CHATHAM Co. (WSAV) – After decades of public service, two Chatham County men have been granted a rare honor. Two bridges along Highway 80 are now named after them.
Representative Jesse Petrea is behind the push for two resolutions to make it happen.
One resolution honors former Thunderbolt Mayor James ‘Jimmy’ Allen Petrea who served in the role for nearly 25 years. The bridge over the Wilmington River — near his longtime home in Thunderbolt — now bears his name.
“This is one of the most tremendous honors that can be bestowed on anyone,” said Mayor Petrea who is the uncle of Rep. Petrea, the host of a ceremony at Thunderbolt Town Hall.
A separate resolution honors former Chatham County Sheriff Al St. Lawrence. A bridge over Turner Creek near his home on Talahi Island bears his name.
The former sheriff passed away in 2015 after decades in law enforcement. The sheriff’s widow, Pat St. Lawrence, accepted the honor.
“Many, many times going across that bridge he said ‘this is the most beautiful place in the world,”” she said. “So that means a lot that that bridge now has his name on it.”
That appreciation for the natural beauty of the county is something both men have in common.
“When I pass on, my ashes [are going to] be scattered right here,” said former Mayor Petrea, gesturing to the bluff near Thunderbolt Town Hall. “This is where my heart’s at.”