From 911 Center to preserving Healan's Head's Mill, Marty Nix made impact on Hall

·4 min read

Jul. 7—From North Hall High School to near the top of Hall County administration, Marty Nix has lived and served in the county all his life. Now, it's time to step back.

Nix, the county's assistant administrator since 2011, retired Tuesday, July 5, after 38 years with the county, where he worked as an investigator with the Sheriff's Office and aided big projects, including preserving Healan's Head's Mill and moving the 911 Center.

Nix, 59, joined Hall County as a jailer on July 3, 1984, hired by Richard Mecum, who was the sheriff at the time and would later become the chairman of the Hall County Board of Commissioners.

Nix was part of a wave of hirings Mecum made soon after he was elected in 1980. Mecum fired 29 out of 99 deputies his first year in office, he said.

"I found that there was a severe lack of law enforcement technique and law enforcement knowledge," Mecum said of the sheriff's department at the time. But he saw Nix as a hard worker and someone who would be empathetic with the residents he worked with, Mecum said.

He hired both future Sheriff Gerald Couch and Nix within a few years of each other.

The pair were best friends since middle school, growing up in North Hall, Couch told The Times, and they even got in trouble together a few times at North Hall High School.

"I was in trouble quite a bit, and my grandmother was the disciplinarian at North Hall High School," Nix said. "Back in those days, they actually had a paddle."

Not too far out of high school, the pair were on the other side of the law.

After being hired as a jailer, Nix soon became a deputy. Then, he led a team as an investigator in the 1990s, working on the same team as Couch for several years, where the childhood friends investigated major crimes and high-profile homicides together.

Mecum and Couch both said Nix always brought his own sense of humor to the job, and he was an out-of-the-box thinker.

"He was very intelligent, really knew what he was doing, and I learned a lot from him," Couch said.

Nix also worked as an investigator in the district attorney's office before taking on big projects with Hall County.

In 2004, he moved Hall County's 911 Center from downtown Gainesville to its location at the Fire and Emergency Headquarters off Crescent Drive.

He served as the 911 director and then the public safety director, before moving to his assistant county administrator role in 2011. He worked on capital projects, while Assistant Administrator Zach Propes ran day-to-day operations.

"(Nix) is just a great guy; he did a great job in his position," Hall County Board of Commissioners Chairman Richard Higgins said. "He's done a little bit of everything. If you ever ask (Nix) to do something, he gets it done for you."

Nix led the effort to preserve and restore Healan's Head's Mill, a historic grist mill in East Hall. There are plans underway to convert it and its surrounding land into a 100-acre park with a history center. The mill's wheel was replaced in 2019 along with other improvements.

"That's, I think, very important to me and very important to our community and preserving our heritage and protecting greenspace, that's what I'm all about," Nix said.

The Highlands to Islands Trail System has also been one of the key projects he helped develop. The trails are planned to connect across the county, both north and south from Gainesville to Buford and east to west from Lanier Islands to Braselton. Some sections of the trail are still being constructed.

"That's two projects that are dear to my heart, and I wanted to see those finished," Nix said. "That's the ones that I really think are important to Hall County, and I want to see them finished. I want to stay active in that."

As Nix settles into retirement, he'll stay busy with certain hobbies.

Though he keeps much of his private life to himself, he said he would spend time with nature, farming and gardening and keeping his bees.

"There's going to be a lot more people qualified to do assistant county administration, but they will never find anybody that loves the people and the employees more than Marty Nix," he said.