CARL -- A middle-aged man with blonde-gray hair and a moustache stepped out of a gargantuan red pickup truck.

He wore a sweat-soaked Dale Jarrett stock-car racing shirt, hole-ridden blue jeans and tan work boots.

He is the mayor of Carl, Ga.

Carl, a town of 230 residents, covers less than one square mile off Highway 316. The town centers around a single traffic light.

Dave Brock, a 47-year-old politically conservative Baptist Texan, has been mayor of Carl for five years.

Mayoring for Carl takes Brock an average of 10 hours a week, he said.

"Carl is the exception to the rule, whatever rule that is," he said.

Five minutes off of Highway 316 and 40 minutes from Athens, Carl has managed to keep its population growth stunted, while the surrounding towns became suburban monstrosities.

The green sign with an arrow pointing toward Carl on 316 makes it a familiar name to many University students, but a familiar town to few.

This could be due to Carl's admitted lack of entertainment.

"Stay home," said Carl city clerk Deana Davis of what residents do on weekends for fun. "There's nothing here."

There is a cornfield and a Baptist church.

Carl House, an event-hosting facility, is one of the town's two restaurants and the only place to buy alcohol in Carl. But the restaurant is normally only open for Thursday dinner. The Carl BP gas station cannot sell alcohol because it is within 1,000 feet of a church.

If the alcohol laws leave something to be desired, a person will often drive to nearby cities Winder, Dacula or Auburn, Davis said.

Many passers-by on 316 ask how Carl got its name, and if there ever was a man named Carl in Carl.

Davis said she heard that a popular owner of the general store changed the name of the town to Carl, after his son who drowned in nearby Lake Elder around 100 years ago.

As for any Carls, the mayor has his eye out for them.

Someone has been stealing the city limit signs, and the suspected thief is someone named Carl.

"Why else would they want the signs?" Davis said.

Carl had more serious concerns when a murder occurred in town six years ago.

An elderly woman was murdered in Carl in 1998. The woman was hanging her laundry to dry outside of her house, which was right next to railroad tracks.E

A serial killer already on death row in Texas confessed to the murder in 2000. Known as the "Railroad Killer," Angel Maturino Resendiz, a wandering freight-train rider, was already convicted for nine murders.

Carl has been safely tucked back into obscurity since the murder. The town's biggest controversy now is local.

Carl is involved in an icy feud with neighboring Auburn, a growing city of almost 7,000 residents.

Davis said there is "bad blood" between the two communities, but she said she isn't sure why.

Even Sarah Etheridge, a Carl resident for 50 years, said the instigator of the feud occurred before she arrived, but the feelings haven't disappeared.

"We leave them alone, and they leave us alone," she said.

Brock said he heard this story about the origins of the feud: Two brothers set out to start two towns - one named Carl, the other named Auburn. Each brother wanted his own town to be the site of the new railroad depot.

Carl was passed over by the railroad, and Auburn was chosen, and resentment in Carl grew.

Carl staying small has its disadvantages.

Dealing with federal agencies like the Department of Transportation is difficult for the mayor of an almost-unknown town, Brock said.

"They come in and say, 'You will conform,' and then I have to get horsey with 'em," he said.

The mayor did not elaborate on what he is like when he gets horsey.

Recommended for you