic the city will see some growth coming to Fob James Drive. A development company recently purchased a 12-acre site next to Valley Collision for close to $600,000. They would not have made that kind of investment unless they had plans of getting a return on it through new retail.

Jim is the oldest brother in the Clark family. Four of them are still living. One brother, Jared, was killed in a car accident in 1981. The others are Jeff, Virgil and Robbie Clark.

Who’s Virgil? Almost everyone knows him as Turtle Clark. “We’ve been calling him Turtle since he was six months old,” Jim said. “His grandkids call him Paw Turtle. He’s 68 and is still a really good softball player. I will never forget when Robbie was born. I was 13 at the time, and my dad thought I was old enough to start shaving.”

Jim and Judy keep a close watch on what’s going on in their neighborhood. They are often seen picking up litter along the Circle and the streets that fan out from it. If there’s ever a tree down on the sidewalk, Jim is quick to call the city’s Public Works Department to have it removed. He will publicly thank them at the next council meeting. The Clarks also cut grass at no charge for Mill Village seniors who can no longer do it for themselves.

“I think we have a good system now with garbage collection,” Clark said. “C&C Sanitation is doing a good job. That was not the case with their predecessor. We got complaints about them all the time. At one point my wife would follow their trucks around to see why they were taking so long. I’m sure they didn’t like being followed, but it wouldn’t have happened if they were doing the job they were supposed to be doing.”

“Guys like me and Greg loved playing sports in Shawmut,” Clark said. “I grew up in Huguley and first started playing on John Anderson Field next to the school. It was named for a minister at nearby Huguley Methodist Church. I later got involved in the recreation program in Shawmut. Greg and I will always be grateful for the time we spent playing sports and playing for Roger McDonald.”


COUNCIL MEMBER SPEAKS — Valley City Council Member Jim Clark (at center) was the guest speaker at a recent meeting of the West Point Rotary Club. Clark and Program Chairman Greg Duffey (on the right) played sports together in their youth and later on at Valley High. Clark later graduated from Auburn University and had a career as a consultant in the textile industry. He now represents District One on the city council. At left is Daniel Meadows, the club president.