VALDOSTA -- Mara Register was recognized as a top public official in the City of Valdosta during a luncheon Wednesday at Valdosta State University.

Register, who is the community development director for Valdosta, became the seventh recipient of the Loyce W. Turner Outstanding Public Official Award.

Named after former Sen. Loyce W. Turner, the award is issued to officials who serve as a role model for others in public service.

"It was unbelievable," Register said. "It was a great honor just to be nominated, and I know people, when they talk about being nominated, they say that. But truly, when you look at the group of people who are the previous recipients and the man for whom the award is named for, and to receive the phone call to say I won, I never expected it."

Last year's recipient, Sen. Tim Golden, presented Register with a plaque and a letter.

In the letter from the VSU's Master of Public Administration Program, Register is noted for her "dedicated and distinguished public service."

"Your commitment to making Georgia in general, and the South Georgia region in particular, a better place for all of its citizens is exemplary," the letter states.

A graduate from Valdosta State College in 1982 with a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice, Register later received her master's in public administration from Georgia Southern College in 1988.

Her career in public administration includes positions as a special agent in U.S. Navy Investigative Service, a project development specialist for the coastal Area Planning and Development in Brunswick, community development director for Kingsland and a project planner with a private engineering firm in St. Mary's.

In September 2000, Register became the community development director for Valdosta.

"My career in public service has spanned 20 years in which I've had the opportunity to work at all levels of government," Register said. "The most rewarding thing is to have the day-to-day contact with the citizens of our community."

Register joins a list of past recipients that include Rep. Ron Borders, Angela Crance, Dr. Hugh Bailey, late Mayor James H. Rainwater, Larry Hanson and Sen. Tim Golden.

"Sen. Turner has been such a wonderful statesman for our community," Register said. "It was just a very special day, and my husband, David, was there with me and that made it even more special."

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