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City honors man who watched city build
Council resolution for Bill Downs
With his wife Carol Downs looking on, the first building official for the city of Hinesville, Bill Downs, receives an honor from outgoing Hinesville Mayor Tom Ratcliffe. - photo by Photo by Andrea Washington
The man who oversaw construction in Hinesville for years was overcome with emotion when the city council recently recognized him during a meeting.
William “Bill” H. Downs, who helped modernize the city’s building and construction codes during his years of service, was apparently overcome with joy and said he did not want to speak as then Mayor Tom Ratcliffe handed Downs a copy of the resolution honoring to him. He did manage to get two words out.
“Thank you,” he said.
As one of his last acts in office during last month’s council meeting, Ratcliffe paid tribute to Downs with the resolution outlining his many years as the city’s first building and inspections official.
“The reality is you’ve been a very instrumental part of forming an integral part of the regulatory scheme and the good work that has gone into creating quality growth for our community,” Ratcliffe said. “It’s appropriate that we recognize you for your service to the city and your extraordinary contributions.”
Downs began his career in December of 1970, contracted to work for both the city and county.
In October 1976, he officially started work for the city as “a one-man operation with a part-time secretary,” Hinesville City Manager Billy Edwards said, reading from the resolution.
“Bill’s construction knowledge had come from his father and grandfather,” Edwards read. “And he was certain that he knew all that there was to know about construction until the city manager handed him a set of Southern Building Codes from 1962.”
After being encouraged and advised to update his training in the field, Downs enrolled in continuing education classes through the University of Georgia and earned certifications “as a certified building official, building official, electrical inspector, plumbing inspector and many more certifications.”
While working as the city’s building official, he also served on a number of committees with the Southern Building Code Congress International and as president, vice president and executive secretary of the Building Officials Association of Georgia.
Additionally, Downs has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Georgia State Building Official of the Year in 1986 and the M.L. Clement Award from the SBCCI in 1994.
He was most recently honored when the BOA of Georgia established an award in his name, the William H. Downs Outstanding Service Award, which will be presented annually to an association member.
“Through his hard work, faithful dedication, willingness to learn and his commitment to the continued betterment of our city and community,” Edwards read, “he led the way for all those who have followed.”
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