The 65-year-old commissioner acknowledged his second year in office was the sickest he’s ever been – a broken arm, a triple heart bypass, three stents implanted and the five toes of his left foot amputated, a consequence of mismanaged diabetes – but Smith said he’s on the mend.
“I love this place. I grew up here. I guarantee the county will get a lot more out of me than they pay for,” said Smith, who was upbeat, coherent and concerned about the issues facing the commission in a Wednesday interview.
He wouldn’t have missed most January commission activities, including interviews with four recreation director candidates, a commission meeting and Monday committee meetings, but for a popped stitch on his foot.
With the blood thinners he’s taking for his heart, “I lost two pints of blood on the floor,” he said, and was hospitalized for about 15 days, until Jan. 20.
Being absent is strange for Smith, who said he missed just a single day of school and only two meetings of the state plumbing board, which he’s served on since 1992 and chaired since 1999. He was elected to the commission in 2010.
“If I’m on a committee, a member of a club or anything, when you (are) you’re obligated to be there or you don’t accept the position,” he said.
Smith, who now uses a walker, said he would have attended Monday’s marathon of commission committee meetings but his physicians advised against it.
“I was told if I could stay home another week, I would be so much better. I’m doing what they tell me to do,” he said. “Health-wise, that’s a big change.”
Smith, who has shed 57 pounds over the last year, said until last year he’d neglected the diabetes he was diagnosed with eight to 10 years ago, and didn’t realize he’d had a heart attack until a friend told him a month later he looked unwell.
Doctors permitting, Smith said, he’ll be present Tuesday when the commission votes on two issues close to his heart – a decision to lease Augusta Municipal Golf Course to Virginia Beach Golf Management and another to re-bid the city’s ambulance service contract.
His family might wish otherwise, but Smith said they knew him too well to keep him away from friends, his plumbing business and the Augusta Commission.
“If you ever want just to kill me, just put me in isolation,” he said. “I was 12 years old working for my daddy. Monday through Friday, you’re supposed to be at work.”