Billy G. Hasty Jr. named First Citizen of Cherokee County

Twenty five years after his father and namesake was named First Citizen of Cherokee County, that honor was bestowed upon Billy G. Hasty Jr.

Hasty, a Canton native and longtime attorney, was presented the honor Thursday at the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting held at the Northside Hospital Cherokee Conference Center, 1130 Bluffs Parkway, Canton.

In tearful remarks after the presentation, Hasty portrayed himself as mostly a bystander as some of Cherokee County’s most prominent names led the growth of the community over the years.

“I was just around and I’m grateful,” Hasty said. “Thank you.”

Others, however, credited Hasty with having an enormous positive impact on Cherokee County, including milestones such as leading the effort to build a new hospital, working to see then-Reinhardt College become a university in 2010 and rallying the effort to launch the successful football program at the university in 2011.

“(Hasty) has dreamed big dreams for Cherokee County and made them come true,” said Reinhardt President Kina Mallard. She credited Hasty’s leadership in the institution’s growth into university status and starting the football program. She also said he led the effort to establish a nursing program, which saw its first graduates late last year.

“If I could use one word to describe him, it would be ‘visionary,’” said Northside Hospital Cherokee CEO Billy Hayes.

Hasty, a member of the Cherokee Hospital Authority since 1975 and its longtime chairman, had long led the effort to build the new hospital, which opened in 2017.

The Great Recession put an obstacle in the way of construction, when the state pulled money to build what is now Northside Hospital Cherokee Boulevard, which was necessary to begin construction at the hospital site.

It was Hasty’s advocacy with state officials that got the money reinstated and kept the project on track, Hayes said.

Hasty’s community involvement has been wide, deep and covers more than 40 years of work. He was the first chairman of the Cherokee County Education Foundation. He has been involved in both state and local historical societies and served as president of the Riverview Cemetery Association. A U.S. Army veteran of the Vietnam war, Hasty was credited with helping Cherokee County become home to the Georgia National Cemetery. Former Gov. Nathan Deal, who was the meeting’s keynote speaker, appointed Hasty to the state Board of Regents in 2015.

Chamber President and CEO Pam Carnes said she met Hasty when she first moved to Cherokee County nearly 30 years ago. She said Hasty brings several phrases to mind when she thinks of him, including “caring spirit,” “dedicated community leader,” and “generous with his time and talents.”

The title of First Citizen of Cherokee County is bestowed upon a resident who has lived in the county for at least five years and has shown significant meritorious service to the community. A panel of out-of-town judges reviews the accomplishments of each applicant then the winner is chosen based upon merit. Hasty recipient joins a list of 44 previous honorees including former Canton doctor Grady Coker, who was the first recipient in 1971, as well as Raymond Rollins who was selected in 2019.

Cherokee Tribune
Gary Tanner