By Morgan Bryce
A celebration honoring the service and accomplishments of LaFaye Dellinger was held last Tuesday night at the Smiths Station Government Center.
Taking place before the council’s regular bi-monthly meeting, the event featured fellowship, refreshments and the unveiling of a commissioned portrait of Dellinger by local artist Sarah West, which will become a permanent fixture in the council chambers.
Dellinger was a key figure on the Smiths Unity Campaign for Incorporation, a movement to incorporate Smiths Station. That group saw their work come to fruition on June 22, 2001, when the city was officially incorporated.
Later that year, Dellinger was asked to run for mayor and did, defeating two other candidates to become the first-ever mayor of Smiths Station.
During her 15-year tenure, Dellinger is credited with several major accomplishments, including the construction of the Smiths Station Sports Complex, formation of the planning and zoning board commissions and purchase of the structure that later became the Smiths Station Government Center.
According to Copeland, the celebration served as way to express gratitude to Dellinger for her contributions to the community.
“Since she was Smiths Station’s first mayor, I believe that a portrait of her in the council chambers is only fitting. Today (last Tuesday) marks 16 years ago since she first took office,” Copeland said. “So what better time than now is there to do something like this? She helped start this city, and a did a great job of carrying it on during her mayorship. She did such a great job for this city.”
After the celebration, Dellinger expressed her gratitude for the celebration, calling it a “great surprise.”
“It’s an honor to me for him to appreciate what I’ve done. Part of being mayor was a chore, but it was an honor,” Dellinger said. “I did it because I loved the city and I loved the people out here.”
West, who opened her own art gallery in Smiths Station in 2008, said Dellinger was instrumental in helping she and her mother Michele in getting their business up and running in the community.
“I’m humbled to have been commissioned to render the first portrait honoring First Mayor LaFaye Dellinger. It’s a remarkable thing to serve as a commissioned artist for any commemorative work like this,” West said. “However, this occasion is particularly remarkable for its historic nature. As I said during the meeting, ‘I look around and see many firsts, and it is because of the work of our citizens and Mayor Dellinger that we continued to progressively pave way for more firsts.’”