PINE LAKE – On Saturday, Aug. 27, Congressman Hank Johnson (GA-04), along with Pine Lake officials, the U.S. Postal Service and members of the community officially renamed Pine Lake’s Post Office in honor of fallen police officer Francis Manuel Ortega.
The ceremony was held on Aug. 27 at the Pine Lake Post Office.
On Aug. 11, 2005, Officer Ortega, then 25, was shot and killed in front of the Pine Lake Post Office while conducting a routine traffic stop. Ortega was a part-time officer of the Pine Lake Police Department and a full-time officer at Georgia Regional Hospital.
Ortega’s family – his parents Francisco and Luz, his sister, Joann, and his children, Frankey and Kaylie, – joined the community for the renaming ceremony. Ortega’s sister Joann joined the rest of her family and the gathered crowd in fighting back tears. She thanked the Congressman and his staff for pushing for the renaming bill to become law so her brother “may be deeply missed but he will never be forgotten.”
The dedication plaque with Officer Ortega’s name is now displayed in the front corridor of the Pine Lake Post Office. The ceremony took shape once Johnson’s bill H.R.3274 renaming the building became law on June 13.
“Officer Ortega’s commitment to justice and willingness to face danger when others turned away, his desire to stand up for what was right – not what was easy, and his compassion for those in need should be applauded, commended and recognized in perpetuity,” said Johnson.
The Pine Lake Post Office, which sits on Rockbridge Road and Spring Drive in the Fourth Congressional District, was filled beyond capacity at the ceremony. Congressman Johnson was joined by State Sen. Steve Henson; Pine Lake’s current and past mayors – Melanie Hammet, Kathie deNobriga and Greg Zarus; DeKalb County’s Chief Operating Officer of Public Safety Cedric L. Alexander; Pine Lake’s Police Chief Sara Y’hudah-Green, as well as DeKalb County and Pine Lake police officers, their police chiefs and members of the community.