Dan Peeples says that when he took office five years ago as mayor even long-time residents didn’t really know where downtown Varnell was.
“I think everyone can agree on where downtown Varnell is today,” he said.
Under Peeples’ leadership, the City Council has renovated and expanded the historic Varnell House into a senior center, built a new City Hall on one side of it, and built a park and pavilion on the other side. All those facilities stand across from the Varnell Springs, making the area a hub of activity.
Now, Peeples says it’s time for someone else to take the reins in City Hall.
“The past five years have been very exciting for me and I am very honored that the citizens of Varnell elected me twice to be their mayor,” he said. “I am not running again because I want to be even more involved in serving God through my leadership roles at Salem Baptist Church and will be one day taking over the role as president of Julian Peeples Funeral Homes.”
Peeples, 35, and his wife Katie have also had two children since he was first elected mayor.
Peeples won a special election in 2008 to fill the unexpired term of Lindsey Metcalf, who had stepped down. He won a full four-year term in 2009.
Peeples says he has accomplished about 75 percent of what he had hoped to do. In addition to the new City Hall and new senior center, the City Council reorganized the city’s sanitation department and bought a new side-loading garbage truck to replace the rear-loading truck the city had been using.
“That may not seem like a big thing, but it really had a major impact. The new truck is safer. You don’t have guys hanging off the back,” he said. “And when we got the truck, we gave all residents new trash cans with individual serial numbers. Before, many people had been putting their garbage out in bags or in lightweight cans and animals would get in and toss it all over the road. Plus, we had no way of knowing if everyone who was putting trash out for us to collect was a city resident. Once we started picking up only garbage cans that we had issued, it cut off a lot of people who had been taking advantage of our taxpayers.”
Working with the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners and Dalton Utilities, the City Council also had sewer extended along Cleveland Highway, which Peeples said should help spur retail and other development there.
The council also upgraded the city’s recreation facilities, renovating ball fields and building a walking track.
“This council has really worked well together, and we’ve always had a lot of cooperation from the county, from the Dalton City Council, from the Chamber of Commerce. Really, from everyone,” Peeples said. “That’s one of the things I’m most proud of is that we built a spirit of cooperation. Without that, we would not have been able to do everything we have done.”
Whitfield County Board of Commissioners Chairman Mike Babb said relations between the county and the city of Varnell have been excellent during Peeples’ tenure.
“He has been very passionate about making Varnell a better place. His enthusiasm and energy will be hard to replace,” Babb said. “But there are only so many hours in the day, and I understand his decision to spend more time with his family and with his family business.”
Peeples said he is endorsing Mayor Pro Tem David Owens as his successor.
“Of all of the council members, he is the one I’ve worked with most closely. I probably talk to him every day,” Peeples said. “I think that with all of the things we still have going on it would be difficult for someone new to just step in, but I would feel confident with him stepping up as mayor.”