By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Community activist Albritton still has finger on city’s pulse
Billy Albritton
Billy Albritton. Photo provided.

Billy Albritton says he likes to fly “under the radar.” But for the longtime Richmond Hill resident and community activist, that’s easier said than done.

Born and reared in Savannah, Albritton has and continues to have his finger on the pulse of the local community. He has served on the Richmond Hill City Council, in various leadership positions in the Richmond Hill Lions Club and the Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival committee and chairs the Richmond Hill Planning Commission. And Albritton has not ruled out another run for the city council.

So much for flying under the radar for the Savannah High School graduate.

Albritton says he and wife, Sheila, started visiting Richmond Hill decades ago and decided it was a place they wanted to live. The pace was slower then, but Albritton says growth has been good for the area. He was one of the first to build in Mulberry Subdivision when it was a new fledgling subdivision and the “it” place to live in the city.

When he married Sheila in 1980, the move to Richmond Hill was easy, he said.

“We bought the seventh lot in Mulberry Subdivision in phase one. We held on to the lot for a while and built the house in 1994 and have never wanted to live anywhere else.

Albritton has two daughters, Joanie and Jennifer, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

“I was in the National Guard for nine years. I got out in 1976. I should’ve stayed in but I didn’t. I would’ve served on active duty if I had been called. But I wasn’t so I served all my time in the Guard. I sort of grew up in the military. My dad had 13 years active duty and 20 years in the National Guard. So I grew up in the military.”

Albritton works for a Savannah company, Industrial Metal Works and calls himself something of a “fixer.”

“My business card reads construction manager/safety coordinator. It’s a small company owned by two brothers. The company is a general metal fabricator. We fabricate anything from light gauge metal widgets to piping. It’s mostly industrial fabrication.

“I’ve been with them 25 years. Business is good. During my tenure with them, we’ve never had to have a layoff because of a lack of work. It’s a good place to work. We stay busy all the time.

“I do the majority of the outside work. But everybody does what needs to be done. If a piece of equipment needs repaired, I try to fix it.”

Although Albritton is retirement eligible, he says it’s not really in the near future.

“I work for a good company. I get to get out and go to work. It makes it interesting. I know a lot of people. Sheila would like to travel some and we probably will.”

The former Lions Club president says he stays active in the community because he likes being involved in guiding the direction the city is headed.

“My mother and dad instilled in me to be involved and active in the community. They thought it was important and so do I. My dad, Ralph, was also very active in his church. He was chairman of the board of deacons. He worked with the Boy Scouts. Being involved was just ingrained in me from childhood.

“I’m a people person and I enjoy interacting with people. I worked with Relay for Life for years and the Cancer Society. But I am trying to slow down a little. I’m chairman of the RH planning commission. I’ve been chairman this time for about nine years. I oversee the meetings and try to keep order. I ask questions and try to get to the facts of the business in front of the commission. I try to guide the planning commission into the direction the city council wants. The commission serves at the pleasure of the mayor and the city council.

“The best thing about serving on the planning commission is that it gives me an opportunity to help shape the future of Richmond Hill. The worst thing is that you can’t make everyone happy. I’ve always been one to try and compromise so that if people come before us don’t get exactly what they want, we can work out something so they don’t go away empty handed. But sometimes they do.

“I’ve also been working with the seafood festival for 20 years. I worked in the admissions area. Getting the people in and getting them out plus whatever else needs to be done. Infrastructure, planning, whatever it takes”.

Being involved in the community for Albritton seems a way of life for the planning commission chairman, although he says his wife will retire later this year and would like to travel.

“But she knows how I am,” he said with a smile. He does say, however, that when she retires, they will be taking a trip to Alaska.

“Other than public service, I don’t have a lot of hobbies. I piddle around with cars. I like to do some woodworking. If anything, I’d probably do more volunteer work, if I retire.

“I’ve got all the woodworking tools to help keep me busy. I don’t do as much as I used to. I used to build a lot of furniture. Desks and tables, that sort of thing. Most of the furniture went off to my daughters houses. I also enjoy being with my grandchildren. They are a lot of fun.

“I have a fishing license, but I haven’t been in a couple of years,” he said wistfully.

Albritton says the time he served on the city council was also rewarding.

“I was lucky to serve on the city council. I’ve been pretty satisfied with my time on the council. But never say never,” he said when asked if he would consider running again for a council seat.

“When I was on the council, I tried to help control growth and guide the city in a positive direction. Even though Richmond Hill isn’t a small town anymore, I think it still has a small town atmosphere or feel to it. Now we have three grocery stores, a lot more businesses and people. The school system has quadrupled. We have more diversity than we’ve ever had. All those are good for Richmond Hill, I think.

“Growth is going to happen whether we want it or not. What we need to do is be proactive and manage the growth in the direction we and the citizens want it to go. It took me a long time to realize that not everyone wanted a big house with a big yard. We are a transient community. We have a lot of military. People transfer in and people transfer out. We also are getting a larger older population. We’ll continue to grow but we will continue to do it smartly. The biggest problem we’ll face is keeping the infrastructure up with the pace of the population growth.”

Albritton said that not everyone realizes the city doesn’t have control of state or federal roads or the school system, for example, but the city continues to work with those outside entities to facilitate the continuing growth.

Albritton credits his parents with being the biggest influences in his life.

“They taught me the importance of being involved, treating people fairly, and working hard,” Albritton said.

Check, check and check.

Sign up for our E-Newsletters