Editor’s note: It was reported two days after the initial report below that F.L. “Bubba” Copeland died by suicide.
In 2016, when F.L. “Bubba” Copeland challenged incumbent Smiths Station Mayor LaFaye Dellinger, he ran with the vision of growing the Lee County hamlet between Opelika and Phenix City.
“I want to work with the businesses we have in this city to help them grow and understand their needs,” he told the Columbus (Ga.) Ledger-Enquirer. “But I want to create a chamber of commerce and go outside the city and recruit new businesses. This place could blow up if we had somebody with vision.”
Seven years later, Copeland’s vision was coming to fruition as he was grappling with the growth but trying to maintain Smiths Station’s loyalty to its small-town roots.
“I always say, ‘We’re Mayberry 2023,’” he said during a March interview with Columbus, Ga.’s WRBL. “It really is like everybody knows your name. You know, everybody dies famous in a small town. That’s what it is. It is Friday Night Lights. It is mama’s apple pie. Our community is very, very low crime, very low drug abuse. Our number one problem is suicide. It is sad. I think a lot of it has to do with military. I think some of it has to do with social media and the reality of that. That’s the number one problem we have.”
Four years earlier, Copeland led his city through the horrific devastation of a March storm that also led to an EF-4 tornado, with winds up to 170 mph, that hit nearby Beauregard and killed 23.
This earned Copeland face time with then-President Donald Trump, who was touring the storm devastation.
Smiths Station has experienced ups and downs throughout Copeland’s tenure.
Copeland earned the respect of local elected officials. He is the lead pastor at the First Baptist Church in nearby Phenix City and owns a convenience store near Lake Harding in Salem.
By all accounts, Copeland had a busy and meaningful life.
However, during this time, he also had a secret life playing out online on social media and Reddit.
Smiths Station’s mayor operated social media accounts as a transgender woman under the pseudonym Brittini Blaire Summerlin.
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