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Guyton taps Smith as next city attorney
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Richmond Hill lawyer Ray Smith to be the next city attorney.

Council members approved hiring Smith at their meeting Tuesday night.

“We put him through an extensive interview process,” said alderman Ulysses Eaton.

Smith will replace Ramona Bartos, who has been hired as the deputy state historic preservation officer for the state of North Carolina. Bartos, who has a bachelor’s degree from Emory University and a juris doctor from the University of Georgia, also holds a master’s in historic preservation from the University of Georgia.

Bartos had her own law firm for nearly six years before moving to North Carolina. She had been Guyton’s city attorney for approximately seven years.

Smith has been the Richmond Hill city attorney since 1979 and has been a practicing attorney since 1977. He is a graduate of John Marshall Law School.

“I’ve never represented (a city) that has a charter as old as yours,” Smith told council members.

Smith also said he believes the city’s charter has some weaknesses in it, as there is no downtown  development guideline. He also said that though the city wanted to get an attorney with a background in grant writing, he doesn’t have that but is looking forward to taking that training.

He also has experience working with a city that has a city manager, even though the beginning of his tenure as Richmond Hill city attorney pre-dates the creation of that city’s city manager position.

“I went through those growing pains of Richmond Hill,” Smith said.

Smith won’t be the only city attorney in Effingham in the family — his brother-in-law is Rincon city attorney Raymond Dickey.