Since becoming incorporated in 1961, Mayor George L. Hall said Thursday, the Town of Bascom has never needed to hold an election for council member; candidates qualify but they always go in unopposed. And Hall should know; he was town clerk for 40 years (1972-2012). In 2012, he was elected—or chosen rather—mayor of Bascom after John Russell quit (and has since passed).
The public is invited to a special recognition at the town hall tonight, Thursday July 14, from 6-7:30 p.m. Mayor Hall will be celebrated for his 44 “years of service to the Town of Bascom, as clerk and mayor,” the new town clerk said Wednesday morning. Town hall is in downtown Bascom, a municipality of 120 persons that, like the saying goes, you might miss riding through it if you close your eyes. That’s 4969 Basswood Road. It’s right before the turnoff on Hummingbird Road to Neal’s Landing, the Civil War-era loading area for paddleboats carrying cotton up and down the Chattahoochee River. (Bascom has not changed a great deal since those days.)At that intersection, you will see Bascom’s only general store—Bryan’s Store (now owned by James Miller of Malone). After the county commission voted last year to open up the unincorporated areas to beer and wine package sales on Sunday, the town council felt it wouldn’t be fair to penalize Bryan’s for being inside the city limits—so they voted to allow Sunday sales in Bascom as well, George said.
Hall actually is from Malone, the nearby city of 2,153 residents (that’s including the inmates at the state prison). George Lathrom Hall, 78, moved to Bascom in 1966, after marrying Jamey Westbrook’s sister Ann in April 1962. “Jamey was in the last class, in grade 8, of the 1-8 grade school,” Hall said. The Bascom School closed in 1963; it’s most famous student was actress Faye Dunaway. (Sadly, George says, someone took the last school photo of Faye in the Peanut yearbook. It was on display at a table in town hall but somebody “needed it worse than we did,” he explained. “I never knew there was a school in Bascom until we started seeing all the new faces at Malone High,” Hall remembers. George was born in 1938 to salesman George C. Hall and Martha, who worked at the Malone Post Office for 18 years. He graduated from the school at Malone in 1956. During the same year the city fathers incorporated the Town of Bascom with a special act of the state Legislature, 1961, George was drafted into the US Army, serving two years active duty and six years in the Reserves.
Soon after high school, George got a job with the state HHS, then called HRS. He worked as an adult supervisor and investigator dealing mostly with nursing and group homes. He retired in 2003 after 39 and one-half years with the state of Florida. In 1972, Harold Bevis departed as town clerk and dependable George was appointed by the council to the strictly part-time job. He’d probably still be clerk but a mayor was needed, so he was chosen for that in 2012. This year’s “election” is on July 19, next Tuesday. Per the celebration today, George is stepping down from the council. Lori Anderson qualified earlier this month to replace him, and of course she drew no opposition. The city clerk who replaced George four years ago is still Crystal Bryan, she explained Wednesday morning.
Mayor Hall mentioned a few of the accomplishments of the Town as he showed the TIMES the “new” city hall, the ball park, the playground and of course the old school building, now the subject of a community-funded and grant-secured renovation effort. The current Bascom Town Council consists of members Bobby Rogers, Bill James, Ann Bryan and the mayor. (George’s wife Ann was the first woman on the council, he said, and served for 14 years.) The new clerk is Crystal Bryan. Here are some of the notable projects that took place during Hall’s time with Bascom:
$165,000 grant for Bascom Town Park.
The spacious new city hall was built in 2000. Until then, the town used the old school house. “It was getting decrepit,” George explained. “The reason the new city hall is so large (outside measurements are 30 feet by 50 feet) is that it sits on what used to be a tennis court. We paid for this outright, no grants. We sucked up and paid for it with the money we had squirreled away for years.”
No public water or sewer system in Bascom and no plans for one. But they really want to fix up the old school. The Town has applied for three grants for that purpose, Hall said. The community raised a few thousand dollars recently with the Spring Festival.