By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The year 2016 could be described as a bounce back year for Millington Alderman Thomas McGhee.
But those close to him would tell you, McGhee was the same man of faith, dedication, involvement and discernment he has been since he moved to Millington 20 years ago.
From his work in City Hall to his service at Little John Missionary Baptist Church in Woodstock, several readers of The Millington Star voted McGhee 2017 Readers’ Choice Man of the Year.
“Surprising, honored, I’m truly honored,” McGhee said. “What a tremendous city we live in. Our community looks beyond the outward.
“I would like to think they understand that it’s not just aptitude but it’s also your attitude,” he added. “I try in everything I do to give a full consideration of the impact of what I do will have on those I seek to serve.”
McGhee’s path to serving in Millington started with his marriage to wife Mary and years of work in the U.S. Navy. The father of Thomas II, Taylor, Jonathan and Sydney retired as a Senior Chief.
“My beautiful wife has been right by my side,” McGhee said. “Next month will be 40 years of marriage. We’re actually middle-school sweethearts. It goes beyond that. We’re blessed to have four children who are all grown and all four graduated from Millington Central High School. They’re all Trojans. I have three grandsons. And I”m happy to be called. “Papa.” That’s one of the best feelings in the world.”
Another part of McGhee’s world is located at 2536 Little John Road.
“I’ve been the pastor at Littlejohn Missionary Baptist Church in Woodstock for nearly 10 years,” he noted. “My key still works. So that’s a good thing. That’s a great honor to be able to share the Word of God with people and to invest in their lives and eternity how God has blessed me to do. It’s not because of me. It’s all about Him.”
In addition to his family and church, McGhee sets on boards and committees in the Millington area like Airport Authority and Jordan’s Lighthouse Ministries.
McGhee is the vice president at Jordan’s Lighthouse Ministries helping it fulfill the purpose of reaching out to women who are incarcerated. Part of ministering to those women includes Mary joining her husband in counseling the women through Bible study.
From husband to counselor, McGhee is known to most in Millington as Alderman McGhee. In 2012, McGhee was elected to the position becoming Millington’s first Black to hold that post.
During his first term McGhee was a part of history exercising the new City Charter and assisting in the formation of Millington Municipal Schools.
In 2015 a vote from McGhee upset some residents making them feel he was not in the support of Millington Municipal Schools.
“I heard those people who were upset about what they thought was going on,” McGhee acknowledged. “I don’t blame them for being upset for what they thought was going on. My intent always was and will always be to do best for this city as a whole.
“And sometimes that means doing some things on the surface that may seem counterintuitive,” he continued. “When you look at what we did and how we did it, we fully funded the schools. And we did so in a smart way that is sustainable. Now the schools as they have requested, have received.”
During 2015 McGhee addressed concern citizens one-on-one. With a cloud of a possible recall hanging over his head, McGhee broke down his position and explained his vote whether at City Hall or the Millington Dollar Tree.
McGhee said communication with the residents of Millington and the members of the Millington School Board has been the key to smoothing things over. In 2016, the city and the school system have developed stronger bridges of communication and operation.
“That has been a win for us,” McGhee said. “We see that the school system is important for us and our future growth. We never denied that. I had no doubt it wouldn’t have an impact. It’s important if our city is to grow.”
McGhee and the Board have addressed other issues and concerns of the city like knocking down nearly a dozen vacant buildings. The community will see several roads repaved in the next few years and the garbage collection has been refigured to save money for the city.
These improvements coincide with the arrival of The Shoppes of Millington Farms. The new shopping mecca will be located on Highway 51 North just pass Wilkinsville.
McGhee and other city dignitaries were on hand this past summer for the groundbreaking that marked the arrival of businesses like Buffalo Wild Wings, Aspen Dental, Rue 21, Ross and more.
“We worked with the Industrial Development Board, County, State, the City and the financial institutes all worked together attracting these retailers here,” McGhee said. “This is what we’ve seen. We’ve been in some ball games. We had opportunities but it had not ended the way we would like. Some of them to the very last cut, but now we’re going to start to see more victories.”
McGhee said he will continue to work hard on behalf of Millington to gain more wins. He noted winning another term as alderman this past November was a blessing.
“I chose to live here,” he noted. “I chose Millington and after choosing Millington for my family
I had fallen in love with Millington. My family found it to be the right place for us. It’s a place I would recommend. It’s the best kept secret in Shelby County.
“There is so much going on,” McGhee continued. “The Chamber of Commerce is important. The Exchange Club, they do so much work to help our schools and all of the other non-profits like the Crisis Center. We’re active in contributing there.”
McGhee said there are so many vital parts to the fabric of Millington. As a part of it, McGhee will continue to help programs giving back to the schools like the Exchange Club’s Christmas boxes.
“Papa” McGhee is proud of his city and how Millington has influenced his family. Three of his four children left MCHS with academic scholarships.
The only one not to have a scholarship was Taylor McGhee-Daniels. And McGhee has the honors of pinning his daughter with her anchors as Chief Petty Officer in the Navy.
McGhee said that special moment illustrates how important Millington’s schools are in giving area children an education and a choice of careers.
With 2016 in the rearview mirror, McGhee is focusing on making 2017 a success in his new role as Vice Mayor of Millington.
“I didn’t see myself becoming Vice Mayor or Alderman,” he said. “I think the cherry on top of my year was when I was voted Man of the Year. I’m honored that I served with an august group of people of men and lady and Mayor as well who are very capable.
“They are very concern about how our city is managed and the growth potential that we are fulfilling,” McGhee concluded. “I’m glad they have identified me as this first term Vice Mayor. I’m hoping we rotate it for all of us to have the experience and exposure because we’re all capable. I’m perfectly suited because I don’t have a 9 to 5 job or clocking that I’m punching.”
By Thomas Sellers Jr.