Longtime District 1 Murray County Commissioner Billy Frank Lance has announced he won’t seek an eighth term in the office he has held for 28 years.

“I ain’t retiring, I’m just reloading,” Lance told The Ardmoreite as he talked about his decision to “step aside” when his current term ends in December.

“The decision hasn’t been an easy one, but I feel that it is the right choice for me and my family at this time,” he said.

Elected in 1986 as the youngest county commissioner in Oklahoma that year, Lance also carries the distinction of being one of the longest serving commissioners in the state.

“I am very proud to have been a part of the most progressive and prosperous time in the history of Murray County for the last quarter of a century. Serving the people of Murray County has truly been an honor and privilege,” Lance said.

Recalling his first bid for the District 1 Commissioner’s chair, Lance said he hit the campaign trail “with very little money, many friends and a campaign slogan, ‘Let’s Give County Government Back to the People’.” Earlier this week, he described his career that spans more than a quarter of a century as “all about leaving the wood pile a little higher than you found it, and I believe we have done that.”

Asked to list some of the accomplishments of which he is most proud, Lance pointed to:

- Many new bridges and hard-surfaced miles and miles of roads throughout his district

- The creation of a funding mechanism to support five senior citizen and nutrition centers, as well as six rural fire departments throughout the county

In addition Lance said he is proud of the $7.5 million rehabilitation of a seven-mile stretch of Primrose Lane, set to begin within the next few months, which will include two new bridges and an improved road connecting the Chickasaw National Recreation Area to U.S. Highway 77, south of Davis. The commissioner pointed to the joint effort between all three Murray County commissioners and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation that has accomplished what “is the biggest project of its kind in the state.”

Other projects Lance places high on his list of accomplishments includes working with past legislators and fair board members “to build our state-of-the-art Murray County Expo and Workforce Center, which is the envy of southern Oklahoma. I have also been fortunate enough to have worked with the other commissioners and our hospital board to build a new ultra-modern hospital for our citizens, which will address the health care needs of our county for years to come. Another accomplishment I am proud to be part of is the very first E-911 system and center for our county. Saving lives and faster response times are a must for our families, friends and loved ones.”

And while Lance said he is proud of the work that has been accomplished, his tenure wasn’t a one man show.

“None of these accomplishments could have been possible without the teamwork I have had throughout the years. The various county board members, our dedicated Murray County staff and employees, along with a number of loyal friends and family have helped make this all possible, and I owe them all a big debt of gratitude,” he said.

Lance said he is considering his options for the future, but leaving the commissioners’ office in the courthouse pulls at his heart strings.

“I love this place, and I would like to thank the citizens of Murray County District #1 for allowing me to serve them for the past 28 years,” he said.