Georgia County Government - Summer 2017 - 13

They were a family of farmers, with plenty
of land, livestock and lessons to be learned.
Poole credits his father, a railroad laborer,
with teaching him the value of hard work.
"My dad instilled in all of us that we should
have the fortitude to get out and work and
earn your pay, carry your weight," Poole said.
"Even on the farm, growing up, we all had
chores to do."
There were three things you were expected to
do in his family: be moral, be ethical and follow
the law. Poole has a grown son of his own and
he passed along those same values. Sticking
to their farming roots, Poole and his son have
a cattle farm where they raise "black baldies."
The county chairman says there were other
benefits of growing up in a large household.
"It gave me a variety of personalities to
deal with," Poole explained.
Some of his siblings were more assertive
than others. One brother might be very outgoing while a younger sister keeps to herself.
With so many characters and temperaments
under one roof, disagreements were bound
to happen. Their father, Poole said, taught
them all to resolve their issues with diplomacy
rather than fighting.
"Always listen before you dive into something, because you can diffuse the situation,"
he said. "That was the same approach I used
with the Georgia State Patrol."
Every driver he encountered reacted differently to being pulled over. Poole quickly
learned that letting people vent their frustration typically calmed them down. Situations
were less likely to escalate if he just listened.
He didn't necessarily expect to become a
state trooper, but Poole had earned a pre-law
and political science degree from Jacksonville
State University, and he knew that his calling
was not to be in a courtroom. One of his older
brothers worked with Georgia State Patrol, so
Poole joined in hopes of rising through the ranks.
He never did, though. Poole spent 20 years
as a state trooper, and during that time he
earned what he considers his highest honor:
the Department of Public Safety's Valor
Award. According to the department's website, the award is presented to a trooper who
has displayed courage while performing a
duty beyond that which would be expected
in an emergency situation.
"In doing so," the Department's website
reads, "the circumstances of the event
must have placed the trooper's own life
in jeopardy."

Poole retains his rural roots that helped mold him into the leader he is today. Shown here are
the Black Baldies that he and his son raise on their cattle farm.
And this happened to Poole. While heading
to his post in Atlanta one day, he was flagged
down by a few bystanders and found a car
engulfed in flames. Unbeknownst to anyone at
the time, the driver of this vehicle had a heart
attack and veered off the road, crashing into
a propane refilling station.
Poole braved the fire and pulled the man
from the vehicle, unsure of his condition.
Sadly, the man did not survive the incident,
but Poole's actions still had a positive impact.
"His family was able to view him without his
body being burnt up," he explained.
A tow truck arrived shortly and pulled the car
away from the gas pumps, preventing the fire
from spreading or the vehicle from exploding.
Poole's bravery and willingness to put himself
in harm's way allowed the family to honor the
victim with a proper viewing, and his quick
action kept a bad situation from getting worse.
"That's a highlight of my life, winning that
Valor Award," Poole said.
Becoming a County Leader
After 20 years as a trooper, he retired and
began dipping his toe in the private sector.
He worked executive security for The Home
Depot and a few gubernatorial campaigns.
For four years, he was the personal security
detail for big names in the state like Guy Milner
and Arthur Blank.
Running in those circles with local government candidates, Poole realized that he had
an interest in politics and wanted to be more
involved. Tom Murphy was the Speaker of the
Georgia House of Representatives at the time,
a man who was also from Haralson County.
Murphy served in his role for almost 30 years,

becoming the longest serving House Speaker
of any state legislature in the country.
During his record-setting tenure, Murphy
helped change the government structure of
his native county. Typically run by a sole commissioner, he changed the law to create a
Board of Commissioners in 2005.
Ready to head that board was Allen Poole,
eager to jump into public service.
When he decided to run for office, however,
Poole had to face two glaring facts about himself. First, he was a black man in a county that
was over 90 percent white. Second, he was a
Republican during a time when Georgia was a
blue state. Poole said that he was told several
times that Haralson County wouldn't elect
him as their commission chairman because
he was too different.
"I told them, 'Well I went to school with
those same people, I played football with them
and I graduated with them,'" he said. "I never
once doubted that I could win."
But he didn't - not the first time. He ran for
the sole commissioner seat in 2000 and lost
by only a few hundred votes.
"I was determined to run a second time,"
Poole said. "The second time I ran, I won by
68 percent of the vote."
Poole is now in his fourth term as commission chairman, repeatedly elected by the
people of Haralson County. He thinks that
the reason for their support boils down to
small-town values.
"Rural, community-oriented people, they
look for morals and they look for integrity,"
Poole said.
He believes he has displayed those characteristics, from his time as a state trooper to his
SUMMER 2017 www.accg.org

13


http://www.accg.org

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia County Government - Summer 2017

President’s Message
Director’s Message
Haralson County: Location and Rural History Provide Opportunities for Success
Parks and Recreation: An Investment for Today and Tomorrow
ACCG and GDOT Dedicate Historical Marker
County Senior Services Help Residents Flourish and Thrive
UGA Extension Educates Communities through Partnerships with Parks and Recreation Departments, Senior Centers
Q & A with Deputy Commissioner Ben Hames: Counties and Workforce Development
County Health Departments Work to Improve Communities
From Wellness to Wellbeing: LGRMS Assists Counties with Providing Comprehensive Health Programs to Local Government Employees
News & Notes
Index of Advertisers
Georgia County Government - Summer 2017 - Intro
Georgia County Government - Summer 2017 - cover1
Georgia County Government - Summer 2017 - cover2
Georgia County Government - Summer 2017 - 3
Georgia County Government - Summer 2017 - 4
Georgia County Government - Summer 2017 - 5
Georgia County Government - Summer 2017 - 6
Georgia County Government - Summer 2017 - 7
Georgia County Government - Summer 2017 - President’s Message
Georgia County Government - Summer 2017 - Director’s Message
Georgia County Government - Summer 2017 - 10
Georgia County Government - Summer 2017 - 11
Georgia County Government - Summer 2017 - Haralson County: Location and Rural History Provide Opportunities for Success
Georgia County Government - Summer 2017 - 13
Georgia County Government - Summer 2017 - 14
Georgia County Government - Summer 2017 - 15
Georgia County Government - Summer 2017 - Parks and Recreation: An Investment for Today and Tomorrow
Georgia County Government - Summer 2017 - 17
Georgia County Government - Summer 2017 - 18
Georgia County Government - Summer 2017 - ACCG and GDOT Dedicate Historical Marker
Georgia County Government - Summer 2017 - County Senior Services Help Residents Flourish and Thrive
Georgia County Government - Summer 2017 - 21
Georgia County Government - Summer 2017 - 22
Georgia County Government - Summer 2017 - UGA Extension Educates Communities through Partnerships with Parks and Recreation Departments, Senior Centers
Georgia County Government - Summer 2017 - 24
Georgia County Government - Summer 2017 - 25
Georgia County Government - Summer 2017 - Q & A with Deputy Commissioner Ben Hames: Counties and Workforce Development
Georgia County Government - Summer 2017 - 27
Georgia County Government - Summer 2017 - County Health Departments Work to Improve Communities
Georgia County Government - Summer 2017 - 29
Georgia County Government - Summer 2017 - 30
Georgia County Government - Summer 2017 - From Wellness to Wellbeing: LGRMS Assists Counties with Providing Comprehensive Health Programs to Local Government Employees
Georgia County Government - Summer 2017 - 32
Georgia County Government - Summer 2017 - News & Notes
Georgia County Government - Summer 2017 - Index of Advertisers
Georgia County Government - Summer 2017 - cover3
Georgia County Government - Summer 2017 - cover4
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