Chief building inspector retires

County Manager Alex Dudchock, right, speaks of Chief Building Inspector Gerald Cummings', center, 24 years with the county as Cummings' wife, Jimmie Ruth, left, looks on. (Reporter photo/Christine Boatwright)

By CHRISTINE BOATWRIGHT / Staff Writer

PELHAM – Gerald Cummings simply thanked his coworkers after they told stories and shared memories during Cummings’ retirement party at Shelby County Department Services June 29.

Cummings served for 24 years as Shelby County’s chief building inspector.

“I worked in construction, and came to work for Shelby County in 1988 when the department started,” Cummings said. “The county has really grown. The population has exploded in the last four years, and it’s kept us busy.”

Cummings was the county’s first chief building inspector, as he joined the then-building department when it was formed. The department merged with the planning and zoning department in 2002 to form development services.

“It was the fastest growing county in the state with no inspections,” Manager Ray Hamilton said.

According to Hamilton, Cummings “cooled many hotheads” as the county worked to enforce new building codes starting in the late 1980s.

“We always had the backing of the county commission, which made our job better,” Cummings said.

Naomi Owens, office supervisor, worked with Cummings for 23 years.

“Gerald is just a very considerate, very compassionate and loyal employee,” she said. “He was a wonder to work with all these years.”

Building Inspector Tom Tucker, who worked with Cummings for 14 years, said Cummings was “smooth” and “makes no waves at all.”

“He’s kind of the center,” Tucker said. “Everything rotated around him.”

Cummings said he plans to take it “one day at a time” after he retires.

“Maybe I’ll get to do some things I’ve always want to do but haven’t had time to do,” he said.

One of those things, according to his wife, Jimmie Ruth, is building his daughter a house.

“You come across folks who have personal characteristics you hope you’ll illustrate,” said County Manager Alex Dudchock. “Gerald Cummings fits into that category with me.”