Over the course of 28 years, Murray County Commissioner Billy Frank Lance was more than a politician. He became an institution in setting a record for the longest tenure for a county commissioner in Murray County history.

Friday afternoon, a steady stream of well-wishers visited the Murray County Courthouse to honor Lance in his retirement as he begins a new chapter in his life. Lance received a plaque as Commissioner Jimmy Rackley read a citation for the man who followed his father’s footsteps in public service.

“It’s been a pleasure to work with these guys (Rackley and Commissioner Darrell Hudson) and they have a guy coming in that will be easy to work with,” Lance said.

The long-time commissioner thanked those who served with him and worked with him on boards. He stressed teamwork was the defining factor for accomplishments during his tenure which included the Murray County Expo, hospital and road projects including the upcoming Primrose Lane endeavor valued at $7 million.

“I couldn’t do it without all these people and their loyalty,” he said. “If you are here today, you are special to me.”

Lance also thanked his wife, Dana, who was formerly a reporter and thanked the media for their relationships with him while in office.

“I’m going to miss it a lot,” Lance said.

Democrat Kent McKinley defeated Shane “Cornbread” Hale in a primary runoff for the seat of Commissioner District 1 and will have big shoes to fill as he joins Rackley and Hudson on the board of commissioners.

“It’s just an honor and pleasure to have worked with him since I have been here,” Rackley said.

Hudson, who has worked for the county over 15 years and served with Lance on the commission for six years, echoed the sentiment.

“I have been honored to serve with him and I have learned a lot of things from him,” Hudson said. “He leaves big shoes to fill.”

@mpinedaARD